Star Wars Droids and programming! Sounds like the perfect combination. Let's try it!
The Instruction The Parts
Droid Commander is the 2nd set that features the Boost system. I know, there are a few others that are Boost-enabled, but they don't come with the Boost components. A few years back, I got the first one, the 17101-1 Creative Toolbox. I must say, I'm a bit torn about the system. On the one hand, it's simple enough for kids to use and learn programming. But it's also a bit limited with only 3 motors and 1 color/distance sensor. If you want more, there is the Mindstorms series. But that one is a lot more expensive. You can't have it both ways I guess. This new version also comes with a new app.
UPDATE: Since I wrote this, the PoweredUp 3.0 App came out, making it possible to use the Boost elements in any combination you want.
Introduce your Star Wars™ fan to a rich LEGO® brick galaxy of lovable droids, exciting missions and coding fun for kids with the LEGO Star Wars BOOST Droid Commander set. This interactive robot toy puts your child in command of 3 app-controlled Star Wars LEGO droids: R2-D2, a Gonk Droid and a Mouse Droid, each with their own personalities and skills. Using the free LEGO BOOST Star Wars app, your young commander builds the droids, inserts the Bluetooth-controlled Move Hub into the one that will solve each mission, and brings it to life using the intuitive drag-and-drop coding environment (visit LEGO.com/devicecheck for a list of compatible devices). Your youngster then constructs tools, weapons, targets, obstacles and lots more as they progress through over 40 exciting missions – they’ll love it! This set makes a great birthday or Christmas gift or just a gift for any occasion. It also helps youngsters develop their critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills, introduces them to basic engineering and robotics, and, just as importantly, lets them play in a rich and expansive galaxy filled with unforgettable icons like Luke Skywalker, X-wings, the Death Star and many more. From LEGO.com
The box measures 53 x 28 x 9 cm, and weighs 1680 grams. Inside are 12 bags numbers 1-12, a Dark Turqouise 48288 Tile 8 x 16, and the Boost components. These are the same as in the 17101-1 Creative Toolbox. There is only a smal Quick Start instead of a full manual.
There are no paper instructions. Everything is in the app. The set does come with a small Quick Guide, that explains how the app works and some basic information on the electronic components.
The set contains 1168 parts, in 19 colors, and 32 part categories, with a total of 351 unique parts/color combinations.
Main colors are:
- Light Bluish Gray:64 parts, 239 quantity.
- Black:57 parts, 192 quantity.
- Dark Bluish Gray:54 parts, 179 quantity.
Main categories are:
There is little to say about the build. It's pretty straigth-forward. There are 3 droids to build. They can be all be build at the same time, and the Boost components can easily be swapped between them.
Bag 1 builds the basic Boost components, used in each droid.
Bags 2-6 build R2-D2. R2-D2 can drive around, rotate his head and see obstacles and colors with his sensor.
Bags 7-9 build the Gonk Droid. The Gonk Droid walks with a simple but clever mechanism, and you can attach 2 arms to perform all kind of tasks.
Bags 10-11 build the Mouse Droid. This is the simpelest of the 3 droids. 2 motors are used for driving. Because he has 4 wheels, of which only 2 are driven, steering goes terrible on smooth surfaces. Besides that, he can open the sides of his body. Woohoo!
So the main thing about this set is not really the build itself. Everything depends on the app.
First up, is the story. This is clearly aimed at kids, and everything takes babysteps to setup the whole programming experience.
You're a pilot, and you're stranded on Tatooine with a damaged Millennium Falcon. You talk to Watto, who has the needed parts, but wants to get paid for it. Since you have no money, Watto suggests you build him some droids instead. This whole story is done in pictos, so small children can follow it.
When you start building, the first thing to do, as with every BlueTooth device, is a firmware update. This takes about 2 minutes through a budget phone. After that, the builds begins. It took me a while to get used to the digital instructions. Main issue for me was that the bricks don't have a clear black outlining like in paper instruction, making parts of the same color a bit hard to destinguise. Also, I noticed that, as the build gets bigger, my tablet slowed down upto a point where going from one step to the next would take 5 seconds. But, I used a low-budget, 2-year old tablet. I think, that with a decent tablet, this problem will be less prominent.
After the build, there is the testing. You're guided through a few small programs, to see all the features of the droid. This will unlock the control panel. In the control panel you can drive the droid, and add programs to the colored buttons.
To unlock extra features, like free programming, you'll need to accept challenges from people in the cantina. Once these are all complete, you'll recieve the final part to repair you're space ship, and a new planet is unlocked. On the new planet, are new challenges, that unlock new planets, which have new challenges... You get the drift.
There is also the option to free program. From what I've found, this can only be done within the limits of the droids, but I think this can be easily be bypassed. And if not, you can always use the original Boost app, gthe PoweredUp 3.0 app, or use 3rd-party solutions like Scratch.
So, the final verdict...
Well, for the build, it's a bit disapointing. They look nice, but a little odd. But the building is not the focus of this set, it's the Boost system. And for that: it works great! For me, there was little challenge in completing the missions, but for smaller kids, this is a great introduction to programming. They'll take longer than me to get through all challenges, so the playtime is also longer.
But is it 'just something nice for kids'? No, not really. With the app (or the app from the 17101-1 Creative Toolbox) there is plenty opportunity for adults to have fun. Create your own builds, program your own missions. For the 17101-1 Creative Toolbox, there are already several MOCs here in Rebrickable, so people seem to be able to use it creativly.
Parts- and build photographs by Tobymac (© 2020 Rebrickable)