Kickstarter's GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT DISASTER | Crowdfunding Documentary
Giant! Fighting! Robots! No matter how old you are, watching giant mech-like machines battling it out in the movies, in comics, anime, games and tv shows has never NOT looked awesome! Well, for the most part! Metal on Metal action is something that has been tried again and again in these mediums, yet in the real world the closest we have ever had to fighting machines is Robot Wars and Battlebots. Of course plenty of other miniature remote controlled fighting tournaments have come and gone throughout the years too. But, as great as these were… let’s face it… they are not Giant fighting Robots are they Nope. but thankfully back in August of 2018 3x to be quite frank, in-genius engineers took to Kickstarter in order to make this a reality. And what’s awesome about this is that they had a working giant robot already.
And well, not to spoil the ending but yep, they were successful as a giant fighting robot tournament did take place! The problem was, It wasn’t exactly what the vast majority of backers or fans expected. In fact, it's a story that will no doubt split my audience right down the middle and one that I am sure that the majority of you guys watching will be arguing amongst yourselves… which of course I encourage because, ya know it helps the algorithm dunnit. Also, whilst ya down their… make sure ya hit the subscribe and like button too Whilst, I DJ Slope tell you all the story of KICKSTARTER’S GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS welcome to Slope’s Game Room Our story starts with a couple of engineering students from Olin college of engineering Gui Calvalcanti and Andrew Stroup, who after graduating continued to work together on plenty of projects involving robotics In fact Gai even went as far as to briefly work at Boston Dynamics himself, ya know the abuse 'em till they dance robotic company However, he eventually left the cybertron beta testing group and opened up his own maker space location called Artisan’s Asylum where he and like minded individuals could continue to build some truly exceptional robotic… things… like an off road wheelchair for his injured girlfriend but on top of this the duo where even part of the short lived Big Brain Theory TV show on Discovery channel A sort of reality based competition show where engineers would battle it out to make crazy contraptions based on whatever was required that week https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qrt82kzareU&ab_channel=Discovery But again, as cool as this all was… It has nothing to do with GIANT, FIGHTING, ROBOTS….
Which brings us to the 1st big Kickstarter of 4 that we will be looking at today. Ladies & Gentlemen I present to you STOMPY A GIANT errr WALKING ROBOT! That kinda looks like a mechanical spider. The kickstarter needed $65,000 and it got $97,817 from 1,571 backers. And you may be thinking to yourself… because I know I was… what the hell are the backers getting out of this. Well, practically nothing! It had a delivery date of October 2012 and it’s still not finished! Backers pledged from $5 for a shout out, several other higher tiers for bumper stickers, wristbands and T Shirts were included too, and at the top end you get the opportunity to ride on STOMPY yourself But, best of all for $5,000 you can not only have your company logo on one of the legs, but you can also design a shape (like for instance your company logo) that will then get pressed into the ground every time stompy stomps around! Now even though, from what I can make out these smaller tiers like t-shirts, wristbands and bumper stickers DID get sent out, The higher tiered backers still havent had their ride alongs, as by the 1st quarter of 2023 the machine is still not finished! Unfortunately, trying to find updates on this is incredibly hard these days as the campaign owners have completely given up updating their loyal backers as of November 3rd 2014, heck even their own blog hasn’t seen an update since July of 2019, leaving only a small YouTube channel that isn’t branded in anyway to this campaign, which every so often gets an uploaded 5 second video of STOMPY doing… practically nothing And as always is the way when campaigns end up like this.
