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Star Wars Episode VII's R2-D2 is fan-built here in the UK

Two British Star Wars fans who make working astromech droids for fun were hired to make the 'real' R2 after their work was spotted at a show.

Two British Star Wars fans whose love of the films runs so deep they've spent thousands of pounds and thousands of hours building working R2-D2 replicas are getting the chance to live their dream and build the overweight glob of grease for Episode VII.

Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, pictured above with director JJ Abrams and producer Kathleen Kennedy, were hired to work as part of the creature effects crew at Pinewood studios after their expert robo-recreation was spotted by Kennedy at a fan convention in Germany.

"She posed for pictures with us, looked at all the droids we'd built and was very complimentary," Steeples tells StarWars.com. "I mentioned that the R2-D2 Builders in the UK were available if required, as a semi-joke. When I was contacted to work on the film by [executive producer] Jason McGatlin, it was on her recommendation."

Towersey, from Middlesex, and Steeples, from Berkshire, are members of the R2-D2 Builders Club -- check out their newsletter, R-Series -- who have been building the intricate models for many years, at great expense.

This isn't the first professional production they've worked on, having had their trusty buckets o' bolts featured in UK TV ads for Currys. But making realistic-looking astromechs for one of the biggest films of the decade -- due in December 2015 -- requires rather more work.

"We're currently in a research and design phase where we're looking at drive options for reliability on all possible terrains," says Towersey, "whether it be a one-motor-does-all, or a system which is easily adjusted depending on terrain. We have a few mocked up ideas which we hope to road test very soon."

"It's a dream come true," Steeples gushes, "and I hope I can live up to the expectations of the thousands of R2-D2 Builders around the world, let alone the millions of Star Wars fans."

Follow your dreams kids -- even if they involve maxing out your dad's credit card on aluminium and welding equipment. (Especially then.) Let me know if you've ever gone to extreme lengths to be a part of movie history down in the comments, or on the galaxy far, far away that is our Facebook page.