Will The Real R2-KT Please Stand Up?

The story of R2-KT began in November 2004 when Katie Johnson, youngest daughter of Albin Johnson (the founder of the 501st Legion), was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Wanting to comfort Katie in her time of need, Albin decided that he was going to build an R2 unit to watch over his daughter – much like R2-D2 guarded Padme while she slept – during her recovery from the treatment.

After a suggestion from Allie Johnson, Katie’s older sister, it was decided that the custom-built droid would be pink and named R2-KT.

Reaching out to the R2-D2 Builder’s Club, Albin found there was a groundswell of support for his cause, and the club organized a drive to gather parts and construct R2-KT for Albin. Knowing that time was not on Katie’s side one member repainted his scratch-built R2-D2 pink and shipped it to the Johnson home so that Katie would have her guardian droid.

Katie’s passing in August 2005 was received with sadness by the global Star Wars community and marked by the 501st with memorial armbands. The finished R2-KT was presented to the Johnson family in July 2006, and since then she has become an ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the charity that helps fulfill the wishes of children with critical illnesses.

Made canon in 2008 when she was included in The Clone Wars feature-length film, R2-KT also had appearances in the thirteenth and nineteenth episodes – both airing in 2009 – of the animated TV show’s first season.

Though she had been realized in toy form when Hasbro released an exclusive droid action figure at San Diego Comic-Con in 2007, R2-KT didn’t make her first outing in LEGO form until 2009. Seen to be cuddling with R2-D2 in a love boat at the end of the The Quest for R2-D2 mini-movie, it was a key moment in the year-long The Hunt for R2-D2 marketing campaign that promoted the latest Clone Wars collection of sets.

It was in 2009, with the release of LEGO Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary, that the existence of the R2-KT minifigure was revealed when it was included in The Complete Star Wars Minifigure Collection display (on page 89), but it largely went unnoticed by the LEGO Star Wars collecting community. Only when From Bricks To Bothans drew attention to the minifigure after it was spotted at LEGO Star Wars Day held at LEGOLAND California during the summer of 2010 did it become common knowledge.

Reportedly, LEGO produced the minifigure of the pink droid with a big heart when a special batch of R2-D2 (Clone Wars) were printed. Not meant for mass market, and only resulting from a simple paint swap using pink instead of blue, an unconfirmed 50 were made under the guise of printing a test batch in order to ensure the pattern was correct.

Popular rumor has always said that they were made for charity, but after speaking with Johnson – who had no knowledge of these R2-KT minifigures until The Holo-Brick Archives brought them to his attention – it is believed that they were produced “off the books” and selectively shared amongst LEGO employees. The only three examples that have turned up in public have come from staff members supports this theory.

Given the lack of any transparency about this minifigure, and in light that Johnson was contacted by all the licensees – with the exception of LEGO – who manufactured official R2-KT merchandise (and subsequently made donations to the R2-KT cause), this minifigure was likely not made in any official capacity, a supposition supported by its absence from the three-sided minifigure display at Star Wars Celebration Anaheim 2022.

Surrounded in mystery for over a decade, R2-KT is one of the most highly sought-after minifigures though rarely makes anyone’s wants, much less grail, list. Not because of its rarity, but because the R2-KT minifigure is largely unknown outside of a tight-knit group of LEGO Star Wars collectors.

That’s not the end of R2-KT’s story, however.

R2-KT had her small screen debut in the first and third episodes of The Yoda Chronicles’ opening season in 2013 and showed up on the big screen in The Force Awakens (2015) when she made a background cameo at the Resistance base on D’Qar.

This was followed up by non-canon appearances in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2016) and The Skywalker Saga (2022) video games, in which she was an unlockable player character. To celebrate her inclusion in LEGO Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Johnson commissioned artist Dave Liew to design three patches in July 2016, and a very limited run was sold through R2-KT.com, raising over $1000 in a matter of days.

Ironically, most LEGO Star Wars collectors know of the R2-KT minifigure not from the original, but from BX Customs who has produced four custom minifigures. Done with approval from Johnson and a third of all profits donated to R2-KT’s nominated charity, they have so far raised several thousand dollars.

Produced in quantities ranging from 25 to 50 in multiple batches, all on official LEGO elements using a UV printer, the four runs each had a unique design and a fifth version – which will hopefully be pad printed this time – is in the works.

What began as a sad tale has brought happiness to thousands of suffering children throughout the world thanks to the time and generosity of Albin Johnson, the 501st Legion and R2-D2 Builders Club cosplay organizations, Lucasfilm, Hasbro, Mattel, Gentle Giant Studios and BX Customs.

So, which one is the real R2-KT? Only the Johnson family can answer that.

Entertainment Earth

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