R2-D2 Original Builder Tony Dyson, Dead at 68

(Photo: Tony Dyson)

Tony Dyson, the man who designed and built the original R2-D2 for Star Wars, was found dead in his home in Malta at age 68. The roboticist built eight R2-D2 droids for the original Star Wars films, based on the artwork of Ralph McQuarrie.

Dyson continued his time in movie work with extensive visual effects building for films like Superman II, Moonraker, and Dragon Slayer, as well as television. In addition to robotics work, he also built other props and toys for film and TV, and worked directly with electronics companies on robotics work throughout his career.

"Creativity is knowing how to play, how to think outside the box, and apply logic to imagination," Dyson was quoted as saying at Malta Comic Con in 2015. "Play more. Have a playful attitude, and seek joy in everything you come across. These things make you more creative."


Dyson's legacy in R2-D2 will last forever. As one of the only characters to appear in all seven episodic Star Wars, an entire industry has been built around Artoo, with fan builders around the world, licensed toys and figures and statues and even phones that have born the droid's likeness, and all the droids that followed its creation.