I was very saddened to learn that a very old friend of the site, Tony Dyson, has passed away. Tony was the robot engineer who created the many R2-D2 units for The Empire Strikes Back. He also worked on other films like Moonraker, Superman II, and Dragonslayer.
It may be hard to believe now, but back when the internet was young, there weren’t many Star Wars websites out there. Lucasfilm itself didn’t even have a web presence. For a short time, fan sites like this one were the only source of Star Wars information on the Internet. So when I started up this site in 1996, it wasn’t long before e-mails began to come in from all sorts of people. One of those people was Tony Dyson, a man of whom I’d never heard. He told me he was the guy who made the R2-D2 units for Lucasfilm when they made The Empire Strikes Back. He had pictures and seemed genuinely happy to share them and his information. He said he’d be more than willing to do an interview for the site. This site was only a year old at the time and I wasn’t much of an interviewer, but Tony’s answers were honest and we had a good time. His interview became my first “official” Star Wars related interview which is why his passing hits home a bit for me. My memories of him will always be of a friendly and enthusiastic man who loved what he did.
You can read that interview here: Interview with Tony Dyson