Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Nerdversity Reviews: R2-KT

I'd like to get serious for this review as it's not an easy one. But first, a little background: In 2004, Albin Johnson, the founder of the 501st noticed his daughter, Katie Johnson, was having balance problems. It was revealed through diagnosis that she had an inoperable brain tumor. Albin wanted an R2 unit to watch over his daughter in her final months. The R2 Builders Club learned of this and stepped up the plate, creating their very own R2 unit in pink, however, since the R2 Builders Club were unable to finish it in time, a local builder by the name of Andy Schwartz, repainted his own R2-D2 in pink and gave it to the Johnson family. Katie loved the droid and it became her loyal friend and guardian until she sadly passed away in August 2004. The caused a massive outpouring of grief from fans of the series and members of the 501st. It was Katie's ordeal that became the focal point and inspiration for the 501st charity events.

In 2007, Albin teamed up with Hasbro and Lucasfilm to bring R2-KT into action figure form at SDCC. Proceeds from the sale of these figures went directly to Make-A-Wish foundation. Proceeds from this 4 inch scale figure alone, raised over $100,000 for Make-A-Wish in South Carolina and San Diego. The figure itself comes in this collector's packaging with the STAR WARS logo on the upper portion, with R2-KT in the middle and then all the relevant logos for R2-KT and the 501st on the bottom.

The back of the card has an image of the charity R2-KT as made by the R2 Builder's Club. Alongside an image of Katie Johnson herself. The blurb on the back gives a run down of the origins of R2-KT. Underneath, we have all the relevant logos, trademarking, copyrights and licensing information.

The figure itself is a repainted R2-D2 in pink with a blue sensor eye. It has the same articulation on the swivel dome, swivel legs and the ankles too.  On the back panel of the droid, there's a memorial to Katie Johnson. 

This wouldn't be the end of Katie's journey. In 2006, Dave Filoni, the creator of the Clone Wars contacted Albin and placed R2-KT in The Clone Wars, as a droid owned by Aayla Secura and in 2015, R2-KT made her big screen debut in The Force Awakens, as a droid at the Resistance base.

R2-KT has even made the jump into the LEGO world, with appearances in Yoda Chronicles and LEGO The Force Awakens.

The only other sad part of this, is that she sells for £50 on the secondary market. I find it sad and disrespectful that fans are making a profit on the memory of Katie Johnson. I think they should at least donate the proceeds to charity.  The only way to get this figure now is through the secondary market.