Fanboy. There's perhaps no franchise more immediately connected with our mental conception of a fanboy than Star Wars. Then there's Xbox. A whole ‘nother world of chest-thumping, battle cries, and utter devotion. Those two worlds just smashed into each other at lightspeed. Meet the Star Wars Xbox 360.
The Jedi Council is a real thing. It's made up of humans, and it exists on our planet, in our plane of reality. They defend the galactic peace, in a manner of speaking: They approve every piece of officially licensed Star Wars merchandise ever created. And they have a list of rules.
I'm looking at a set of prototype boxes that'll cradle the new Xbox 360 modeled after R2-D2, which is the most customized Xbox ever created. At the very top is an onyx box. Grey lines start to emerge, cradling a gold Xbox controller: It's Darth Vader grasping the C-3PO controller. It's badass. But it breaks the rules. Vader "can't hold a modern piece of anything, because he's not in our world," explains senior industrial designer Rich Hanks. Lucasfilm has other ideas, like putting sand in the box with the console and controller, so it's just like you're pulling them out of the capsule when they land on Tatooine. (Don't worry, there won't be any sand in the package you'll be buying.)
Well, what about a Darth Vader Xbox? "Doing something like a Darth Vader didn't make sense," explains Xbox's principal industrial designer, Carl Ledbetter. Nor did something like an AT-AT walker. "It would look cool, but it wouldn't make sense for the game." The goal was to create something from the Star Wars universe that was… universal. C3PO and R2-D2 were so much the obvious choice—to both Microsoft and and Lucasfilm—that basically none of the other dozen concepts made it out of the first meeting in January.
Fingerprints. It's the first thing I think when a pick up the C-3PO controller, a bleached out, ultra-shiny gold that seems ripped straight out of the late 1970s (or C-3PO's body). I smear the oil from the end of my thumb across it. Yep. Fingerprints. But it doesn't matter. It's utterly striking in its shininess. None of the other cast-off shells to my right—a sunny rainbow of dead prototypes, ranging from pale gold to spray-on tan bronze—even come close. "It was the right tradeoff to make," Rich says. A brushed metal finish didn't feel like 3PO. This is C-3PO. The silver D-pad—one of the transformers—is a reference to his silver leg. The wires painted on below, to match his stomach, were insanely difficult to match, requiring layers and layers of paint.