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With Anakin being a slave it is reasonable to believe that anything he may have built or salvaged would belong to his master/owner, Watto. Considering how technically proficient Anakin was, which Watto was aware of, it is also reasonable to assume that Watto would have been keeping a close eye on Anakin, for anything he may have built or repaired that would be worth selling.

How then was Anakin able to keep the existence of C-3PO and the pod racer secret from Watto and anyone else that would want to either (A) take the items for themselves or (B) provide the knowledge of the items to Watto for a reward? In the case of the pod racer I am especially curious since Anakin had to keep it outside where anyone could come upon it.

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    I don't think Watto cared too much. He wasn't the "work your slave children to death" kind of owner, seemingly, and probably wouldn't have seen any possible profit for himself in a bunch of Anakin's junk – DVK-on-Ahch-To Feb 6 '12 at 19:28
  • This is Star Wars, for Christ's sake. Logic flew out the window as soon as George Lucas realized he made more on merchandise than coherent plot.. – RonJohn Jan 16 '18 at 23:52
13

Watto was no idiot, but he didn't seem too fond of work. His shop was slow (notice no other customers during the entire time they were in his shop and no indication Watto was in a hurry to get anything done) and he wasn't the most highly motivated of shopkeepers. He was pretty lax - notice he didn't have a problem with Anakin leaving early that day. But, on the other hand, he had no problem with making an easy buck. (Or an easy credit, as the case may be.)

Watto was benefiting from Anakin racing and knew about the pod. It was also free advertising -- if the winner of the Boonta Eve pod race got all his parts from Watto's shop and built it himself, then people will come to the shop, expecting quality parts and a good mechanic. He also had faith in Anakin and felt he could make a lot pile of cash quickly by betting on him - especially since everyone was sure a human could not win the race.

As for C-3PO it's never stated clearly, but we don't know how long Anakin was working on him or what condition he came in. It's very likely C-3PO ended up in Watto's shop as part of a trade or Watto found him in a ship he purchased and wasn't interested in the droid.

Think of when insurance looks at a car and declares it a total wreck, even when it could be rebuilt, because rebuilding costs more than buying a new one. If C-3PO arrived at Watto's shop in bad enough shape to be considered totalled, he'd have no problem giving the wrecked droid to Anakin. Then, over months, Anakin could have traded or wheedled for the parts he needed from Watto.

If the droid were damaged to the point of being considered totalled, Watto may also have been planning on letting Anakin finish rebuilding him, then taking him back and selling him.

There's also the possibility that Watto knew he was better off with a happy slave and didn't want to invest the time in rebuilding him and felt that letting Anakin rebuild him would keep him happy.

  • "happy slave"... While morale is always a factor in productivity, I don't think anyone would be truly happy being owned by anyone. – KeithS Mar 2 '12 at 20:12
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    @KeithS: I was thinking of it from Wattoo's point of view. Someone who is okay with owning another person is good at deluding themselves that an owned person can be happy if they treat them well. – Tango Mar 3 '12 at 0:31
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    Good point. And Anakin does seem relatively bouncy for someone who spends his days doing menial tasks for a flying mountain tapir. – KeithS Mar 3 '12 at 1:05
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    @KeithS: You'd be surprised. And there's more to slavery than just "I own you". Look at the history of indentured servants and company towns. You may not have technically owned the person, but you did own their debt, and they couldn't leave without paying it off. If you have the choice of adequate food and some degree of personal freedom versus being completely free and starving, which would you pick? – FuzzyBoots Mar 14 '15 at 17:53
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    Insurance will declare a car a "total wreck" when repairs cost more than the estimated value of the car, not just when it's cheaper to buy a new one. (In other words, when they'd pay more for the repairs than what they'd pay you for the loss.) I know of a situation where a 5-10 year old car was almost declared totaled by some comparatively minor headlight, front end, and side mirror damage. – jpmc26 Jul 30 '15 at 2:25
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C-3PO

Anakin was building the protocol droid in his bedroom. He deliberately didn't add coverings and left it looking slightly crappy so that Watto wouldn't recognise its worth:

The first was the protocol droid he was reconstructing in his bedroom work area. It was far enough along that even though it was missing its skin and an eye, it could stand and move around, and its intelligence and communications processors were up and running. Good enough to do the job he required of it, he concluded, which was to accompany him on his bartering mission. The droid could listen in on the Jawas in their own peculiar language, which Anakin did not understand or speak particularly well. By doing so, it could let Anakin know if they were trying to slip anything by him. Watto didn’t know how far he had gotten with the droid, and there wasn’t much danger Watto could find out while they were out in the Dune Sea.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - Official Novelisation

Podracer

According to the film's official novelisation, Anakin built the podracer from discarded and stolen parts. He hid it under a tarpaulin in a disused part of town and it was generally regarded (by his peers) as a pet project rather than a genuine prospect of entry into a race, hence not worth stealing.

The second and more important secret concerned the Podracer the boy was building. He had been working on it for almost two years, salvaging bits and pieces as he went, assembling it under cover of an old tarp in an area of the common refuse dump in back of the slave housing. His mother had indulged him, mindful of his interest in taking things apart and putting them back together. She didn’t see the harm in allowing him to have this project to work on in his spare time, and Watto knew nothing of the Pod.

That was an inspired bit of subterfuge on Anakin’s part. He knew, just as with the droid, that if it appeared to have any value at all, Watto would claim it. So he deliberately kept it looking as if it were a complete piece of junk, disguising its worth in a variety of clever ways. To all intents and purposes, it would never run. It was just another childish project. It was just a little boy’s dream.

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace - Official Novelisation

Note that it wasn't until the Jedi arrive (supplying an Astro-droid who can helps to fix the non-functional pod and a high density power cell) that the pod actually becomes a viable prospect.

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