DroidBuilders UK

Uniting all droid builders.

Rob Howdle

By: Rob Howdle

So why build a droid?

I joined the Astromech.net forum around 2011 with the intentions of building a replica R2-D2. I’ve always had an interest in things like electronics and just building things in general, especially difficult things that most people would turn away from due to the amount of time, money and effort that it would take.

I didn’t actually do anything until about 2017/2018 when I became a lot more interested and determind to build one. I’ve always had a deep love for Star Wars since I was a kid and finding the R2 Builders Club has just cemented my love for the franchise even more.

I guess the main reason I’m building a droid is because I like a challenge, in my local area nobody does anything and after a while I found myself doing the same thing, nothing so I figured this would be a great way to keep me busy, learn some new things and hopefully make some new friends.

What is your first droid?

My first droid is R2-D2, I quite simply love R2, he’s sassy, has an attitude and is just a fantastic character in every way I think. He is one of the most iconic robots in Sci-Fi to this day so naturally I wanted to build him. After starting my build I began discovering other droids and have begun to build other droids.

What other droids do you have in the works?

Currently whilst working on R2 I am working on an R6 droid as well as a Mouse Droid and Gonk Droid I am building with my son. All of the droids are taking their time to complete but especially the Gonk Droid are completely custom so a lot of parts I’m having to 3D Model myself, print them multiple times adjusting one tiny part by 0.01mm or something to make sure it fits. Anybody who does any form of 3D Modeling (yes Mr. Baddeley I’m looking at you!) Will know how frustrating this can be but it’s all a learning curve.

I have also begun construction of a T3-M4 custom droid called T3-N3-R0 in memory of one of my most beloved family dogs who passed away mid 2019.

On top of all of that, I have a custom droid in the works that I have entered in the Droid Competition that Disney/ Lucasfilm have launch, he’s called OA-AH which I would love to build!

What challenges have you encountered while building droids?

Mostly the challenges have been figuring out how things go together, I am one of the most “budget builders” out there and will try to get anything as cheap as possible, make my own or use something that I can work with in order to get the part completed. I quite simply don’t have the kind of money to splash on expensive parts which is a shame because I’ve seen some droids who have some very expensive parts and gear and they are absolutely fantastic but that’s not a option for me and I guess any advice I could offer any new builders is don’t worry about it, there is always a way to make things work, sometimes it will involve saving up for a few months to buy one part but in the end, once the whole thing is done and you head off to events and you see the public and other builders reactions to your droid it makes it all worth it.

Another challenge of mine has been patience. I’m not a patient person so I have found myself having to redo a lot of my R2 parts because they either weren’t sanded properly, different amount of paint coats have given different shades of paint, measurements were not correct etc so that has been a huge challenge for me to slow down and have more patience.

Why did you start T3 who isn’t a very common droid to build?

Well the answer is in the question really, he’s not a very common droid! I founded the T3 Builders Club in early-mid 2019 after playing an old favourite game of mine, Star Wars Knights Of The Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords (KOTOR 2) and I had actually forgot that T3 was in it. After doing some searching there are only about a handful of T3’s that are actually built in the world.

I decided I wanted to do something about that and with R2UK 2019 fast approaching at this point I really wanted to do something new. I began speaking with a couple of other builders who were interested in the T3 Utility Droid who agreed to help me out, two of which being our very own Oliver Steeples and Douglas Olson from the States who has been working very hard on the first T3-M4 3D files. Between the three of us, we are working on some of the plans that were originally put forward from the Yahoo Group, creating a droid from the existing plans, changing measurements that don’t work or don’t seem right and this is mostly a trial an error sort of thing as well as a waiting for game, by the time the plans are “finished” I reckon I will have between 20-30 T3 frames built testing various measurements.

We have started to gain quite a bit of interest from the Droid Building Community now, our Facebook group has over 300 members now with quite a few builders either already building when they joined or beginning their build whether it’s a scaled version or full size version! Our website has a special “Builders Month” section which showcases some of our builders work!

Overall, T3 is still in the very early stages of development but he is coming along very nicely! We are currently working on the mechanics of the drive system, the head movement since he can rotate his head, push it forward and back and also tilt side to side which isn’t too bad on a smaller droid but on something the size of T3 it’s proving quite a challenge but if it wasn’t a challenge would there be much point in trying?!

Where can people find out more about the T3 Builders Club?

I have created a few different ways, we have a website which I built, https://www.t3buildersclub.co.uk and from there you can find a link to our Forum which I encourage people to sign up on to get the files, we also have our Facebook group which is simply T3 Builders Club so there are plenty of ways to find us!