23rd Oct, 2017

Coventry professor made iconic R2-D2 from wellies and fixed towel rails from Woolworths

Shaun Reynolds 17th Dec, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A COVENTRY professor who helped build R2-D2 for two of the original Star Wars films has revealed a female companion for the robot was first experimented in the late 70s.

John Jostins professor of sustainable transport design at the University, was one of the men who built the advanced version of R2-D2 for the series’ episodes V and VI.

To mark the release of the new film – The Force Awakens – professor Jostins said that despite R2-KT’s first appearance in the most recent film, the concept was debated beforehand.

He added: “We once got one of the R2-D2s back into our workshop from the studio to find they had painted all the blue panels and detail on it bright pink.

“They had obviously been experimenting with a female R2-D2 – which is interesting given it’s only now in the new movie that this idea is making it onto the screen in the form of R2-KT.

“It was obviously ditched as a storyline for the original three movies because we were never asked to make any more.”

John, who now designs and builds hydrogen fuel cell cars through the university’s spin-out firm Microcab, found himself in the team tasked with bringing to life a robot destined to become a movie icon – just after graduating.

The birthplace for R2-D2 was a former blanket mill in Crawley, Oxfordshire.

It was John’s girlfriend at the time who was spoke to a friend whose husband invited John to the White Horse Toy Company.

John said: “I arrived at the company’s workshop the day after, knowing nothing more than that there was something in the offing related to movies – but I didn’t know it was Star Wars.

“There were two or three guys sitting around and behind the door was one of the R2-D2s from the first film – which I’d seen the previous year.”

“At that time, the White Horse Toy Company was only famous for making rocking horses.

“The story goes that George Lucas had seen one at a show in the States and decided on the spot that its creator should build R2-D2.

“So this tiny company in a village in the Vale of the White Horse was tasked with bringing a major movie character to life.”

John also revealed that the original R2-D2 was created using fixed towel rails and wellies – purchased from Woolworths.

He said: “We were really making it up as we went along.

“We had to dash to the Woolworths in Witney to get a pair of children’s wellies to fix into R2-D2’s feet.”

Despite looking back on years gone by, the professor admitted he can’t wait to watch the new film with his son.

John said: “I’m definitely going to go and watch the new Star Wars film with my son.

“He once asked me when he was five years old ‘Did you make R2-D2 for the Star Wars films, Dad?’ and I said ‘Yes I did’ and he replied ‘Well how did you get it up there?’ That’s the power of the movies for you.”


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