BB8 – An original conversion

Back around 2005, I had prototyped a remotely controlled ball.


It was pretty simple: basically a modified skid-steer toy RC tank that fit in the palm of your hand. I added big brass angled wheels for ballast, and then installed it inside a lightweight plastic ball. It did everything you might expect it to do. I thought it might be a fun gag to have a remotely controlled billiard or bowling ball, but eventually stashed it away and forgot about it.

..Until I was at toyfair in NYC years later. A company called “Sphero” had done a much more advanced version but with the same core concept- a remotely controlled ball. Hm.. well, I’ll just file that away in the missed opportunities folder.

It was that year or the next that my younger brother happened to gift me that toy for Xmas. It was fun- for a while (especially for the dogs) but I eventually got bored with it. Then, after seeing the new Star Wars movie featuring BB8, I was re-inspired, and anyway curious to see how they went about manufacturing this toy- so chopped it open, printed some fixtures with magnets, and reassembled it- finishing the seam back to a flush, spherical surface. My BB8 had a lightweight foam head detail and customized waterslide decals- it came out pretty well and I resumed having some fun with it. In fact, for about 37 seconds, I thought to myself I should reach out to Lucasfilm and see if they’d be interested in doing something like that as a toy.. it was about second 38 that I laughed out loud realizing that OF COURSE they were doing that- that was probably what inspired the character in the movie in the 1st place. Sigh. Still- funny how all that works. Here was my version.