A giant fighting robot is on Ebay, no reserve

MegaBots is going belly up. It was a valiant run and a heartening attempt to popularize giant robot combat.

MegaBots, the innovator of giant fighting robots and the most successful effort to date to make a giant robotic fighting league sustainable, will soon fire for bankruptcy. In anticipation of the bankruptcy filing, the company is selling off its assets. Most notably its 15-ton, two-story tall fighting robot, Eagle Prime, is up for no-reserve auction on Ebay

The news was announced by Matt Oehrlein in a video on YouTube (embedded).

As we covered back in 2016, the concept of giant robot sports was great for garnering attention but had a tough time getting liftoff. That year, an announced fight between a MegaBots robot and a gang of racing drones was called off at the last minute. 

In 2017, things were looking much brighter for the company. That year, two giant fighting robots, one representing the USA and one representing Japan, entered into a knock-em-down fight for international glory. It was the culmination of a challenge made in 2015, and the world seemed hungry to indulge. 

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Representing the USA was MegaBots, which launched in 2014 and had raised more than $3 million to build its hardware. 

The Japan fight was a success in many ways, garnering more than eight million views. But it was also the beginning of the end of MegaBots' valiant effort to create a sustainable fighting league for giant robots. Serious technical issues during the bout made an unedited version untenable for public release. Instead, MegaBots produced an edited, scripted version of the fight. The technology on display was truly impressive, but a vocal contingent of critics called BS. Giant robot fighting, it seemed was not ready for prime time.

Earlier this year, when a Canadian team challenged MegaBots for North American bragging rights, that challenge video, distributed through MegaBots' video channels, only garnered about 50,000 views. Though only one metric, it was an important indication that the appetite for nation-on-nation giant robot combat had dried up. Given that MegaBots was, in essence, a media company monetizing views of its fights and controlling what it hoped would become valuable intellectual property holdings in its robots, the loss of a reliable audience was the death knell.  

In the video, Oehrlein explains that the company attempted to stay afloat booking appearances, sometimes for more than $100,000 a pop. But the economics just didn't work, and in the end MegaBots, which had taken on debt, couldn't repay the interest on its loan. 

Thus the Ebay auction. According to the listing:

Eagle Prime is likely the world's most combat-capable battle mech. This 15-ton robot is powered by a 430 horsepower LS3 V8 Engine commonly found in the chevrolet corvette. It's piloted by two people, and stands 11.5 ft tall when it's squatting down, and about 16 ft tall when it's standing up. Note, it's often cited as a 12-ton robot online, but those were estimations. After measuring, we now know it weighs 15-tons.

The lucky winner will have to contend with a few quirks. For example, the hard plastic panels on the robots' treads will need replacing soon. There's also some standard maintenance and upkeep needed, including routine hydraulic work. The winning bidder will receive lots of o-rings, as well as several end-of-arm weapons attachments (including a giant drill that was deemed so dangerous by the builders it was only used once and then shelved).

Note: The giant cannon may or may not work, the sellers disclose. That's because they used it as a battering ram in the fight with japan. In any event, they believe it's repairable.