Local firefighter builds full-size, working ‘Star Wars’ droid

Photographer: Nick Lunneman
Published: Updated:

LEE COUNTY, Fla. – It might be the most beloved new character in the ‘Star Wars’ universe, and now ‘BB-8’ has been brought to life right here in Southwest Florida.

Ed Zarick built a full-scale working replica himself right in his own home in south Fort Myers.

“When I saw the trailers so many months ago I was like ‘wow that’s so cool,'” Zarick told WINK News. “I would say honestly he’s probably one in a half a dozen that exists in the world right now.”

He spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars to get to where he is today.StarWarsthingy2

“A lot of sleepless nights, a lot of the girl gettin’ mad at me ’cause I’m not taking her out to dinner,” Zarick said jokingly.

He bought a half-inch thick plastic sphere and filled it with machinery for the body and used a 3D printer to make the head, which is held on by magnets. He built a handheld remote control with various buttons he uses to control the body, head, lights, and sounds.


Zarick has no engineering degree. In fact, he’s a firefighter with the Sanibel Fire Department who tinkers with gadgets in his workshop on his off days.

“I would always take apart things growing up as a kid. My family, when they had something broken would say ‘oh give it to Ed, he’d like to tear it apart and see how it works.'”

BB-8 is his first robot, and while there are still some kinks to work out, right now he’s just enjoying having fun.

“I’m really looking forward to taking him out for the first time to an event because it’ll be fun seeing how much fun other people are having with him.”

Zarick says he wants to eventually bring BB-8 to visit kids at local children’s hospitals.

He says for his next project, he plans to build a full-scale R2-D2.

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