Tony Dyson, Creator of 'Star Wars'' R2-D2, Dead at 68

Special effects supervisor and robotics expert built iconic droid for sci-fi franchise

Tony Dyson, a special effects supervisor and robotics expert who built the iconic R2-D2 droid for the 'Star Wars' franchise, died at the age of 68 Credit: Photo Courtesy of Tony Dyson

Tony Dyson, a special effects supervisor and robotics expert who built the iconic R2-D2 droid for the Star Wars franchise, was found dead on the Maltese island of Gozo where he lived. He was 68. An autopsy is being carried out to determine exact cause of death, but investigators said foul play isn't suspected and Dyson likely died of natural causes, the BBC reports.

At the time of Star Wars, Dyson was the owner of the White Horse Toy Company, which was commissioned to create the eight R2-D2 models, including four with remote control capabilities. The models were constructed with a seat inside for actor Kenny Baker, who played the droid in the film series. Dyson called working on the R2-D2 unit "one of the most exciting periods of my life" and routinely called R2-D2 his "child" in subsequent interviews.

In addition to R2-D2, Dyson also contributed special effects to films like Superman 2, the James Bond film Moonraker, Dragon Slayer and Altered States. Dyson also served as the special effects director on the 1980 sci-fi film Saturn 3 and created that film's Hector the Robot.

In 1985, Dyson was nominated for an Emmy for a robot he created for a Sony commercial.