Interactive Electronic R2D2 Astromech Droid

Hacking the Holidays

I am usually not one for collectibles, tie-ins or licensed products. (Perhaps barring Thomas the Tank Enginefavorite toy of little Aspies, BTW — which I always found so tasteful and pip-pip British.)

But last summer, after making out pitifully at our town-wide garage sale, I gave each of the kids their share of the proceeds ($5) and took a walk around the block to see what junk other people still had left that we could add to our household.

Sitting on a small pile of toys, manned by a young man in his mid-teens, was R2. My 12 year old wanted him, but the price tag said $10.

“Ask him if he’ll take five,” I whispered. He did, and soon R2 was ours.

Once we got it home, of course, we had no idea what to do with it (instructions were not included). But the resourceful husband quickly found some online (since taken down, sadly) and boy, were we impressed.

Guided by sonar and infrared sensors, this little robot beeps, whistles, gestures, flashes his lights, swivels his dome, and dances. He’ll respond to voice commands to play back Princess Leia’s message or give you his opinion of various Star Wars characters. Just turn him on and you’ve got a little friend, but one that’s so much cooler than any of those robo pets. And if you search around, you can also find Easter Eggs not listed in the directions (ask him if he remembers George Lucas).

Considering that new R2 costs upwards of $100, I think the kid made out all right.

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