DroidBuilders UK

Uniting all droid builders.

Nik Harber

By: Oliver Steeples

You trooped with the Rebel Legion before joining the R2 Builders.  What costumes did you have?

I still do and I’m proud to be an active member. I am one of the only two A-Wing pilots in the country, but I also have a resistance pilot as well. Elstree Base is a great place to be, friendly folks to troop with no hassle or politics, just lots of fun. I’ve also been a member of the 501st for many, many years but I much prefer to rebel!

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

My first droid, U9-C4, was MOT’d and ready for action back in 2017. I’d been wanting to build a droid for some time but lacked the courage and knowledge to do so.

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

Currently I have three Astromechs, U9-C4, R2-H16 and R2-A5. U9-C4 is an R5 droid, based on the Clone Wars D-Squad character. H16 is actually a Christmas droid, which is a reproduction of the Disney Droid Factory figure from 2016. He’s undergone a slight colour change recently, so I’ve renamed him R2-N16 for the time being. I completed R2-A5 just before Christmas 2020.

Nik Harber Builder Profile

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

It’s something that I have always wanted to do, Simon Battell remembers me saying to him that I wanted to build my own droid years ago! But in 2016 I made the fatal error of visiting the UK R2 Builders stand at Celebration Europe 3 in London.  It was then that I realised that droids weren’t all expensive aluminium builds and they could in fact be constructed from other materials, one of which was styrene. I had recently used some on an Ant-Man helmet project to construct the mandibles. Realising this was something I could work with, I joined the UK and global forums, downloaded the plans and set to work in my shed.  A year later I had a fully functional Astromech, and I’ve not looked back since.

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

Both droids have been to many events over the past few years and hopefully will continue to do so for a long time to come. I have plans to reinforce the front feet on both as they encounter a lot of stress running over different surfaces. I’ve had the odd bolt disappear from the centre ankle at events, so something more permanent is my goal.

Do you have plans to build more droids? If so which one (s)?

Of course I do, in fact I shall continue to do so until I run out of room… or die. I might actually get round to building an R2-D2 at some point.

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

I have a 39.1% ALT droid, an MSE and a Pit Droid, which I’ve recently finished. I’m planning to build Chopper and a Gonk in the future too. My current project is K2-SO which is proving to be a mammoth filling and sanding task!

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

Oh there were challenges, like being frustrated that something wasn’t gluing together as well as I’d hoped. But walking away and coming back to it another day helps. The worst thing for me was the electronics, I literally had no experience of anything like it so getting that to work was the hardest thing about the whole project. Fortunately the R2 Builders Club has members with a wide skillset and someone stepped forward to help me out, and actually got U9-C4 up and running without blowing it up (like I did) – thanks Sam!

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

Actually seeing my first droid move and beep was a big moment for me, that’s when I knew that I had done it – I’d actually built a droid. I was so happy! But the other one was surviving Legoland, its a notorious droid-killer due to the rough paving and over enthusiastic kids. But U9-C4 made it through in pretty much one piece.

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)

Electronics were my nemesis, as I explained above. But the whole construction process turned out to be more self-explanatory than I initially envisioned. I think it helped because I trained as a technical illustrator at Art College which really helped me read plans and understand them. Building really is a logical process.

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

As mostly everyone else has said, do your research. Don’t just blunder in buying up parts and hoping it’ll all come together. Read and understand the building process with the material that suits you, whether its styrene, wood, aluminium or 3D printing. Start on something small to ensure you can work easily too. Ask advice on the forums or the Facebook page, someone will know the answer and no-one will bite your head off for asking what you might think is a stupid question. We all had to start somewhere and learn after all.

You do a lot of graphics work for the club including patches, stickers, T-Shirts and posters and a lot of people don’t realise this.  Are there any particular designs you are really happy with?

Yes I do, and I’m happy to give up my time and contribute to the club. I run my own graphic design/creative business mainly producing magazines, corporate design and other literature so it makes a nice change to draw something fun like droids. The patches and stickers are then sold to raise money for the clubs charity.  We’re supporting CALM right now, which is a mental health charity, so I’m very pleased to be able to help in some small way.

All of the designs I’ve created have had their own merits but if I had to choose one particular design, then I’d say the passes and T-shirts for R2UK 2019 are probably my favourites because it gave me a chance to produce artwork that would say ‘convention’. I took inspiration from several big events like Celebration and what had been printed for those but went with my own spin on it.

I did actually buy a couple of shirts myself and I still wear them now!


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