RoboCop statue is finished — but you won't see it at the Michigan Science Center

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News

Detroit — It turns out those plans to put the RoboCop sculpture at the Michigan Science Center were not set in stone.

The Midtown museum announced Wednesday that it no longer has time or space for the 11-foot-tall bronze likeness of the title character from a 1987 science fiction action movie in which Peter Weller played the high-tech law enforcement officer and Dallas, Texas, played Detroit.

In 2013, a craftsman from 3-D modeling company Across the Board Creations in Idaho stands next to the 10-foot model of the RoboCop statue.

"Given the pandemic's unprecedented pressures," the center said in a prepared statement, "MiSci’s resources must now be entirely focused on our core mission of serving Michigan’s students and families."

The group behind the statue is casting about for a new location. But the good news is that the 3,500-pound RoboCop, spawned by a goofy tweet to then-mayor Dave Bing a decade ago, is finally finished and ready to report for duty.

"Right now, we’re just celebrating that he’s done and he looks great," said Detroit filmmaker Brandon Walley of the community arts group known as Imagination Station.

Finding a home for him can wait, Walley said. "A structure like that, with the prep work for the base, it needs to be warmer weather anyway."

The science center had been chosen as RoboCop's roost in summer 2019. His caretakers had previously identified his landing spot as Roosevelt Park, in front of the Michigan Central Depot, and then TechTown, Wayne State's business and technology research hub.

The tweet that begat the sculpture and its half-ton stainless steel base suggested RoboCop could be a Detroit equivalent of the monument to Rocky Balboa that stands at the base of the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The bronze Rocky was created for a scene in "Rocky III" and has become a tourist attraction, not as historic as the Liberty Bell but with more sequels.

Giorgio Gikas, who has restored some of the historical statues around the city, says RoboCop is a “cultural symbol” of an era in Detroit.

"@mayordavebing Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky & Robocop would kick Rocky's butt," the tweeter said. "He's a GREAT ambassador for Detroit."

Bing tweeted back that Detroit had no plans for a RoboCop statue, thank you, but the notion left Walley and friends intrigued.

"We thought, 'We’ve already supported some artists for great public art projects. Let's just build a RoboCop statue,'" he said.

The Kickstarter campaign they launched in 2012 raised 67,436 improbable dollars. Detroit sculptor Giorgio Gikas agreed to tackle the job for $65,000.

Gikas told The Detroit News in 2017 that he was already deep into the red on the project, which at times required the attention of two full-time employees.

Though the Michigan Science Center has declined to host the statue, it noted that "the creation of the bronze work, which combines centuries-old metalworking techniques with 21st-century technology, remains an amazing STEM story."

Where that story will be told remains to be seen.

"I can say there's interest from some great spots around Detroit," Walley said, but "we're not close to closing any deals right now."

The eventual site will need to commit to insurance and maintenance.

In return, judging by the roster of Kickstarter donors, RoboCop will attract visitors from all over the world — and it's hard to imagine a better sentry.

Giorgio Gikas, president of Venus Bronze Works, and Brandon Walley, President of the board of The Imagination Station, with a foam model of the statue.

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn