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.