Why yes, I did just build an Artoo for my 300th build. I thought I’d build the R2-D2 model from the Disney Parks exclusive Droid Pack as a quick bonus follow-up post. But as it turns out, R2-D2 and BB-8 share 4 sheets between them, and a single set of instructions, so I figured, why not build ’em together.
Now, this isn’t R2-D2’s first experience with color / printed models, but it is a bit different than his previous encounter in the R2-D2 & C-3PO gift set (and this model also predates the Droid Depot version). In this build, you get a base coat of white/gray paint, with color added in where needed, giving it quite a different look than the silver with color accents in the gift set. And the weathering looks great here, further distinguishing this build from the Droid Depot build (past the inclusion of the center leg). What more can I say? It’s Artoo, so it’s a winner straight out of the gate.
BB-8, on the other hand, is showing off his Metal Earth colors for the first time in this model pack (again, this pre-dates the Droid Depot models). And he’s looking pretty good, weathering and all. The color really helps break up and set apart the various panels on his body section. Of course, he’s still not as clean as you might wish, but that’s what you get when you try to make a spherical shape out of flat pieces of metal, unless you make it out of a whole heck of a lot of pieces. Anyways, this goofy little guy sure is adorable, even if I couldn’t execute that globe as well as I hoped (though I think I did a better job than with the silver version, excepting the fact that the silver guy does feature my bobble-head modification… I think I need to do a Throwback Thursday on that at some point).
And because comparisons are always interested, I brought home my bobble-headed BB-8 and I kept my [finally built correctly] classic silver R2-D2 around for some comparison shots. Strangely enough, there’s some significant size differences here, and in opposites. The Droid Pack Artoo is much bigger than it’s counterpart, while the Droid Pack BB-8 is much smaller. I imagine it had something to do with how the parts fit together into the 4 shared sheets.
So, as I said, I was hoping to have a quick, bonus post with not much of a body, because… ya know, Artoo is practically the same model. And then I decided to build BB-8 as well, and so I thought I would just end up reviewing the build process for BB-8. Guess what? I was wrong! I realized I left a few things out of my R2-D2 build review, and I ran into a bit of confusion due to a rendering mistake in the instructions. So here are my two build reviews in one post!
Alright, first off, I completely forgot to cover how I changed up the build order on the build of the classic silver Artoo. And that came to mind when building this one because… they basically changed the order that you build Artoo to be much closer to how I ordered building the classic one. Basically the instructions for the classic silver have you build a sub-assembly then attach it, build a sub-assembly then attach it, lather, rinse and repeat. I find that I prefer, in most cases, to build all the major sub-assemblies and then join them all together at the end, that way I don’t have an unbalanced or delicate state just sitting there.
On silver Artoo, that meant assembling the dome, then the body, both side legs, then the center leg / bottom cap, attaching the center leg/bottom cap to the body, then side legs, then dome and finishing with the base. And would you believe that the Droid Pack has you do it almost identical, except that it moves building the center leg / bottom cap and attaching it to before the side legs? It also has you build both side legs before attaching either one. I applaud this streamlining of the build process!
I also missed a couple of challenge points on the classic silver model, those being in the formation of the feet. Once again, like I mentioned in the Droid Depot review, they tell you to fold the side flaps down before folding up the “slotted” top. That’s physically impossible. So don’t try it. And even when you do fold the slotted top first(at least on the side feet), it seems like the clearance was not correctly calculated, and the side-flaps won’t fold over flat. You just have to man-handle them into place. And those little rounded box things on the inside of the side legs can be a pain in the butt. Not a lot of advice to give on that front, just be patient and careful when forming them. Oh, and if it wasn’t clear, this all applies to this Droid Pack model as well.
As for advice that is specific to this build… watch out for the instructions around attaching parts 21 and 29. There was a rendering mistake in the instructions included in my box, and I’ve reached out to Fascinations to let them know what I found. Hopefully they will update future prints of the instructions and make an updated version available online. Anyways, what you need to know is that the side of these parts with the etched line faces “out” on this sub-assembly. Meaning the side that you see in the instructions is the Non-Engraved side. Another way to say it is that you need to follow the tilt of the rectangular cutout in the diagrams, not the location of the tabs.
The tab locations are not correct in the rendering for each of these steps, and that was what I used to decide which side faced out. I didn’t realize this until the end, when I went to attach the side-legs to the body and the tabs did not line up with their slots. However, if you do make this same mistake, be glad to know that the fix is simple (at least if you folded the tabs that secure these parts onto the leg assemblies)… take them off and swap them, left leg for right. These parts are mirrored image parts, so if you fold the tabs “backwards,” then they are folded correctly for the mirror image usage. Yay!
