This story starts in 1977.
My dad was in line for the first showing of Star Wars in the state of Colorado, and of course he was blown away by it.
This is not characteristic of him at all, but his grandparents got him a 2001: A Space Odyssey lunchbox. which, because he loved Star Wars so much, he filled with water and left on top of the fridge to rust. That way, he wouldn’t have to bring it to school.
He was also AMAZING on a unicycle, so much so that he did his paper route on one.
He passed Star Wars down to me, and I loved it. The thing about Star Wars I love is its expansive world and mystery, and the frontier style adventure.
At one point, my dad got me ‘The Essential Guide to Droids’ book. I already liked R2D2, but this book fleshed out all of these astromech droids made by the same company, from R1s up to R7s. In this universe that was already so real to me, I absolutely loved the idea of an even richer world building. It made it so much more real.
I found people who were building real astromech droids and posting the plans online. Together with my dad we started building a shorter R2 unit with green trim. We fabricated the frame, got this clear plastic dome, and hunted down all the custom parts for it. Of course, I’d love to say something like, “and here it is, all finished!” But we didn’t actually get to finish it, which is totally ok.
I realized why I like R2-D2 so much. For one thing, from a character design standpoint, he’s so great, because he doesn’t have a form that we naturally empathize with. He doesn’t communicate in a language we understand, yet he can emote so much, and we understand a lot from him.
But also I realized that R2-D2 isn’t a warrior. Instead he makes things work, he fixes things, just like my dad. In a lot of ways, Star Wars is something that my dad gave me.
When the teaser for the Force Awakens came out last year, just that super brief glimpse of BB-8, that was when we still thought he was CG, I had that same connection back to the Astromech we were building. Throughout this year, my dad and I can’t get over the fact that this is a real droid, who rolled out on stage.
At this time, we haven’t seen the movie yet. Yet I still feel a connection to this character. From the character design perspective, there’s so much perfection in simplicity. From a nostalgic standpoint, it takes me straight back.
We’ve got our tickets for tonight, my wife and my parents, and I cant wait. If star wars is something you share with your family, like so many people do, I hope you have a great experience.
I made a set of Astromech illustrations this week in anticipation of the movie, and they are now available as a sticker set: