It’s not unusual for fans to build replicas of props in a favorite movie or TV show. You see that sort of stuff pretty much anytime fen gather. The really popular stuff – phasers, communicators, and the like – ends up being made available at the local toy store.
A more unusual event is when fans create something new that’s based on a movie and the toy companies decide to make that available too. Not because it was in a movie, not because there’s an established market for it, but because it’s just so right.
Take for instance the case of R2-KT.
Back in 2004, Katie Johnson was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor. Her father, Albin Johnson, was the founder of the 501st Legion Star Wars Costuming Club and when word got out, fans world wide started doing everything they could to support Katie and her family.
In April of 2005, Katie’s sister said she wanted R2-D2 to watch over her Katie the way he’d watched over Amidala in Episode II. The R2 Builder’s Club (a group that builds remote controlled R2-units) got involved and set out to build one, to be named R2-KT in Katie’s honor. When it became apparent that the droid wasn’t going to be ready soon enough, Andy Schwarz, one of the club’s members, repainted his own R2-D2 and dispatched him to watch over Katie until R2-KT could take over.
Katie passed away in November of 2005, but R2-KT has been accompanying members of the 501st as they visit kids in the hospital.
At San Diego Comic Con this week, Hasbro and Lucasfilms have released a limited edition R2-KT toy in conjunction with a $100,000 donation to Make-A-Wish. At a glance, it’s just a pink R2-D2 toy. But when you know the story behind the toy – it’s a lot more.
Links of Interest:
- Katie Johnson: http://www.heartofanempire.com/Katie/
- R2-KT Information Site: http://www.r2kt.com/
- Make A Wish Foundation:
- R2 Builder’s club: http://www.astromech.net/