Tuesday, May 29, 2007

CIV Tear-Down

One last trip to the Los Angeles Convention Center, to finish up the CIV R2 Builders Room tear-down.

The room was emptied of the remaining contents, including the Blockade Runner set.

Mike, Roy and I loaded up the set into the U-Haul.

Hey! Look what's stacked next to our truck, the Lucasfilm archive exhibit! It would have been a shame if we had accidentally loaded it up with our cargo, eh?

Daniel Deutsch's landspeeder gets ready to make the long drive back to Orlando.

And then there was one...

And then there were none. CIV is over-over. I can't recall as many consecutive days where I got so little sleep, but had such a good time making new friends. It was a great experience, one that I won't forget.

Monday, May 28, 2007

CIV Day 5

Today was the last day of CIV. Tomorrow is tear-down day, and then we're completely done.

At noon we had the big droid parade around the main lobby of the convention center. Hundreds of people lined the parade route. Once we arrived to the main Star Wars banner, we stopped and had group pictures with us and our droids taken.

Some of us played a quick game of laser tag in the afternoon.

ILM model maker Lorne Peterson stopped by to check out our room, and I was able to get a picture with him.

At 3:00pm, the doors closed to the public, and it was time to start tearing down the room. A few droids still remain (including mine) and will spend one more night. We will take apart the blockade runner set tomorrow, and Mike and I will truck it back to his house, where it will await one more special trip. It is destined to become part of Steve Sansweet's private collection this summer.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

CIV Day 4

The fourth day of CIV included the R2 Advanced Building session, with Guy Vardaman, Doug Dixon, Mike Senna, Jim Shima and Craig Smith.

Mike's kids dressed up in their Ewok costumes and drew quite a crowd. Several of the celebrities, such as Daniel Logan (young Boba Fett), left their autograph tables to take photos with them.

Don Bies dropped by the R2 Builders room and kindly signed my back panel.

One more day to go (not counting tear-down, that is...).

Saturday, May 26, 2007

CIV Day 3

Once again, I'm too exhausted to narrate pictures, a bunch more are at:


Some quick highlights:

In the morning before the doors opened to the public, we had a gaggle of Princess Leias come in to be photographed with the R2s.

I did booth duty for a little over an hour at the Hasbro booth with my R2, it was quite enjoyable.

The ILM droid and Daniel Deutsch's Disney droid joined our droids in the room.

Mike finally got the last autograph he needed for his back door - Carrie Fisher.

Time for sleep.

Friday, May 25, 2007

CIV Day 2 - A Good Kind of Tired

I think all of us attending CIV are becoming acquainted with the true meaning of exhaustedness. We're tired, but it's a good kind of tired.

The day started with a visit to the R2 Builders Room by Kenny Baker and his companion. Kenny was given his honorary membership plaque, as well as a hat, book and shirt.

Mike competed in the droid races with his customized drivetrain, but even his Speed Racer outfit wasn't enough to win.

I got to hang out for part of the day with some of the guys, along with Chris Bartlett as C-3PO. Chris is a great C-3PO. In order to get Chris, er, I mean 3PO, around from place to place, we used a cart.

Later, we crashed in on Anthony Daniels' autograph area, and he had fun with us.

G4 was broadcasting live from CIV, and dragged R2 and 3PO onto the show. After 20 minutes of not showing them, R2 and 3PO got up during a commercial break and left! We had better things to do.

We had fun with various Star Wars celebrities, and Mike let them take a turn driving with R2 and posing for pictures.

Much to my delight, I was able to have Kenny Baker sign my back panel.

Finally, we returned to the R2 Builders room, where Don Bies caught up with Chris Bartlett for a short chat.

We wrapped up by showing some video we shot during the day.

As I said, a very tiring day, but lots of fun.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

CIV Day 1

I'm not even going to attempt to narrate today's activities at CIV, except to say it was a great day, many hundreds (if not thousands?) of people came through the room throughout the day, and everyone loved the droids.

A bunch of pictures are at:


I will need to update the URL to a different location in the future, my free Flickr account only supports photosets that include the last 200 uploaded pictures.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

CIV Setup

The R2 Builders room quickly filled with droids galore today, CIV Setup Day.

Craig Smith had a new surprise for us, a Mustafar droid. Craig's beautiful droid with brass accents was also on display.

Andy Schwartz brought his mini R7 droid.

Kelly Krider had a very cool surprise for us, a Ralph McQuarrie concept droid. Keith Henry's beautiful color-shifting droid was between Kelly's droids.

William and Nikki Miyamoto's HAL droid was on display, and the dome is something to behold. One of the most original domes you will ever see.

Even out-of-towners got into the act.

Local media came by the room, and did interviews with Wayne Orr, Tom Jozwiak, and Don Bies, among others.

Guy Averett's beautiful R2-A6 showed up.

The rebel blockade runner set was mostly set up, just a bit more to do. In the opposite corner of the room (near my droid), there was a new Death Star set.

More droids, including a couple of Senna's (Pink 5's droid is on display), along with the Craig Smith collection.

