The DFW Astromech Builders Club brought the droids you’re looking for to FAN EXPO Dallas

The Collin-Denton Spotlighter spoke with James Roman of the DFW Astromech Builders Club about his working R2-D2.

DFW Astromech Builders Club - FAN EXPO Dallas
James Roman with his R2-D2 at FAN EXPO Dallas – Picture by Brett Grega

On May 4 this year, DFW Airport welcomed a celebrity visitor from a galaxy far, far away. Travelers that day saw R2-D2, the iconic Star Wars droid, rolling past the terminals in honor of the annual celebration of the iconic movie franchise. Unlike the star of the screen best known for traversing through the deserts of Tatooine, this recreation of the recognizable robot has its roots right here in DFW, thanks to James Roman.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by James Roman (@dadbotworkshop)

Roman is a member of the DFW Astromech Builders Club, a group dedicated to building droids from the Star Wars franchise. Although he doesn’t have an official role with the group, he explained that the club’s builders “all step up and do what we need to do” when it comes to organizing. “I just show up and enjoy it and be active,” Roman said.

That included participating in the DFW Astromech Builders Club booth at FAN EXPO Dallas this year. The booth featured versions of a variety of Star Wars characters like BB-8, Chopper and a range of other different working astromechs and mouse droids.

Roman said the club is just one organization out of a worldwide group of individuals who set out to build their own Star Wars droid like he did. “I got into it because I love Star Wars, and I’ve always wanted to have an R2-D2,” Roman said, describing how he used his own background in software engineering and the skills he learned from his dad’s experience in electronics to help build his R2-D2.

DFW Astromech Builders Club - FAN EXPO Dallas
A look at some of the other droids at the FAN EXPO Dallas booth – Picture by Bob Grega

Roman’s build began with around four months of around-the-clock 3D printing to make all of the required pieces. He received the model files from MrBaddeley Printed Droid, a well-known online resource for droid builders run by Michael Baddeley. Those resources and online communities, such as, help bring together the hobby’s builders.

“I would say that I spent the first year building the major portion of (R2-D2) to where I could bring it out and drive it around, and then I’ve been tinkering with it for the last three years just trying to improve it and make it more accurate as I go,” Roman said of his build, adding that he’s been able to improve his droid’s interactions with others as he’s developed a better understanding of its underlying systems.

Roman modeled his R2-D2 after the character’s appearance in “Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope,” with the grit of the desert conditions visible on the character. “That’s always been R2-D2 for me,” Roman said, noting that detailing the droid to match the movie is part of the continued improvements he’s made over the years.

All that hard work has resulted in Roman’s R2-D2 grabbing attention from FAN EXPO attendees and DFW Airport travelers alike. He and other DFW Astromech Builders Club members have even participated in charitable and volunteer work with organizations like Make-A-Wish. “It’s not fun if it just sits in the living room, so I want to go out and volunteer with it,” Roman said. He explained that his R2-D2 is “a bit of a diva” when it comes to attracting attention at those appearances and events. “He steals the show when he’s walking around.”

This interview has been edited for clarity.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.