Dead or Alive: Robocop’s Explosion into Popular Media
RoboCop is a satirical sci-fi thriller known for explosive action and impetuous one-liners, celebrated by fans and critics alike since the 1987 debut film. The franchises main character is the titular Robocop, a cybernetic police officer from a dystopian Detroit, programmed to take down crime as his prime directives. With three films under his belt, Alex Murphy, the man behind the machine, managed to inspire an entire generation of film goers and continues to do so thanks to a recent reboot and many appearance in popular media. Delving into this rabbit hole, we take a look at Robocop’s true legacy as we explore Dead or Alive: Robocop’s Explosion into Popular Media.
Robocop (Animated TV Show) (1988)
Shortly after Robocop hit cinemas, an animated Kids TV show hit the airwaves as part of the Marvel Action Universe programming block. Animated by AKOM Productions, the show followed the story of the film, albeit in a kid friendlier tone. The series features cyborg cop Alex Murphy (RoboCop), fighting to save the city of Old Detroit from rogues gallery of bad guys. The show only ran for 12 episodes. Whilst it was short lived, Robocop’s TV career was only just starting. After all.. Somewhere there is a crime happening.
RoboCop (Canadian TV series) (1994)
Shortly after the unsuccessful release of RoboCop 3, a 1994 TV series released via Canada’s Skyvision Entertainment. Made to appeal primarily to children and young teenagers, it lacks the graphic violence of the original films and fit more firmly into the friendlier RoboCop 3 ethos. The television series takes place 4-5 years after the original RoboCop film and ignores the events of the film sequels. The show introduced many new characters and plot lines and generally felt a far cry from the Robocop we had seen on the big screen. Ultimately, the shows rating tanked and Robocop once again hit rock bottom on the box.
RoboCop: Alpha Commando (Animated TV Show) (1998)
Alpha Commando acted a s semi sequel to the 1988 show, seeing RoboCop being reactivated after five years offline. The show saw Robocop facing off against a highly advanced terrorist organization. Out of all of the TV adaptions, this show had the least in common with the films. Most notably being the inclusion of numerous gadgets in his body that were never in the film, such as roller skates and a parachute, making Robocop more inline with Inspector Gadget. The show ran for an incredible 40 episodes.
RoboCop: Prime Directives (2001)
Set ten years after RoboCop, Prime Directives is the perfect follow on from the film. Delta City is built, crime is now a thing of the past, OCP is on the brink of bankruptcy and Robocop is seen as an outdated and tired. The show introduced a dual wielding Robocop clone called Cable and a new threat in the form of an AI that look set to take over the world. The show was broken down into four feature length parts and returned RoboCop to his dark, violent roots.
Robocop is big news on the printed page having numerous adaptations including comic book mini-series and ongoing series. Marvel Comics released the first issue adapted from the films series, ending 1992. The comic book license for RoboCop was later acquired by the publishing company Dark Horse Comics. Legendary comic creator Frank Miller stepped into produces one of Robcops most talked about cross overs, RoboCop Versus The Terminator, which started as a four issue mini series but spawned an entire franchise.
Miller would return Robocop almost a decade later when the comic rights were acquired by Avatar Press. The new comic was based on his own unused screenplay for the film RoboCop 2, but scheduling prohibited him from personally writing the comic adaptation or illustrating.
Dynamite Entertainment & Boom! Studios were the latest studios to take on the Cyborg law enforcer.
Robocop Video Games
Robocop has ventured forth into the world of video games so many times, that they could appear in a list of their own. Whilst many of Murphy’s digital adventures were based on the three main films, there were also some developed on other IP’s, such as the Robocop vs Terminator comics books. The most surprising thing is the amount of genres he has been adapted into. From side scrolling beat ’em ups, platformers, first person shooters to genres you wouldn’t even think to see, such as a Xenon styled vertical scrolling shooter. Robocop’s most recent adventure is in the world of Mortal Kombat, where he can be played as a fighter in Mortal Kombat 11.
