Best Buy brings the latest tech to Fan Expo
At this year’s Fan Expo in Toronto, Best Buy brought some of this fall’s hottest new tech toys. Their booth, located in Fan Expo’s South Building, featured Star War’s Force Friday toys and the latest drones from DJI. I was fortunate enough to get live demonstrations of all the new connected toys—let’s see what they’re all about!
Sphero App-Enabled Droids
At last year’s Best Buy Life & Tech Expo, a major highlight for me was Sphero’s BB-8 App-Enabled Droid. BB-8 is, of course, the cute rolling droid everyone loves from 2015’s Star Wars The Force Awakens. Sphero’s BB-8 toy connects to your smart device and then you’re able to control him using Bluetooth. I’ve seen so many adorable toys over the years but BB-8 has to be the cutest one yet.
To my pleasant surprise, not only was BB-8 at Best Buy’s booth, but also two brand new Sphero App-Enable droids. The first was Sphero’s Star Wars BB-9E, an “evil” First Order Droid that might legitimately be my new favourite. I mean come on, it’s a dark, sinister BB-8 twin set to star in November’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
Seeing BB-9E roll around Best Buy’s boxed play area was enough to instantly melt my heart. I don’t even care that he’s a bad guy, I already love him!
Another new Sphero connected toy unveiled this year is the Star Wars R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid. Once again my heartstrings were being tugged as I watched R2 beep and bloop all using a provided tablet. Naturally R2 can also move around, as well as switch between his tripod and bipod stances. He even has authentic gestures, including his oh-so-adorable waddles, head turns, and fall over!
What’s really amazing though is if you have two or more toys they can communicate using Droid-to-Droid communication. I don’t know what BB-8 and R2-D2 were saying to each other during the demonstration, but it sure was fascinating! All three droids also include the “Watch with Me” feature where you can view select Star Wars films and have the toys react to the story. I wasn’t able to see that feature in-action sadly, but I definitely hope to soon!
Propel Star Wars Quadcopter Drones
Next up, over in the drone area I got to meet Propel’s awesome Star Wars Quadcopters. These were released last year in small quantities and are back again this year. The three Propel Star Wars drones are:
- Speeder Bike Battling Quad copter Drone
- TIE Fighter Advanced Battling Quadcopter Drone
- X-Wing Battling Quadcopter Drone
The sheer level of detail on these drones were impressive to behold. They’re virtually exact replicas of the iconic vehicles from the movies, complete with all the cut-out grooves and patterns. All three drones light up as well using LEDs, giving them a true authentic presentation.
Seeing these Star Wars drones actually fly felt like a piece of my childhood materializing before me. It was mesmerizing watching a TIE Fighter do aerial loop-to-loops, dramatic swoops, and graceful landings. Likewise, seeing how fast and nimble the X-Wing and Speeder Bike were was truly impressive. I was told each drone can reach upwards of 35mph, though there are three speed settings to choose from.
Perhaps most impressive of all, up to 12 other Star Wars quadcopters can be connected together via a companion app. Doing so will enable you and your family/friends to engage in high-speed aerial dogfight battles. You simply place your smartphone in the controller holder and it’ll give you real-time updates on your battle. How many hits you scored, how many times your ship was struck, and so on. During flight the remote control even emits authentic Star Wars vehicle sounds, which I thought was really cool!
littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit
The third toy I checked out in Best Buy’s booth was the littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit. If your child loves building and inventing (and Star Wars!) then they’ll really enjoy this toy. Using their creativity, kids can build their own R2-D2 model using magnetic parts that firmly stick together. Using the included sticker sheets you can customize your droid using a variety of colours.
Once built, the fun has only just begun. You can direct and move the droid using your hands as if you wielded the Force—it’s cool to see! Or, you can let your droid go on a solo run and it’ll automatically detect objects and move around them. My favourite demonstration though was the obstacle course mode where you can unleash your droid to navigate through a maze. So much fun!
DJI Quadcopter Drones
Last but certainly not least, I was given an in-flight demonstration of DJI’s latest drones. First up was the DJI Mavic Pro, their high-end professional drone that can fly up 65km/h and weighs only 743g. It comes with a 4K Ultra HD camera and I was shown how it can capture crisp, high-resolution video and images as it flies. Very impressive!
Secondly, I checked out the DJI Spark Quadcopter. It’s the smallest drone DJI has ever built and I watched as the controller lifted it right from the palm of his hand. Next, he showed me how you can control the Spark using hand gestures, which I thought was super neat. At just 300g, it’s less than half the weight of its big brother the Mavic Pro. Now that’s small and super light!
In addition to all the tech toys, while at Fan Expo I had the opportunity to visit the gaming booths.
My first stop was PlayStation’s booth, as they generously held a mini pre-Fan Expo event exclusively for media. While there I got my first opportunity to play Gran Turismo Sport using PlayStation VR. It was quite immersive in 360-degree virtual reality and I can’t wait to race again when it releases next month. Speaking of PSVR, I also got to play Supermassive’s two new titles, Bravo Team and The Inpatient. The former is a thrilling 2-player first-person shooter title, while the latter is a horror story prequel to Until Dawn. Both titles looked very promising!
Over in Nintendo’s booth they were showing off Mario’s upcoming Switch game, Super Mario Odyssey. Every time I play this game I get more excited about it, I really can’t wait for its release! It reminds me a lot of Super Mario 64, my favourite 3D Mario game ever. Nintendo was also showing new Switch games including Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle and Pokken Tournament DX.
Next I swooped by the Warner Bros. booth for some more hands-on with Middle-earth Shadow of War. As a big fan of the original game, I like the direct Monolith Productions is taking with this sequel. The game feels darker and more mysterious, and the game world is much bigger. Warner was also showcasing a pair of new LEGO games, specifically LEGO Ninjago Movie Video Game and LEGO Marvel Super Heroes 2. LEGO games always deliver good family fun and that tradition appears to continue with these games. A highlight for me was playing as the Guardians of the Galaxy—my favourite Marvel superhero group!
Finally, Xbox had a booth as well and it was mainly focused on Assassin’s Creed Origins, Madden NFL 18, and Forza Motorsport 7. Since I had played these games previously at E3, I made my way over to try Super Lucky’s Tale. This cute platforming game put you in the role of a playful fox who can jump, dig, and bounce his way through levels. It was a lot of fun, and I especially enjoyed the colourful, vibrant 4K graphics!
Well, that about wraps up my Fan Expo coverage for this year. Thanks for reading!