By Michael McMaster
In early 2014 the R2 Builders Club began planning the photo op for the 2015 Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim. The original concept was a ten foot wide Sandcrawler tread section, with a few droids placed in front of it. I began welding the internal steel structure in the fall of 2014. The idea was to create the center of the Sandcrawler, where the large droid “suction tube” was located. By late December of 2014, I decided to go ahead and build one entire tread section, which was to scale with the original prop and stood 12 feet tall and 36 feet long.
Gordon Tarpley was brought in to make copies of the tread plate braces and idler wheels. This took several months to mold, and was the most expensive and time consuming part of the build. As the deadline approached, prop builder Max Cervantes was brought in to lend a hand during final assembly and was instrumental in priming, painting and weathering the entire prop. The entire build took a little over four months to complete. Once finished, the prop was disassembled and loaded into a 28 foot U-Haul truck and driven overnight to Anaheim.
Once we arrived at the Anaheim Convention Center, an army of droid builders unloaded and assembled the Sandcrawler tread. We were also able to display all the droids seen during the “droid auction” scene in the original Star Wars film. Three droids were custom build specifically for this display. The tall R1 droid was built by Brian Mix, The large domed LIN droid was created by Dan Johnson and the smallest droid in the display, the security droid, was created by Max Cervantes in between painting the crawler. We also had an R5-D4, R2-D2, treadwell and of course, Jawas.
The display was a complete success and was used by the media as a backdrop for interviews all week, including Bob Iger, Kathleen Kennedy, J.J. Abrams and C-3P0 himself, Anthony Daniels.
After Star Wars Celebration, the set was returned to my workshop, where it sat in storage for some time before being relocated to its permanent home at Rancho Obi-Wan.