The Star Wars universe is fertile (and lucrative) ground for toymakers, and in recent years advances in technology have enabled toys that would have been impossible when the first movie was released in 1977. Developments in drone technology has now allowed Propel RC to develop a line of Star Wars "Battling Quad" drones that lets kids young and old take control of iconic Star Wars vehicles in dogfights against other pilots.
The line of drones on show at the Star Wars Celebration over the weekend includes the 74-Z Speeder Bike, Tie Advanced X1, T-65 X-Wing Starfighter and of course, the Millennium Falcon. Each hand-painted and individually-numbered model can get up to 40 km/h (25 mph) and comes equipped with lasers that can be used to battle it out against other drones.
Additionally, the drones feature a new reverse propulsion system that Propel says allows them to hit their top speed in under three seconds – not quite fast enough to make the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs, but pretty good for toy drones like these.
And besides, these drones aren't ones you'll want to race off out of sight. Unlike previous drone offerings, each of Propel's models is a faithful recreation of the iconic vehicles, they're for show more than anything as evidenced by "invisible blades" that are designed to keep the propellers from ruining the visual effect.
Three speed settings run the gamut from beginners to experienced drone pilots, and for further showing off, 360-degree aerial stunts can be pulled off at the push of a button. But the most intriguing feature is those lasers, which enables a laser battle game. This will see opponents paired controllers shaking when receiving a direct hit, while three hits will result in the craft being sent (slowly) to the ground.
Even just opening the box is apparently an experience in itself, with the display cases sporting flashing lights and playing music and dialogue clips from the movies. Whether in the air or on a shelf, these are sure to take pride of place in fan collections. Propel is currently taking reservations for the first 15,000 "special edition" units of the series, which it expects to ship by the end of September, after which more will be available.
Although no price details have been confirmed as yet, rumours from the Star Wars Celebration show floor suggest they'll run you around £300 (US$397) for the Millennium Falcon, or £250 (US $331) for each of the others. A Collector's Box Set features all four models plus a carry case, at a 10 percent discount. Propel is currently only licensed to sell the drones in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, but is hopeful of securing a deal to make them available in the US.