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Tony Dyson, who built the original R2-D2 units for “Star Wars,” has passed away. He was 68.
BBC News reports Dyson’s body was found by police at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo after they received a call from a concerned neighbor. He’s believed to have died of natural causes.
While R2-D2 was designed by concept artist Ralph McQuarrie, it was up to Dyson to build the eight models of the beloved droid (plus the master molds and an additional head): four remote-controlled units, two in which actor Kenny Baker could sit, and two “throwaways” used in the Dagobah bog scene in “The Empire Strikes Back.”
“We were given just five months to complete the project,” Dyson wrote on his website, “and I can honestly say it was one of the most exciting periods of my life.”
“The love for R2 is universal,” he said. “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.”
In addition to “Star Wars,” Dyson’s film credits include “Superman II,” “Moonraker,” “Dragon Slayer” and “Altered States.”
In recent years, Dyson has worked as a motivational speaker.