From the galaxy’s deep core to the outer rim, the forests of Endor to the frozen tundras of Hoth, and all the starships in space, let’s go to press. Here’s a round-up of the latest Star Wars news…

BB-8, aka “the ball droid,” is real

Many assumed the soccer-ball shaped robot from The Force Awakens trailer was a computer-generated effect, but it turns out J.J. Abrams actually built the character we now know as BB-8. Mark Hamill told Yahoo Movies he actually drove the remote-controlled little guy. “When they were demonstrating how they did this thing, live on set—because it’s not CGI, that’s a live prop—I was just amazed,” he told writer Gwynne Watkins. “They let me play around with it. [Laughs] I was running it all around at the creature shop up in Pinewood. I’m telling you, it’s an absolute delight.”

In leaked docs, Sony execs lament losing talent to Star Wars

The Daily Beast’s William Boot has found a Sept. 20 email in which Columbia Pictures production president Michael De Luca wrote to his boss, Sony Pictures chairman Amy Pascal, to tell her that they can’t hope to compete for filmmaking talent against the draw of that galaxy far, far away.

Star Wars: Any studio would have lost josh trank and rian Johnson to this, it’s freaking Star Wars. Your After Earth writer Gary Whitta is writing Gareth Edwards stand alone Star Wars film. Simon Kinberg is writing Josh Tranks. No one knows what they’re about but Boba Fett is rumored to be the subject of one [sic],” De Luca wrote.

None of this is new information. Lucasfilm had already announced that Johnson (Looper) would be directing Episode VIII and possibly IX, and that Edwards (Godzilla) and Trank (Chronicle) would be handling two other films from the universe. As for the subject of those spin-offs, EW previously reported that Lucasfilm is developing a young Han Solo spin-off and a story that focuses on an adventure with Boba Fett and other bounty hunters.

“Rian Johnson as you know is doing the main ones, episodes 8 and 9 of the Luke and Leia story lines, after JJ,” De Luca went on. “Not sure anything is gained by looking at what Lucasfilm is doing except we are stalking all these people too, except Whitta whom I think blows.”

Some Star Wars-watchers are claiming that his reference to the “Luke and Leia story lines” is evidence that the next two films will focus on these two characters, but that’s a big leap not supported by the way De Luca talks about the rest of the series.

More likely, he was just using “Luke and Leia” as shorthand to differentiate the trilogy films from the stand-alones. Sony Pictures doesn’t seem privy to much inside information here, as he points out “no one knows what they’re about.”

TIE Fighter down in fan-made clip

Nothing official from the Star Wars universe, but a new dash cam video clip posted to the Facebook page for the German Dein Sky Film is a fun 10-second demonstration of what everyday fans can do with homemade visual effects these days.

Now you know TIE Fighters aren’t so effective in places like Hoth. They can’t handle the ice.