Finally, I scored the Ralph McQuarrie concept droid action figure set.

Tomorrow's the big day, the opening of the room to the public at noon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

U-Haul Truck, Rubber Layer for Wheels, R2's First Event

And the CIV craziness begins.

Mike and I picked up the 17' U-Haul truck we are using to lug stuff to CIV, that was shipped by various other builders around the country.

On the way to the U-Haul location, Mike managed to glue down the rubber layer to each of my four outer foot wheels while I drove. Things were so hectic I didn't manage to get a picture of them.

When we got back, Mike started loading the truck, while I made a Home Depot and Staples run to pick up stuff for the Builders Room.

Then, we loaded my R2 into Mike's van for R2's first public event. GenCon and Lucasfilm hosted a reception at the Bonaventure hotel in downtown Los Angeles, and various costumers were asked to come out, along with R2. Unfortunately, R2's feet and battery boxes were completely removed, and wheels off when we started the drive to the hotel.

I assembled the greasy, oily drivetrain in the front passenger seat, while wearing my dress clothes. Good thing I brought lots of paper towels. I managed to get the drivetrain together, and Rick Thames helped me to get R2 back on all three legs. We made it into the room, and R2 posed for pictures with the crowd.

Later, I met Steve Sansweet, Lucasfilm Vice President of Fan Relations. We posed with R2.

This is just the start of what promises to be a crazy, exhausting, and fun-filled week.

Monday, May 21, 2007

First Modification - Rubber for Drivetrain Wheels

Ha. Just when I thought I'd slow down with the blog...

First, there's a short video of my R2's unveiling at:


The unveiling was done in my garage. R2 was under wraps, with my folks waiting outside the garage. I opened the garage, cued the Star Wars theme, and did the the reveal.

Back to today's activity. I've decided that I want to go ahead and put a layer of rubber on the drivetrain wheels, so I swung by Mike's and grabbed the drivetrains for the wheel modification.

I cut the rubber out (yet again, the prior efforts were from 4" diameter pipe couplers, I needed 3"), and took the wheels off the drivetrain. Tomorrow I'll install the layer of rubber with contact cement.

We're picking up the 17' U-Haul truck tomorrow to transport out-of-town droids to the convention center. That could be an adventure all by itself.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

R2's Big Day

R2 is done.

Wait, let me rephrase that.


Today was R2's big day, the day of his unveiling. I have managed to keep R2 a secret from my folks and one of my two brothers the entire time I've been building R2, and that was no easy feat. (I couldn't keep such a secret from everyone, so I let the other brother in on it.)

Today, R2 was completed, and just in time. My folks were invited to come and see the unveiling of "The Project" this afternoon, while I had one of my brothers on-line for a video conference from Berkeley.

I queued up the 20th Century Fox fanfare, followed by the opening blast of the Star Wars main theme. As that first note hit, my buddy Kelvin and I threw off the cover on R2, and my parents were quite surprised! I hope to post some video of this shortly.

They couldn't believe I actually built R2-D2. I am a bit dumbfounded by it myself, but there he was.

I showed them my Builder's Notebook, and told them all about how he came to be. I even created a short "Making of R2" video, that speeds through 1881 slides in 4 minutes, all to the tune of "Duel of the Fates." (I'll now admit I've taken over 10,000 pictures of my build - you read that right.)

And then... it was time for R2 to go away.

In preparation for transportation to CIV, I needed Mike Senna to come by and pick up R2 and take him to his house, where he will leave for the LA Convention Center on Wednesday. But not to fear, I will probably see R2 at Mike's tomorrow.

Using the new manual droid lift, Mike and I loaded R2 into Mike's van, and I waved bye.

So R2 is done, but is he ever really done? I plan to add servos for the utility arms to allow them to open via remote control, and I also want to add the mist-spray effect. I may also add a layer of rubber to the wheels before CIV, if possible.

I do plan to slow down a bit on the blog, so updates may not be as often as they have been. I expect I'll still have things to share in the lead-up to CIV, as well as during the event itself.

Thanks to everyone that has been following my build, and I know there are a lot of you "regulars" that check this blog frequently. I appreciate your interest and support, and all the suggestions and encouraging words you've provided.


Saturday, May 19, 2007

Glued in Cylinder Holders, Built Manual Droid Lift, Reattached Rear Coin Return

Today was supposed to be the day I crossed the finish line with R2, but I hit a small stumble. More on that in a moment.

In the morning I glued the cylinder holders in place with silicone. They seem to be holding well.

During the day, I built the "manual droid lift." This consists of pipe, pipe connector, U-bolts and bars. The idea is to hook two U-bolts around the main leg pipe in body, attach that to a couple of bars on one end, and then have a pipe at the top that runs above R2, attached with two more U-bolts to the bar. He can then be lifted by two people, into a van for example.

Unfortunately, as I was fitting the droid lift onto R2, I dropped one of the U-bolts, and it whacked the right rear coin return from behind and knocked it clean out of the back door. I applied JB Weld and reattached the coin return, and by morning it should be good.

Tomorrow is R2's big day. I'll have more to say about that soon.