Robocop: The Statue


I figure it's high time I laid out the new (as of this writing) roadmap to the Robocop statue, and help explain how and why this even came about in the first place.

In 2011, a team of Detroit area artisans launched a Kickstarter project to fund and build a 10 foot tall bronze statue of Robocop, the fictional crime fighter from the movies of the same name. They attempted to raise $50,000 and eventually raised somewhere between $67,000 and $72,000. The statue was created, and then something went wrong. Their immense Robocop statue had nowhere to go- with proposed sites declining time and again for various reasons.

In 2021, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Detroit Robocop statue was again denied a permanent home, and that led to discussions here in Stevens Point.

Stevens Point is the hometown of actor Peter Weller, who played the Robocop character and the franchise’s various adaptations and spin-off series. Local figures reached out to the Detroit statue team- if you can’t find a home for the Robocop statue in Detroit, we will proudly give it a home in Stevens Point.

The media attention to this effort drew in yet more people to the project, who were skeptical of the city’s chances to actually get the Detroit statue, but excited at the very real possibility that we could have a Robocop statue here- either the Detroit statue, or one of our own design.

In 2021, plans were laid out that if Stevens Point couldn’t get the Detroit statue, perhaps we could really build one of our own. Many local organizations (including the Wisconsin Computer Club) reacted positively to this, and exploratory efforts were made to discover the feasibility of the project- including several 3D printed test pieces.

In May of 2021, the Wisconsin Computer Club hosted the inaugural Stevens Point Robo-Cup, a fundraiser addition to our open house format shows that would help gather funds for the statue, and continue to expand the reach of the project to more and more people. The original Stevens Point Robo-Cup trophy was one of the 3D printed test pieces.

Over the course of 2021, many efforts were taken to determine a plan of action that would give Stevens Point a statue we could all take pride in, could be created by local craftspeople with local resources, all at a sum that could be realistically raised for in the foreseeable future.

In late April of 2022, the Michigan Science Center officially announced that they would give the Detroit Robocop statue a permanent home on their updated campus. With the original statue now off the table, we were able to focus entirely on the new statue, and how we might go about creating it!

One of the big questions is “how?” as creating any public art installation is a major undertaking. After exploring what resources are available, the manufacturing and fabrication technology available to our area, and the artists we’ve been able to work with already, we have a rough “road map” from here to the statue itself. I’ll be the first to say that this will absolutely be subject to change, as we continue to work with our partners old and new to make this the best it can possibly be for our city.

Very early on, we determined that the most significant obstacle to success was the cost of the project. A huge 3D statue isn’t cheap, regardless of what it’s made out of. The Detroit Robocop statue cost nearly $80,000 to create, and an estimated $15,000 to store and maintain over the last decade. Even if funding could be secured initially, we would have to plan for the statues continual upkeep, without causing any real strain on the park department’s resources.

To solve this, we spoke with Canadian metal artist James Elias, who suggested that rather than sacrifice scale, we sacrifice depth. Simply put, a silhouette could reach the scale we wanted, but at only a fraction of an inch thick, would be much easier to create, install, and maintain. Employing artists to design it, and computer-guided plasma cutting, we can create the illusion of a three-dimensional statue from one solid sheet of metal. We all agreed, of all the options, this was the most reasonable.

We reached out to local fabricators, and have several who feel they are able to do the work. Likewise, we have several artists to call on, and through collaboration (and community involvement) we can design what the people of Stevens Point would like to see out of this statue.

Cost estimates are just that- very rough estimates. However, at this time we estimate the total cost of the statue will be between $6,500 and $13,500, a significant savings over other options we’ve explored. This is almost certain to change, as prices of materials fluctuate.

Then how do we actually pay for it? We have been and will continue to seek local, state, and federal art grants. As the project continues to grow and gain community momentum, we feel the chances of securing these grants only improves. While a single grant is unlikely to cover all of our costs, even one would cover a significant portion of the total costs to the project. From there, we would work with interested community partners, and then explore other fundraising avenues- like the Stevens Point Robo-Cup show and beyond.

When will it be done? It is difficult to say. Ideally, I would like the statue of Robocop to be standing proudly in one of our parks by 2030, but it may take more or less time depending on a multitude of variables. That said, we’re looking to get it done as fast as we can!