Disclaimer: The views in this piece may not reflect the views of TSS or other writers on the staff team. The intention of The Spin is to promote debate and discussion of an issue or something that’s happening in the fandom or the world of Sonic.
If you look at some of the most popular debates between fans in the last 12 months, you’ll likely see issues with 2D Vs 3D rear it’s ugly head, the talk of tone in games being bashed around like a tired old deflated leather football, the popular debates are sadly the most tired and dull.
But one subject which is barely getting decent discussion, other than the initial “OH MY GOD” social media reaction, can be illustrated by this picture.
By now, you probably know what this is. This is all that remains of a Sega World Sydney statue, a once popular theme park which was demolished around the turn of the 21st century.
It now sits in a scrap yard, outside, no protection from the elements, slowly decaying into nothing.
A number of high profile websites have reported on this find recently, IGN published a very good article on the subject which went into detail as to the problems surrounding the acquisition of the statue.
If you want a brief history of what’s happened so far this is it. Following on from Sega World Sydney’s closure, this statue has spent the best part of over a decade sat outside in a scrap yard, it has not had any maintenance and the current own has no desire to sell it or restore it in any way.
The best compromise is that he would trade it for “A 6 by 3 Castrol sign. Australian, not American. Or a bowser.” That’s the price for the statue. Don’t have that, don’t even ask.
Until that day, the statue will remain in it’s spot, slowly decaying.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the price is paid, and someone ‘rescues’ it and takes it home… what then? Looking at the state of the statue, there is very little that can be done, entire parts of it would need to be reconstructed, the material is probably so worn that even if you tried to paint it, it would decay even more.
It’s almost certainly doomed.
My mind is now drawn back to this news story, which incidentally was broken the day before the above statue was discovered.
Somewhere in the mountains of Japan, rests a giant Sonic statue cheering motorists and hikers on their way. It has survived over 10 years in this spot, but like the Sega World Sydney statue, it’s showing signs of decay, paint is beginning to wear away, the nose has damage and it also looks like it has received sun damage too.
But it’s not hopeless… looking at the statue, it’s in far better condition and could very well easily be saved, well over 95% of it is intact, it would likely just need some support work and paint applied and it would be nearly as good as new.
Currently, the location of this statue has remained a secret, I know if it’s location and I offered in here to disclose this information with anyone who could prove they were in the area and able to document it with high quality photographs and video, bonus points if they can 3D model/photograph it.
I even contacted Sega themselves to ask if they would be interested in trying to either recover or document this statue… not one person got back to me.
So Sega by all accounts, do not appear to care.
This is a statue which is in a remote location, has no security, has no local community caring for it, has no long term protection from the elements. In it’s current state, this statue is also very likely doomed. So long as nobody steals it, or vandalises it, it’ll last for probably another 10 years, but it’s eventually going to fail and be gone forever.
So let me bring up the next part of the debate. Most people seem to agree that these statues, these giant promotional items need rescuing and protecting.
There’s just one issue.
“Say we ‘rescue’ a statue… What then?”
Let’s imagine the following happens, the scrap yard guy gives up the statue, a die hard fan takes it and makes efforts to restores it, manages to get it to a condition in which nothing more can be done….
Lets imagine that someone finds the statue in Japan… takes it LEGALLY and restores it.
What happens then?
Probably one of two things.
- It gets sold on.
- It gets put into storage.
Either one of those things means that they’ll likely never be seen again, certainly not as often as people would like to. Because really, what else can be done? They originally existed in public locations for people to look at, but the reason they’re in these predicaments is because their original intendeds failed or closed.
Are there gaming museums that would take them? Maybe, if they were in very good condition, even then, are gaming museums that would want these? How do we get them too them? They’re large bulky items, it won’t be cheap.
Even if you happened to find a city that wants them out on display, you have to then solve the problem of security and maintenance. Factors which are not cheap by any standards, and that’s if you can find a city that would want it, lets be fair, I doubt any would considering their current condition.
“All this is for two statues… What about the rest?”
These are by far from the only epic, big, giant statues or pieces of promotional history that exist. Many fans have the 6ft tall Sonic statues which were popular from between 2010-2015, some have these in their rooms, some have them in storage. I know some fans who have some of the old Sega Parks promotional statues, some fans have some of the epic one off promotional items in their collections.
And Sega themselves have some of these items.
… .. …. All of which are in varying condition.
Some of these things are as new… others have problems, many of the big 6ft statues now have broken noses or missing tails, some are just too large or difficult to keep fully intact.
For example, remember this?
This is now all that remains of it.
The bonnet, it’s currently sat in Sega of America’s lobby. But the rest of the design… who knows.
With this one, this isn’t too unusual, the car as a machine is kept for races, but the outer shell is constantly changed with new designs to reflect sponsors. But it we’ll never see this on the road or track again.
And it’s not the only one… remember this?
This car first appeared at the 25th Anniversary party in America, it then ended up at a random Honda show room… it then allegedly appeared at a global car event and now… it’s vanished. Nobody seems to know it’s fate.
Just this week Sega Hardlight showed off their car for a charity event.
Something tells me this won’t last, certainly not fully intact.
So these things we can say they’re a bit difficult to completely save… what about this?
That’s F1 racing legend Senna lifting a legendary piece of merchandise, The XXXVIII Sega European Grand Prix trophy. A one of a kind item.
Up until a month ago, it was believed to have been completely destroyed in an accident. Until this was posted.
McLaren themselves actually confirmed it still exists, reports of it’s destruction are not only wrong, but the trophy had some functionality, the arm moves up and down, something which nobody knew!
But… again, unless you happen to work for McLaren, chances are you’ll never ever see this. Chances are this will be the last photo of the trophy for potentially years to come.
