Tony Dyson

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Tony Dyson
Tony Dyson 2015.png
Anthony John Dyson

(1947-04-13)13 April 1947
Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, England
Died4 March 2016(2016-03-04) (aged 68)
OccupationSpecial effects designer
Known forRebuilding R2-D2 in the Empire Strikes Back
Notable workthe Empire Strikes Back
Superman II
James Bond
Saturn 3
Dragon Slayer
Altered States
Orianna (divorced)

Anthony John Dyson (13 April 1947 – 4 March 2016) was a British SPFX designer, best-known for working on the R2-D2 droid props used in the Empire Strikes Back and subsequent films in the Star Wars film series.


Born in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire he visited the private Stratton House School in Abingdon.

He founded rocking horse manufacturer The White Horse Toy Company in Crawley, a small village near Oxford. The company was commissioned by special visual effects supervisor Brian Johnson[1] to fabricate fibreglass shells for the rebuilt R2-D2 props. These were used in the Star Wars sequel, the Empire Strikes Back, and were based on the designs of Ralph McQuarrie, John Stears and others. His team built around eight bodies. Two were used by Kenny Baker, two were stunt shells used for scenes such as shooting the droid from the swamp onto the shore on Dagobah, and most of the rest were mechanized with radio controllers by an effects team at EMI Studios.

Dyson also created robotics and props for Superman II, Moonraker, and Dragonslayer.[2] He also worked on Saturn 3.[3]

In the mid 1980s, he moved with his family to Kissamos on the island of Crete where he created a robotics lab as well as a western themed arcade, where several of his cowboy robots were used as interactive arcade games.

In the 1990s, he moved to Malta and founded Turn Page Studios in St. Paul's Bay. He died on the island of Gozo.[4][5]


Dyson was knighted in the Byzantine Order of the Holy Sepulchre for promoting philanthropic, cultural and ecumenical activities.

In 1985, he was nominated for an Emmy Award for a Sony commercial featuring a John Cleese look-alike robot.

In 2013 he was honored with the title of Honorary Professor MBA in multimedia for the Stichting Euregio University in the Netherlands.


  1. ^ "After Elstree: Pickups and Empire, 1977-1980".
  2. ^ "Star Wars: R2-D2 original builder Tony Dyson dies - BBC News". BBC News. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Tony Dyson Dead: 'Star Wars' R2-D2 Builder Was 68". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  4. ^ Stack, Liam (5 March 2016). "Tony Dyson, Who Brought R2-D2 to Rolling, Beeping Life, Dies at 68". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 5 March 2016.
  5. ^ Ltd, Allied Newspapers. "Tony Dyson, man behind Star Wars robot R2-D2, found dead in Gozo". Times of Malta. Retrieved 5 March 2016.

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