Tony Dyson, the British special effects artist and robotics professor responsible for bringing the iconic Star Wars droid R2D2 has died. Aged 68, Dyson was found by police at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo after friends contacted them concerned about his well being. It is believed that he died of natural causes.
The Emmy-nominated SFX supervisor worked on Superman 2, Moonraker, and Dragonslayer, but he’ll best be remembered for bringing Ralph McQuarrie’s designs for R2-D2 to life. Working under direction of John Stears, the FX coordinator for Star Wars, he built eight versions of the droid for the film, including the ones Kenny Baker sat inside.
Though the primary responsibility for the creation of R2-D2 was his, he was actually stopped from building any more of them after the Star Wars films came out over copyright issues. Even after founding an R2-D2 builders club (there are several), he received warnings about it.
“The most ironic thing as the years went by, I was told I could never build another R2-D2. I had started a R2-D2 builders club, and I was told we couldn’t do the exact same sizes and dimensions. The club was upset at first, but this time round, Disney is actually using two people from the builders club to help build R2-D2 for the new films.”
A professor of robotics, Dyson was a regular guest on the sci-fi convention circuit and had plans to make convention appearances throughout the rest of 2016.
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