A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, Professor Tony Dyson was commissioned to build the eight original R2-D2s, master molds and control units for the droid used in the Star Wars films.
Sadly, the Star Wars legend has passed away on the Maltese island of Gozo at the age of 68.
According to the Times Of Malta, his body was found after friends had reported not seeing the visual effects artist for several days. An autopsy is currently underway, though he is expected to have died of natural causes.
After founding the robotics workshop The White Horse Toy Company, Dyson was approached to help make the work of Ralph McQuarrie and John Stears — who designed and co-developed R2-D2's aesthetic — fully operational for the 1977 space epic Star Wars. His work on the astromech droid has since been used for nearly 40 years.
Following his work on Star Wars, Dyson went on to work on Superman II, Moonraker and Dragonslayer, and was nominated for an SFX Supervisor Emmy in 1985 for a Sony TV commercial with voice-over by John Cleese.
On his website, Dyson listed his work on the Star Wars films along with how much the character meant to him:
"The love for R2 is universal; no other Star Wars character has been loved over the years the way R2-D2 has, his merchandising has rocketed over the years and his influence in the world of robotics is truly remarkable."
Rest in peace, Tony Dyson. And thank you for your impact on SFX, making the world a little more remarkable. May the Force be with you.
(Source: Times of Malta)