LEGO Mindstorms: Droid Developer Kit (PC)

LEGO Media // Summer 1998

LEGO Mindstorms allowed users to create simple robots that could be programmed to respond to basic inputs or react to light. In 1998, LEGO had the sharp idea of combining their tech with the all-powerful Star Wars brand to create LEGO Mindstorms: Droid Developer Kit, enabling users to build their own R2-D2 or one of a range of other, less familiar, robot variants.

To make the whole thing more accessible, particularly to Star Wars’ younger and less technically proficient fanbase, the pack included an interactive CD-ROM that took the user ste-by-step through the construction process, employing 3D animations to make it crystal clear which piece slotted where.

In those days (i.e. pre-Prequels) I was a huge Star Wars fan, so you can imagine how excited I was to be made the CD-ROM’s Producer. The product was due to launch in Summer 1999 alongside the massively-hyped Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, and it was thrilling getting privileged access to pre-production art and unseen promo shots, plus hearing closely-guarded details of the plot (sadly, the story was a lot more thrilling as told by an enthusiastic Danish toy engineer than it ultimately proved on-screen).

We had some ambitious plans, such as making the front end an interactive 3D version of Anakin’s Tatooine workshop, but it soon became clear that time was too tight to do anything clever. The project was scaled back massively, whereupon it became clear that LEGO Media’s creative input wasn’t really needed any more.

Still, I got a free copy of the Kit when it finally launched, so that was cool!

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The Droid Developer Kit let you build R2 and other robots.