It is unfortunate that we have some sad news to report today. Tony Dyson, whom Star Wars fans will know as the original R2-D2 builder, has died at the age of 68. While R2-D2 was conceptualized by the late Ralph McQuarrie, multiple versions of the Droid still had to be physically built for the production of Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope in 1976. Lead special effects supervisor John Stears hired Dyson, who owned the White Horse Toy Company at the time, to construct the R2-D2s for the film. In five month's time he built eight Artoos; two that actor Kenny Baker could sit in and operate, several remote controlled versions, and one that was later used in The Empire Strikes Back for scene in which Artoo is spat out by the Dragonsnake on Dagobah.
R2-D2 Builder's Club. Things came full circle recently as two members of the club, Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, were hired by Lucasfilm to create droids for Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, as well as other upcoming films.
Bringing arguably the most famous robot of all time to life for the first time was a monumental accomplishment, and his legacy will continue to live on as Artoo and other Astromechs continue to grace the big screen forever. Our most sincere condolences go out to the family of Mr. Dyson.
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