Humanoid in shape with an insectoid head, and similar in build to the 3PO-series of protocol droids, the RA-7 was covered in reflective plating and commonly found in the offices of high-ranking Imperial officials, military officers, courtiers, and Coruscant dignitaries. It was intended to help its owner with scheduling and translating. Unlike 3PO-series with their delicate personalities, RA-7s were programmed to be "stern," but bland.
It had a secret surveillance system installed in its head, hidden beneath layers of benign cognitive circuitry. The espionage unit was hidden behind sensor bafflers that were disguised as soldering welds. It would record everything using extremely sensitive audio pickups and low-light photoreceptors and would make periodic dumps of data via encrypted frequencies on standard public comm units to the Imperial Security Bureau.
The RA-7 series was first shown at the North Quadrant Intergalactic Automaton Show. The model was an attempt by Arakyd Industries to duplicate most of the abilities of the 3PO series of protocol droids, and in most aspects it failed. A prototype, 4A-7, saw use by Separatist agent Asajj Ventress during the Clone Wars in 22 BBY.
While not particularly useful, the RA-7 became nearly ubiquitous in the Empire by 0 BBY in a plot by the Imperial Security Bureau to spread the droids. The Bureau had ordered thousands of RA-7s from Arakyd and installed special programming in the droids to use them as spies. Almost no one would willingly buy an RA-7 as an assistant—so the ISB gave them away as gifts. As those targeted by the droids began to uncover hidden recording devices and surveillance equipment in the nigh-useless droids, they began to hide, misplace or lose them to avoid attention and branding as traitors for spurning a gift from the Emperor. This often led them to be found in junk shops, droid auctions, or swap meets.
A combination of the destruction of the majority of their droids and the detection of their program caused the Bureau to cancel the RA-7 droid surveillance initiative shortly after 1 ABY.
As the first Death Star came online, the Bureau grew concerned that Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin would attempt to use the superweapon to overthrow the Empire. Unable to trust the Grand Moff or any of his subordinates, the Bureau stationed thousands of RA-7 droids on the Death Star, earning them the nickname "Death Star droids."
Behind the scenes
An RA-7 appears inside the Jawas' sandcrawler after R2-D2 is dropped in after being disabled by the Jawas in Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. A second, black-colored RA-7 appears briefly later in the film, walking past Han Solo, Chewbacca and Luke Skywalker outside the Death Star elevator doors.
Kenner released a Death Star Droid as part of its second wave of action figures in 1978. The droid was also a Power of the Force 2 Freeze Frame Fan Club Exclusive in 1999. Along with the Freeze Frame slide, this black Death Star Droid came packaged with a mouse droid model.
In Star Wars: Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, the "Death Star Droid" can be spawned by typing "npc spawn protocol_imp".
The droid appears, somewhat ironically, as the "guide" droid for the Zann Consortium in the place of where R2, or a black Imperial astromech droid, would in the game Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption.
- Death Star Technical Companion
- Death Star Technical Companion, Second Edition
- Star Wars: The Power of the Force (1995)
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – A New Hope Limited (Card: RA-7 (Aray-Seven)) (backup link) (as "RA line")
- "Cynabar's Droid Datalog"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 14 (as "RA-series Servant Droid")
- Star Wars Encyclopedia (as RA-7)
- The Essential Guide to Droids
- Star Wars: The Action Figure Archive
- C-3PO: Tales of the Golden Droid
- Arms & Equipment Guide
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 24 (ESP2, Espionage Droids)
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided Quick Reference Guide
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 92 (RA-7 Death Star Droid)
- The New Essential Guide to Droids
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (AS "RA-7 servant droid")
- "Making Giant Plans!"—Star Wars Insider 106
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 11
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – Agents of Deception (Card: RA-7 Personal Servant) (backup link)
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook (Picture only)
- Star Wars: Imperial Handbook: A Commander's Guide