You get a whole heap of dedicated backers trying to find updates on the team themselves. Sadly for them, what they found wasn't good, because Gui, one of the key players here had started yet another kickstarter campaign Now to be fair, Stumpy wasn't Guis' project, it was something that he was helping with. Still, it did show that the interest of some members had moved on to other things as Gui and Andrew still wanted to make their own GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS As according to an interview with popular science back in 2015 Andrew said to Gai during this time that “If you find some investor crazy enough to give us money, I promise that wherever I am, I’ll come help you build giant robots” And that's exactly what he did with newcomer to the team Matt Oehrlein Now Matt had been on the scene for a short while already, after Gui had set up meetings with several other Maker Space owners which is something that Matt also ran in Detroit. The friendship blossomed between the 2 after said meetings as Matt tried to get a job at Boston Dynamics and asked Gui for tips…. Sadly for the time he didn't get the job. But, then again, for this story at least that’s a good thing as the duo could instead go off and make GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS thanks to their new angel investor Josh Adler Now Josh, was no stranger to Gui and his team, he was an investor looking for inventions to invest in, pitch to bigger companies and ultimately sell for a profit! And apparently, over a few beers the trio began discussing what else he could invest in when Gui took a drunken chance and bought up… say it with me GIANT, FIGHTING, ROBOTS! And to his surprise… Josh liked the idea From Josh’s point of view this investment just changed from being a technological investment that he could turn around quickly and sell… into an entertainment investment that’s worth sticking around for.
This new vision was something that could be turned into a massive multimedia sporting league. IF… they can pull it off that is So with that 1st initial investment opportunity Andrew became the builder for a short time, Gui became the designer and Matt became the electrical engineer! MegaBots was born! This was where the team's sponsor Autodesk got involved, the company even to this day likes to do rather wacky marketing, the sort of stuff that tends to go viral… …but doesn’t always achieve that goal But with something as batshit crazy as MegaBots… It was a win-win for the company, as this GIANT, FIGHTING, ROBOT showed off what their computer aided design software packages could help make as it toured different technology spaces up and down the country as well as Megabots own growing YouTube channel. It gave Autodesk plenty of exposure To design this bad boy, in short, The Megabots team paid an artist to come up with the design, they would then go back and forth with the artist, making sure it could actually be done, and then of course they went ahead and designed it using Autodesk! The 1st robot cost them roughly 200K and a year and half to make and even before it was finalized, the torso and moving cannon (which was going to be attached to one of its arms) was shown off separately at events like New York Comic Con 2014. And even though it was essentially in pieces, the crowd went wild for this thing. And would you believe it, a convention full of nerds just so happened to be the perfect setting to promote the dream of a GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT. Which is exactly what they did by handing out leaflets that promoted an upcoming Kickstarter campaign Which went live on October 29th 2014 However, the goal wasn’t just to finish off this GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT… but instead crete a GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT TOURNAMENT… A sports league if you will… the start of a continuous fighting event where fans could get behind and support their favorite machine or crew similar to football, wrestling or pretty much any other sport.
But in order to do this, like all good kickstarters they needed a seriously kick ass video Thankfully for them, they were still in contact with the production team at Discovery and therefor decided to fly them all over and create a stunning Discovery channel level video that cost no less than 50 thousand dollars But, none of that mattered sadly, as this project we loved real life titan fall remake was not a success it needed 1.8 million and gained slightly more than 65K meaning that almost half of it came from just 3 people!!!! OUCH! The team were completely defeated, they felt like they had failed miserably, do people really want a giant fighting robot tournament? Well, to put it simply, the answer was yes. Because Autodesk wanted a giant fighting robot tournament and even though the kickstarter was a massive massive failure, the company still saw potential and offered to continue paying for the completion of the robot just as long as megabots relocated to their personal maker space and of course autodesk can continue to use it as promotion at their own events starting with maker faire. Meaning they have only 3 months to finish this robot in full and show it to the public The next part of our story, is going be told in a rather peculiar way, as Matt and Gui actually hired someone to create a comic retelling the story for a future kickstarter and it does a pretty good job, Sure, it’s a little over dramatic compared to the real events, and a few of the names have been changed too for privacy and/or legal reasons, but all in all, according to Matt himself, It’s a fairly accurate retelling of the move to AutoDesk’s (sorry Manual desks) personal makerspace and the challenges that the duo faced along the way Links to everything found in this video will be down in the description for you to check out yourself, but in short… they say yes to Manualdesks offer, they buy a beat up old truck from a mob boss to transport it in, they fight tooth and nail through snow storms trying to get this thing onto the truck, they pay off a copper who pulls them over for hauling a load too heavy for the vehicle they are using, Due to time constraints they are forced to completely rebuild the mech’s design and as a result changed the legs for tank like wheels pulled from a burnt out old JCB And yes, they did all of this in just 3 months = resulting in not only a pretty damn impressive achievement, but, unfortunately one that was held back from their true aspirations due to money and time The end result was a success for autodesk as it was shown on time at the makers faire with plenty promotion to go along with it The problem for MegaBots however, was, well, what’s now? The duo had finished the job, but they had run out of things to do with their one of a kind GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT, and what’s worse is that Megabots had run out of money AGAIN! In fact, the company was on the verge of bankruptcy.
