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Our Favorite Tech Toy

Put R2-D2 Under the Tree This Year With the littleBits Droid Inventor Kit

This post is sponsored by Walmart and SheKnows Media.

Ready to get jealous of the kids (again)? As fun as playing mad engineer with Lego and Erector Sets was for us, it’s nothing compared to what kids have in 2017! Thanks to littleBits, building a working robot is just as easy as putting together a Lego set, and it’s so much fun, they won’t even suspect it’s educational!

Oh, and did we mention they’ll be building their own R2-D2? This year, littleBits has been working together with Disney to create the Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit. It’s a building set that includes everything needed for kids to build their own moving, beeping, booping R2-D2, all while learning a little about how electronics work! It’s totally safe and kid-friendly, too, with each electronic part fitted into a small block that connects to other parts magnetically. Don’t worry, parents, you’ve still got at least a few more years before they start asking for a soldering iron!

The littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit is just one of many great holiday gifts for kids available at Walmart this year, but a little time with our favorite droid has convinced us that out of all of them, you can’t go wrong with this holiday gift. Here’s why!

The making of R2-D2

In the box, you’ll find a couple dozen pieces that make up the frame of the droid, plus six electronics components. The control hub is the big one – not only does it route power to all the other parts, it has the all-important speaker that will give R2-D2 his voice! There’s a power block that gets attached directly to a 9-volt battery, too, plus a DC motor and a servo motor – the things that will make R2-D2 move and spin his head! And yes, batteries are included. Just another way kids have it better these days!

Getting R2 up and running requires you to download an iOS or Android app. That app not only has directions, it lets kids control R2 once they’re done putting him together. From here, we really can’t say this enough – building this robot buddy is just like putting a Lego set together. Pieces click together, with the electronics modules sticking on the center board exactly like Lego bricks. Once he’s been assembled, R2 comes to life with those familiar beeps and boops – littleBits included over 20 sounds from the movies to play with!

Want to know how amazing this set is? I built this robot in a little less than an hour, and the most difficult, time-consuming, and nerve-wracking part was putting those blue R2 stickers on the head and body!

Using the Force

With most toys, it’d now be time for imagination to take over. Kids will have lots of freedom to get creative with R2 here, too, but the app and the kit have a lot more to offer! Once R2 has been put together, kids can complete missions – basically robotics lessons, but don’t tell them that! Each mission teaches kids how to use R2 in a new way, sometimes requiring them to get under the hood and rearrange some of R2’s wiring!

Kids will learn how to make R2 move, speak, and rotate his head, but that’s just for starters! R2 can even be programmed to stand on guard duty using the kit’s proximity sensor. Set up those blocks just right, and R2 will howl and start swinging his little plastic arm if an intruder walks past. Put that proximity sensor on the back instead of the front, and suddenly kids get Force powers – just by hovering their hand near the back of R2, he’ll rocket forward!

With just a handful of blocks included in the kit, it’s pretty awesome that littleBits was able to pack in 16 missions. Our favorite? Waving to R2 and getting him to wave back. I think he approves, too!

Getting creative

Once kids have gone through all the lessons – sorry, missions – they’ll know exactly how to take apart and reassemble R2 to get him to do exactly what they want him to do. They’ll be able to stand toe-to-toe with the best scavengers on Tattooine, is what we’re saying.

And speaking of scavenging, littleBits encourages kids to have a little fun with their droid after they’re comfortable with the electronics parts. The plastic R2 shell included in the kit isn’t really necessary – it’s the inner frame, wheels, and electronics modules that make him tick. That means kids can round up cardboard, milk cartons, toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles, and whatever else they can find to make their droid their own. Because the moving parts can be placed anywhere on the frame, kids can use new building materials with new configurations to create a virtually unlimited number of custom bots.

So, the littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit isn’t a toy that’s going to get old as soon as it’s been opened, it’s going to sneak in a bunch of electronics lessons to the kids, and it’s going to give them a robot they can pilot around the house. Sounds like holiday perfection to us!

Want to make sure this droid ends up under your tree this year? Head on over to Walmart, where you can find the littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit for just $99!