VIP Star Wars Launch Party
When my older brother was about 8 years old, he was banned from hanging out with another kid because my brother had persuaded him to throw his very expensive Millennium Falcon toy out the window. This wasn’t cruelty though – this was science. There was a rumour in the playground that the Star Wars toys would actually glide if thrown. Of course, no one wanted to test it on THEIR one and my brother decided to outsource this piece of vital research to one of his more gullible friends.
It’s a common desire in childhood though, for your toys to be imbued with some sort of power. However, toys that ‘actually do the thing’ are few and far between – as Buzz Lightyear and my brother’s mate discovered to their mutually tragic chagrin.
But then there are toys and then there are Star Wars toys.
Last year, Disney handed the license to make flying replicas of classic Star Wars vehicles to drone company Propel – on the condition that they have the product in stores for this Christmas. However, for a few of us gathered for the swanky product launch at Madame Tussaud’s, Christmas came a shade early.
Often, during the presentation, it was clear that it had come early for the designers too. They have poured a lot of love into these flying facsimiles. As the TIEs, X-Wings and Speeder bikes whizzed around our heads, the bods from Propel explained how they studied footage from the movies and built in the ability for the drones to aileron roll, like their onscreen counterparts. They’ve designed training and ‘intelligent awareness’ software so that the drones are aware of each other in space and even use fancy Li-Fi transmissions between the drones when they dogfight with the their ACTUAL LASERS MATE!!
Indeed the product is so full of neat little touches that putting them across onstage got weird at times. Attempting to demonstrate the cool sound effects the control unit puts out when you change the batteries, led us to the bizarre spectacle of a celebrity guest being invited onstage to ineptly unscrew the battery compartment. The atmosphere of a roomful of journos and photographers watching a man in a big hat changing some batteries (and then being given a round of a applause for it!) is difficult describe in conventional language.
Nonetheless, the potential for battle gaming and other types of play with these things is immense. With the first limited round out this Christmas and a bigger release next year, expect these to be a must have to big kids (or very wealthy actual ones, they cost nearly £300 each!).
Words by Angus Dunican.
Photos by Jon Robertson.