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I thought living with R2-D2 would be annoying. Weirdly, it isn't

It's a simple gadget and it makes noises. But it hasn't affected me as I thought it would.
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer on

Still going. Weird.

Chris Matyszczyk/ZDNet

Sometimes you do things you know you'll regret.

But you do them anyway because they might give someone else a little pleasure, even if not for long.

That's how I felt more than a year ago when I ordered R2-D2.

I'm not a Star Wars person. For my wife, however, it's something of a passion. So when I wondered what to buy her a couple of Christmases ago, I considered -- for a fleetingly unimaginative moment -- to get her something to do with the movie franchise.

And then, in a twisted happenstance, I came upon an R2-D2 toaster. Peddled by Williams Sonoma, this had an enticing introduction.

The store website declared: "R2-D2 saved the galaxy; now it can save breakfast. The ultimate gift for Star Wars fans, our exclusive R2-D2 toaster is a lively kitchen companion."

Well, that sounded fine, didn't it? Even if the idea that this was the "ultimate" gift might seem a touch far-fetched. But wait, I thought, what makes it a lively companion?

"Simply insert the bread, press the lever, and Artoo's lights and sounds activate while toasting."

You what? I'm going to stagger blearily into the kitchen, slide a piece of bread into the toaster, and it's going to make R2-D2 noises at me? Please, no. Please take this away.

I scrolled down the page to read some reviews. It's not something I often do, but in this case, it seemed wise.

The first one: "Purchased 12/2020, broken by 9/2021. Disappointed by the quality."

Ah. Oh.

The second one: "Cute toy, but I have had mine less than a year, and it has already broken. Only 2 people use it, and not daily. But the spring mechanism no longer holds the bread down for toasting. Disappointed, very expensive toaster."

Naturally, I bought one. Well, we hadn't had a new toaster for at least ten years. (Yes, alright. I know.)

I found these reviews very positive, you see. This toaster would delight my wife, quickly be annoying, and it wouldn't last long.

Did I ever suggest I know what I'm doing? No.

On Christmas Day, my wife plugged in the toaster. The minute you press the lever down to toast, it makes R2-D2 noises. The minute the toast is about to pop out, it makes R2-D2 noises.

Initially, this was a novelty, I suppose. After a while, it became not irritating but almost entertaining. It was even useful. Not only did it toast adequately, but I even became grateful when it warned me the toast was almost ready.

There are several tasks to perform while making breakfast. There are several moods I have in the morning, few of them good.

It's heartening to know when one of my tasks will be complete. It's heartening to know that I can tolerate at least some noises while that's happening.

Most gadgets that make noises drive me toward making noises of my own. Guttural ones.

Yet here we are, almost eighteen months later, and R2-D2 still works just fine, hasn't caused conniptions and even occasionally emits a giggle from visiting guests.

Novelty products are, in general, terrible things. That is, at least, my own considered thought. This thing, though, is weirdly pleasing.

I can't say the same for Star Wars.

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