Star Wars drone review: Propel’s collectible $200 battle drones
Star Wars drone review: Propel’s collectible $200 battle drones

For those of you Star Wars nerds out there, there’s a drone for you too.

Propel’s new line of Star Wars battle drones are essentially a basic 4-ounce toy drone that is operated via remote controller — but there’s a whole lot more to it than justthat. These highly-deta iled, hand-painted (and very pricey) drones are a perfect gift for the Star Wars fan in your life, and an incredible keepsake item for the collectors in your life.

The drones cost $199 each and come in three different designs, the 74-Z Speeder Bike, the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter and the Tie Advanced X1.

propel star wars drone battleStar Wars drone review: The packaging

I had so much fun simply opening my drone from its box, which was the Tie Advanced X1. Each drone arrives in a wax-sealed box that, much to my surprise, actually plays Star Wars music and lights up when it’s opened. It’s mounted on a fancy stand inside a clear plastic case, for display in my home, rather than packed in a closet (which unfortunately most of my drones are!).

star wars drone tie fighter propelStar Wars drone review: the design

These drones are absolutely beautiful. The hand-painted drones are numbered, certified and packed in a special collectable display. There is incredible attention to detail here. Intricate shading in the painting gives the drone the appearance that it has weathered many flights through the galaxy. Blue and white LEDs give it a mystical

Each drone weighs only about 4 ounces, so you won’t have to register with the FAA.

Interestingly, the propellers are actually placed on the bottom of the drone, which I’m guessing was done for aesthetic purposes; it also means you’ll have to take off from a hard surface (not a patch of grass). The drone also comes with a propeller guard which is useful when flying indoors to not scrape up your walls (or the drone itself).

Star Wars drone review: flight

The drone operates on its own very much like any $70 toy drone you can find on Amazon.

There’s an auto takeoff and land button for new pilots, and some flight settings can be adjusted.

To add more realism to it, the controllers feature speakers with authentic Star Wars sounds and music. Each controller also features a pop out arm to hold your smartphone for an upcoming app that will let you track your battle stats against your friends.

It does not have a camera, which was sort of a let-down given the high price of the drone. (Even this $70 drone has a 2 megapixel camera).

One really cool feature about this drone is its battle abilities.  They have eye-safe lasers that can be fired at other Star Wars drones. If a drone is hit, it will wobble. If it takes three hits, it will crash land. This was a super fun feature that you wouldn’t find in most cheap toy drones, and gives me reason to want to fly this drone all the time.

However, the catch here is that you need two, or maybe more drones to use the battle function. Which means you’re spending not just $200, but at least $400, and more like $600 or $800 to get a crew of friends together to battle it out.

I got a chance to play with the battle quads during a press event. However, with my own Tie-Fighter unit at home, it was just me, so I didn’t get to have that battle quad fun.

Star Wars drone review: the controller

I absolutely love this controller. Another really fun feature here is that it actually plays music and other sound effects (you do have the option to turn off the sound).

Each controller is customized to the drone it goes with, so my Tie Fighter controller was black with red accents, but the other controllers match the colors of their drones (it helps to distinguish controllers during battles).

I did have one major issue with the controller. The screws are very cheap, and I ended up stripping one of them down on accident, which caused me to have to force the battery cover off, rather than gently remove it. I felt bad marginally damaging my very expensive toy drone for something like this, and I do wish Propel had used better quality screws so this wouldn’t have happened.

Star Wars drone review: batteries

The drones offer about 8 minutes of flight time, and take about 30 minutes to charge, via a wall outlet. The nice thing is, you get two batteries, so you get more play time.

Along the same lines of marginally damaging my controller, I did slightly damage one of the batteries. After removing it for about the 30th time (I played with it a lot, okay?!), the thumb clip to remove the battery easily broke off, making it more difficult to remove the batteries in the future. This was also annoying. The quality of the drone seemed super high, but this cheap little piece of plastic broke off too easily.

Star Wars drone review: the final verdict

If you LOVE Star Wars and collectibles, this drone is awesome. The packaging and design of the drone is simply beautiful. It is displayed on my bookshelf next to a Kylo Ren doll my sister gave me for Christmas (I am a Star Wars nerd okay?!) and looks great.

“You’re essentially paying a $150 premium to Propel to get that Star Wars branding.”

However, it is really pricey for someone who is really just looking for a drone to play around with. Unless you’re able to convince your friends to buy their own Star Wars drone so you can battle together, you’re better off buying something like the $50 U818A drone — it ultimately flies pretty much the same way, and at least that has a camera so you can take selfies or see your backyard from a whole new angle. You’re essentially paying a $150 premium to Propel to get that Star Wars branding. I’ll let you decide if the premium is worth it.

That being said, if you want to make the Star Wars nerd in your life really happy, the attention to detail with this drone, from the sounds to the hand-painted design, is simply stunning.

May the force be with you, and happy flying!

 

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About the Author: Nana Gastaldi