RoboCop statue finds permanent home at Michigan Science Centre

  • TECH
  • Tuesday, 08 May 2018

Development Director for Imagination Station Brandon Walley of Detroit checks out the progress of building the RoboCop statue at Venus Bronze Works on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014 in Detroit, Mich. (Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press/TNS)

After years of searching, the RoboCop statue has found a home worthy of its status as a sci-fi legend. 

The Michigan Science Centre will become the permanent home for the 10-foot-tall bronze version of the Detroit police officer-turned-cyborg character from the 1987 hit movie RoboCop

Imagination Station made the announcement Wednesday, May 2, on its Kickstarter page. The community arts non-profit group based in Corktown launched the campaign to crowdfund the statue in 2011 and wound up raising more than US$67,000 (RM264,281). 

An official unveiling date for the outdoor installation is expected to be announced later this spring or early summer. 

“We just signed the paperwork with the Michigan Science Centre who will be showing off pieces of the statue at a private event,” said the post signed Team Robo. 

The Michigan Science Centre is holding its annual fund-raising gala on Friday, May 4. The head and the torso of the statue will be displayed inside at the event. 

The bronze pieces of the statue are all completed. Welding work remains and the base and pedestal are being finished now, according to Brandon Walley of Imagination Station. 

“We think this is a perfect fit,” said Walley of the location. “It could have been great at a number of places. But this is really a match made in heaven.” 

Michigan Science Centre president and CEO Tonya Matthews said in a statement to the Free Press that the site is “honoured to be the host site for this amazing piece of art”. 

Matthews noted the potential synergy between the site and the statue: “At the Science Centre, we aim to inspire curious minds of all ages with science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and we think RoboCop will remind us of the power of STEM and the resurgence of Detroit." 

RoboCop has long been an icon of Detroit-themed movies. In the smartly political Reagan-era film, a greedy corporation gives a Detroit police officer named Alex Murphy new life as a hybrid human-robot crime fighter. 

The idea for a RoboCop statue was born in 2011 with a tweet that sparked a campaign to turn a pop-culture icon into a Detroit landmark. 

It all started when then-mayor Dave Bing received a Twitter message from a man in Massachusetts who brought up Philadelphia's statue of Rocky, and suggested RoboCop as a great ambassador for the Motor City. Bing replied online that there were no plans for such a project. 

The 10-foot-tall bronze RoboCop will be more like 13 feet once it's on a pedestal. It was cast at Detroit's Venus Bronze Works, one of the leading sculptural restoration and conservation businesses in the nation. 

Overseeing the process was art conservation expert Giorgio Gikas of Venus Bronze Works, who has spent decades restoring iconic local works like the Joe Louis fist, the “Spirit of Detroit” statue and the “Victory and Progress” horse-drawn chariot at the Old Wayne County Building, and more. 

It took persistence and patience for Team Robo to navigate the monumental task. The hurdles included obtaining copyright permission and completing many complicated mould and model-making steps in the leadup to the pouring of the casts. 

Before that work could start, Across the Board Creations of British Columbia and Idaho had to use 3D scanning to fabricate the pieces for the 10-foot foam version, based on a life-size model provided by Fred Barton Productions of California. 

In a 2011 interview with the Free Press, original Robocop director Paul Verhoeven said he was aware of the crowd-funded project. “I had no problem with it, let's put it that way,” he said. “Perhaps I should see it as my most important contribution as a Dutchman to American culture.” — Detroit Free Press/Tribune News Service

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