These are the Droids We’re Looking For: A Celebration of the Star Wars Bots

Robots have been there to delight, amuse, entertain, scare, and make us think for almost as long as humans have sat in front of a screen to gain entertainment from moving pictures. One of cinema’s first true ambitious masterpieces — Fritz Lang’s Metropolis from 1927 — had a robot at the heart of its story. Gort, the silent alien robot visitor with laser vision, was an iconic figure of 1950s cinema. The T-1000 worked to try to doom humanity and then tried to save it; Rick Deckard of Blade Runner fame fought and romanced robots (and might have been one himself). Robots cross all genres and mediums — Wall-E for the Pixar generation, Rosey the robot for the golden age of television animation, Johnny 5 for 80s kids. It’s not slowing down, either; witness the creation of one of the screen’s most memorable (and thought-provoking) robots in Ex Machina and even more kiddie-centered smash-em-ups with more Transformers action

Positive impact of Star Wars franchise

However, there’s one pop culture robotics source that stands a Wookie’s head above them all — and it’s one you’ve probably guessed by its absence in the above paragraph. Since Star Wars sprung from the mind and imagination of George Lucas in the summer of 1977, no single entertainment franchise has done more to inform and influence the populace about the promise and potential of robots. They’re some of the franchise’s most memorable characters throughout every iteration; C-3PO and R2-D2 in all three trilogies, BB-8 in the new films, the heroic K-2SO in Rogue One, even the protector IG-11 in The Mandalorian. 


Many of the features in these robots are now seen in real-life robots, as detailed in this excellent Science World article (sadly, none of them are quite as sassy as C-3PO is, at least not yet). Even more fascinating — as pointed out in CMTC and Smithsonian — is how the robots in Star Wars actually interact with the human world around them. As pointed out, in many ways, the relationship is the ideal; the droids in the Star Wars universe are generally there to aid and supplement humans and aliens. C-3PO is a translator and protocol droid, able to speak millions of languages and absorb blows from an annoyed Jabba the Hutt. R2-D2 held the Death Star plans, was a fantastic hologram projector, and helped Luke Skywalker fly, fight, and navigate. Speaking of those Death Star plans — K2SO was the hero helper of the Rogue One team during the theft. 

The mind behind

So, while Luke, Han, Leia, The Mandalorian, Obi-Wan, Chewie, and all of those human and alien figures of Star Wars get the (rightfully-deserved accolades), it’s worth hoisting a glass of that blue milk from the Tatooine breakfast table to the robots of this universe. Here in the real world, let’s raise a glass of something more palatable, too, to the creators of these massive robots. Sadly, the genius behind C-3PO and R2-D2 — the great Ralph McQuarrie — is no longer with us. McQuarrie is one of the true legends for creature creation in Hollywood, helping out with the mind-blowing designs in Battlestar Galactica, E.T., and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, among many others. 


Luckily, the legacy of McQuarrie and the other incredible designers lives on in the creative minds of Star Wars designers today. We see a true emphasis on ideation and creation in the franchise universe, going beyond just CGI to develop captivating, practical droids for the newest generation of Star Wars fans. Matt Denton, for example, is one of the Star Wars rock stars; he’s the brains behind some of the most memorable droid creations of the recent shows and movies. Check out some of his works here:


So, as we watch the adventures all across the Star Wars universe — and we’re all ready for the new show coming out later this summer — it’s, again, great to congratulate the very human creators behind the amazing, fantastical droids and robots that provide a lot of the flavor to this alien universe. Without them, The Star Wars universe would be a lot lonelier and certainly a lot less exciting. 

RobotShop Community

Oh, and just like those geniuses at LucasArts, the RobotShop world is chock-full of brilliant robot creators. Want to share your creations, as McQuarrie once did and Matt Denton does now? Show the world (and all the worlds across all the galaxies) what you can do here at RobotShop


Picture credit: Science New Explore / Fandom / PNG All / IMDb / HIIG / Figure Pop

LikedLike this to see more

Spread the word

Flag this post

Thanks for helping to keep our community civil!

Notify staff privately
It's Spam
This post is an advertisement, or vandalism. It is not useful or relevant to the current topic.

You flagged this as spam. Undo flag.Flag Post