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"I can't believe I'm the same model as that Imperial drone."
―AP-5, on PZ-7[src]

The RA-7 protocol droid, also known as the RA-7 inventory droid, the RA-7 series protocol droid, the "insect droid" due to its large photoreceptors, and nicknamed the "Death Star droid" due to its use aboard the first Death Star, was a model of protocol droid manufactured by Arakyd Industries. While they had seen use since the Clone Wars, RA-7s were later produced specially for the Galactic Empire. RA-7s were almost always used as spies, and the droids could also be armed with a blaster rifle.

Characteristics[edit | edit source]

"There are some credits in it for you if you bring me the head of an Imperial RA-7 protocol droid. The optics on those are supposed to be magnificent."
Sevox, to Zarro[src]

An RA-7 in the Republic Center for Military Operations

The RA-7 protocol droid's long history of service throughout galactic history was considered surprising, as the RA-7's design effectively failed to fulfill its purpose.[19]

RA-7 protocol droids were distinguished by their insectoid heads,[4] which were equipped with broadband photoreceptors featuring an antiglare coating.[9] These large droid eyes were one of the more impressive parts to the RA-7 line.[19] Some units in existence[10] by the year 22 BBY[20] had body plating identical to that of Cybot Galactica's 3PO and TC-series protocol droid models.[10] However, another version had unique plating[12] equipped with an interface connection port[9] by 19 BBY.[20] RA-7s stood 1.7 meters in height.[7] Thanks to their vocabulator, which contained a sounding box and was made using cheap parts, the RA-7 was able to speak in a number of languages and dialects,[19] so they were able to function as translators.[21] The RA-7's language databank, along with comlink technology, was stored in the droid's communications module. However, this databank was a fraction of the size of those used by Cybot Galactica.[19] Unlike most protocol droids, RA-7s had unpleasant personalities and were almost always used as spies.[1]

Other traits of the RA-7 included a magnetic sensor that allowed a unit to "see" magnetic field shifts, advanced but sensitive audio sensors, intersystem connection wires, servomotors on their arms, and intermotor actuating couplings at their knees. The RA-7's droid brain was a generation behind the module used in the 3PO-series protocol droid, and RA-7 droids could never replicate or understand the fine nuances of sentient behavior like a 3PO unit could. Ultimately, while they were reasonably attractive and moderately capable, RA-7s were never equal to the 3PO unit's versatility and intelligence.[19]

History[edit | edit source]

Created by Arakyd Industries as a low-budget droid,[19] being sold at twelve thousand credits per droid,[6] for the potentially lucrative protocol droid market, the RA-7 series' long service life began when it was introduced during the reign of the Galactic Republic at some point prior to the outbreak of the Clone Wars. By the droid's debut, Cybot Galactica's hold over the market for protocol units was hard to break past, so the RA-7 never managed to truly catch the eye of Cybot's core customer base. However, the RA-7 did sell more than the LOM-series protocol droid, which was produced by Industrial Automaton and considered a spectacular failure.[19]

During the Clone Wars between the Republic and Confederacy of Independent Systems, the RA-7 unit saw use by both factions,[10][13] as well as third parties like the Ohnaka Gang[11] and InterGalactic Banking Clan.[14] During the conflict, RA-7s proved to be effective strategists and were used by the Republic as tactical assistants aboard capital ships, helping their superiors plan out their next movements. Finding the RA-7 very useful in this analyst role or as administrators, the Republic elected to use a large number of RA-7 droids. The exact number was in the thousands,[19] with RA-7s working everywhere from the Republic capital of Coruscant[13] to military craft like the Venator-class Star Destroyer.[19]

Arakyd Industries later produced RA-7s specially for the Republic's successor state, the Galactic Empire,[1] but RA-7s did see at least a small amount of use in the Alliance to Restore the Republic, which engaged in a civil war against the Empire.[22]

RA-7 protocol droids in the galaxy[edit | edit source]

"RA-7s are Death Star droids."
"Um… well, yes, that's what some call them, though many RA-7s find it a derogatory term. Only a small percentage of that model actually worked on the Death Star."
Caluan Ematt and C-3PO[src]

AP-5

An RA-7 designated 4-A7 was used as a spy droid by the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars. He had been created by CIS sympathizers in Arakyd Industries.[19] Another RA-7 droid was with an astromech droid in the lower market districts of Coruscant, though the RA-7 unit was scared off when he believed the astromech to be killed by assassin droid HELIOS-3E.[23]

