To UCS or not to UCS? That might be a question for LEGO HQ, but not for us here at Light My Bricks - we just want to light up the all new Star Wars R2D2 75308!
It’s no secret that we love all things LEGO Star Wars, so we were all ears (do minifigures have ears? perhaps a question for some other time!) when rumours started to circulate about an all new LEGO Star Wars UCS set to coincide with May 4th celebrations earlier this year. At first, several members of team LMB were certain it would be a long anticipated UCS Death Star… and not just any Death Star, a build so big it would set an all new record for size and piece count, knocking the famous Colosseum off it’s podium.
And while it wasn’t a planet sized set this time around, we were in no way disappointed with what LEGO delivered instead - an all new R2D2! We hit add to cart and checked out in less than twelve parsecs!
As we alluded to in the intro, this technically isn’t a UCS set, but there is so much detail packed into this black box build you wouldn’t be criticised for thinking it was! Hair splitting aside, the time had finally come to re-build (or upgrade) everyone’s favourite droid.
A smooth build from start to finish, the most notable differences from this set to the now ten year old 10225, is first, the added detail and interactivity found in R2’s tools and tricks. Most notably his working periscope and retractable claw. The second, is visually with the switch from exposed studs on R2’s domed head, to a sleek series of curved bricks. A minor improvement, but an improvement all the same we think!
Once the build was complete it was time to bring this droid to life! It was time to light him up!
While there wasn't too much difference structurally in each LEGO R2D2 builds as discussed above, there was a universe of difference between light kits! The original R2D2 was one of our first and only featured a handful of lights. A very simple solution for a simpler time! With the 75308 version, our designers relished the opportunity to really give R2 the cinematic, Lucasfilm treatment! 360 degree lighting, special effects boards and of course the option for a remote control and sound kit!
From a technical point of view, the most difficult challenge faced was taking full advantage of lighting up each detail available - while making sure to retain complete functionality and the ability to fully rotate R2's dome-shaped head!
While several complicated systems were sketched out in initial stages, as with a lot of things in life, the simplest solution worked the best! All it took was one of our extra long 50cm connecting cables to be cleverly inserted into the circuit, allowing R2's head to swiftly rotate back and forth completely without any interference whatsoever! Occam's cable?
Now it was time to really step things up, if we wanted this set to do the galaxy’s most loyal droid justice, we knew we had to take things to the next solar system and design not just one, but two brand new purpose built components!
The first of these was the Sparkle Effects Board to mimic R2's logic function display. An ingenious solution was provided by our production partners when discussing what we needed. Almost immediately they fired straight back with a board that allowed several bit lights to flash quickly in a randomised order. The effect is motion picture perfect!
Next was replicating R2's main photoreceptor lens and radar eye. Admittedly quite a bit more time was spent on this, but in the end the solution was effective as it was simple! The color changing bit-light turned out to be one of the biggest 'ah-ha!' moments in LMB history! Wanting to really pull out all the R2D2 bells and whistles (figuratively from a design sense, while also literally via our sound kit!), we racked our lighting brains trying to figure out a way to make a single bit light change color. In the end the solution was to simply produce a single bit light head with two separate LEDs inserted, that would smoothly toggle when powered! Star Wars superfans will know, R2 needs two different color pairings - red to blue and green to orange! We've got him covered, each color changing bit light phases at a slightly different timing, making it seems like he's interacting with us!
The result is a lighting effect George Lucas would be proud of! Straight from the silver screen to your LEGO set!
And there we have it! R2D2 in all his droid glory! We’ve come a long way as a company since our first R2D2 light kit, it’s great to be able to not only create a light lit for the updated 75308, but also look back on our progress and what we’re able to bring to the hobby today! We’re not slowing down however, we’re hitting hyperdrive and blasting ahead with full power. Imagine where we’ll be next time R2 gets an update!