RoboCop statue, other pop culture-based art finds patrons on Kickstarter

The completely assembled version of the Kickstarter-funded RoboCop statue. Image from the Onion A.V. Club.
The completely assembled model of the Kickstarter-funded RoboCop statue. Image from  The A.V. Club.

A 10-foot model of the Kickstarter-funded RoboCop statue has been assembled in its future home of Detroit.

The statue was funded through a Kickstarter campaign in 2011 that made over $67,000 on a $50,000 goal. Campaign creator Imagination Station Detroit wanted to erect a life-size statue of the character after fans expressed interest through social media posts.

Released in 1987, RoboCop tells the story of dead-police-officer-turned-cyborg-justice-machine Alex Murphy, as he battles a crime boss in a dystopian Detroit virtually ruled by a corporation. The film was both a critical and commercial success and maintains a large fanbase today.

Were I not trying to keep this blog “SFW,” I would definitely post a clip or two from the movie so others could revel in its awesomeness.

Imagination Station constructed the model out of foam and plaster. The final statue will be bronze.

Though most Kickstarter campaigns involve pledges in exchange for copies of the final product (especially on high-dollar campaigns), the RoboCop statue demonstrates how like-minded individuals can get behind a project together without any quid pro quo returns.

“This isn’t ours. This was created by over 2,700 people around the world,” said project manager Brandon Walley.

Backers were willing to support this campaign even if they received nothing in return. They simply liked the fact that someone was going to build a RoboCop statue in Detroit.

RoboCop is the most famous example, but other pop culture figures have been commemorated in sculpture because of Kickstarter.

The following map shows the locations of the RoboCop campaign and four other examples.

New York City sculptor Derrick Cruz used Kickstarter to fund a porcelain cast of the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis.

In Salem, Mass., figure artist Chad O’Connell funded life-size wax models of characters from the 1992 dark comedy film Death Becomes Her.

Using a more unusual medium, Las Vegas-based artist Michael Davis funded his goal of building a wall-sized reproduction of the title screen of the cult favorite PC game The Secret of Monkey Island out of Lego bricks.

Clockwork Couture, a steampunk-themed clothing retailer based in Burbank, Calif., used Kickstarter to fund expansions of its brick-and-mortar location. The additions were to include sculptures of a zeppelin and a Tardis (of Doctor Who fame), as well as a rotating art gallery, a classroom for teaching unemployed people how to start their own businesses, a public gaming room and a pet adoption area.

All these projects show Kickstarter’s potential for old-fashioned art patronage. Only the Ian Curtis campaign sold reproductions of the artwork, and they were limited.

By and large, people funded these projects because they cared about the works and wanted to see them be made.

The title screen of "The Secret of Monkey Island." Image from the Lego campaign Kickstarter page.
The title screen of “The Secret of Monkey Island.” Image from the Lego campaign Kickstarter page.

The projects also show Kickstarter’s ability to find the niche audiences needed to fund them. In any given person’s personal social network or geographic area, there are probably not a great number of The Secret of Monkey Island enthusiasts. Online, however, Davis could more successfully find people who loved the game and were interested in the project.

The RoboCop statue experienced the same effect on a larger scale. Imagination Station might have had trouble raising funds for the statue if it limited its reach to a city that was two years away from economic disaster.

However, by reaching out to fans all over the world, it achieved its funding goal and increased interest in its campaign.

I have never been to Detroit. It’s possible I may never go there. But I’m still excited about the fact that the city will have a cool movie character statue in it.

That sentiment is what got the campaign funded. Despite Kickstarter’s store-like tendencies, it can still be used to gather a crowd of avid fans more interested in seeing their favorite things in a new medium than with receiving a new product and some pre-order goods.

The final RoboCop statue is expected to be unveiled in summer 2014.

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One thought on “RoboCop statue, other pop culture-based art finds patrons on Kickstarter”

  1. Man, I love kickstarter. It’s a for real addiction. It’s like mixing gambling with buying stuff when you’re drunk and on the internet. So instead of just 2-day shipping (THANKS AMAZON!), I get it (maybe) in like 8 months when I’ve definitely forgotten about it.

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