Giant robot, for sale, lightly worn.
Now, the company has run out of money—for the second time in two years—and is selling its 16-foot tall, 15-ton battle mech Eagle Prime to pay back some debt before declaring bankruptcy. It's up for auction on eBay, with a starting bid of $1. But after only a day, the bidding is now set at more than $51,000.
"I'm feeling good about the sale and really proud of how far we've come," Megabots co-founder Matt Oehrlein told Motherboard in an email. "I'll just be happy if we can prevent Eagle Prime from going into a junkyard."
But that probably won't happen, as bidding is already moving at an exorbitant pace. Motherboard editor-in-chief Jason Koebler tried to bid on the mech—probably to gift to me as a mobile blogging battlestation—and was instantly outbid:
In a video explaining the auction and the state of the company, Oehrlein outlines the serious technical and financial commitment involved in adopting and operating Eagle Prime.
The mech runs on a Corvette engine, but maintenance on the hydraulics, tire treads, and general mechanical upkeep are a lot more demanding and expensive than your average hot rod. Shipping Eagle Prime to wherever you are will require a flatbed truck, costing between $4,000 if you're on the West Coast and $17,000 to the East Coast. Sending the robot on an international journey could set you back around $50,000.
In April 2018, Megabots announced that it had "run out of money" and was struggling to stay afloat. "The investors are giving me one last shot," Oehrlein wrote in that announcement. "I raised $200,000 to give this one last go. That might seem like a lot of money, but Eagle Prime cost $2.5M to build."
He introduced the second season of the YouTube channel, and said there would be one of two outcomes: that viewers would watch him successfully rebuild the team, or "watch me slowly confront a painful reality—that this business just isn't sustainable."
Sadly, we know which happened.
Oehrlein told Motherboard that if he could do it all over again, there are two things he'd do differently: cut the YouTube production budget in order to spend more money on ads to get a larger following, and focus more on quality of production over beefiness of the bots.
"I would have spent less money on developing a really powerful incredible (expensive) robot, and focused more on 'What will the fight actually look like?'," he said. "The whole production was pretty rushed."
If I had this robot, the first thing I would do is install a sound system to play a loop of the Mobile Suit Gundam and Voltron theme songs. Then I would grab my laptop and a very long extension cord, park it next to the VICE offices, and blog from the cockpit all day. In case Jason wants to try bidding with the company card again. Just saying.