Earlier this morning, I learned that special effects designer and visionary, Tony Dyson died earlier this month at the age of 68. I don’t recall hearing about it on the news – perhaps it was just a passing mention then back to the ballyhooed primary elections.
Tony worked on many films throughout his storied career including Superman II, Dragon Slayer, and James Bond: Moonraker. His most endearing contribution to film, however, will be R2D2. Tony Dyson’s engineering contributions brought live to this lovingly quirky droid and, in the process, inspired generations to step into the field of robotics.
He made four remote control units of the Droid – two units for the actor Kenny Baker to sit in with a seat fitted inside and two throw away units for use in a bog scene in Empire Strikes Back where a monster spits out the droid onto dry land, from the middle of the swamp. If you’ve seen the movie, you probably just replayed the scene in your mind. The look of R2-D2 was designed by the conceptual designer Ralph McQuarrie, who also created Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and C-3PO.
At Malta Comic-Con last December, Tony defined ‘creativity’ to an inquiring fan as “The ability to know to play, to think outside the box, and to apply logic but also imagination“.