There has been plenty of fan-built LEGO BB-8s all over the internet, but none like what Mark Smiley created and contributed at LEGO Ideas. So, what set it apart from the rest? This LEGO BB-8 ACTUALLY rolls while keeping its ahead afloat, and Mark goes on to show that his rendition of the skittish but loyal astromech droid is made of 100% authentic LEGO parts. Watch its demo video below:
Mark’s BB-8 received a great deal of thumbs-up from fellow LEGO Idea supporters, running at 2398 votes as of this writing. The interesting part is that it gained almost 2,000 votes since last Friday when Lego Gizmodo featured Mark’s ingenious creation. As you may notice, the design of Mark’s BB-8 is reminiscent of that of Sphero’s BB-8 robotic toy.
Unlike, Sphero’s absolutely cool and sophisticated version, the build of Mark’s BB-8 is surprisingly simple. Using magnets that are bolstered up from a central axle and stabilized by LEGO weights, BB-8’s manages to keep afloat while his main body is rolling. It lacks any electric motor that allows independent motion, however, it comes with a desert-themed docking station that allows BB-8 to roll using hand-cranked wheels while he remains stationary. As expected, there is no standard LEGO piece for BB-8’s spherical body giving Mark experimenting on certain parts as the only option. After countless trials and errors, Mark found the perfect spherical candidate: the desert planet from the Sebulba Podracer and Tatooine set (9675). Mark said, “It took a lot of experimenting…I think I ordered one of every dome and ball shaped piece Lego has ever made off of Bricklink just so I could try every option.” After a quick paint job, the desert planet of Tatooine now houses the mechanisms for this adorable rolling astromech.
Here is Mark’s commentary on his BB-8 design.
This unique BB-8 was designed with the primary goal of being able to move with his head staying up on top. The entire model was made using 100% Genuine Lego parts. His shells were of course carefully painted (and if this model is approved and created by Lego, the parts would come printed as so many Lego parts are). Inside you’ll find Lego weights suspended from the central axle that bolster up two Lego magnets. Those magnets are held up close to the top of the ball and attract the two magnets built into BB-8’s head. The head uses a cockpit dome (painted), hinge parts, and the smallest Lego wheels to skate on top of the body. The body’s shell started out as Tatooine from the Lego Star Wars Planet series. The total part count is around 180 pieces.
This Rolling BB-8 is super fun to fidget with, roll about, and satisfies a midpoint between static model and full on electric RC. It would make a great addition to any Lego or Star Wars Fan’s collection!
We hope to see more support for Mark’s BB-8 (I certainly voted for it) as LEGO gave him additional 182 days as a way of giving a thumbs-up for the project. Perhaps future builds will incorporate NXT programming. The design potential is limitless. Just visit his LEGO Ideas page and click Support if you like to see this LEGO BB-8 roll out in store shelves later on.