There was a guy in there. It was 1977, so there had to be. Three-wheeled Artoo who scooted across the sand was a prop with an engine, but when Artoo wasn’t in motion, just blinking and beeping and swiveling his fubsy, shiny head? No remote control, and no transistors: little sweaty fellow with an earpiece, flipping switches and turning dials and trying not to blow the take.
Maybe that’s why we loved him like we never could Gollum or King Kong or Jar Jar, maybe that’s the trick with Threepio and Chewie, too. Hell, throw in Godzilla and his fat-assed waddle. We related to the characters, no matter how alien they were; there was a guy in there.