DroidBuilders UK

Uniting all droid builders.

Steve Baudains

By: Rob Howdle

Droid (s): R2D2, Chopper, 39.1% egg

How long have you been apart of a Droid Building Community?

I joined astromech.net in 2015, thinking building an R2 would be pretty straightforward, I already had my eyes set on a lampshade to use! It was then after many evenings of reading did I realise that this was probably not the way! Fast forward to 2016 and after finding a dome in stock via Granite Earth in the USA, and one “late night” purchase later, and my path was well and truly set.

What are your current build? (Droid, Materials etc)

R2 is still requiring a couple of tweaks and improvements here and there, I finished my 2-leg static Chopper build at the end on Feb 2020, just in time for our first ever Jersey comicon (the paint was still wet in places!)

What made you want to build a droid in the first place?

Probably similar to a lot of people. Lifelong Star Wars fan, since seeing ANH in the local cinema aged 8 years old. I also have a passion and interest in all things electronic, with a background in radio control, so it was kind of a logical thing to do.

What future plans do you have for your droid? Constantly upgrading? Show piece? Events droid?

R2 will undergo several improvements in the coming months, mostly things I had to make small compromises with at the time of build, however, with more accurate pieces now available to buy or 3D print, I want to make a few changes.

Do you have any more droids? If so what other droids do you have either complete or WIP/ planning stages?

Right now I simply don’t have any more space, I’ve completely taken over the dining room as it is, so I think my wife would divorce me if I started another build. Hmmm…IG11 looks kinda cool…

What are some of the challenges you have faced during your build?

I had to relearn a set of skills (particularly woodwork) I hadn’t touched in years. My R2 is based on the Senna wooden frame plans, with aluminium skins and a granite earth aluminium dome, so I had to self-teach myself how to safely use a router and various other tools, amazingly I didn’t really make any mistakes so ended up with a pretty solid frame to start hanging everything off.

I think the biggest challenge was one of timescale, I originally set myself a goal of 1 year to build, but my local garrison had an event in 3 months time and I actually managed to get a rolling R2 ready (with unfinished legs/battery boxes) in that time. I cringe now when I look at the photos, but the crowd absolutely loved it.

Do you have a ‘proudest moment’? If so what would that be (could be from the build itself or an event)

This is an easy one, just one day before me filling in this questionnaire John Leeson (the voice of K9) and Jimmy Vee (R2 in Solo and The Last Jedi) signed inside my R2 dome. Jimmy also posed for several photos with R2 at Jersey’s first comicon.

Are there any parts of the build process that have surprised you with how easy/ hard you found them? (For example something that you thought would be very hard that turned out to be easy for you etc)

In the early days of research and building, I was pretty surprised at the amazing level of details that the original designers put in to R2. Even with modern materials and supplies being more readily available, gathering parts was far harder than I expected.

What is the most important piece of advise you would give to any new builder?

Read, read and read some more. Ask the stupid questions, don’t think that you have to muddle through on your own. There are so many wonderful people and builders in the club, and I have never once seen any question, no matter how many times it may have previously been asked, not get a sensible answer.

Owner/engineer Imperial Light and Magic: https://www.facebook.com/imperiallandm/
Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/imperiallightandmagic