Regulars to this blog will know I’ve been closely following the development of Ape Piaggio’s latest project – the AD25H “Little Bee” – (see here and here). Well, I’m happy to say that the Little Bee is now ready for launch – and what a honey it is! This is a package overfull of surprises, and something every motorboat lover in SL is going to want.
The AD25H is a boat which has from the start been a winner in my eyes. Built on the lines of a classic tender speedboat, it evokes an immediate feeling of summertime on the Italian Riviera, cruising along a sun-drenched coast or speeding by golden beaches, the music of Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Connie Francis, Morgana King or The Chairman himself – take your pick – playing on the boat’s radio.
Marketed under Ape’s FoilBorne Industries brand, the Little Bee builds on the stunning work put into her Kv23H FoilStream (which I reviewed in January 2015), and while a lot smaller, the Little Bee actually packs a lot more into it. With passengers aboard, it can be a gentle, caring ride with Ape’s Anti-Crash Security System (ACSS) doing much to assist with region crossings. But should you feel a need for speed when out on your own ,this boat can deliver – up to and including converting to a hydrofoil for that extra kick of driving fun.
One of the many things about Ape’s designs I love is the sheer attention to detail. With the Little Bee, this starts with the packaging, which is delightful in its presentation, and a promise of goodies to come.
On unpacking, the box delivers a number of items to inventory: the boat, a HUD for the boat, a trailer and “TugBee” – a little VW Beetle specifically designed for towing the Little Bee on its trailer. A paint system brings up the rear, while the boat itself hides a stand it is automatically mounted upon if rezzed away from Linden water.
This is a friendly boat. Get in as the driver, and it will welcome you aboard in both text and via an audio message (unless turned off).
The controls are the usual,
DOWN or W & S for the throttle,
RIGHT or A & D for turning, with
PAGE DOWN and
PAGE UP operating the hydrofoils (only at low speeds / when stopped). Touching the boat as owner accesses the full menu, passengers the seating menu. I’m not going to run through all the options – suffice it so say, everything you need is there to operate the boat, and owners of the Kv23H will see the Little Bee has matches it in options – and offers more besides. The expected options such as multiple camera options, auto-mooring, engine / race options, and so on, are all here together with the AD25H’s wakeboard and parasail deployment options and a few surprises.
Talking of the parasail and wakboard, both of the latter can be rezzed from the boat’s Accessories menu. Note that you will have to be on water that allows object entry, and should leave a degree of space behind the boat (don’t rez them when moored with a pier right behind you, for example). Once rezzed, riders simply sit on the wakeboard / parasail (and will receive a wearable handle for the former), and away you go. You can even rez multiple wakeboards and also have the parasail rezzed and used with the wakeboard(s).
Those riding either the wakeboard or the parasail have a degree of control on their motions. The former can be turned left or right via the usual A/S / arrow key options, with stunts accessed via the
PAGE DOWN and the
DOWN keys. The parasail’s rider can adjust their height with the
DOWN keys. When driving the boat with the wakeboard / parasail in use, I’d recommend keeping your speed down to no more than about 50% of throttle to avoid region crossing complications.
When deploying the foils and / or using the wakeboard / parasail, you’ll get to see two additional features on the Little Bee: the Event Cam and the CineCApe system. These allow for some dramatic shots of the boat in action, with CineCApe notably allowing the wakeboard and parasail riders to adjust their camera position using
PAGE UP to gain some impressive views of their ride. I’ve used clips from both in the accompanying video.
The car and trailer offer a sophisticated system for taking the Little Bee overland. The “TugBee” VW Beetle is nicely designed and comes with a range of features: opening doors, working lights and brake lights. The usual WASD / arrow keys are used for driving, and the Page keys for stepping up / down through the gears.
Hitching the trailer to the car is a matter of rezzing both, preferably in the same orientation and close to one another, then clicking the car for its menu and selecting Attach. To get the boat on the trailer, carefully reverse the car down a suitable slip or gentle bank so the trailer is about up to its axle in the water. Drive the boat up close to the trailer, click on it and select Trailer from the menu. The trailer’s hand brake should unwind and the boat haul itself out of the water and safely onto the trailer. Raise the hand brake by touching the trailer and you’re ready to drive away.
the car / trailer / boat combination handles region crossings pretty well, with the scripting system performing automatic re-alignments of all three. Keep in mind, however, that because you aren’t actually seated on the boat or trailer, should you loiter in or enter a region with a very short auto return period set, you could find boat and trailer poofing back to Lost & Found.
Should this happen, note that when you pull the trailer back out from Inventory, you should use the car’s menu to Detach the trailer prior to trying to re-attach, as the car will still think the trailer is still attached. You can also rez the boat, remove the stand and then access its menu to re-seat it on the trailer.
As noted above, the boat is packed to the gills with features, so I’ll just mention in passing the folding port side shotgun seat, the floor section which can be raised to convert the rear seats into a sun lounger, the media centre, the fold-down centre wind shield offering access to the bow, the multiple single and couples poses, the canvas weather cover, the engine compartment, the refuelling animation…
There’s also the painting system, which I admit I’ve yet to try in earnest (a link to the boat’s maps is provided in the user manual). However, do be sure to try the boat’s coffee percolator and enjoy an expresso. Think of me when you do, as Ape apparently added the coffee giving after reading a comment I’d made about the boat!
I did encounter two small niggles – and I emphasise “small” while playing with the boat. In the first, I found the trailer didn’t like wanting to be attached to the car on a mesh pier I have at home (the most convenient place for me to rez and have a first look). This didn’t occur elsewhere, either on land or on prims. The other was that try as I might, I couldn’t get the “givehud” chat command to deliver the boat’s HUD to me. Again, no real problem here, as the HUD is in the boat’s Inventory folder, so I just attached mine from there – in fact, I rarely drive the boat with the HUD; the over-the-engine hover text is OK for me.
Overall, this is a boat which totally lives up to expectations – and then exceeds them. If you’re after a small speedboat with plenty of options and which packs a lot of fun, this is definitely the one to grab; and at just L$2950, it’s an absolute steal.
The AD25H Little Bee will be available very shortly in-world. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll leave you with a little video while I go and have some more speed boating fun.