Sphero will stop producing Disney toy robots. This means no new BB-8, R2D2, Lightning McQueen, and Spiderman robots will be created, among others. The control app for the robots will be supported for at least another two years.
CEO Paul Beberian told The Verge that despite the success of the BB8 robots, interest in the Disney lines is declining every year, especially after the release of the film on which the product is based. “When you release toys, the first year is the best, the second year less, and the third year the least,” Beberian says.
The Disney robots, partly due to the license, cost more to produce than Sphero’s own robots. Shutting down production is also a time and personnel issue, as Sphero only employs 100 employees.
In addition, the CEO claims that “all Star Wars fans already have the robots” and that company data shows that there is only limited play with the robots before they end up on the shelf. The same goes for the Spiderman and Lightning McQueen robots. With the latter, Sphero’s developers teamed up with Pixar animators to bring out McQueen’s facial expressions as much as possible.
The partnership between Sphero and Disney lasted three years. It started with the development of the BB8 robot, which came out in 2015 along with the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens. In addition to the toy lines, Sphero develops educational robots, such as the Sphero BOLT. Beberian says that the popularity of Sphero’s educational line is growing every year, unlike that of the Disney lines.