Sphero discontinues its popular range of Star Wars products…
It’s sad when merchandise is suddenly discontinued and vanishes from the shelves. Many times I’ve held off from buying a certain item, thinking I had plenty of time to get it at a later date only to find it’s been removed from stores and I can’t get hold of it anymore. Again, this seems to be the case.
Launched to coincide with the release of The Force Awakens, Sphero gave us a marvellous little toy in its app-controlled BB-8 figure. Although rather small and prone to its head sometimes falling off, the toy was an inspiration. Many people could finally have their own droid to command. Many hours of fun could be had watching the little toy roll around the floor and knowing you had control of it. They followed it up by bringing out versions of R2-D2 and BB-9E, a Lightning McQueen figure from the Cars franchise and a talking Spider-Man. All designed to come into your home and give you hours of enjoyment.
Sadly, all things must come to an end. Sphero has ended its partnership with Disney. All of its ‘Legacy products’ are no longer to be made. The licenced toy business now requires more resources than its worth. Even though the app support for the units will continue for at least another two years, Sphero has decided to concentrate on its non-licenced educational robots instead. The original BB-8 model did sell millions on its launch but coming into its second and third years, sales declined. Star Wars fans bought the toy in their millions but now the market has dried up. It seems the target audience has now got their droids so the units are no longer selling or at least until the next Star Wars film opens.
Data shows that after original play with them, the droids were put on the shelf as display items. Interest waned after a while and as the film sank into the distance. Demand dropped sharply as consumers looked for the next technological masterpiece instead. Although the Disney contract ran for three years, it now seems Sphero has too lost interest in making the droids. Sphero dedicated a lot of engineers to it’s contracted Disney products including bringing some of the Pixar employees into the fold when making its Lightning McQueen toy, helping the company determine what facial expressions the toy would make. Disney took a slice of the profits from every sale, raising the purchase price up higher than the normal price Sphero charged the consumer. Sphero only has 100 employees in total.
Now the company has gone back to developing and making its educational robots instead. Time will tell if another round of Star Wars droids hits the shelves when Episode IX eventually opens in December of next year. Sphero does have a built-in market regarding the robots it produces. We can only hope that this is not the last we will see of their Star Wars-inspired products.
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Source: The Verge
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Entertainment/Books and Literature Correspondent for The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!