Tony Dyson, Star Wars droid builder, dies

Tony DysonThe designer and builder of the original R2-D2 props/costumes for Star Wars, roboticist and former toy designer Professor Tony Dyson, is found dead in Malta. Using Ralph McQuarrie’s artwork as his guide, Dyson built eight full-size R2 units for the 1977 film, some of them remote-controlled marvels of electronics, and others hollow shells to be operated by actor Kenny Baker. Dyson’s other film credits included Superman II and the James Bond film Moonraker. He provided other specialized droids for the original trilogy, and later formed a droid builders’ club in the UK, though he was legally forbidden by Lucasfilm to use his original 1976 design specifications. Some of his proteges went on to build R2 units for Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Mr. Dyson was 68.