January 6, 2013

My 6 Year Droid Building Anniversary

January 6, 2007 I ordered my first R2 part after months of research - now six years later it's time to look back at the year behind me. 

Most of the first half of 2012 was spent working with Daren Murrer and Chris Reiff working to create new R2's for our "R2.0" project. It required that I completely tear down and walk away from 90% of my first droid, and left me droidless for most of the year. The new version was completed in early August (just hours before our cross country move to Seattle); my droid is now more reliable, more capable, more accurate, and better suited to do the tasks we ask of these units. I think we raised our own bar for what building an R2 should be. 
Chris Reiff, Daren Murrer, and Cole Horton with their new Droids
The droids turned into more than just rebuilding our own robots - we ended up creating an entirely new set of plans for any builder to use. Based on more than a year of research into screenshots, production blueprints, and actual props, these new R2.0 Blueprints more closely reflect the R2-D2s seen on screen. We shared these results with the builders at Celebration VI, where I learned a lot about the history of the club plans. After the show, I was happier than ever to have moved to the new designs... and already have ideas for future improvement. 

For as huge as 2012 was for droid building, it was even bigger for my study of History. In June, my wife and I took a two week trip to Europe: Paris, Normandy, Munich, Venice, Lake Como. For two weeks, I walked in the footsteps of history, including walking through Normandy on the 68th anniversary of the D-Day invasions. 

In Normandy, France exploring the German defensive batteries

Best of all, 2012 was the year that I finally brought my two passions together - History and Star Wars. After about two years of research, myself, Chris Reiff, and Chris Trevas presented "From World War to Star Wars" in the Star Wars University Lecture hall in Orlando, Florida at Star Wars Celebration VI. There are hundres of connections between World War II and Star Wars, and it was the highlight of the show to share just a few of these with a room full of fantastic fans. 

It's going to be hard to top 2012, but I have a few things in the works that might come close. With the announcement of new Star Wars films on the horizon, I think the best is yet to come.

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