Propel’s new Star Wars drones are a worthy addition to a collector’s intergalactic stash, though young padawans should be warned that the flying one isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
I tried out the T-65 X Wing quadcopter, which comes in a slick, black box with a plastic mold of the plane attached. You can choose from either T-65 X-Wing, TIE Advanced X1 and the 74-Z Speeder Bike, which costs $245 ordered from the Propel’s website.
Unboxing the drone was a movie experience. It comes in a clear plexiglass display case that lights up and starts playing music to the opening credits of Star Wars movies. The drone doesn’t skimp on theatrics, with Yoda, C-3PO and other characters voicing commands. You can select music with the controller, and adjust the volume to suit your flying experience. The X-Wing comes with seven soundtracks that you can listen through headphones.
Minimal assembly is required for this drone, which can fly within a 100 foot radius. It includes a mode for inexperienced pilots called T-Mode, which includes an auto-start sequence and limits the height your drone can hover. The drone also has a plastic cage to protect the propellors – as well as unwitting observers. My cage, however, snapped after some hard landings, which is why the book recommends flying in a cleared space.
Once you’ve graduated from drone bootcamp, you can manually fly your drone, choosing from three speed settings. Even at high speeds, the drone makes surprisingly fast turns, which is one plus of being so small. Preset tricks on the controller including a clockwise roll and counterclockwise roll are sure to impress your friends.
The design of the planes are excellent, with handmade finishes down to the R2-D2 droid. The ship’s Lithium-ion battery is disguised as the front of the ship, which you can slide in and out very easily.
There’s also a two player mode where you can test the resolve of the Force against the Empire. The drone can accelerate from 0 to 30 mph in three seconds and can shoot infrared lasers at enemy ships. A ship that is hit three times will enter a landing sequence before the game starts over.
The design, however, conflicted with the functionality of the plane when it came to the blades. While the ship is definitely a novelty item, it can’t be confined to a glass case, especially in the hands of eager young ones. While most quadcopters have upward facing blades, the Star Wars drone’s blades face downwards, and are thus susceptible to being bent. Several times, the blades fell off after and even became warped after a crash landing. That said, the drone does come with spare parts, but they can burn out pretty quickly, especially if you’re a beginner as I am.
Overall, I say this drone is for diehard Star Wars fans and pilots with prior flying experience who are looking to expand their collection. The immersive Star Wars experience begins with the unboxing, but the drone isn’t exactly meant for deep space fights. For true Star Wars believers who can appreciate highly detailed designs, this is for you, but the design sometimes trumps flyability.