The Back Door – Access panel

A few builders choose to not have a back access panel on their R2 – they just pop the dome off and reach down inside to get to whatever they need to work on. Being that I’m 6′ 7″, doing that is not an option…

So, I opted for a nicely made fiberglass and metal door, provided by a guy in the R2 builder’s group who goes by “Crash”.

This is the door with the laser cut aluminum painted Satin Dover White, which matches the color of the fiberglass- and happens to be what was closest to the screen-used droids. Why not just plain bright white? Details don’t show up (like all the neat panels) on film when ¬†brightly lit. So, an off-white was used on R2 in all the films. And for the most part it looks pretty white anyway. Once he’s dirtied up a bit it’ll add to the effect of a well-used droid.

Door, metal outer skin for detail, and one of the power couplers mounted.

Detail skin mounted, glued and clamped for drying.

Once the skin was in place and the glue well-cured, it was time to add on the home-made coin returns.

One done and one waiting to dry

So now that I have the door done, I had to figure out how to keep it attached to the body. My first attempt was using good old cabinet closures….

Standard cabinet closure.

The idea was to put four in, one basically at each corner. So I tested it by attaching one closure at a time using the screws to the wood frame, and the clip to the door using JB weld.

The closure aligned but not screwed into place. Yet.

As I did each one and tested it (after lots of trial and error with the JB Weld not holding well enough, until I let it REALLY cure), it seemed like it would work well. The problem though is because the internal frame is at an angle, as much as one or two closures would work, four would not- geometry was against this plan…

So, back to the drawing board to figure out what else would work. The whole cabinet door idea was still stuck in my head. This time though I went for magnetic closures. And like a charm they worked very well.

Nice metal plate glued into place.

One magnet mounted.

The door ready for testing.

SUCCESS!!! It stays closed very nicely.

One thing I did need to do was add some angle brackets inside the door near the bottom to keep it from slipping down as the droid would be moving along.

More updates as I make progress. Among those will be more on the legs, the feet, and eventually the fully interactive dome!


Leg Work


Yep- about time for another post on the progress of my very own R2D2. I’ve been spending more time lately on the legs – outer and center.

The first issue I had when I got the legs off eBay from someone was there was a lot of finish work to be done. Bondo, skinning, and other things. So I skinned them with styrene, gluing them and stapling the styrene on. Not a good idea, as the staples show (duh), and the glue got a little lumpy. So thanks to sanding and the magic of Bondo, they’re coming along nicely. Below is one outer leg, ready for final primer, sanding, then color.

So as I’m taking a small break from those, I decided to move onto the center leg and make some custom beefy ankles out of styrene. The beauty of styrene is it’s easy to work with, glues together nicely with plain old model glue, and I have lots left over from the skins on the robot. Plus, half the fun of doing this is BUILDING it, not just assembling a bunch of parts I bought online.

Drawn and ready to cut.

Cut and ready for gluing. Added the small notch or window which will have a backing.

So once the ankles were done, it was time to glue them onto the center leg.

Glued and drying

As far as the outer legs, one of the issues was that the groove towards the bottom of the legs didn’t match up to the booster covers. I know that most people wouldn’t even notice this, but as a builder, and wanting to be pretty close to screen accurate, I did.

The booster cover groove doesn't match.

The solution was to Bondo the existing groove on the legs and then cut in a new groove that lines up more closely to the booster covers.

Marking where the new groove should be.

New groove guide lines

The new groove cut. Just need to bondo the old groove.

Up next- The back door.