It’s set to become one of the hottest gifts this year, with fans clamouring to get their hands on the new Star Wars drones from Propel.
We were invited along to Brussels for the grand unveiling of Propel’s three launch models and got to see the amazing drones in action. It’s safe to say that if you are a Star Wars fan, you have to own these drones; they are tremendous fun to fly! But there’s much more going on under the hood of these remarkable flying devices.
Propel are market leaders in their field, and the commitment and dedication they have shown to their Star Wars line of drones is not only exemplary, it’s simply remarkable. Dedicated to an authenticity to the source material, whilst giving the franchise a whole new perspective in terms of merchandising, Propel Star Wars drones present the fan with a legitimate look into the future of interactive collectibles.
If, like me, you have no experience in the world of drones, there’s understandable trepidation in stepping into this universe. But as drone popularity is enjoying an unprecedented high across numerous demographics, it’s the perfect time to experience what the tech can really offer.
Propel’s Star Wars drones are modelled on three classic Star Wars vehicles: the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, piloted by Luke Skywalker when he destroys the Death Star; Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced X1 and the 74-Z Speeder Bike piloted by Scout Troopers at the Battle of Endor.
T-65 X-Wing Starfighter
The X-wing played a major role in the Galactic Civil War following its capture on Fresia and the defection of its designers to the Alliance. It was heralded as the fighter that, in the hands of Luke Skywalker, destroyed the Death Star.
Later in the war it formed the backbone of the Alliance Starfighter Corps, defending Alliance ships and leading attacks on Imperial vessels and installations. Most importantly, when handled by an experienced pilot, it could perform on near equal terms with the Empire’s high-performance TIE fighters.
TIE Advanced X1
Darth Vader’s fighter boasted greater speed and heavier firepower than standard Imperial TIE Fighters. It featured fixed-mounted twin blaster cannons and a cluster missile launcher.
High-performance solar cells were fitted into the fighter’s curved wings. Vader specified a custom cockpit to accommodate his armoured suit
74-Z Speeder Bike
Speeder bikes, also known as Jump-Speeders, were open-air repulsor lift vehicles that maximised speed and manoeuvrability over stability.
The model that saw service during the Clone Wars was the 74-Z speeder bike. These bikes were usually piloted by scout troopers and were able to jam comlinks. They were considered by some to be “death traps”, but the speeder bikes were equipped with a head up display (HUD) showing information about the terrain ahead from sensors.
Using these three iconic models, Propel’s Star Wars drones deliver 3 very enticing entries into this world. It has also, deliberately, not thrown out the Millennium Falcon from the offset. It would have been a too obvious choice, plus the brand can pick up momentum and attention whilst still holding back the franchise’s most iconic vehicle.
The three launch models were unveiled in their collectible packaging and that’s where the first wow moment can be found.
The limited collector’s edition model comes in a plush matt-black finish outer box that looks as stunning as any Star Wars merchandise we’ve ever seen. The inner box has a gorgeous silver finish that is as impressive as the tech it houses. It plays the Star Wars theme when you open it and lights up! That might seem like a gimmick to some but honestly, it sets the tone for the experience you are about to embark on (and is damn cool too!).
Check out our gallery below for more pictures of the Propel Star Wars drones.
After a briefing on the tech involved in making the drones and a look at the drones themselves, we got to see them in action and tried them out.
This is where the intelligence of the tech really comes into its own. As a complete novice to drone flying, I won’t lie and say it’s easy. It clearly isn’t, but this is where Propel have thought outside of the box. Part of their tech includes a training mode and a training app.
I.A.T stands for Intelligent Awareness Technology and Propel’s groundbreaking tech bridges the gap between virtual gaming and the real world. It utilises four latency-free wireless communication systems to create a compelling gameplay platform.
Free to download and available on iOS and Android devices, the Propel Star Wars drone app is essentially a computer flight simulator set within environments from the film. It lets you learn to fly your drone virtually through a series of tasks and challenges that will get you and you reactions fully in-tune with your drone. You can use your actual drone controller to pilot the virtual drone in the app via Bluetooth and this is frankly amazing.
Everything you do in the game is prepping you for actual flight and by using the actual controller, you are getting comfortable with how the dynamics work without fear of smashing your drone into a wall (which incidentally can’t really happen if you use the handy clear plastic guards that can be fixed to the drone, keeping the aesthetic clear but delivering an extra level of safety at first).
You can also connect up with other drone pilots and challenge each other via the online community whilst battling in drone dog-fights that are inspired by the missions and battles of the Star Wars universe.
New users can also learn to fly at a reduced speed with additional stability in the form of air pressure sensors. T-mode creates an invisible boundary for actual practice flights, eliminating the risk of nose-diving your shiny new drone into a pavement, or soaring it high into the heavens.
The interactive controller is a smart invention. Housed in iconography of either a Rebel Alliance fighter or a pilot of The Empire (depending on which drone you own), the controller also plays music and sound-bites from the movies to enhance the experience.
These drones are fast too, picking up speeds of up to 30mph in around 3 seconds, with a top speed clocked at about 35mph. They have also polished the surface and injected polycarbonate into the propeller blades to make them almost invisible when the drone is in flight. It’s another great added extra to really immerse the pilot into the world of flying your favourite Star Wars vehicles. The paintjobs are great as well, with the battle scars of the actual ships present and accounted for. Using Reverse Repulsion, Propel have pioneered a new way of drone handling that goes against the traditional form of drones pulling airflow down to fly – these push instead, making the drones fly more like they are supposed to.
Propel is the first company to integrate Li-Fi (Light Fidelity) technology into their drones, which can transmit data at 100 times the speed of WiFi. This means that you can communicate with other drone users, especially during dog-fights, as you shoot lasers at one another. Along with push-button aerial stunts like corkscrews and loops, it makes laser drone dog-fighting lots of fun with your friends.
The entire range is supported by Propel customer care; a promise of unlimited parts replacement for 12 months and free customer service 24/7.
All in, Propel Star Wars drones are ground-breaking and play a vitally important role in bringing drones to the masses under a brand that is beloved across the world over. It’s a match made in Star Wars geek heaven, but with innovation and style blended into its DNA. Having Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and now Star Wars: The Last Jedi reinvigorate the Star Wars universe, Propel Star Wars drones mark that next step in the evolution of the conventional collectible and is without doubt the must-own gadget of the year.
Check out our gallery of images below and the Propel Star Wars Drones official trailer.