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Star Wars: Ep. 3 The droid you're looking for

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Posted at 6:47 AM, Dec 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-08 06:47:30-05

Editor's note: This is the first in a series of personal narratives by RTV6 Photojournalist Jason Scheuer, chronicling his love for Star Wars in anticipation of Star Wars Ep. VII The Force Awakens. He will also be wearing a different Star Wars shirt each day before the premiere. Follow along with his Twitter account, @jason_scheuer  .

Have you heard of BB-8 yet?

He appears to be the face of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. Sorry Kylo Ren, this little droid looks like a soccer ball with a version of R2-D2’s head on top.

Back when the first images and footage of this droid were released everyone thought he would be a CGI character. How in the world could they possible make it move like that in a practical effect? JJ Abrams made it a point that he wanted to do more real world sets and effects like we were used to seeing in the original Star Wars movies.

During the Star Wars Celebration convention it was revealed that BB-8 was a real moving robot.

It looks like some magical trick to have a moving ball with head that stays on top. Based on gyroscopic motors and magnets it is able to move in ways that seem impossible.

This little droid is getting a lot of attention leading up to the movie release next month. His image is on everything from food products, T-shirts and coffee mugs. What seems to be the hot item of the year especially for holiday shoppers is the Sphero BB-8. 

A baseball sized version of the real one used during the filming of the movie. You can use a smart phone or iPad to control it.

Disclaimer: It is a bit pricey at $149, but if you know a huge Star Wars fan, I am sure it's on their wish list. I will have to wait for Christmas to try mine out -- assuming the big guy in the red suit thinks I was good this year!

If this seems a little much for a younger child there is a remote control version for around $80 at Target stores.

The Disney Store has a version for $35 (This one only rolls by a wheel on the bottom. The ball does not roll like the real one and is also not remote control. You just push a button and he moves around and makes noises).

BB-8 is so popular that it even has its own Facebook group called Everything BB-8 where fans of the little droid post pictures of all the merchandise they find.

Target stores even have a large BB-8 display with the droid that lights up and makes sounds. Clearly marked with a "DO NOT TOUCH" sign which has sparked an on line campaign to "Join the Resistance!" Fans take photos in which they are “gently” not following this rule. Silly yes, but a fun little way to build up the excitement for the new Star Wars movie.

How about an app that lets you shoot a little video and add BB-8 into the shot?

Search the App store or android for Action Movie FX -- it's free to download. BB-8 is included but there are in-app purchases to get additional effects. Trust me you and your kids will get a kick out of it.  

Even though we know very little about the character BB-8, it seems to be a fan favorite already.

One of the funniest posts I have seen about this droid is a picture with the words “Sure they love me now but wait till December, when you find out I am a Sith Lord!”  Now that would be a plot twist, I guess we will just have to wait and see for sure.

May the Force be With You!

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