July 28, 2007

R2-KT: This Is The Pink Droid You're Looking For

r2-kt_flickr.jpg

Wow, I was definitely taken in by The Dark Side of The Force on this one. I was about to blast George Lucas like a Tatooine womp rat when I saw this picture of a kid hugging a pink R2 unit. "A pink droid's as brazenly exploitative as Abby Cadabby, that sparkly, girly fairy muppet Sesame Workshop launched in order to sell more toys to girls," I thought.

Well, my apologies. Not only is the cutie-cute, limited edition R2-KT action figure which went on sale this weekend at Comic-Con a fund-raising mechanism for the Make-a-Wish foundation, there's a reason it wasn't called the R2-QT. Are you sitting next to your tissues? I still can't even type this without choking up.

In 2004, 6-year old Katie Johnson was diagnosed with brain cancer. Her sister suggested they get an R2 unit to watch over Katie, the way R2-D2 watched over Princess Amidala in Star Wars: Episode II. [As if the thought of watching SW: Ep. II wasn't sad enough already.]

Katie's dad Albin Johnson happened to be the founder of the 501st Legion, a fan costume organization that organizes charity events; he decided he'd build his daughter a pink R2.

Word got out, and the R2-D2 Builders Club [I know, right?] stepped in, and with extraordinary speed, resourcefulness, and generosity, cranked out R2-KT in time to take care of Katie in her last months. She died in August 2005 at the age of seven.

Since last year, R2-KT has been making appearances at hospitals and schools, raising money and awareness about pediatric cancer. George Lucas and Hasbro gave the whole endeavor their blessing and paved the way for the R2-KT toy.

R2-KT is on view at Comic-Con through Sunday. After the Con, the toy version will be available for a brief time on Hasbro's and StarWars' online shops. The companies have donated $100,000 in Katie's memory to the Make-A-Wish Foundations of South Carolina and San Diego.

R2-KT Homepage [r2kt.com]
Hasbro Honors Katie Johnson with R2-KT Figure [starwars.com, images: starwarsblog's flickr stream]

7 Comments

Wow, this story really brought tears to my eyes. What a touching tribute to a daughter and what a cool thing for George Lucas to get involved in.

I'm not a Star Wars fan myself but I think that Make A Wish and cancer research are such amazing causes. I'm willing to bet if they placed these little R2-KT's in stores around the country (even if they only donated a percentage of the profit) they would raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for such a worthy cause.

Thank you for sharing that

My wife has been on the phone with Hasbro this morning, trying to secure a few of these. Our daughter was born in June '06 and we named her after Albin's girl. I think one of my wife's happiest moments this year was getting her picture taken with R2-KT while at C4 last May.

I would also really like to get a few of these as my oldest daughter who will be 11 this August has had cancer since she was 5. The story really hits home, and my daughter would like to get one.

Yes, very sad story, but it wasn't like GL had a choice with supporting or not supporting the cause. What a tool and hack would he look if he told the organizer "no, I don't want a pink droid made for some dead girl."

Out of the $10, anything going to Make-a-Wish? Probably $.50

[actually, it wasn't clear at all to me that ANY of the proceeds from R2-KT sales would be going to Make-a-Wish. I didn't want to say that buying one helps a billionaire and a toy giant recoup their $100k donation, but that's the way it reads to me. -ed.]

R2-KT is the best robot i ever seen but i do like other robots like R2-D2 and meany more.And others that look R2-D2

Actually if you go to the R2-KT home page ... www.r2kt.com it states "All proceeds will be going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation"

and the actual, official Hasbro announcement a few weeks later said they were making a $100,000 donation. which is explicitly not the same language as "all proceeds will go" or "all profits will go" or "all sales will go".

There are substantive differences between each of these expressions. Frankly, I don't want to be a drive-by jerk, picking apart who gets credit for what. But at the same time, if people are buying these droids thinking the money they spend goes to MAW and it doesn't, that is a rather lame misrepresentation on Lucas/Hasbro's part.

If they're not sure if sales/proceeds will pass $100k, but they're giving at least $100k anyway, that's fine, too, but it's not what they ended up saying. The fans are the ones who deserve credit for this whole thing; if someone wants to buy an R2KT, it should be to be a part of an incredible, selfless fan story; if they want to support the work, though, they should give their money directly to MAW.

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