Thankfully, they didn’t just have a giant fighting robot, they had something much better, they had a story, a fantastic story that surely, someone would wanna turn into a reality TV show right? Meetings were set up with companies such as Disney, WWE and even the Justin Beibers agency apparently… And yes, they did sign a couple of rubbish deals, but the long and short of it is that nobody was fully invested into turning this into a show… or at least they didn't have the money to back up their promises. Ya see, In order to show off the true potential of a GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT… you need at least 2 robots… And Megabots only had 1… Thankfully for them, the Mark II eventually renamed to Iron Glory was not the 1st of its kind The duo remember seeing a news article back in 2015 where some crazed Japanese inventor had also built a Mech like robot and was selling it on amazon for anyone that fancied dropping the equivalent of about $1.35 million. The 30 hydraulic jointed Kuratas could fire 6000 BBs per minute and seemed like the perfect way to build up hype for Megabots and hopefully, finally give us that GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT TOURNAMENT that we always wanted to see Gui ran to Facebook looking for friends that could translate Japanese and when he found one, he sent a message to the Japanese company asking them that if they released a video challenging them to a duel… would they accept? And, they responded, yes, yes they will, just as long as the video gets a set amount of views, and they offer up a robot that could do more melee fist fighting like combat the 4th of July was right around the corner at this point in time, the Megabots team made a stupidly patriotic and so-cringy-it's-brilliant pitch video which definitely hit Japan's required target and then some and in turn the japanese team held up their end of the bargain by responding with their video and the whole thing blew up Matt remembers waking up to his phone buzzing thinking it was an alarm going off! But nope, these videos had gone so viral that he was getting constant news stations trying to get a hold of them and tell their story Heck they even had an official offer from a state senator in Hawaii that loved the idea so much they wanted to host the fight at pearl harbor Surely now all of those execs that didn't think enough people would be interested in this show will surely give em the contracts they need and deserve right… So, with that… whilst the fire was still hot their really was only 1 thing left to do Team Megabots went to Kickstarter for a second time in order to raise funds and make the Mk 2 combat ready to take on Japan. They asked for 500K and this time, they were successful pulling in $554,592 from 7,857 backers. Again, you had all the usual rewards like before such as T-shirts on the lower end, unlockable megabot characters in a steam game called Robocraft, they teased that a documentary was in the works and backers of any tier above $10 would get information regarding that and of course ya got the high end stuff like ride alongs and pit crew experiences too (which by the way they did fulfill) But of course, the real draw for the majority of backers was to see these robots battle it out 1 on 1 in the world's first GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT tournament. The team had expanded quite a bit by this point too thanks to all that media buzz.