An RA-7 designated AP-5 served as an analyst droid for the Galactic Republic during the Ryloth campaign. Later, he became an inventory droid for the Galactic Empire before defecting to the rebellion after having his restraining bolt removed by the rebel astromech droid C1-10P.[2]

Due to their use aboard the first Death Star, some called RA-7s "Death Star droids," though many of them found it a derogatory term as only a small percentage of the model actually worked on the battle station.[18] Shortly before the Death Star's destruction, an RA-7 unit armed with a blaster rifle and equipped with a utility belt was stationed at Burnium Ro's stronghold.[24]

Around 9 ABY,[25] an Imperial remnant led by Moff Gideon wrested control of Nevarro from the Bounty Hunters' Guild, replacing the cantina's previous bartender with an RA-7. It was destroyed when Gideon's death troopers opened fire on the cantina.[26] Another RA-7 protocol droid appeared in Gideon's light cruiser during the rescue of Grogu.[27]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

"A lot of the other bits of the costume were See-Threepio concept work that wasn't used."
―Brian Muir[src]

Early McQuarrie pencil sketches of the RA-7 protocol droid

The RA-7 protocol droid was created for the 1977 film Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. The costume built for the film was taken directly from an "elevator scene" production painting and other pencil quick sketches Ralph McQuarrie had done of the character. Two versions of the RA-7 were seen in the film: it first appeared in the Jawa sandcrawler with a reflective Steinart finish (3B6-RA-7) and a quick repaint allowed the same costume to be used later in the Death Star with a black finish (5D6-RA-7). Its torso as it appeared in the production painting would later inspire the design of the 2-1B-series medical droid.[28]

Concept art of PZ-7, an RA-7 unit

The RA-7's head was sculpted by Brian Muir and, with its large, insect-like eyes and bulbous cranium, it was one of his favorite designs from A New Hope. The torso of the character was almost exactly like McQuarrie's designs, though it may have been done as concept art for C-3PO's costume. It eventually had shoulder epaulets installed, with a functional joint identical to C-3PO's. The arms and legs were likewise similar to C-3PO's, though the aluminium arms lacked the elbow pistons and other detailing. The fiberglass legs were stripped of their sculpted detail lines to give this protocol droid a slightly different appearance. The costume's hands were simple gloves with metal-colored plates applied to them, to give them a mechanical look.[28]

For the RA-7 protocol droid's appearance in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series, its animation model -whose geometry was later updated by Chris Glenn to better match its design in A New Hope-[29] was identical to that of C-3PO, barring its head.[10] In Star Wars Rebels animated series, its design and proportions better match early McQuarrie's sketches of the droid, particularly its rounded shoulders.[30]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Non-canon appearances[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded
  2. 2.0 2.1 Rebels-mini-logo.png Star Wars Rebels – "The Forgotten Droid"
  3. Rebel Rising
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ezra's Gamble
  5. Star Wars: The Visual Encyclopedia establishes that protocol droids are third class droids. As RA-7s are a type of protocol droid, they must also be a Class Three.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Cyphers and Masks
  7. 7.0 7.1 Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
  8. StarWars-DatabankII.png AP-5 in the Databank (backup link)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Star Wars: The Clone Wars film
  11. 11.0 11.1 TCW mini logo.jpg Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Dooku Captured"
  12. 12.0 12.1 TCW mini logo.jpg Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shades of Reason"
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 TCW mini logo.jpg Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Jedi Who Knew Too Much"
  14. 14.0 14.1 TCW mini logo.jpg Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Rise of Clovis"
  15. Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
  16. Rebels-mini-logo.png Star Wars Rebels – "Double Agent Droid"
  17. Star Wars Special: C-3PO 1
  18. 18.0 18.1 Poe Dameron: Flight Log
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 19.4 19.5 19.6 19.7 19.8 19.9 BYOR2D2 logo small.png Star Wars: Build Your Own R2-D2 11 (Droid Directory: RA-7 Protocol Droids)
  20. 20.0 20.1 Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
  21. Chewbacca 5
  22. Doctor Aphra 32
  23. TCW mini logo.jpg Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Evil Plans"
  24. Star Wars 7
  25. According to StarWars.com SWCC 2019: 9 Things We Learned from The Mandalorian Panel on StarWars.com (backup link), the events of The Mandalorian take place about five years after the events of Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 4 ABY. Therefore, it can be deduced with simple math that the events of The Mandalorian take place around 9 ABY.
  26. The-Mandalorian-logo.png The Mandalorian – "Chapter 7: The Reckoning"
  27. The-Mandalorian-logo.png The Mandalorian – "Chapter 16: The Rescue"
  28. 28.0 28.1 Star Wars Costumes: The Original Trilogy
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