“My dream is to preserve a police spinner.”
2019 is a really special year for the movie, “Blade Runner.” Back in 1982, the movie gazed at what our future would be in 2019, and the year has come upon us. Although we have yet to have flying cars and humanoids walking among us, the year is still monumental. 2019 marks the start of our “Police Spinner” project, which aims to preserve the famous Spinner from the BR world for fans around the world to enjoy, generation after generation.
Storing and preserving the heritage of movie magic
Cultural heritage can be tangible and intangible. It can be based on traditions and icons of a unique era.
With regards to movie heritage, there has not been much consideration from public institutions for preservation in Japan, restoration and storage of cinema pop icons that even now continue to shape our world and how we see it.
In the United States, there are some facilities that manage the above, especially for displaying movie cars. In Japan, there is a growing interest to also think about how to cinema props, sets, and techniques can still live on in the physical world. With these initial talks, we decided to kick off our own preservation project.
We began working on this project, pulling from our own available funding, to ensure the project got off the ground and would be completed by 2019. Though the cost is already high, we are managing. But this is just the first stage. Though we can get the Spinner initially restored, the cost of future maintenance, spare parts and storage is a cause of concern. With the Spinner being built nearly 40 years ago, even the spare parts themselves would be considered antiques, adding additional cost to secure. Add I storage costs and this is quickly becoming a large, long-term commitment.
Despite all this, we are committed. We want people from around the world to experience and appreciate this small slice of the movie and cultural significance. Even if we ascend to another worldly solar system, we hope this Spinner will remain.
The formation of the “Police Spinner Restore Project”
I am Masahide Koizumi, the representative of the Police Spinner Restore Project. I run an antique toy shop called Nostalgic Heroes. For the purposes of this restoration project, we have set up a company called KAIZER FACTORY.
My encounter with the Police Spinner
When I first watched the movie “Blade Runner” at an early age, I felt I really wanted to live in Ridley Scott’s wonderous world. In particular, I was drawn to the Police Spinner (referred also as Spinner) with the presence it had on the silver screen and how it gracefully depicted how we can soar into the clouds in the distant future.
Acquiring a Spinner
In 1990, I came across a real Spinner that was used in the Blade Runner production. It was in the US and was sold at an auction after it made the rounds on a promotional circuit for the movie and appearing in a few other movies as a “future car” to help add to the background. Through negotiations, I was able to purchase this exact Spinner. Though it is easy to simply write this, it was a monumental task to actually achieve.
Police Spinner lands in Japan
The Spinner came into my possession in 1990 in Japan. It made brief, sporadic appearances here and there until 1996. In November 2017 at Tokyo Comicon, the Spinner once again hit the center stage, though only in the form of a single front tire cover. Over the years, the Spinner has suffered from decades of deterioration and could not be shown incomplete form.
Bringing the Spinner back to life
The Blade Runner Spinner is a really unique car. Spec data and structural information is scarce and really only limited to what we can see in the movie itself. Photo materials just were not taken at the time of filming or afterward. Moreover, it is said that Director Ridley Scott orders the destruction of movie sets and props after filming, wanting the world he created and all in it to live solely in his films. Even with the Spinner, I obtained had not made it out unscathed. It had already been repainted, modified when it was used in other movies and was missing elements from the original construction.
Encountering Mr. Makino
A big part of this restoration project is due to Mr. Makinno, Macky, who has been participating as a supervisor on the Japan side. He has been studying “Blade Runner” for many years and has the biggest wealth of knowledge and materials on the Spinner than anyone I know. It's no exaggeration to say that this restoration project became a reality when we first shook hands.
In December 2017, I met Gene Winfield, the man who actually built the Spinner for the Blade Runner movie at an event held in Yokohama, Japan. Gene is a legend builder of hot rods in the US. At the Yokohama event, he accepted my request for a meeting. “You have a Spinner?” was Gene’s initial reaction. I showed him some pictures I took of the Spinner in its current state of disrepair. I even showed him the cracked front windshield I brought with me to discuss where or how it could be replaced. I told him how much the Spinner meant to me, how it was apart of me from a young age and still to this day. By the conclusion of our meeting, Gene was on the same page and agreed to be the Project Supervisor for the Spinner restoration project. This was an absolutely huge moment.
In January 2018, we made contact with Gary Willoughby, who manages the “BLADE ZONE” website known by “Blade Runner” fans around the world as a key resource for anything BR. When we told him our intention to restore a Spinner, he was excited and happy to hear that we had the Spinner that had gone “missing” some years ago. Being as big of a fan as we are, Gary offered his full reach into the Blade Runner world. Through Gary’s global network, we were able to connect with people all around the world, giving us access to the world of “Blarunian” (a nickname for Blade Runner fans), which cannot be bought with money.
One of the important people connected with Mr. Gary's introduction is industrial designer Syd Mead. Syd, who is called a futurist, is a central figure in the world of Blade Runner, as the sole designer that created the world of Los Angeles 2019 and all its inhabitants, including the Spinner. In April 2018, we visited the United States and met directly with Syd. “You’re brave enough to come here!” Syd greeted with. I couldn’t shake his hand fast enough and we quickly got down to work.
