Some might see the exclusive Droid Depot models (only available in Galaxy’s Edge locations at Disney Parks) as a blatant cash grab. And, if I’m honest, they probably are. But I still love them. And I had the joy of building R2-D2 thanks to my college roommate and long-time best friend, who bought a couple of the Droid Depot models for me while. Thanks man!
As you can see, this Artoo build is different from all the previously released Artoo models. The biggest difference, of course, is that his center leg is stowed and he is standing upright. The other difference is in the paint on this model. It’s not the first with color, but it is the first that looks like a pristine, right off the factory-line, Artoo unit. And I gotta admit, he looks sharp! Both with the clean paint job and the alternate pose, it’s just awesome.
It may be the fact that I’m building this model right after completing the Log Truck and Trailer, but it didn’t feel like that difficult of a build. Then again, this is the fifth time I’ve built Artoo (fourth variant), so I’ve got a bit of experience with him and know what to expect. The fact that the center leg is stowed actually relieved two of the problems I’ve had in the past.
First off, I’m not tempted to second-guess the instructions and swapping out the ankle joint pieces of the outer legs. Yes, I’ve done that. More than once. Which, when you twist the tabs that hold it all together, making it irreversable, results in an Artoo-stepping-up-onto-something model.
The second struggle I’ve encountered with the three-legged Arto, and I know I’m not the only one, is aligning all three legs to the base. Something about how Artoo is constructed results in a multiplication of all the small imperfections in alignments, joints and whatnot. Which means that when it comes time to attach him to the base plate, none of the legs seem to be at the “correct” distance from the other two legs. Which means you must gently use brute force to convince them into place. This build isn’t completely free of that, but it’s greatly reduced, as you only have one pair of legs to convince together. Which is much, much easier than three legs.
Back to this build specifically, I think that I actually did my best job yet at forming Artoo’s dome here. Of all the domes in the models that I’ve build, Artoo’s has been the most unforgiving (I’m not counting BB-8, cause he’s a sphere, which is a whole different ballgame). To make it a little easier, I started by rounding each petal (in opposing pairs) with a C-size battery. After completing each pair, I bent it back a little, so it wouldn’t block access to forming the next pair. After that, I prepped all the tabs and slots around the outside; folding the tabs in at 90 degrees and using the blunted tip of my hobby knife to angle the slots in at about 30 degrees. This makes it a lot easier to seat these tabs, which I did next. I then tried (as best I could) to separate the petals where they had overlapped while I seated the tabs. That was followed by adding a slight lateral curve at the bottom of each petal (using a AA-size battery) so the bottom of the dome forms a circle, rather than an octagon. And then back to correcting the overlaps again, during which I think I attempted to use a large marble for shaping a couple of times. Anyways, that’s the process I’ve found that works best for shaping the dome.
Following that, you encounter the next challenge you usually face with Artoo builds: shaping the body. I once again used a C-size battery to curve either half of the main body, taking special care to not allow the bends to concentrate on the areas where there are cutouts. If you are not careful, most of the “curving” will end up there, or along the vertical etch lines where there are not cutouts. Speaking of the cutouts, make sure to note that all the parts you put behind the cutouts are folded backwards; the paint / etching end up inside the folded box. It’s an easy mistake to follow the usual pattern of having that stuff on the outside of folded boxes. Also, don’t forget to fold out those little flaps! I almost forget every time I build Artoo.
Building the legs out is possible the most complicated section of this model. And of course, because I’m me, I decided to stray from the instructions a little and swap out the back-pieces of the legs. I did this because I wanted the white paint to face out (even though it would result in a silver-strip/outline from one perspective). I couldn’t just turn the parts around, though, as the tabs to attach the legs to the body are assymetric. So I swapped them. That aside, there are a few specific sections to pay special attention to when building the legs.
The first is the vertical little blue raised-strip-thingy on the top section. The instructions suggest forming the main strip first, and then attaching the little spur. I knew I’d had problems with this before, but I tried doing it that way again. And I still struggled with it, possibly moreso with this model, due to the thick paint. The struggle is in getting the spur’s tabs seated, with the strip of metal your trying to seat it in not being braced at all. And you can’t twist the tabs, because there’s not enough room. So I ended up unfolding the sides (gently and carefully, I didn’t want to break them off!) so I could attach it. On the second leg, I pre-creased the small folds in the strip a little, attached the spur, and then completed forming the rest of the part (folding the sides down, adjusting the small folds in the strip). It was much easier. Another thing to watch for with this part: check to make sure that the central strip is not pressed in when you’ve completed the build; it’s rather easy to do that on accident while handling the model in subsequent assembly steps.
The next thing to watch for is encountered when building the feet: the little “slot” that the ankle sections slide into (and are supposed to be pivot points, for the actual droid). Once again, I would advise ignoring the order suggesting in the directions. Because of how the slot is formed, it’s rather hard to fold/shape the slot after the front/back flaps of the foot have been folded down. So I usually get a basic shaping of the slot folds first, then fold down the flaps, and adjust the slot to match as best as possible. And I emphasize the as best as possible there. Because it’s near impossible to get it right, the tolerances are just too tight. Attaching the rest of the foot will help align it / force it to play nice-ish.
Which brings us to the last challenge of the leg: the little compartment-thingy on the inside of the leg/feet. The design of this segment is both brilliant and also a pain in the pooper. It forms rather simply, with just some half-cylinders at the end of each of the two pieces, easily formed with a drill-bit or other cylindrical object (if you are building Artoo, you’ve probably become comfortable with cylinders by now, right?). The tough part is attaching the outer piece of the compartment to the piece that attaches to the foot. The instructions suggest that you fold the two flaps in before attaching this, which I believe is in part to help you check/adjust the rounded ends, but I suggest that you only fold one flap over. This is so that you can access the inside of this compartment when seating and securing the top two tabs. Once you’ve done that, you can fold in the second flap and secure the bottom two tabs.
Finally, when both legs are completed, you get to run the quick, but satisfying, assembly of the sub-builds, and attach it to the base. I chose to fold down the tabs that hold the dome on, rather than twist, of course. For aesthetics. But this section should be fairly easy. Though I did, as I said earlier on, have to use a minor amount of convincing to get both feet attached to the base.
This build took me just a little over two hours, and was a blast. I imagine that my first couple of builds of Artoo took a bit longer, but that’s what you get with experience. The YouTube playlist of the build is below, as usual. Now I just need to build the Artoo from the Droid Pack, and I’ll be caught up on Artoo. Until that ICONX one is released…