Then there is the stuff which is being preserved, which is being looked after, but is locked away.
That little guy was in storage for a long time, he’s now on display in Sega of America, but the only way you’ll see him is if you are invited to the building.
And even if you’re invited into the building, there are the statues which have simply vanished altogether.
Back at E3 2016, you might have been lucky enough to see these.
After E3 2016, these vanished without a trace, never been seen, never been documented, never been shown since the event. Do they even exist anymore?
I know that some people have medical conditions which mean they freak out anytime the words Sonic & Boom are placed together but…
It’s barely 3 years old… yet it’s gaming history that’s gone missing.
When it comes to statues going missing.
Size does not matter… missing since 2013.
Last seen guarding the master emerald… I mean Sega HQ.
This is something we need to be talking about a lot more than we currently are and ideally Sega should really be getting into this conversation as well, as should other gaming companies which splash out on their own epic displays.
When the game is released, when the hype train pulls into a new station, these epic promotional items tend to get discarded or locked away. They become at best the stuff of epic legend and memory.
And at worst… the realisation that not all owners share the love.
It’s not just a Sonic/Sega problem…
Think about any big gaming convention from the last 10 years, odds are you’ll recall seeing giant statues and promotional item.
At EGX 2017, I was able to sit atop a giant 20ft high dragon, I was held by a 40ft Rabbid Donkey Kong and I sat in a life sized tank from Dawn of Warhammer.
Skyrim, Call of Duty, Assassins Creed, Mario. Every one of these franchises have had huge epic displays… and most have just vanished once the convention ends.
Arguably the best thing to come from Aliens Colonial Marines… now gone forever.
The problem is, we can’t save everything…
If you collect Sonic merchandise, or collect anything and have a large collection of items, you’ll know there are two big problems which can in some cases end someones hobby for collecting
In this case, the 2nd factor is by far the biggest problem. Say Sega did decide to throw money at this problem and save all these items, the storage for all these items alone would have to be incredible. Especially if you actually want these items out in display condition.
There’s just sadly no way you can do it, the space requirements alone make this logistically impossible, even if money to both retrieve and restore these items was not an issue.
But what if, there was a compromise…
The problem, these large and rare items are too big and rare to gather together in one spot and put out on display for viewing. Some are also doomed due to natural decay and neglect.
What if we turned to a virtual environment to save us?
Could A Virtual Sega World Be The Answer?
Most of these items come from big indoor theme parks, arcades and trade events. They’re designed to be big eye catching displays, but their shelf life is limited. Once the game is released, it’s very hard to reuse said assets again.
So we can either take high quality photographs of the items, take video of the items, upload it, and hope that it doesn’t become lost media, and since a lot of these photos from this article were recovered from old flickr accounts that Sega don’t use anymore, even with modern solutions, they can very easily be lost.
We can however do something a bit different, alongside high quality photos and videos, we can now photograph or 3D scan an object using for use in a virtual 3D space.
Maybe the way we can both preserve and display these items, is to scan these using 3D photography, for the intention of creating a virtual theme park.
We can store all these items, for anyone to see, in a virtual Sega World.
Imagine it, any time there was a large display item made, or very rare one of a kind item, it can be scanned and uploaded to our park. Fans from all over the world could visit this park and see the item in the virtual space.
Just think, you could walk around a virtual indoor theme park, surrounded by all these amazing sights. Since some of these items have some functionality, such as the specially made cars, imagine if there was a way to not only 3D scan the cars into the theme park, but also allow you to drive them in a virtual space! That would be really cool!
Remember those Sega busses and the Sega train from the early 90’s, they’re never coming back, but in our theme park, you could take a ride on them. We can create these items to scale and not be worried about the real physical space because we have our park in the digital world.
Our park would also be a way to save the original products to, we would not need to have everything actually out on display, it can be broken down into parts for long term storage, they can then be retrieved for very special events and parties. But our park can have them out on display forever.
Why even limit it to just items for display? Sony was able to do create Playstation Home spaces of their own E3 booths and even Gamescom booths, despite the limitations of PS Home, it was very nice for someone on the other side of the world to be able to actually walk around these booths and see trailers for games, even get some items for their own home space.
Summer of Sonic… Sonic Boom events… E3 booths… It’s not like Sega doesn’t have events like that, our park could have rooms that allow you to visit these events, walk around a virtual Summer of Sonic, and come the end of the day we all rock out as we join in on an Escape From The City sing along.
This is a discussion that needs to happen soon, and someone needs to take ownership because as illustrated by the Sega World Sydney statue, the only thing worse than that, is complete destruction of these old items of history. We need a method of documenting them and preserving them in some way. But also in a manner which means we can visit these items if we want to.
Graphical displays and virtual environments will only improve over time and become more accessible. People are already games to try and re-make famous roller-coasters and long closed theme parks. People are now trying to re-create famous moments in history and famous iconic structures using VR, the idea of using VR to create lost history isn’t new, but when it comes to games, most VR projects are for unique entertainment, I wonder, could we use it to help preserve gaming history?
These are conversations we need to have, Sega also need to be in on them, they probably have most of these epic displays in storage, they probably also have the means to recover many of these seemingly abandoned statues and products.
But the time is running out, for Sonic & Sally, it’s probably too late… but those abandoned Sega Parks in Japan? There’s still time, for those fans who own some of these items, they’d probably want to help. There is still the time to do something, but we have to act now because if we do nothing, then eventually these things will either become lost due to misplacement, or lost due to neglect.
In the time it’s taken you to read this… somewhere in the mountains of Japan, a giant Sonic statue cheers on another biker and silently breathes a sigh of relief as he survives another day.
But unless a plan is devised to save him, the only thing we should save is a spot in that junkyard.
Photo References: SegaBits, SegaRetro