Have you ever wanted a 15-ton fighting robot? Well, now’s your chance. A 15-ton robot was just put on eBay, after the bankruptcy of MegaBots. This robot is a full 16-feet tall, with parts and weapon attachments. The only catch: you’re going to have to figure out the shipping. It could be up to $50,000 to ship the item internationally.
The story of this robot, and the story of MegaBots, is an important cautionary tale in the world of entertainment startups. Here’s what happened, and what led to a battlebot being put on eBay for a dollar.
Eagle Prime: Now on eBay (Starting at a Dollar)
As of September 27, the Eagle Prime robot is up to over $100,000. It started at merely a dollar, and there are still 6 days to go. Bidders are going to need to pay $1,000 before the auction closes, but there’s no telling how many of these bids are realistic and how many of these bids are for the laughs.
A few individuals have driven up the bidding by at least $10,000 on their own, and some of the bidders have feedback scores of less than 25. Some may simply want to be a part of history and may have no real intention of paying.
Eagle Prime was used during a now infamous USA vs. Japan robot duel. The total building of Eagle Prime cost $2.5 million, which included a 430 horsepower engine. And there are some issues with the robot, too. Some of its plastic pads are worn down and will need to be replaced, it isn’t able to travel on dirt well, and it may spring a hydraulic leak during operation. The sellers are very open about its issues.
But, of course, it’s a giant robot. Though it may not be usable for actual robot-to-robot battle, it’s certainly a fantastic thing to have in your yard.
MegaBots Goes Bankrupt
Why is a 15-ton fighting robot being sold? Because its parent company is going bankrupt. MegaBots simply wasn’t able to make itself profitable, being a company that was centered around fighting robots — an industry that the world just isn’t ready for. Perhaps, that’s a good thing for all of us…
Founded in 2014, MegaBots was specifically designed to create giant robots and “mechas” for the purposes of fighting and entertainment. The hope was ultimately that people would be able to create a new sport of battlebots, with individuals controlling these robotic mechs, and fighting each other for notoriety and prizes as seen in many Japanese anime cartoons. Like the current e-sports arena, these matches would be streamed online as well as viewed in public. This was billed as the “future of sports.”
But, like many entertainment startups, MegaBots was more flash than capability. It wasn’t able to create any truly new technology, instead engineering a single, large robot, as a proof of concept and entertainment draw.
In 2015, it was able to raise a total of $554,592 on Kickstarter for a Japan vs. USA robot duel. The robot duel itself was scripted, which ended up leading to widespread criticism in 2017. The scripting was painfully obvious: it took three days to film. But, MegaBots nevertheless continued to launch events, such as watching the immense robot destroy things such as cars.
Ultimately, the company was unable to continue growing its revenue, and had to declare bankruptcy. But MegaBots was still able to generate a lot of buzz. It received the Guinness World Record for “Largest Robots to Fight,” and its video was viewed over 8 million times.
The Challenges of the Entertainment Startup
MegaBots is only one of the mega-entertainment startups that have launched since internet media became so common. Kickstarter has provided the seed funding for many businesses that have later folded, because they don’t have a clear path to revenue, or a profit model.
In the case of MegaBots, their reach may have exceeded their grasp. While they started out as a “fighting robot” company, they were unable to safely and reliably create realistic fights, and instead were required to script them.
But their loss could be your gain: your very own giant, fighting robot.