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Star Wars R2-D2 builder Professor Tony Dyson dies at 68

By David Mercer

Professor Tony Dyson, who built the original Star Wars R2-D2 droid, has died in Malta.

The British inventor was discovered by police at his home on the island of Gozo. Malta police said a 68-year-old had died at the property on Thursday morning.

Force spokesman Kurt Bugeja Coster said: "A neighbour realised the front door was open and became concerned and called the police. Officers entered the apartment and he was found dead.

"Foul play has been excluded so far. An autopsy will be held to determine cause of death."

Professor Dyson also worked on Superman II, Moonraker and Dragonslayer, and was nominated for an Emmy for his film special effects supervision.

R2-D2 was designed by Ralph McQuarrie, and Professor Dyson was commissioned to make eight robots for the Star Wars series.

They included four remote control units, two with seats inside for actor Kenny Baker, and two units to be used in a bog scene in The Empire Strikes Back.

On his website he said he spent five months making the original eight R2-D2 droids and described it as "one of the most exciting periods of my life".

Christopher Muscat, who invited him to Malta's Comic Convention last year, said he had created an "icon" in R2-D2. He said: "We were surprised how friendly he was and full of energy. He was always smiling. R2-D2 is an icon. He is one of the characters that stars in all the Star Wars movies."

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