Visiting Gene's workshop
In May 2018 we visited the Mojave Desert, where Gene Winfield’s shop is. The purpose was to check the FRP samples Gene had of the Spinner and understand the manufacturing methods and materials used for each part at the original time of construction. We meticulously measured, identified and cataloged each part, one by one, to reveal the Spinner’s original DNA that was sequenced back in 1982. Gene was taken back at our clinical precision and determination to get everything just right. If not now, then when? He shared many stories about the movie production, details only Gene would know, and so on. We ordered original parts that we determined to be necessary and proceeded with the process of classifying them with existing parts to help in our restoration and preservation needs.
Reunion with an old friend, 35 years in the making
In June 2018, Gene visited Japan and reunited with the Spinner for the first time in about 35 years. “Thank you for keeping it clean”, Gene said. It seems that the “Spinner” was in a much better state than Gene imagined. Gene and the team worked to completely disassemble the Spinner down to the last nut, bolt and light bulb, verifying our information taken in the US. The goal was simple, to restore the Spinner to its state at the time of filming in 1982. Because this is not a replica, it was important that we bring this back to its former glory.
Negotiation for commercialization rights
Although a few products were released for commercialization when the Blade Runner movie was released, commercialization right has not been officially granted since. Of course, our main goal is to restore the Spinner, but we also want to revitalize the franchise after a nearly 40-year slumber. We want fans of Blade Runner and science fiction movies to have the opportunity to hold in their hands a part of this Spinner. I have hired a lawyer who specializes in merchandising negotiations. We are currently proceeding forward with securing the rights to meet the November 2019 timing.
I originally planned to ship the Spinner to the US so Gene could personally handle the full restoration project. Sadly, he cannot take on the project himself so I was left to search for a worthy restorer in Japan and ask Gene through video conferencing to give his blessing on to the chosen restorer and keep an eye on the progress. The restorer chosen has a long history of fabrication, so much in fact that it existed before the second world war. Gene and the fabrication shop owner waxed on about their nostalgic memories and even discovered they were working in close proximity after the war in the Tokyo Tsukiji ward in separate sheet metal factories, amazing! At this time, I noted that their skill of fabricating from a single sheet of steel is the true mark of a craftsman, a skill that has faded in recent years. Even more, I was blown away that Gene, an American hot rod legend, learned his metalwork skills in Japan shortly after the war!
Request to participate in crowdfunding
We are planning an event to unveil the restored Spinner for those that participate in crowdfunding our project. The Spinner is expected to drive into the venue with full working scissor doors and functioning lighting and give an up-close introduction for those that helped the Spinner come back to life. Supporters will be able to get inside to experience the Spinner’s activated interior, take commemorative photos, and receive some Spinner limited edition products. If possible, we are also hoping to release a movie that documents the restoration project. We are now inviting actors attached the Blade Runner franchise to attend and share in the magic. We plan to include some talk shows and limited sales of autographs. In addition, we have a special project for the venue itself for the reveal that will give all participants a chance to inhabit the Blade Runner universe. I would be happy if you would share with us on this special day with the Spinner where you can touch the world of Blade Runner.
Tokyo Comic Con
Tomenosuke Shoten, famous for producing BR blasters, plans to produce a booth that recreates the “World of Blade Runner” at the Tokyo Comicon venue held at Makuhari Messe for three days from November 30 to December 2, 2019. We are now currently planning this with Shinji Nakako. At Tokyo Comicon, we are planning to release various limited products and display Spinner merchandise that have been officially licensed. Also, we are currently negotiating so that Blade Runner franchise actors can visit the Comicon for the festivities.
Management of merchandising rights
Our goal does not just cover the Spinner restoration itself. As mentioned, we want to establish a supervision department for future commercialization of Blade Runner intellectual properties. Unfortunately, since 1982, there has never been a single voice when it comes to Blade Runner information and accuracy. Through this restoration project, and the help of others around the world, we want to become specialists for creators to tap into to realize their Blade Runner projects and goods in the commercial world.
Final dream "Perfect Spinner" production
By restoring the Spinner back to its film production state, we will have interacted with key people around the world, both in Japan and overseas, learned fine details that have never been disclosed before, and taken the veil of mystery off the origins and hidden secrets of the Spinner. We can make an “original” equivalent Spinner by using the molds and jigs made for the preservation and management of the spinner. As some may know, there were three types of Spinners made for the movie: “driving Spinner”, “flying Spinner”, and process cars for interior and composite screen creation. Each had a specific role for filming, but not one single Spinner had the abilities shown on the silver screen. We want to create a Spinner car as it was imagined to be. Therefore, the final goal of this project is to create a Spinner that has the ability to transform from a driving configuration to a flying configuration. The interior would also be fully recreated in with the most minute details accurately represented. Beyond cosmetic and transformation functionality such as motorized front wheel covers, a new powertrain design would be needed to adequately propel the car and other gimmicks such as steam thrusters. Combined, this would give fans a truly “perfect Spinner”, one that has only lived in our imaginations.
To reach this ultimate goal would truly be a historical moment in movie history. Generations of fans and curious minds would be able to enjoy the Spinner, and everything it represents into the far-off future.We believe dreams can only come true with strong beliefs and determination. I hope you all can participate together in this dream, and make it into a reality. 209 only comes once, let’s make it count!
Representative: Masahide Koizumi
Currently, we are preparing a “Police Spinner Restore Project” crowdfunding site.
We will notify you as soon as the site is complete. Thank you in advance for your member registration.