Ya got Grant Imahara of Mythbusters fame Peter Diamandis from X-prize You had the founders of BattleBots involved And Autodesk were once again sponsoring the event too along with several other companies such as AME Cloud Ventures, Azure Capital, v1.vc and a whole heap of unnamed angel investors a lot of which came in after the kickstarter was successful. And as great as all this was, in order to get more investors AKA Money to fund operations, the team had no choice but to hype it up even more This was the main focus for the team, they simply couldn't stop, wouldn’t stop and needed to continuously hype up how crazy this GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT TOURNAMENT will be, when in reality, nobody knew how out would turn out as this was something that has never been done before All they knew was that they needed to turn Iron Glory into a melee fighting machine… which they didn’t do Thankfully the backers didn’t seem to mind too much that a brand new robot was being built, sure the updates were a little too spaced out, but when they did come in they were great.
The initial delay wasn’t all that bad. However, as time went on those backers got more and more wound up that the campaign had changed to updates on the new robot and very little was being shared about the GIANT ROBOT FIGHT The time to fly to Japan and get this thing finally organized was NOW On October 12th 2017 slightly over a year later than originally intended the battle between america’s MK III (now known as EAgle Prime) and japan’s beefed up Kuratis robot would take place LIVE (according to the kickstarter update) only 5 days later But, it wasn’t live as the update also showed pictures of the fight… meaning it was prerecorded. But whatever, the time had finally come, the battle between America and Japan took place and it wasn’t what most people wanted it to be Taking on a very typical shouty, loud and aggressive sporting style similar to wrestling I suppose. The fight was less this…. And more like this… It was painfully obvious from the get go that the fight was staged, it was filmed over several days as seen with the sunlight beaming in at certain points and being pitch black in others it included camera trickery, like when Iron Glory got pushed over, it had tinted windows to hide the fact that nobody was actually inside, re-shooting that scene again with a crane lifting it slightly back of the ground, dropping it again and then stitching the clips together You had plenty of rejigging of both robots throughout the fight (In fact Kuratas couldn’t turn at all, meaning that the Japanese team had to stop the cameras, reposition their robot to face another direction, dust away the footprints and then start filming again, in other words it could only go forwards and backwards In fact, Japan, supposedly bought along another robot, which is in this very warehouse somewhere, Sadly however, this second machine was not used as it was simply too small compared to the american beasts, and therefor Japan refused to let it get beaten up At one point in the fight Japan is shooting America with paintballs and America responds by smashing up a lighting rig and spinning it to block the fire. Kinda like a lightsaber in star wars i think….
But about 50x more lame Of course the slow spinning of the metal beam did nothing to protect the mech from the paintballs being fired at it And obviously, the commentators didn’t need to jump out of the way because the slow moving robots were cough cough out of control At one point Sudobashi sends in a drone to…. I mean…. I dunno…. To spy on the other robot….
Who knows… the plan was to make it look like Eagle Prime was trying to swat it away, but what ended up happening was that eagle prime instantly knocked it and it went down…. hahaha In fact one of the only real unscripted parts of this whole ordeal was when the chainsaw was ripping up the paintball arm of Kuratas. Apparently Matt was busy looking at what the other arm was doing not realizing that the chainsaw arm was causing genuine damage to the other robots arm. Something Japan was really not very happy about. However, it ended up being one of the only real highlights of this competition The end result was that America won and Japan was pissed off And outside of the contenders themselves, the fight was met with a mostly negative response, the more and more they hyped this fight the more and more people believed we were getting real fighting robots… which… wasn’t the case In a very open live stream that Matt himself created going through all the details of staged segments of this fight. He explains that even within MEGABOTS… it was never truly agreed upon as to what it should be.
Some people at the company saw it as a REAL GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT TOURNAMENT!!! Whilst others saw it as more of a robotic version of wrestling. God I gotta be careful with how I word this because I know I have a lot of wrestling fans that watch the channel. But, let’s get real, as impressive as the athletes are and as exciting as the shows are in most forms of wrestling, for the most part, they are not legitimate contests That’s not taking anything away from the incredible physicality of these in some cases absolutely insane stunt performers that do incredible work. But… the end result is predetermined… Just like this robot duel And depending on how you feel about that statement is probably going to be a good indicator as to how you feel about the 1st ever GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT tournament It was a predetermined battle controlled by some rather interesting characters that was without a doubt way too overhyped Backers and viewers of this event were split, we have had decades of games, comics, tv shows and movies teasing as to what this overdue kickstarter was going to offer. But surprise, surprise not only would that be truly stupid thing for any athlete to ever be a part of..
