Dyson’s body was discovered after friends alerted police that they had not seen him for a number of days, the Times of Malta reported. There was no immediate suspicion of foul play and Dyson likely died of natural causes, the paper said.
R2-D2 made his first appearance in 1977’s Star Wars: A New Hope. Dyson built the R2-D2 models — designed by illustrator Ralph McQuarrie with special effects artist John Stears — used in the film, including the one worn by actor Kenny Baker.
According to Dyson’s official website, he was commissioned to build eight different versions of R2-D2. “I can honestly say it was one of the most exciting periods of my life,” he said.
“The love for R2 is universal; no other Star Wars character has been loved over the years the way R2-D2 has,” he also wrote on his website. “His merchandising has rocketed over the years and his influence in the world of robotics is truly remarkable.”
Dyson was working at the White Horse Toy Company in the U.K. when he was hired to build R2-D2 units for George Lucas’ Star Wars films in the 1970s. He worked in visual effects on several films, including Superman II, Dragon Slayer and the James Bond movie Moonraker. According to his online resume, he also worked with companies such as Sony, Philips and Toshiba.
Watch an interview with Dyson recorded this winter, below: