While many of us wish we lived in the world promised to us by the sci-fi movies and shows we grew up with, so far, here in the 21st century, we have a robot that sort of vacuums an uncluttered living space and runty humanoid toybots that make fart jokes. Hey, it’s a start.
But for those of us with vivid imaginations, and a few handily-available tech-savvy pals, we can at least build replicas of the bots we grew up with. In a group, you’ll feel slightly less ashamed as you find yourself carrying on conversations and imagine intergalactic adventures with your home-built mock-ups of R2D2 and the Dalek mutants from Dr. Who.
You obviously don’t need to be part of a club to build a sci-fi robot replica, but it’s more fun that way. And most every robot that you’d care to make: R2D2, Daleks, B9 from Lost in Space, Wall-E — they all have avid building clubs. Some of these clubs are virtual, online communities that share technical help, building tips, parts, and support, others are local and meet in person. As usual, for exploring what resources are available to you, an Internet search engine is your best friend. Here are some of the builder clubs that we’re aware of.
R2D2 Builder Clubs
One of the more professional bot builder clubs out there is Astromech, a club where members build all of the Astromechs in the R-series, as seen in the Star Wars movies and in other Star Wars media. It’s all in good fun, but these geeks take their bot building very seriously. If you’ve ever seen any of these bots in person, they are alarmingly realistic and it’s hard not to relate to them like they’re the “real” thing. Astromech even puts out a slick downloadable PDF magazine, called R-Series, though they’ve only produced three issues in four years (but then, most of the information in them remains useful).
While the folks at Astromech do get together for face to face gatherings, the club attracts an international membership. An example of a local R2D2 club is the Washington DC Metro Area R2D2 Builders Club. Like a lot of R2 and other bot building clubs, members also build other sci-fi bots, like the popular B9 from Lost in Space. And like most such clubs, they show off their bots at public, science and technology, and charity events. Turns out, robots make excellent public service ambassadors.
B9 Builders Clubs
The first sci-fi robot clubs I ever heard about were for building the wacky and wise-cracking B9 robot from Irwin Allen’s series Lost in Space. When I was a kid, I wanted to interact with the real B9 so bad, it hurt. I would’ve been just as happy to have one of the facsimiles these builders lovingly construct. The B9 Builders Club boasts hundreds of members worldwide. Like a lot of these clubs, many of the builders sell or barter parts or kits with other builders, and all of that negotiating is mediated through the club’s website.
BTW: Sci-fi robot geeks will want to check out the interview on the B9 Robot Builder’s Club site with Robert Kinoshita, designer of the B9 (and Robbie the Robot), who is now his mid 90s. BTW: He called the B9 “Blinky.”
Robbie the Robot Builders Clubs
Sadly, there actually are no Robbie the Robot building clubs, but there are Robbie builders. Many of the B9 clubs also build Robbies, as Robbie the Robot was also designed by Robert Kinoshita.
Dalek Builders Clubs
DalekCity is home to the UK-based Dalek Builders Guild. The site offers Dalek plans, building tips, build diaries from club members, a showcase of member’s robots, all sorts of other goodies. This is a great place to start if you decide you want to build one of these Kaled mutant exo-skeletons.
Project Dalek is another amazingly well-done site of information and resources related to Dalek Building. They even offer a free downloadable manual in PDF format that details everything you need to know to build The Time Lord’s arch nemesis.
Wall-E Builders Clubs
It seemed like within days of Pixar’s Wall-E premiering in theaters, Wall-E robot builds were starting to pop up on the Web. Like a lot of the bots covered here, it’s great character within the robot that makes people relate so strongly and want to bring these machines to life. Wall-E offered appealing character in spades.
Wallebuilders bill themselves as the original Wall-E Builders Club. It’s a Yahoo Group. They also maintain a YouTube Channel as well detailing various aspects of building Wall-E replica robots.