Star Wars Celebration for 2022 has come and gone. And as with any SWC, there were many absolutely incredible cosplays and fan-created droid builds everywhere. But one fan-made droid blew most of the others out of the airlock. Droid builder extraordinaire Mike McMaster created his pièce de résistance for this year’s Celebration, a made-to-scale, lifesize Imperial Probe Droid. (a.k.a. the “Viper” droid).
It looked exactly like the ones which found the heroes of the Rebellion on their secret base in The Empire Strikes Back. The folks from Adam Savage’s Tested interviewed McMaster at SWC about his best custom droid build yet, which you can watch right here:
McMaster detailed the creation of the iconic droid in the video. He 3D printed it over the course of a year, and wired it with servos, motors, lights, and sound effects. The base that it stands on even looked like snow, as a way of evoking the ice planet Hoth. Overall, they used over 100 pounds of 3D-printed material in their construction. This was a true labor of love.
This version of the Viper droid actually improved on the original. The screen-used model couldn’t even move its legs. Only the miniature version did that. But this one can. All the droid’s functions were remotely controlled by McMaster and his son. In the past, they’ve created several other movie-worthy droids, including an R2-D2, an R5 unit, BB-8, and even Pixar’s WALL-E.
As McMaster pointed out, the Imperial Probe Droid only appeared for forty seconds in The Empire Strikes Back. But its spider-like appearance and eerier sounds made an impact on fans from day one. Since Empire, it’s appeared in all manner of other Star Wars media. We’ve seen them in Rebels, and most recently, in Obi-Wan Kenobi. And they make a surprise appearance as well on board the Star Destroyer that Disney theme park guests board in Rise of the Resistance.
To see more of McMaster’s amazing custom droid builds, be sure to head on over to his Instagram account.