ITS FANS TO
By Howard Wen
exterior. Some builders even make R2s with metal
components, inside and out, for sturdier results.
Those people new to the craft of building an R2
are advised to start by constructing what is basically
a display model, and then later add working lights
and the ability for it to emit the familiar beep-boop
“I found R2-D2 to be the funniest Star Wars charac- sounds of the character. Next in skill difficulty is
ter. Since I saw the first movie, I envisioned having installing radio-control drive mechanics, so that
one of my own,” recalls Federico Sesler, a 30-year- the R2 can be driven about on wheeled legs and its
old economics student in Rome, Italy. “I wanted an dome head rotated by remote control.
R2-D2 that could run around the house and attract Speaking of the legs, the most mechanically
people’s attention with its amusing sounds.” complex — and show-stopping — thing to build into
So he made one — his very own full-scale R2-D2. an R2 is the ability for it to extend out, and set into
And he’s not alone.
Over the last five years, building replica R2-D2s has grown into a "We had to redesign the middle leg
serious hobby scene. The R2 deployment and retraction. The
Builders Group, one such internet original R2 unit would only drop the
community dedicated to this craft, counts more than 2,400 mem- leg, not raise it. So we actually went
bers. R2 builders take great pride further with it than the original
— perhaps obsessively and a bit designers did."
protectively — in the detail they
put into their reproductions of the
familiar Star Wars android. position, a third leg from underneath its barrel-
There tends to be a uniform size and look to shaped housing, and retract it. Among R2 builders,
these fan-made R2s, making them virtual copies of such a feature is referred to as a “2-3-2” (an R2 that
the real thing. That’s because many makers use a can change itself from “2-leg mode” to “3-leg” and
particular set of blueprints based on the actual back). The R2-D2 prop in the first Star Wars movie
R2-D2 prop used in the movies. couldn’t even pull this off.
A build-your-own R2 is made with any number “As a group we had to redesign the middle leg de-and combination of materials. Wood is commonly ployment and retraction. The original R2 unit would
used for the interior framework; plastic, fiberglass, only drop the leg, not raise it. So we actually went
resin and machined aluminum usually comprise the further with it than the original designers did,” says