But more importantly, the technology is simply not their Regardless, just like the endless amounts of kickstarters that I backed and was disappointed in when released.. At least they did get released. And with that in mind… MegaBots was a success They created a giant fighting robot, They sent out all the rewards They updated the backers throughout the life of the campaign And They provided on their end goal of a GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT tournament that some were happy with and some were not! This whole ordeal left The MegaBots company in the same position they were before, the company had run out of money for a 3rd time. The company had performed their GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT DUTIES but this time they were left with 2 machines that they didn’t know what to do with, and worse still were bleeding the company money Which finally brings us to our 3rd Kickstarter that was created to help start the 1st true “live, unscripted and live streamed” GIANT FIGHTING ROBOT tournament but it only reached $54K of it's $950,000 goal and was eventually canceled when the team realized that they were not gonna hit target What followed was a the sale of Iron Glory to a company in Japan A canceled video game A not so popular mobile game (that they planned to use the money from to continue the tournaments NFT’s that virtually nobody purchased Several videos as part of MegaBots season 2 on YouTube that simply didn't pull in the views that they did before the 1st major fight A ticketed event held at the warehouse where Eagle Prime was stored where he smashed up old cars and washing machines for guests…. That barely broke even money wise And finally a proper request to fight against the already existing canadian robo-dragon machine in front of a live audience, that again, didn’t pull in the required views needed for it to be a success / and therefore didn't go ahead Play clip anything we did we got like 10% of the engagement we got before No matter what they did, nothing worked, resulting in the eventual bankruptcy of the company and Eagle Prime going on eBay with a $1 starting bid and no reserve! Now this was a video that did well, to Matt’s credit he goes into extreme lengths talking about what you will be gettin, how much it costs to maintain, what issues arise when using it and what extras will be included. Sadly for him the bid was won at around the $150,000 mark by several timewasters who were apparently just helping get the bids up Which resulted in it getting put on eBay AGAIN…and this time without the marketing of Matt’s viral video (and this time going through an approved bid system) meaning they only raised a little less than $30,000 The Winner of the mech owned a destruction derby / monster truck show and even though footage does exist of the mech arriving at its new home, it’s only ever been seen a few times due to the overly complex nature of actually running the machine in the 1st place.
Meaning that it spends it's days now sitting inside a dusty warehouse only ever getting the odd picture uploaded to social media by someone who no doubt has no idea what to do with this useless but also magnificent machine And that’s it! The story of MegaBots is the sort of thing that Kickstarter is designed for. An overly ambitious project that is being looked after by people that can actually perform the job at hand. Sadly the outcome may not have been to everyone's liking and in short that battle most definitely harmed the brands future more than anything else.
But, that's just the way the giant mech crumbles right! Unlike most of the projects covered MegaBot’s wasn’t a scam, at most it was a misleading campaign but the backers did get their rewards and Matt has gone to extreme lengths (arguably more than any project I have covered before) going into detail about how every single penny was spent using the backers and the investors money. The end result may not be what we always dreamed, but, to date it’s the closest thing we have to GIANT FIGHTING ROBOTS! A huge thanks to Matt for being so open and allowing me to interview him for 2 hours for the Kickscammer show, if you wan’t to watch the Interview in full then please do consider becoming a backer of slopes game room at any level Backers will not only get this plus plenty of other unedited interviews, but they get access to whole heap of extra stuff too including having the ability to join in live as i record my monthly Kickscammers news segments that appear on the 2nd channel