If you're a serious Star Wars fan, or you know someone who is, here's a new conversation piece for your moisture farm.
Made by AC Worldwide, these wireless speakers are shaped like the heads of three of the greatest Stars Wars characters ever to go into hyperspace: Darth Vader, C-3PO and an anonymous Imperial Stormtrooper (did you really expect a name?). Each head is rendered in detail and delivers loud and satisfying sound for both music and phone calls. There are even a few Easter eggs to keep an entire cantina entertained.
Shiny, scary people
If you're already reaching for your wallet, you'll first need to clear a lot of space on your bookshelf. Ranging in height from 11 to 12.6 inches (naturally, Vader's head is the tallest) the speakers seem almost as large as the heads of the actual characters. But if you already have a giant Lego Millennium Falcon on your dining table, I suspect you won't mind their size.
Each speaker's profile accurately captures each character's, well, character. Vader's visage is just as chilling as it would be roaming the corridors of the Death Star, the Stormtrooper embodies a nameless terror and C-3PO is so shiny you can see your reflection in his forehead.
The eyes of each character glow when you turn them on and set up a Bluetooth connection. Touch controls on the front of each speaker adjust the volume and bass, control music playback options, initiate a Bluetooth (versions 4.0) pairing, and accept (and hang up) calls. The controls were easy to use, even though I'd prefer buttons that you can actually press down. Around back are the power switch, a USB port (for charging a phone), a microphone (for making calls), a port for the wall charger (to power the integrated battery) and a port for connecting a 3.5mm auxiliary cable.
Star Wars sounds
There's an especially cool effect when you make a Bluetooth connection. Instead of a boring tone you'll hear familiar sounds from the films. The Vader speaker plays the Sith Lord's signature mechanical breathing, the Stormtrooper says, "Go about your business, move along" followed by blaster sounds and the self-effacing C-3PO remarks, "I do believe they think I'm some sort of god" to the tune of the Star Wars theme. (Vader also plays sounds of a lightsaber battle when you disconnect him.)
Music and more
You can connect each speaker to a music device via Bluetooth, NFC or an auxiliary cable. When connected to your phone through Bluetooth, they double as a speakerphone for making calls. I connected each to my iPhone 6 quickly and jumped straight to playing music without any hassle. Though I didn't try it, you can connect two speakers to the same music device for stereo sound.
Sound quality from the 10-watt subwoofer was fine during the brief period I used the speakers, and the volume gets ear-shatteringly loud. Call quality over the speakerphone wasn't quite as sharp, and it felt weird ordering lunch through Darth Vader's mouth. Music will mute automatically if you get a call while you're listening to tunes. The 2200 mAh battery is supposed to deliver up to five hours of music playback.
Available (not) a long time ago
For now at least, the speakers are sold only at retail stores in the UK. Look for them at Selfridges, Harrods and London Disney Stores. You also can buy them on AC's website, where you can arrange for international shipping.
Vader sells for £169 or $211 (about AU$295) and the others for £149 or $186 (about AU$250). A selection of international plug adapters come in the box, as does a felt carrying bag.