"If R2's your favorite dog, Chopper's the cat," says Dave Filoni, executive producer of "Star Wars Rebels." Chopper is only the second character so far revealed from the new series premiering this Fall (the first being an Imperial Inquisitor); Lucasfilms appears to be in no rush to release details of the series.
But what they've given us of Chopper is pretty extensive. Like much of the show, his design is based on the original concept art drawings for the first "Star Wars" movie in 1977 by Ralph McQuarrie. The idea is that, since the events of this series occur just before the events of the 1977 movie, the design should, in part, reflect that '70s sense of design.
Art director Kilian Plunkett is excited to be working on the character. "We've never had the opportunity to do a droid like that — just, kind of, is a little more dismissive of people." Filoni is a little more blunt: "He's grumpy."
Though roughly the same size and shape as R2-D2, Chopper's appearance is distinguished by the patchwork assortment of pieces he's made of ("a little, rickety astromech made up of a bunch of different spare parts because the Rebels can't even afford nice, new parts," says Filoni). Functionally, he also sports an extra pair of arms and the rocket capability that R2 once had, then lost between trilogies.
Here's a direct comparison between Chopper and R2-D2. Points to Chopper for wearing a hat like a gentlemen should.
You can clearly see the two full, expressive arms that were once part of R2's design. Expect a lot of sarcastic shrugs with those arms.
And the rocket power that would have helped so many times in the original series if R2 had just remembered he had it.