TechSpot means tech analysis and advice you can trust. Read our ethics statement.
In honor of Force Friday II, DIY electronic toymaker littleBits launched one of its coolest products yet. The Droid Inventor Kit allows kids to piece together an 11-inch tall, fully-functional R2D2. It even comes with 20 authentic Star Wars R2D2 sound effects to make the droid complete.
What is great about littleBits kits is that all the components are self-contained modular units. The modules snap together with magnets, so no soldering is necessary. Kids can safely fiddle with the parts with no worries of getting burned or making a hard-to-clean mess.
The Droid Inventor Kit includes all the modules needed to recreate a miniature R2D2 and send it on missions. In addition to the 20 translucent droid parts that make up the chassis, the kit comes with six modules, which make up the droid's electronics.
One of the modules, the control hub, is Bluetooth enabled to communicate with a mobile device through the free Droid Inventor Training app. The app is used to command and program the droid. It also contains how-to videos and "missions" for the kids to complete with their astromech unit. One of the missions involves recording a "secret" message using the app and then having R2 deliver it (hologram not included).
Not only can the little droid be programmed and controlled through the app, but it also has some neat pre-programmed tricks.
Force Drive allows you to make R2 move with your hand. To do this, it uses a proximity sensor module to detect hand movement. The same sensor allows for Self Navigation. The droid can move autonomously around objects - think Roomba, but without the vacuum. Put it in Draw Mode and give it a pen and it will draw maps or write secret messages.
Kids can use the included blue stickers to make it look just like R2D2 from the Star Wars movies, but other stickers can be applied to give it a customized look. Best of all, littleBits parts are interchangeable. Adding modules from other kits can "give the Droids new powers." Imagination is the only limit to the customization possibilities.
The Droid Inventor Kit is available for $99.95 on the littleBits website, and that price includes free shipping within the United States. Plus the company has a "Happiness-Guaranteed" return policy, meaning if you are unsatisfied with the kit for any reason, you can return it, "no questions asked."