NEW STAR TOURS DROID: ALY SAN SAN?
Our own eagle-eyed reporter Dave Yeh has uncovered a very intriguing photo online from this past weekend’s Disney Pin Celebration “Trade City USA” 2010, held at Epcot’s World Showplace in Orlando Florida.
The photo shows a Multi-Pin Set labelled “Disney Robots”, and right there next to our beloved RX-24 is a robot named “Aly San San” who is identified as being from Star Tours in 2011!
(Photo credit: http://www.wdwnewstoday.com )
From left to right, the photo shows:
B.E.N. from 2002’s Treasure Planet
Carl [misspelled Karl] from 2007’s Meet the Robinsons
R2-MK from Star Wars Weekends
Rex from the original Star Tours
Aly San San from Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
EVE and WALL-E from 2008’s WALL-E
Maximilian [misspelled Maximillion] and V.I.N.CENT from 1979’s The Black Hole
Original photo credit to: http://www.wdwnewstoday.com
“Aly San San” sounds like the Terran name Alison, but it doesn’t sound much like a droid name. (Ah well, neither did the numerical designation ‘Vuffi Raa’ the first time Lando Calrissian heard it.) And since two of the other names on the slide were misspelled, there is still a possibility that the name will be revised later on, so we at EndorExpress.net are using it as a placeholder until we get official confirmation down the line.
[Editor’s note: I would just abbreviate the initials to give the character a more robotic nickname, but… well, you can probably see the problem inherent with that plan! Oh well, it didn’t stop Revenge of the Sith from becoming ROTS, or Kingdom of the Crystal Skull from becoming… er… whatever it became. Heh. – Alex]
Design-wise, Aly San San looks identical to the waitress droid WA-7 from Dexter’s Diner in ‘Attack of the Clones’, aside from her paint scheme, so I think it’s safe to assume from the skirted design and the name, the character is probably a female droid.
And since we just heard a new ‘spokesdroid’ soundbyte in the CV-exclusive Sneak Preview StarSpeeder 1000 toy, speaking in a female voice, could the faceless voice and the voiceless face possibly go together? Is Aly San San in actuality the new Star Tours Spokesdroid?
Let’s consider… WA-7 was never physically built for AOTC, she only existed digitally. (In fact, if I recall correctly, a human waitress was filmed on set, and the CGI droid replaced her.)
So it’s likely that a CGI droid might only appear in the new attraction on screen. While we don’t know just what sort of screens the new ride will have, the original Star Tours had screens everywhere: the queue’s video-wall, the pre-flight video’s overhead monitor, and of course the front viewport and onboard monitors of the StarSpeeder itself.
And on a screen is certainly where we’d be most likely to encounter a Spokesdroid, especially if it takes the place of the human seen in the safety spiel.
But couldn’t Aly San San be an actual robotic creation for the ride, like Artoo and Threepio or the other characters seen in Sector 2 Droidnostics? Sure, it’s feasible, but it just doesn’t seem as probable.
While it is possible to build an Audio-Animatronic character which balances on one wheel like WA-7 (I saw a nifty unicyclist AA on a pitch reel recently, and there’s also the awesome Muppet Mobile Labs from the Living Character Initiative), I just don’t see a digital creation becoming a physical reality with ZERO changes to the design.
Recycling the digital information of the AOTC design for a monitor-only droid is shrewd and cost-effective, just as the Imagineers were back in 1986 when they stripped the feathers from two Animatronic geese from America Sings to create G2-9T and G2-4T.
It’s also a very merchandising-canny maneuver, since Hasbro already has tooling for a WA-7 action figure, lying fallow somewhere in their factories. Here’s a quick digital mockup of what a possible Aly San San action figure using those 2002 molds might look like:
Let’s hope Hasbro hasn’t lost or destroyed those molds!
Speaking of figures, I think the pin set looks awesome, because I already have action figures of every robot in that pin set except for Carl (and him I’ve got as a PEZ dispenser, somewhere…).
Well, I think technically my EVE was a cake topper and my B.E.N. was a fast-food premium instead of an actual retail figure. But, funnily enough, B.E.N. has resided for years among my collection of Star Tours droid action figures, and in the first Star Tours diorama that I made, I threw V.I.N.CENT and a custom Old B.O.B in the background as broken droids.
And of course, Andrew Stanton, the director of WALL-E is on record as saying how the binocular-faced design of his star creation was inspired by the Goose-droids of Star Tours at Disneyland. So they’re all a perfect little family.
You can almost hear RX-24 greeting the newest addition to the group: “Welcome aboard!”