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Send mail all across the galaxy

March 28, 2007|By Rachel Kane

Snuggled up to a palm tree on West Alameda Avenue in Burbank sits a mailbox disguised as a droid.

Star Wars-themed mailboxes like the R2-D2 boxes in front of NBC and Warner Bros. studios in Burbank were put out March 16 as a promotion for a 30-year anniversary Star Wars commemorative stamp from the U.S. Postal Service.

There are 400 R2-D2 boxes in 200 cities across the nation serving as fully functional mailboxes.

But the drop-off box on Alameda isn't being used that much at all, said letter carrier Harold Maxham. He picks packages left in the box every day on his route.

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At his 2 p.m. pick-up on Tuesday afternoon, he removed a few envelopes and Netflix returns from the white-and-blue box with painted-on faux electrical components.

"A lot of people don't even know it's here," Maxham said. "You can't drive and park your car here, but they just did it because it's NBC and it's the 30th anniversary [of Star Wars]."

The only people who really get any practical use out of the temporary publicity stunt are the employees in the NBC building or people waiting in line for a seat on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno tapings, he said.

Thirty-four-year-old GloZell Green, of Burbank, has been coming to tapings of The Tonight Show for almost a year to be at the front of the line for admittance and has yet to use the box. But she has seen some strange behavior on the sidewalk since it arrived, she said.

"A guy dressed like Darth Vader took pictures with it," Green said. "Every day somebody has come by."

Hesitant to drop their mail in the robot, Green said most people give the mailbox a good once-over before depositing their packages.

The R2-D2 boxes, though temporary drop-off points, are serviced at normal pick-up times like any other street mailbox, Maxham said, and it is just as safe to put mail in them as it is any other mailbox.

And at 10 a.m. today, on Hollywood Boulevard in front of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Star Wars characters and the executive director of stamp services for the U.S. Postal Service will unveil the design for the new commemorative stamp.

They will also reveal the date when the stamps will be available for purchase.

The boxes are tentatively scheduled to be taken off the streets at the end of the first week of April, said Larry Dozier, U.S. Postal Service public relations representative.

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