Put this one Up there with getting a golden ticket in a Wonka bar; two Star Wars fans and members of an elite club (The R2 Builders Club) used their extra ordinary skills to build a brand new version of everyone's favourite astromech (until we meet BB-8 perhaps) R2-D2. How did they bag the prestigious opportunity? Simply by offering their services...
Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples were at Star Wars Celebration when they met Kathleen Kennedy and offered to build a new and improved R2-D2 for Star Wars The Force Awakens, and to their surprise the new head of Lucasfilm Ltd. took them up on their offer. Before you know it the two talented hobbyists we steeping away from the fan built R2's, with their sound effects (literally bells and whistles) and slightly less than canon specifications, and going back to the drawing board.
This ain't your Daddy's R2! In the original movies Artoo Deetoo was a tin can with actor Kenny Baker stuffed inside. In some scenes the little droid was remote controlled and wrangled, certainly in the later movies by Don Bies. In the prequels Artoo was largely CGI, with far too many doohickeys for my liking, but now we are back to basics. Not only did Towersey and Steeples build (and 3D print) the new Artoo, they controlled him too.
So that's a bit of a reveal right? Artoo sees some action in The Force Awakens. Isn't it reassuring that with all the teasers, trailers and TV spots that we have seen so little of R2-D2 and C-3PO? Maybe we haven't seen so much of this film after all. So far the only real shot of R2-D2 has been with who we believe to be Luke Skywalker, who rests his robotic hand on the little droids dome. So can we assume the action Artoo sees is alongside his master? It won't be long now and we will find out.
You can watch Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples in the interview below. The guys were at Star Wars Celebration this year with Artoo and, new droid on the block, BB-8.