Thanks to the confusion on the legs, I was unable to improve on my build time, clocking in around 2 hours and 15 minutes again. I thought the familiarity of the build would make it go faster, but I didn’t forsee the confusion. Here’s the complete, and silent, build video, for reference:
Ahhhh, Beebee-Ate. I love BB-8. And I hate BB-8. Not the character, the model. And I don’t actually hate it, because it isn’t a bad model really. I actually love the model, and really enjoy having it to build. It’s just that the perfectionist in me hates the model. There’s just no good (and feasible) way to make an accurate sphere from a flat sheet of metal. And that’s where I struggle with this model. I want to make it look as good as I can, but I always feel like I fall short. And so I guess I really hate my inability to execute BB-8 to the extent that he deserves. Cause he’s just so freaking adorable.
So yeah, if you haven’t figured it out, building this model’s biggest challenge is making it spherical. With a bonus challenge of accessing all the tabs that are on the inside. Which gets harder and harder as you close up all but two of the access routes to the inside. So how do you deal with these challenges? Patients and persistence!
Right off the bat, you get to form some crazy looking pieces into the semblance of semi-spheres. And while the two parts seem like they are identical, there is a significant difference: the location of the two “fold-out” tabs in each part. The first one has them located in the upper quadrant, while the second part has them in the lower quadrant. Putting that aside, it’s impossible to form these parts into true spherical shapes. I approached mine by attempting to curve the large sections between each set of “holes” over a C-battery. Then did a lot of hand forming to work it towards a spherical state, using the half-cut fold lines on the inside of the model to help guide my shaping. Then I joined the two halves together and did a lot more hand forming of the curves.
After that, you begin a not-quite-lather-rinse-repeat approach to attaching the first 4 of the circular panels over the holes around the “equator” of BB-8’s body. This is challenging on multiple fronts. First, you need to shape the circular panels into dish-like form, but keep it smoothly curving. I like to shape it close by hand, then secure the tabs, shape some more, and then press flat against a surface to “level” it (this does flatten out the tabs a little, but that’s okay). Next you get to attach these panels to the body, which can be a challenge. Thankfully, they made the tabs extra-long, so its a little easier to get them to align. I did not, however, get them all fully seated, as each panel is a very tight fit.
And this is also where you start having fun with access issues, as you need to reach inside the model to secure the tabs. One thing I like to do is use my fine-tip needle-nose pliers to grab the tip of a tab, then gently “roll” the pliers to the side, levering the tab through as much as possible. I then press the tab flat and/or twist. But as you work your way around, you are going to have fewer and fewer access points. And less lighting. Lucky for me, I recently got a silly selfie light-ring on a positionable arm, and so I was able to light the insides well, while looking through the center of the ring.
Now I have to admit something. I totally (and literally) dropped the ball when attaching these 4 panels. I can’t remember how, but after attaching the first two panels, I fumbled the body and it rolled across my table. I picked it back up, and proceeded to attach the next two panels. But guess what? Each of these panels are unique. And they have specific orientations between each one (that’s why it’s not-quite-lather-rinse-repeat). And when I dropped that ball, I picked it up the wrong way, and so two of the panels were swapped in position, and upside-down to boot! I honestly considered leaving it that way. But I knew it would bother me. So I had to go through and take the two panels back off (even untwisting tabs!), and re-secure them in the correct place and orientation. It was nerve-racking, because I had to hope against hope that I wouldn’t break a tab. Thankfully, I was slow and patient, and successful. But don’t be like me. Don’t drop the ball.
After that, you have two panels left, the top and bottom panels. These attach differently, because they have to… or at least one does, so they did both for symmetry? Instead of tabs going in, the put the tabs on the body, and have them come out through the slots in the panels. Great solution, but boy is it hard to execute. I don’t think I curved my body sections enough ahead of time, so the tabs all seemed to far apart, and aligning it was crazy. But the really crazy step is trying to fold tabs over… when you can’t support the parts the tabs are attached too. Turns out the roll to tighten approach is helpful here, too. And with that, you’ve finally finished the body!
Forming up the base is pretty straight-forward at this point, as well as the head, to be honest. At this point, you are probably glad for the simplicity of a basic dome-shaped curve. Just kidding. Anyways, the head does have a few delicate pieces, and I would actually suggest attaching them in somewhat reverse order: eyes/cameras (49/50, 51), short antenna (48), then long antenna (47). I say this because it’s really easy to mangle those tiny antennas, so you want to do them last. And if you attach the long antenna first, it makes it gets in the way when you try to attach the short one.
All told, BB-8 took me around an hour and 45 minutes to build, though I probably could have completed him at closer to an hour and a half, had I not dropped the ball. Of course, I should note that I never include the time it takes me to knoll out the parts beforehand when telling you how long it takes me to build my models. Because I don’t record that boring (yet totally Zen) process. Here’s the full build video, in one sitting: