Luke Skywalker may have defeated the Empire at the end of Return of the Jedi, but the First Order is keeping their evil ethos alive in the new Star Wars movies, and they’re also embracing the Empire’s imposing aesthetic. In the lead-up to Force Friday, new Star Wars toys revealed a new Last Jedi character, an evil version of the lovable BB-8 named BB-9E. The droid, presumably named “9E” because it came after BB-8 and “E” stands for “evil,” is a perfect fusion of the Empire’s spartan, unnerving design sensibilities.
The droid is black, as most Imperial or First Order droids are, but what really sets it apart is the shape of its head. While BB-8 has a rounded head and a big “eyes,” BB-9E is more of a cylinder, and its red eye is beady and narrow. Where BB-8 is a cute robotic soccer ball, BB-9E is like a surveillance drone crossed with an evil Roomba.
BB-9E’s style is very much in line with past Imperial droids. R5-J2, an evil R2-D2 analogue that served on the second Death Star, had a similarly shaped head. BB-9E also resembles the probe droid that the Empire sent down to Hoth in search of the Rebel Base in Empire Strikes Back. The probe droids had more bulbous heads than BB-9E, but the narrow head and evil observing eye sit over the rest of the droids’ bodies in a similar way.
More than anything, BB-9E and almost all Imperial droids look utilitarian. BB-8 looks warm and unique, his roundness giving him character. BB-9E is harder to identify with them. It’s the same reason why Stormtroopers, Imperial Guards, and Darth Vader wear helmets and pristine armor, while the good guys wear beaten-up, lived-in clothes and show their faces.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi hits theaters on December 15.