If you were in attendance at Gamescom 2023, you may have noticed a particularly large visitor, posted at the front of one of the Koelnmesse’s largest halls to greet passersby. That visitor was none other than a larger-than-life statue of Sonic the Hedgehog.
These sorts of statues are common in the public halls of the Koelnmesse, but there’s more to the statue than meets the eye. It’s actually something of a relic, initially being built close to three decades ago for the SegaWorld indoor theme park, which opened in September of 1996. Sadly, the short-lived London-based venue shut down in the year 2000. Its massive Sonic statue was promptly relegated to a storage tomb. Until now.
At Gamescom 2023, keen to get to the bottom of the newly-restored Sonic statue, we spoke to Sega community manager Marilia Campos, who taught us all about the statue’s history, and its reintroduction at Europe’s largest gaming venue to promote the upcoming Sonic Superstars.
Sonic's back in action! 🎉The iconic SEGAWORLD London statue is making a comeback after two decades, fully restored to its former glory. Don't miss out, visit our #gamescom booth this week to witness this piece of nostalgia up close! pic.twitter.com/CPIK5crJy3August 21, 2023
“We have an internal team called Sega Vibe who look after internal staff engagement projects,” explained Campos. “One of those projects is working on a Sega Archive internally where the aim is to collect pieces of Sega history.
The Sonic statue restoration project is part of this wider scheme within Sega to track down and restore pieces from the Japanese publisher’s long history.
“These range from old marketing assets, to games and consoles to larger pieces such as the classic Sonic statue from SegaWorld. We want to build the collection so that our long history in gaming is preserved and can be enjoyed by our staff well into the future.”
Locating the statue was actually a collaborative effort undertaken by the wider Sega community. Campos says that the statue “was brought to our attention by Dave Luty, a Sonic content creator, and Mark Hughes, an artist who’s worked with Sonic Team on some previous projects.
“He was being kept in a storeroom by a company called Proun who recovered the statue when SegaWorld closed down. They had to remove one of his arms to fit him through the door and he remained in his tiny prison, surrounded by files and boxes, gathering dust until he was located by a member of the SEGA Forever Discord called Ted Haydon in October 2022.”
Remarkably, the Sonic statue was in pretty good condition when it was finally found, over two decades on from its initial storage. Aside from the poor thing’s arm having to be detached to fit it into such a tiny space in the first place, its overall structure and electronics hadn’t actually suffered any significant damage. That said, the whole restoration process wasn’t easy.
“We worked with a company called 13 Finger FX to restore Sonic to his former glory,” says Campos. “Miraculously, the motor that spins the globe on his finger was still working but so much more had to be done. His arm had to be reattached for a start, he needed several other repairs, fresh paint and a healthy dose of gloss to make him shine again.”
The restoration of such an iconic piece of Sonic memorabilia was evidently no small feat, but through a collaborative effort between Sega, its fan community and award-winning special effects outlet 13 Finger FX, Sonic fans the world over will get to enjoy an important piece of the series’ long history.
“It’s great that we were able to have it ready for the show and what better event than Gamescom to unveil him?” Campos said. “The Sega stand is positioned right at the front of Hall 8 in the Koelnmesse and the classic Sonic statue is literally the first thing you see when you walk in.
“People have been having their photo taken with it and generally making a fuss over how awesome he looks. He’ll be touring events for the foreseeable future so stay tuned to the Sega social media channels to see where he’ll end up next.”
It seems like the Sonic statue’s appearance at Gamescom 2023 isn’t a one-night-only deal, then. I’m certainly looking forward to seeing where he’s going to end up next.
Sonic Superstars is one of the most highly anticipated upcoming games for 2023. If you need a lightning-fast fix before then, though, be sure to read our best Sonic games list to experience the hedgehog’s finest moments.