Every now and again we here at The Outerhaven are lucky enough to try something different. This time around, just in time for the release of Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi, one of our crew got a chance to play with the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter; a drone based around one of three Star Wars vehicles. Does the drone take off and fly with the force? Or does it drown in the commercialism and cash-in of The Dark Side? Let’s take a look…
Product: Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter
Average charge time: 30-40 minutes
Average run time: 6-8 minutes
Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 4.3 x 13.2 inches
Key Product Features:
– New reverse propulsion blade system achieves speeds over 35 MPH
– Multiplayer battle game with other propel STAR WARS battling drones
– Push-button aerial stunts
– Multiple speed settings for beginner to advanced pilots
– 2.4 GHz controller included
– Each ship is highly detailed,hand painted and numbered
Available From: JB HIFI (Australia) / Amazon (United States)
Price: $199 (Australia) / $129 (United States)
As mentioned above, the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter is one of three Star Wars based vehicles that have been turned into drones. Here at The Outerhaven, we got to play with the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter as seen in the original Star Wars trilogy. The other two models available are the TIE Advanced X1 Fighter, also seen in the Star Wars movies, and also the 74-Z Speeder Bike from Return of the Jedi. While we would have prefered the 74-Z Speeder Bike, the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter is not a bad review unit to get.
The T-65 X-Wing Starfighter comes with a lot in the box. Besides the actual T-65 X-Wing Starfighter itself, you get the controller, a USB based charging dock with wall plug attachment, a propeller cage to protect the most important part of the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, a battery pack shaped like the cockpit, and some extra spare parts should anything break or go missing during an accident.
The Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter is pretty easy to set up. The battery pack slots into the cockpit area of the T-65 X-Wing Starfighter quite easily and a bunch of blinking lights will show you that it is ready to connect to the controller. The controller itself does have a lot of buttons on it, but by pressing the Rebellion logo the whole thing will start up with a Star Wars quote and some very familiar music. Thanks to an auto-liftoff and auto-landing button, you take flight easily to about 3 feet off the ground at full charge, from there it’s up to you to control the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter with the right stick (used to control 4 way movement) and the left stick (used to control height and turning left/right in a circle motion). You are given a bunch of training mission and other fun stuff by connecting your Android or iOS phone via Bluetooth to the controller. These games and training are fun to do, but a real pilot just feels what he has to do.
The best thing that can be done with the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone Series is a multiplayer experience where if you have two or more of these drones, you can create a lot of buzzing and a great air battle. The Propel Star Wars Battle Drone Series allows interaction between units, leading to a lot of fun dog fights… If you can afford it.
When using the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, I enjoyed the fact that besides it being my first real drone experience, it was a very smooth drone to control. It did take me a few tries to finally get the sensitivity of the controller down with the movements of the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, but once I got the hang of it I was able to move around my house without crashing into a wall or window every 30 seconds.
I also gave the training mode a go too. Thankfully the controller doesn’t power your phone during connection so if there was an issue it was easy to fix. The training missions had me learn the importance of level flying and how to steer through and around obstacles… Even if doing so resulted in me crashing into more than one real life object or two. A word of advice, make sure you have a LOT of open space to work with if you are planning to do the training missions indoors.
One other thing that I really loved, even though I was sure I would hate it after a while, was the use of the Star Wars soundtrack. Hearing those epic tunes while flying the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter was even more enjoyable since you really felt like you were flying in the movie itself. Hearing the main theme during take off really makes you feel like you’re going to be a Rebel Pilot who is about to go out there and kick some Empire ass!
There are two things that really annoyed me about the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter. The first is the battery life. As you saw in the product information section above, the charge time is anywhere up to 40 minutes, and out of that you get a play time of around 8 minutes maximum. This doesn’t seem fair as at around that time you are really getting into playing with the drone and then it starts to drop down and weird issues like the controller shutting off start happening. I think the auto-landing feature and some notification that the batteries are drained really should have been implemented since more than one time the controller shut off on me while the drone was still active and sent it crashing into a wall more than once.
The other main thing that annoyed me is that one of the best features of the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone Series is locked behind a financial wall. It’s not so much a paywall like in video games, but in the fact that you have to buy a minimum of two Propel Star Wars Battle Drones in order to do the multi-unit battles, something that is a lot of fun to do. Luckily I know a few staff at the local Harvey Norman store that happen to have a display model in the back office that were willing to allow me to test this feature in their store using my drone and their test model. While the battle system is fun, at AUD$200 a pop it’s not exactly something that everyone is going to be able to do.
When it is all said and done, the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter is a good entry into the drone market. It’s a sturdy piece of plastic that flies really well and has a lot of fun features, however the very low battery life along with the having to buy more than one unit to get maximum enjoyment really hurts the product here. I know hardcore Star Wars collectors will grab all three models but never use them, and drone fanatics will be disappointed by the battery life; so that leaves the average consumer wondering if they should drop AUD$200 to AUD$400 on a couple of these drones and give them a go. Personally, I think it’s worth getting at least one, if just for the fact that these are Star Wars drones! Unless you’re an engineering genius that can 3D print an illegal cover of one of these vehicles, you won’t see anything this cheap and licensed anywhere. So if you see one, give it a shot and see if you would want to have space battles between The Rebels and The Empire in your home… I know you will… *waves hand* These are the drones you’re looking for…
Disclaimer: The Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter was sent to The Outerhaven by Red Agency Melbourne on behalf of Propel IRC for review purposes. This does not contractually obligate The Outerhaven to provide a positive review of the product, but is given freely under the agreement that the opinions expressed in the review are those of The Outerhaven staff alone without influence from outside agencies. If you believe that this review constitutes a breach of our Ethics Policy then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with your complaint and we will see to it immediately.
A Fun Product While It Lasts
The Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter is a great little drone in the fact that there is a bit to do with it, however the short battery life along with the fact that the best feature is locked behind having to buy a second unit makes the Propel Star Wars Battle Drone: T-65 X-Wing Starfighter something that you might only want to buy if you are a hardcore Star Wars collector or someone who wants to give a decently made drone a try.