The fastest reflexes modern technology has to offer. On-board computer-assisted memory. And a lifetime of on-the-street law enforcement programming. It is my great pleasure to present to you: Robocop.

The boy insisted for months that he wanted to be a robot for Halloween. His sister was a robot when she was his age. We looked at various robot images on the computer and he was most intrigued by Robocop. After I showed him the trailer, there was no convincing him otherwise. He was going to be Robocop. Which was good, because Detroit has a Cancer. That Cancer is Crime.

The original 1987 Paul Verhoeven-directed Robocop is actually a pretty great movie. But I was at the bar with my friend and his female companion the other day talking about working on this costume and she was like, "Wait, who's Robocop?" Turns out she was born only a year before the movie came out, so maybe I need to set the stage here:

According to its Wikipedia entry, Robocop takes place in a terrifying "dystopian future, [where] the city of Detroit, Michigan is on the verge of collapse due to financial ruin and unchecked crime."

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"The mega-corporation Omni Consumer Products enters into a contract with the city to run the police force while the company makes plans to destroy 'Old Detroit' to replace it with the utopia of Delta City." As part of OCP's plan to privatize the police force, they unveil the cyborg Robocop as a transition to the more sinister fully-robotic police force that will soon put Detroit's beleaguered public safety officers out of a job.

Robocop walks pretty slow and the technology running his systems seems about as sophisticated as what was inside a Sega Genesis, but he has a really powerful gun and the bad guys can shoot him all they want and he keeps coming. Basically, he's everything a little boy thinks is cool.

After the boy decided he wanted to be Robocop, I set about trying to figure out how to make a costume. I found a couple of adults online who had made themselves Robocop costumes, but there was a whiff of that Tron Guy about them and they described multiple trips to Home Depot. So I decided just to make it out of crap I had in my basement.

The helmet is an old bike helmet that didn't really fit him anymore, so I ripped out all the padding inside and glued on a piece of plastic I cut out from an old bucket to make the front visor part. The circles on the sides were orange-juice-container lids. The chest piece is made out of an empty laundry-detergent bottle and the back is made from milk jugs. The arms and legs are cobbled together out of 64-oz Trader Joe juice containers. I made the boots by gluing a bunch of plastic crap to his old rain boots. Then I painted everything metallic gray.

Underneath he's wearing a child-sized wetsuit that I won on eBay for $5.49 (plus $7 shipping). And that's all the money I spent on his costume. The other day we attended an early Halloween party, and later we walked around Detroit taking pictures in various locations that looked like a dystopian-future. Robocop was happy to keep riders of our futuristic public transit system, the People Mover monorail, safe from criminal elements:

Who dropped this pudding cup? That is a violation of Sec. 22-2-83 of the Detroit City Code, punishable as a civil infraction by a fine of up to $100. . . Ease up, there Robocop, have you seen this town?

On our walk back home, Robocop met up with some real police officers and had a confab about something. Crime-fighting, I guess:

Or maybe candy?

They even let him sit in the police car. He in awe during the whole encounter. Detroit's finest were there to help protect a movie or TV Show that was filming on that block. While we were talking, some Hollywood-type rushed over to take a picture of the kid with his camera phone. "I'm good friends with Peter Weller, the guy who played Robocop on the movie," he said. "He's gonna get a kick out of this." The guy proceeded to e-mail the photo to Weller, so chances are the real Robocop has seen my little Robocop. Then we headed back to the first precinct for some repairs (after such an eventful shift, the paint was peeling off the suit and parts were falling off). 

A few more cops came out to talk with us, joking that they were going to have to call their union because it looked like they were being replaced. "Don't worry," I said. "He's just a prototype."

And that's true. I still have a lot of work to do on this suit to get it Halloween-ready. This was just sort of a test run, but it was a pretty fun and epic father-and-son adventure. I should have a movie of him in the suit done by Halloween, and today the girl and I are going to go out to do a photo shoot in her Mama-made costume. Those should be up by Friday. So stay tuned for more Halloween fun.