British professor Tony Dyson died at his home on the Maltese island of Gozo. A post-mortem is to be carried out to determine his exact cause of death.
Dyson was tasked with turning designer Ralph McQuarrie’s plans for the iconic ‘droid’, which first appeared in 1977’s Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope, into a working robot for George Lucas’ science-fiction movies.
He subsequently built eight versions of the robotic character used throughout the original trilogy, with four being remote controlled, two specially designed to allow actor Kenneth Baker to sit inside, and two non-working models used for a swamp scene in the second film, The Empire Strikes Back.
The latest Star Wars movie smashed box office records around the world when it was released in December. The Force Awakens, which also features Dyson’s beloved droid hauled in more than $2 billion at the global box office, making it the third highest grossing film of all time.
Dyson also worked on special effects for Superman II, the James Bond film Moonraker and Dragon Slayer.
Outside of film, Tony owned a toy company and built prototype robots for electronics firms Sony, Toshiba and Phillips.