Photo: Courtesy of Propel
Force Friday is tomorrow, which means Star Wars fans and collectors will be on the lookout for the newest (and coolest) toys and merch. They’re going to be pumped about these super-realistic drones by Propel—a tech company that specializes in remote-control toys. Disney paired up with Propel to develop a high-performance battle drone gaming experience that is truly next level. From the detailed aesthetic, to the sounds and flight control of the drones themselves, it will feel like you’re actually battling in a galaxy far, far away. The drones are available in three of the most well-known vehicles in the Star Wars franchise—channel your inner Sith with Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced X1, serve the Rebel Alliance with your T-65 X-Wing Starfighter or speed through the forest piloted by Scout Troopers on your 74-Z Speeder Bike.
The full experience begins with the unboxing and creative packaging of each product. After opening the sleek, black Collector’s box, you'll be greeted by one of many well-known theme songs, including the main one featured in the beginning of each film. Once the top of the box is removed, a mini spotlight shines through and illuminates the drone, doubling as a collector’s showcase.
Besides the drone itself, there’s a detailed Pilots Handbook, as well as a training cage to protect the drone while you’re getting used to the flight control (it’s actually a lot easier to fly than it looks!) The remote controls are themed to each of the vehicles, so you'll get either the white Rebel Alliance controller or the black Galactic Empire controller. Each drone also comes with two battery packs that hold up to eight minutes of flight time each. A full charge takes only about eight to 10 minutes, which is perfect for impatient little hands. What’s also cool about these batteries is that they’re designed to look like an attachment of the drone—for example, the X Wing’s battery doubles as the cockpit on the ship.
Now on to the best part—the drones! If you’re a little intimidated because you’re a first-time drone flyer (like me), don’t be. There’s a flight simulator app that you can download which lets you do some virtual pilot training to perfect your skills with 34 training modes. Just sync your controller to your smartphone via Bluetooth. In the app, you’ll be able to create a fighter profile. As you learn to ace multiple techniques you attain a progressively higher military rank. You’ll hear familiar voices, like Han Solo, encouraging you and complimenting your style. However, to gain the ultimate Admiral-level fighter cred, you’ll need to battle it out in real life with other gamers and their Star Wars battle drones. The app is free to download for both iOS and Android devices. Propel is hoping to set up drone battles via Facebook across the world about four times a year so you can meet and battle fellow pilots.
Unlike other gaming drones, Propel used new technologies called LiFi (Light Fidelity, like WiFi, but faster) and Intelligent Awareness to make the product as lifelike as possible. One of the main features that the company is super proud of is the drone’s ability to corkscrew midair—just like you see in the famous battle scenes on screen. So, if someone’s on your tail, you can confuse them by using the two joysticks to quickly backflip behind your enemy to finish them off. This awesome feature also allows your drone to perform 360 aerial stunts. Each drone is capable of reaching speeds of up to 30 mph and higher in just three seconds, topping out at 40 mph. But if you’re not quite ready for that super-fast power, tone it down with one of three speed settings to help you gradually progress from beginner to advanced pilot. The technology in each toy is advanced enough that it can connect with up to 24 other pilots and 12 drones simultaneously for the ultimate laser battle. How epic is that?
Of course, these drones wouldn’t be as impressive without the hand-painted details and sound effects. If you’re soaring through the air or taking a hit in battle, you’ll be pleased to hear authentic “pew-pew” battle sounds coming from each ship. The drones will also talk to the players to let you know how many lives each drone has left so you know who to target. You might even hear the voices of some of your favourite characters, like Obi Wan Kenobi, offering helpful words of advice, like “Use the force, Luke.” Each drone comes with spare parts for the more delicate pieces like propellers, so in case you’re battling a little too hard, they’ve got you covered. You can also send your drone in for repairs, request spare parts and have access to 24/7 customer care on Propel’s website.
So, whether you’re a super fan or just looking to grow your SW collection, you can now purchase your very own Star Wars battle drone at propelsw.com, as well as Walmart, Best Buy, Indigo and Staples. Each one of these bad boys retails for $249 Canadian ($179 USD), and the recommended age is 14+. People have been on the edge of their seats since Propel launched their promo video in November 2016, and after getting my wings, I can conclusively say that these babies were worth the wait.
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