7 Ways Hollywood Tried to Make the First RoboCop Family-friendly

By Charles Webb in Cartoons, Daily Lists, Movies, TV, Toys
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at 6:00 am


The original RoboCop is a blood-spattered masterpiece: a scathing look at looming social decay, rampant corporatism, and things we might end up buying for a dollar.

So when MGM and Sony announced that the José Padilha-directed remake would be PG-13, fans were up in arms. "How dare they try to make Detroit's finest family-friendly?! Who's going to want that?"

Well, my excitable friend, Hollywood already tried its damnedest to make a RoboCop you could take home to grandma. Let's look back at 7 significantly less-than-R-rated takes on our favorite splatter cop.

7. A RoboCop Ride-Along

Hey kids! Want to take a ride with your pal RoboCop through the decaying, crime-ridden ruins of Old Detroit?

That was the premise of RoboCop: The Ride, basically a Captain EO-style experience out of amusement developer SimEx-iWerks in late 1995. Fellow riders would strap in and glide through the city as a CG RoboCop zipped along on a mission to save the mayor of Detroit from the villain Cyberpunk ROM and his gang.

Since this was a family affair, this 4-minute ride sadly didn't involve RoboCop capping some fools, instead relying on some early CG to allow kids young and old to enjoy a dash through the streets of Old Detroit before Robo's bike converted to hover mode, taking you above the crumbling skyline.

But RoboCop's strangest adventure would happen five years earlier. One that would have him attempting to save the most important person of all: his tag-team partner.

6. Half Cop, Half Professional Wrestler

Summer 1990. Wrestling fans are waiting for the next chapter in the epic battle between Sting and the Horsemen. What level of smack talk would make its way into the promos for the likely spectacular WCW match-up?

Well, besides standing up for all of the "little Stingers" out there, the face-painted one had a surprise: he'd be bringing a cyborg along to take down Sting's then-nemeses.

The promotion was done in support of that summer's release of the hyper-violent RoboCop 2, among whose contributions to society is what can only be assumed is the spark that has led to an entire fetish of tiny men in zoot suits choking out ladies in officer's uniforms, and RoboCop participating in a wrestling match.

Now, the logistics of someone in bulky RoboCop costume attempting to wrestle was likely not lost on the promoters at the WCW, meaning Robo (and the not-Peter Weller wearing the suit) wouldn't have to try to struggle up into the ring. Instead, it was a half-mad cage match where RoboCop's role was to bend the very fake bars and free his tag team partner.

Now if it seems weird that someone would hit on the bright idea to put what - we should stress - is a brutally-murdered cop in a title match alongside the life-sized action figures of professional wrestling, then you haven't contemplated the strangeness of giving RoboCop his own line of actual action figures.

5. Dead Cop Toy Story

Okay, we'll admit that once upon a time, when we were just little Topless Robots, we would have killed for one of Kenner's ED-209 (renamed ED-260 here) toys. Really, what kid wouldn't have wanted any of the figures from the dangerous-even-for-the-'80s line of Kenner action figures which featured exploding caps for that real, in your face pow-pow action?

The toys were the company's tie-in to the short-lived animated series (more on that later), which gave RoboCop a handful of colorful enemies to fight on the crime-ravaged streets of Old Detroit.

The future of (toy) law enforcement included a rocket-launching car, and an Officer Lewis wielding what probably wasn't a standard-issue crossbow.

Don't worry, though: everyone was shooting lasers so you didn't have to worry about any playground scenarios involving bullet-riddled corpses of Detroit's Ultra Force.

What you did have to worry about was playing with these ungainly, barrel-chested figures whose human characters appeared to have as much trouble walking as the cyborg made of a couple of hundred pounds of titanium.

But what's better than an action figure for all of the little Robo-fans out there? How about an inaction figure for the entire city of Detroit?

4. All Hail the RoboCop Statue!

Back in 2011, someone got it into their heads that Detroit needed a statue of RoboCop. Because, you know, hipsters and not understanding that the last thing a bankrupt city needs is a statue celebrating a movie where a city on the verge of bankruptcy is about to be taken over by a massive, heartless conglomerate.

And yet the Kickstarter campaign for Detroit Needs a Statue of Robocop was able to nab $65,000 with an initial goal of $50,000, easily vaulting the character out of the territory of horrifying speculative fiction to pop-culture toy for the nostalgia set.

There's something vaguely depressing about the concept of the statue, which currently has a completion date of Fall 2014: there's something vaguely creepy about the conceptual disconnect between what the character and that first film meant, and the gleeful rush to canonize him in the real world. RoboCop is a grim film - even if Murphy technically takes down the bad guy in the end, he's still an emotionless creature trapped in a mechanical body owned by what is, at best, a lawful-evil entity.

Yet, in the annals of "missing the point of RoboCop - you know, for the kids" - very little has our next entry beat.

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