... and the Jedi Code
seven hours from Rhode Island to the annual Shoreleave
Star Trek convention in Hunt Valley, MD. The reason for this
journey: to deliver R2-KT to the Johnson family.
Schwartz and other members of the R2 Builders Club
joined Jerry and Lisa at the convention, where they met
Albin, his wife Kathy, and their daughters Allie and Emily.
On behalf of the R2 Builders Club, R2-KT was presented to
the Johnson family as a gift. Albeit an emotional meeting, it
was also a beautiful, loving celebration of young Katie’s life.
And that was only the beginning of R2-KT’s adventures.
Like her fellow R-series replica robots and the members of the
501st Legion, this little droid has a mission. Not only that —
she has a mission statement. According to the R2-KT website
( www.r2kt.com/): “R2-KT’s mission is to entertain children,
raise awareness of pediatric cancer, and raise money for
such charities as Make-A-Wish and Children’s Cancer Fund.”
In November 2006, R2-KT participated in her first toy drive.
Appearing alongside the 501st Legion and the United States
Marine Corps at a Toys-for-Tots drive at a Toys R Us store in
Columbia, SC, R2-KT was a huge hit. In February 2007,
R2-KT brightened the day for patients and staff at Palmetto
Richland Children’s Hospital, where Katie Johnson received
treatment. And it seems that this lovable droid is not only
cute, she’s smart, too. In March of that year, R2-KT went to
college. She accompanied the Johnson clan at Albin’s alma
mater for the University of South Carolina’s FIRST Robotics
Competition. She proved vastly entertaining to the children
in attendance, and she also (with Albin’s help, no doubt)
offered instruction on robotics. “For his courage, Artoo was
personally thanked and recognized by Queen Amidala.” 3
In early 2007, the Hasbro toy company contacted
Albin. Hasbro and Lucasfilm had heard of R2-KT, and they
were partnering to create a limited edition action figure in
her likeness. Lucasfilm invited the Johnson family and R2-KT
to attend the Celebration IV Star Wars convention in Los
Angeles, CA. Hasbro and Lucasfilm’s official announcement
of the R2-KT action figure occurred on May 25, 2007, the
30th anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Wars.
Available exclusively at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con,
hasbrotoyshop.com, and starwarsonline, all proceeds
from R2-KT sales were donated to the Make-A-Wish
Foundations of San Diego and South Carolina. The
projected benefits exceeded $100,000.
Since the R2-KT project, the R2 Builders Club continues
building accurate replicas of R-series robots. And even
though engineering and computer technology are major
components of these models, these creations are also
gorgeous works of art. Although, technically, they are
reproductions of robot models made for a series of
blockbuster movies, they represent much more than that.
These R2s represent the joys and complexities of childhood.
They celebrate the seemingly limitless expanse of the
R2BC droids line up to be
admired at Celebration IV.
SERVO 05.2008 47