Direct Line Campaign
The ‘We’re On It’ campaign followed on from Direct Line’s hugely successful five year campaign fronted by ‘fixer’ Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel) from Pulp Fiction. Advertising giants Saatchi & Saatchi managed to snag a few other fan favorite characters for the next evolution of adverts. The idea was to showcase Direct Line as being so fast, efficient, and reliable that they would beat even the world’s most iconic hero characters. The three characters chosen were: Bumblebee from the Transformers franchise, Donatello from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and RoboCop. The key behind the choices being that the folks who grew up with these characters are today’s insurance customers
In the advert, Robocop breaks his prime directives and heads on out to investigate stolen laptops from a small business. Pledging to find the criminals and retrieve the stolen goods, poor ol’ Robo is informed he’s too late. Direct Line have already replaced the stolen goods.
For a commercial, it’s considerable well made. Along with his classic lines, the original suit is here and it looks bloody good. Friday the 13th’s (2009) Jason Voorhees actor, Derek Mears, steps into the large shoes of Robo for this single commercial. Somebody call a god damn paramedic, my Direct Line insurance has just ran out!
Korean has been the master of bizarre commercials for decades, so it seems only fitting that they would drag poor ol’ Murphy into a curious little commercial for fried chicken. The dystopian zombie cyborg police officer is seen stepping out of a TV set, tempted by the tasty chicken frying in the kitchen, where he then steals the families fridge. More strange is the choice of music, which is the Back to the Future score from BTTF Part 3.
Whilst the costume is not film accurate, being chrome rather than the bluish tinted titanium, and his visors slot is bright red, it’s clearly still the Robocop we know and love. Even if he is stealing fridges. Careful Robo, people will think you’re not a very nice guy!
Apart from crime, there is one other thing Murphy hates, cockroaches. And so it is that Detroit’s finest finds himself tracking down those pesky bugs in the Korean advert for Bugspray. The screen accurate costume has gone through one major change though, as Robo’s gun holster now holds a can of bug spray instead of his trusty side arm. Despite the change in weaponry, Supercop is still a crack shot!
1980’s UFO Noodles Commercial
We’re going to be honest here, we have no idea what is going on in these UFO Noodle adverts, but it certainly looks cool. In the first video, we see a screen accurate Robocop making noodles, complete with his own set of chop sticks that eject from his gun holster.
The second advert shows Robocop educating a couple of young lads on the tasty delights on offer in every pack of UFO noodles. I’d buy that for a dollar!
These are followed up by an advert that promotes a special give away. You can win a Robocop noodle making kit or an awesome Robocop tracksuit. Yes big is back as these baggy ass looking suits will make you look less Robocop and more Michelin man as you work out on the beach looking like the biggest idiot on the planet. Just remember that bigger is better!
LG (Goldstar) TV 1990
It’s not just food that Robo sells in Korea, he also likes to advertise TV sets. In this fun little ad for LG (Goldstar) tv sets, Robocop scans the telly, then shoots some energy thingy from his hands. I’m not sure this move is canon? But it sure does look cool.
We already know that Murphy has a taste for Korean chicken, so it was only a matter of time before the police enforcement unit took on the worlds most popular brand of fired chicken, KFC.
KFC’s esteemed founder and chameleon-like mascot Colonel Sanders once again morphed into a new form, that of dystopian cyborg police officer Robocop, for a 2019 campaign that saw original film veteran Peter Weller return to voice Murphy one more time.
Robocop was chosen to portray the Louisville-based chicken chain’s founder Col. Harland Sanders because he has a special job to do: Safeguard KFC’s secret blend of 11 herbs and spices used in its Original Recipe Chicken. The ad campaign shows RoboCop carrying a secured briefcase with an encrypted copy of the recipe from the company’s maximum security nuclear bunker. Yep, KFC really do take their secret recipe very seriously.
The new styled RoboCop has white hair, moustache and goatee, glasses and a white dickey with a black string bow tie. Robocop is not the only person to have portrayed the Colonel, actors Ray Liotta and George Hamilton, comedian Jim Gaffigan and singer Reba McEntire have all stepped into his Louisiana shoes.
Even though Robocop is one of the bloodiest movies of the 1980s and heavily satirized Reagan-era consumerism, the power of nostalgia can never be underestimated when it comes to marketing. But when it comes to Adverts with Robocop, who cares if it worked or not!
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“Hello Horror Fans – I’d buy that for a dollar. Robocop is a kick-ass zombie cyborg that has managed to injected himself into our popular Zeitgeist. Dead or alive, it’s hard not to enjoy the journeys of a half-rotting robot man that has a massive gun hidden in his leg. Is he happy to see me…or am I under arrest?