When Lucasfilm became part of the Walt Disney Company, it sparked rampant speculation about the future of Star Wars in Disney’s theme parks. At Disney’s recent D23 Expo, one presentation confirmed future projects were on their way, but offered nothing more than tantalizing hints of things to come. As fans wait to learn more, take a look back at the original collaboration between Disney and Lucasfilm, beginning more than 25 years ago…
Posts Tagged ‘Droids’
These are the exploits revealed in the popular Droids: The Adventures of R2-D2 and C-3PO animated television series, which aired on ABC starting in September 1985 and ran for a thirteen-episode season as well as a one-hour special titled The Great Heep. The cartoon also spun off into a series of comic books published under Marvel Comics’ “Star Comics” imprint, as well as a Spanish-language strip that ran in the pages of MyComyc magazine. Set approximately fifteen years before A New Hope, these adventures shed new light on an unexplored corner of the Star Wars universe and the enduring friendship of C-3PO and R2-D2.
Throne for a Loop
After their adventures with speeder pilots Thall Joben and Jord Dusat, and surviving a harrowing escape from the planet Aaron, Artoo and Threepio employed the services of the Intergalactic Droid Agency once more in obtaining new masters. Given the less-than-ideal outcomes the last several times they utilized the IDA, they probably should have reconsidered their options. The IDA sent them to the desert mining colony of Tyne’s Horky to perform waitering and drink service at Doodnik’s Café.
Though C-3PO had served as a bona fide cook and maître d’ aboard the Tantive IV, the droid was severely out of practice, and his clumsiness annoyed Doodnik Sharpelz, the four-armed Jillsarian café owner and chef. Doodnik, raised by adoptive natives on the planet Ojom, had come to Tyne’s Horky full of gastronomic dreams with his friend and fellow gourmand Dexter Jettster, before making a deal with Dirconite mercenary Kleb Zellock for part-ownership of his own restaurant. Hardened by fringe life, Doodnik didn’t tolerate fools, and he quickly fired the incompetent robotic servers.
Some friendships are forged in a single moment, others from a lifetime of experiences shared. Poets have devoted countless pages to celebrating such friendships, but there is another about which far less has been written. That friendship is forged in chrome.
C-3PO, built by nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker from the scrapped remains of several Cybot Galactica protocol droids, had a marked tendency toward fretting and prissiness. The smaller R2-D2, an Industrial Automaton astromech with an amazing knack for thinking his way out of trouble, had little tolerance for such qualities. And yet, theirs is a friendship that has stood the test of time.
Introduced to each other just before the Battle of Naboo and reacquainted ten years later, R2-D2 and C-3PO went on to share many adventures together. The droids’ circuits recoiled as they watched the Republic transform into the Empire, Anakin Skywalker fall to the dark side, and Padmé Amidala die in child birth. But they also witnessed the birth of a new hope, the Skywalker twins Luke and Leia.
The 1980s were a period of transformation for Star Wars. Following the release of Return of the Jedi and L. Neil Smith’s Lando Calrissian trilogy, there were few new tales being offered, aside from Jo Duffy’s Marvel Comics run and West End Games’ role-playing game books. Although it may be difficult for newer fans to fathom this, given the huge amount of Star Wars material being produced these days, the mid to late ’80s were lean years for the franchise.
It was during this period that Star Wars began focusing on stories for a younger audience. Jedi‘s resident teddy bears branched off into two TV movies, Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor. Simultaneously, Lucasfilm developed two animated series, one featuring R2-D2 and C-3PO, the other Wicket and his Ewok playmates. Star Wars: Droids and Star Wars: Ewoks (later re-named The All-New Ewoks) aired in an hour-long block dubbed The Ewoks and Droids Adventure Hour, each spinning off a variety of children’s storybooks, as well as a corresponding comic book series from Marvel’s Star Comics imprint. In addition, a 48-minute special called The Great Heep aired in 1986, several months after Droids‘ cancellation, and Dark Horse rejuvenated the Droids concept with new stories eight years later.
WIRED updated recently with a story on an advanced weapons development program of the U.S. military that is working on, yep, battle droids. Not the spindly, squawk-talking variety; these droids are more ED-209 than Baktoid B-1s:
The Navy’s MDARS-E is an armed robot that can track anything that moves. Told that I was the target, the unmanned vehicle trained its guns on me and ordered, “Stay where you are,” in an intimidating robot voice. And yes, it was frightening.
The talkback is remarkably critical, and while I won’t wade into their political or ideological waters, I will say I’m deeply disappointed that no one pointed out the obvious resemblance between the MDARS-E, seen below:
…to the Fromm Tower Droids used by Tig and Sise Fromm in the old Droids television series:
Come on, Internet! You’re supposed to know these things! (Thanks to Josh Ling for the WIRED link).
A Swiss newpaper is reporting that “unidentified thieves have stolen a replica of the Star Wars robot R2-D2 from a film prop museum in Frauenfeld, canton Thurgau.”
The thieves broke into a basement storage room, making off with an exact copy of the famed robot character as well as other items. The 1.2-metre-high robot is worth thousands of Swiss francs according to its owner, Roman Güttinger.
Güttinger’s hoard of props from horror, adventure and science fiction films is considered the biggest private collection in Europe. He has gathered around 2,500 items, including rarities such as the monster from the Alien films and the Batmobile from Batman.
While no one as of yet has been apprehended, we suspect Jawas.
Entertainment Weekly’s online site, ew.com, posts their top ten favorite robots of all time as the world braces for the release of Transformers on July 3. Threepio’s design inspiration, Metropolis’ Maria, counts in at #8.
Read the full story here (that’s a rare image of the droid duo from the set of The Making of Star Wars special in 1977).
Thanks to theforce.net for the link.