This is something we made almost eight months ago and I just haven't found the time to post until now. We'd been to the Bay Area Maker Faire back in May 2011 and the kids had had a wonderful time there, the high point of which was hanging out with the Astromech group and all their R2D2 builds. Totally amazing workmanship and engineering! Carys, who is a Star Wars nut, wore her Droid t-shirt especially to go and meet R2 and even drew him a picture.
From Left to Right: Ffion's R2, Carys's R2, y R2.
These little guys are made using popsicle sticks, a cardboard toilet roll tube, the bottom part of one of those plastic easter eggs used for egg hunts, the lid off a gallon milk jug, and a cardboard print out that I designed to make the feet and shoulder parts. His dome can be put on and taken off easily, and you can store secret messages inside your R2 unit, just like Leia stores her message to Obi-Wan in R2D2 himself! My kids have written messages on paper to go in their R2s, but you could record something and put it on a USB flash drive or memory card to fit in there too, or make one to use as an elaborate gift box. We started off as we usually do with most creative endeavours, with our box of junk...
The thing that made me think we could pull this off was noticing that the bottom part of the plastic easter eggs that we'd saved from our egg hunt fitted exactly onto the end of a toilet roll tube, and I mean EXACTLY. It fitted easily on and sort of clicked like it does with the top part of the egg, so it will rotate like R2's dome, but won't fall off, even if you turn it upside down, but you can take it off easily without damaging the tube too, which makes it perfect to be used as a little storage pot.
Now we had to figure out how to make legs that were going to be the right size and shape, and be sturdy enough to hold R2's body and whatever we stored in it, without falling over or falling apart. There wasn't anything in our box of junk that was going to work for the feet or the tops of his legs. I did think about maybe trying to use the white lids from tick tack boxes, but we didn't have enough of them and it wasn't quite right anyway, so I decided to make little cardboard templates that we could cut out, fold and glue instead. The leg part that makes them sturdy enough is made from cutting down some popsicle sticks with an exacto knife and gluing them together. Generally we try to let our kids have hands on experience with real tools under supervision, but I did the exacto knife part for them. They were only five and six years old when we made these, and even as a grown up I still manage to maim myself with an exacto quite frequently. Maybe I need adult supervision?
It would look nicer if you glued the popsicle sticks together in sets of three after you've cut them, but we didn't have suitable glue, so we used some electrical tape to hold them together instead. The side legs need the popsicle sticks to be cut to 6.5cm long and the middle one needs to be 3cm.
Click here to get the pdf template that I made for the cut out and glue card leg parts. They are rather small, so if your kids are young like mine then you'll likely have to do this bit for them, or at least be an extra pair of hands to hold things in place while they glue. I reckon kids that are nine or ten and older will be able to do this bit just fine on their own though.
By the way, the pdf mentions a bead in the list of things you'll need. I was going to use it to glue onto the dome for a realistic thingymadoodle that R2 has poking out on there, but the kids wanted to draw it on with pens, so we didn't bother with that part in the end.
Here are the three feet and two shoulder parts from the print out, having been cut out and scored by me, ready to fold and glue.
This is how your R2 legs and feet should look, ready to be glued onto the body.
and here is the completed R2, ready to be decorated.our Wall-E we made out of recycling didn't have to look new either.
R2's dome is silver, and again, spray paint would have been useful, but what we had at hand was a silver Sharpie pen, so to make that adhere well and not rub off, we sanded the plastic egg part a bit to rough it up, then coloured it in with the pen. Here are our R2 units all lined up ready to decorate.
As far as adding the details went, I just put out a few fine tipped sharpies, one blue, one black, one silver and one red, plus a pencil and everyone used a picture in a book we had as a reference. Yes, I enjoyed decorating my R2D2 as much as the kids did!
R2D2 by Ffion, Aged 5.
R2D2 by Carys, Aged 6.Hope you enjoyed this post and that, even though it's rather involved, someone out there (whether it be a kid or a grown up) will give this a whirl. I've noticed that the plastic Easter eggs have already started appearing on the shelves at the Dollar Tree!
If you like the idea of making robots out of recycling then you might like these two posts from a while back:
- Wall-E from recycling.
- Remote control Dalek from recycling (yes, I know that a Dalek is more a cyborg than a robot)
- Star Wars peg dolls and space ships from recycling (plus a link through to Mr Wizard's home made millenium falcon doll house)
- Balloon torch light sabers plus some light painting photography.
- Milk jug storm trooper helmet.