Last week, Detroit's RoboCop statue reached its goal of $50,000 in fully crowd-sourced funding.
We talked with the brains behind the Detroit Needs A RoboCop fundraiser, and got an early sneak peek at what this noble statue could look like — and it's going to have suit details that were never shown on screen. We also learned where it will be placed, how they got the copyrights, and the answer to the most important question of all: mask on or mask off?
We interviewed Pete Hottelet, who is the founder of Omni Consumer Products, a place where fantasy products like Tru Blood and Sex Panther Cologne are produced for real life consumers! Hottelet (who is a major investor in the RoboCop statue) took us through the current progress happening in Detroit:
First question on our minds, what will the statue look like?
Fred Barton Productions has generously offered access to an extremely accurate restoration of the Robocop suit from the first movie. His artist has been working on it for the last five years. That's right: five years! It even includes suit detail that was never shown on screen (like the plug and vents in the left rear of the torso). With materials like this to work with, this statue is going to be as close to a perfect depiction of RoboCop as is possible by non-augmented arthropods.
What are the important decisions you'll have to make while constructing and designing this statue?
The most important decision has already been made by the internet, interfacing with Detroiters, which was that it was going to happen. With regards to the concept, it's important that the statue is of the utmost quality; that we're really able to achieve something that people will be excited to come visit and experience in person. So to that end, we're working with original materials, and we're looking at the best equipment available to do a scan in order to create the molds. This is going to be a top-notch production.
So let's get down to it, mask on or mask off?
'Mask on' is pretty much the classic look that people think of when they think of RoboCop. Sure, he appears in some scenes without the mask in the movie when it gets too damaged to function — but doing it without the mask would be like doing the statue of Superman without the cape. Sure, he takes it off occasionally when he gets in the thick things, but he always puts it back on when he's done. (The Superman statue exists, by the way — in Metropolis, Illinois, no less. In case anyone was curious.)
Arms extended or folded?
The pose will likely be a pose similar to this image:
Heroic, and poised for action in service of the public trust.
Gun or no gun?
Again, going back to the reasoning along the same lines as the Superman statue. Superman has deadly heat vision, and he uses it when necessary, but the concepts and ideals that he stands for are not irrevocably tied to the use of deadly force.
Jet pack, or no jet pack?
Jet packs are pretty awesome. The only way to pay proper service to Jet Pack RoboCop would be to make the jet pack actually functional, and, sadly, the level of funding required to make that happen is out of our grasp at the moment.
What other RoboCop metaphors, nods or "easter eggs" would you like to include on the statue?
We're still talking through these details, but a nod to RoboCop's prime directives is a popular choice. We have a few surprises that we're hoping we can pull off, it's just a matter of materials and logistics. We're going to be working through all of these decisions on the real-time build log on detroitneedsrobocop.com, so people can see additions like this unfold as they happen.
Why did you want to get behind the RoboCop statue? Why was this important to you?
It piqued an interest, because it seemed like something that should have already been done. It almost seems like an oversight that it doesn't exist already. It's the same motivation that drives people to contribute to articles on sites like Wikipedia, or projects on Sourceforge, this just happens to be a physical object in the real world. Maybe this type of public-works democratization will start happening with even larger, more ambitious ideas. Isn't living in the future awesome? As far as my reasoning goes on a personal level, challenging manufacturing projects are somewhat of an interest, you could say.
How did you reach your goal so fast?
Through the overwhelming support of the incredible people that make up the internet, whether they be in Detroit, Antarctica, or Timbuktu, and $25,000 from one particularly motivated individual. A statue of RoboCop with the support of Omni Consumer Products is completely logical, is it not?
Where could the statue be placed? Is the city of Detroit backing the RoboCop Statue?
There's a whole approval process that the city goes through when accepting any charitable donation; this isn't any different, despite the popular support. We've made the appropriate steps in getting that process moving along, but we have several potential privately-funded locations on the table as well, not the least of which is across from the Michigan Central Station at Imagination Station. So, regardless of what happens with any of this, the statue is coming, and it will have a place to stand.
In a perfect world, where would you want to place the statue?
Ideally, the location would be such that it provides the greatest possible benefit to the people of the city of Detroit. So, if interest in the piece is able to generate foot traffic for local business and drive tourism to the area, then we'd like to make sure those effects are maximized. Some of the offers that we have on the table have added benefits (like security and existing maintenance staff), so the result for Detroit will be a net positive.
Does Paul Verhoeven know about this?
The statue will do as much justice to Verhoeven's creative vision of Robocop as possible, so we hope he's supportive and can make it to the unveiling. We haven't heard from him yet.
Have you heard from any Robocop folks? (Peter Weller, FX artists, studio folks)? What are their opinions on the project?
We've heard from some of the actors involved in the movie, and everyone has been extremely positive so far. We've also reached out to Peter Weller, and we hope that he's interested in attending the unveiling of the statue when it's completed. That would be incredible— his skills as an actor really made the character.
In a perfect world, who would attend the RoboCop reveal statue party?
Not ED-209. He's a total buzzkill. It would be incredible to have Peter Weller at the unveiling, as well as anyone else from the movie that wanted to attend. 2012 is nearly the 25th anniversary of the first movie!
(Note: We've heard that countless actors and actresses involved in the production of RoboCop are coming out of the woodwork to show their support and have expressed their desire to reprise their roles at the big statue reveal.)
How are you going to get the copyright to the image? Has the studio reached out to you, or vice versa? What will you do if they deny you the use of the image of RoboCop?
We've gotten MGM's official licensee in statuary for RoboCop on board (Fred Barton Productions), so that eventuality has already been put to bed. Obviously, it's extremely important to everyone involved that the statue is sanctioned, official, and canon, and we're making all the appropriate efforts in this regard.
What do you think you will make the RoboCop statue out of?
The primary objectives will be to make sure the statue is of the highest quality possible, and has the greatest longevity. So to those ends, bronze is a good choice because it's extremely durable in an outdoor setting.
Do you have any plans for the name of the park (should you create your own space for the statue)?
We hadn't really been thinking that the statue would be in its own park area, but if someone were to donate a location like that and everyone decided that was the best option, then I'm sure some good names would come up. If I had to come up with something off the cuff, maybe RoboParc. Or "010100100110111101100010011011110100001101101111011100000010000001010000011000010111001001101011" as an olive branch to our future robot overlords. Hopefully, Watson's descendants will take pity on us and spare the lives of everyone involved when the great purge of 2045 happens.
What do you plan to do with the funds now that you've gone over your projected budget?
Kickstarter takes a cut of the funds, and there may be some additional scanning and printing costs now that we've gotten access to those fantastic source materials from Fred Barton. Everyone donated to get a statue, so we've got to get that done. And it will get done, I can promise you that.
Do you plan on creating any RoboCop themed viewing areas or benches, maybe with some of the amazing future ads on the side?
Haha, we're pretty focused on just the statue, but that's a fairly ambitious idea. Maybe they could show ads for "Jaws 19" at the Holomax theatre, and reminders to go get your voight-kampff done? Maybe a Wyld Stallyns concert promo? Or Network 23? Maybe something for the 6000 SUX?
Would you fund a statue of Clarence Bodiker?
As supremely excellent as his contributions to society have been in his capacity as Topher Grace's dad, I'm not fully convinced that warrants a statue.
Alas. Hottelet and friends don't have a vision for a Bodiker, but we certainly do. A giant gold bust with the world "BITCHES LEAVE" engraved below him, io9ers get on it. Until then follow the Robo progress over at Detroit Needs A RoboCop.
The bust featured above is also for sale at Fred Barton Productions.