Propel’s officially licensed Star Wars Battle Drones ideal for us big kids. With a choice of three classic era Star Wars replica designs, deciding the right one for you is the hardest choice.
There is the Empire’s 74-Z Speeder Bike was my go-to for recreating those blisteringly fast Endor chases, but there’s also Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced X1 and the classic X-Wing starfighter for those nail-biting space dogfights. And now there is also Han’s Millennium Falcon that has recently been added to the list.
The drone itself is hand painted to fine detail and looks great. Although the arms the propellers are attached are a little unsightly, but they still fit in nicely with the overall Star Wars aesthetic, and barely notice them when it is in the air.
Learning to fly
Firstly you will need to charge the batteries which take about 30 minutes and then attach the four propellers. Secondly, switch on the drone and controller, you’ll need to push the left stick up for two seconds and down for another two to pair the controller with your drone. Thirdly, you have to calibrate the onboard barometric sensor, which needs doing every time, and finally you have to hold down one of the four unlabelled buttons on the face of the controller unit to get the propellers going.
All this is a little arduous and remembering every step, every time is a bit of a bind. But that said, once you’ve lifted off, though, you’ll have a blast. This drone is really fast, reaching 30mph in just three seconds and hitting a top speed of 35mph. Not bad at all for a drone at this price.
I’m no expert pilot and while it was a little tricky to get to grips with at first, I was soon performing acrobatic maneuvers. There are even dedicated clockwise and anti-clockwise corkscrew-roll tricks assigned to the shoulder buttons, great fun.
The Propel comes with a spare battery which is badly needed as the battery lasts around seven minutes of flight time per charge. The proprietary charger doesn’t make things easy, especially when others use the far simpler Micro USB charger. If things do go wrong, which they might, there are a handful of spare parts in the box as well as an extra figure should your original Scout Trooper fly away, never to be seen again.
For beginners there’s T-mode, which helps you get to grips with the basics in enclosed spaces. This uses the drone’s barometric pressure sensor to limit flight altitude to between 2m and (roughly) 50cm, so you can practice without worrying about flying too high or low. I would suggest clipping on the supplied protective propeller cage during your first few goes, too.
There’s also an Android and iOS app for beginner pilots which is due out shortly, which has you controlling a virtual ship in-game with the supplied Bluetooth controller and its Smartphone mount. Perfect for flight training without running the risk of smashing your new toy into a wall.
Propel’s Star Wars drones both look good and fly well, but the key attraction with these particular quadcopters is battle mode.
Propel’s Star Wars drones both look good and fly well, but the key attraction with these particular quadcopters is battle mode. Each drone is equipped with an infrared laser, allowing you to engage in aerial combat with up to 23 friends, complete with IR lasers, movie sound effects and flashes of light thanks to the on-board LEDs. A novel and fun way to fly.
A life indicator on the face of the controller lets you know how well you’re doing. Each successful hit has the drone rocking side-to-side and if you’re knocked out completely after three hits. Then you’ll auto-land, slowly descending into a downward spiral and you can then regroup for your next battle.
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Propel Star Wars Drone review: Verdict
Yes, there are other, better drones available for around the same price, but none match the charm or sense of enjoyment of the Propel. And for the Star Wars enthusiast there’s no better drone out there.
Great fun to fly and for £200 you get a very detailed miniature drone, able to reach impressive speeds with easy to perform acrobatic capabilities and the chance to battle it out with your friends.