Plunderbirds: Talk Robots (found robot combat mockumentary film; 2019)
Date found: 10 May 2023
Found by: Amazon Prime
Plunderbirds: Talk Robots was a previously unreleased robot combat mockumentary film. Produced by Kinemacolour Media, it followed the International Wreck Crew, a prominent team on the BBC robot combat game show Robot Wars, as they detailed their history in robot combat, and attended modern robot combat events. Originally, the work went unreleased following a failed February 2019 Kickstarter. However, the film would quietly be completed and released on Amazon Prime in 2023.
International Wreck Crew competed in the first five main series of Robot Wars as well as the spin-off Robot Wars Extreme: Series 1, entering a total of five machines under the Plunderbird moniker. Their most successful machine was Plunderbird 2, which reached the Semi-Finals of Series 2. The team itself, whose main members were Mike Onslow and Bryan Kilburn, overshadowed their machines however. They became prevalent among Robot Wars fans and roboteers alike, for their "tough guy" characters on-screen and for generally being helpful behind the scenes. They would also win the Sportsmanship Award for Series 2, with their first machine, Plunderbird 1, earning Series 1's Best Design Award.
Plunderbirds: Talk Robots and Kickstarter Campaign
In 2016, Onslow was interested in creating a mockumentary on International Wreck Crew. His proposal would focus on the team's history of creating machines, as well as interviewing teams that were still competing in the sport. Plans, therefore, began with the aim of releasing a robot combat mockumentary DVD where all proceeds would be donated to good causes, including cancer and homeless charities. Throughout 2017, Onslow and Kilburn would work with Kinemacolour Media to film the mockumentary, including at various robot combat and educational events, and the team's robot workshop. A teaser trailer was released by Kinemacolour Media in July 2018.
In January 2019, Onslow and Kilburn launched a Kickstarter campaign. They requested £10,000 so that their mockumentary, entitled Plunderbirds: Talk Robots, could receive the editing and marketing required, as well as allowing for the manufacturing of the DVDs. Included on the Kickstarter page includes several screenshots of the unedited film, and a two-and-a-half minute video consisting of the duo explaining the Kickstarter (both in and out of character), with a small trailer of footage of the film provided. Ultimately, the project raised only £765 from 12 backers by the funding goal's deadline of 17th February 2019. The failure primarily stemmed upon lack of interest among the robot combat community, with some particularly being put off by the £10k target.
Because Plunderbirds: Talk Robots originally went unreleased following the failed Kickstarter, little media of the unfinished mockumentary was publicly available prior to 2023. A few minutes of footage could be viewed from the teaser and Kickstarter videos, with a few screenshots still remaining accessible on the Kickstarter page. However, while the failed Kickstarter delayed the film's production, it was still being completed under the direction of Geoffrey Burgess and David Cheshire. Unbeknownst to the majority of robot combat fans, the 45-minute mockumentary would be quietly released on Amazon Prime. Such was the lack of announcement concerning an impending release, its existence on Amazon Prime was not common knowledge to the robot combat community until May of 2023.
- 1995 Robot Wars UK Open (partially found rejected robot combat TV show pilot; 1995)
- American Robot Wars 2000 (lost MTV pilot of British robot combat game show; 2000)
- BattleBots (found Comedy Central robot combat game show; 2000-2002)
- BattleBots (partially lost build of unreleased GameCube/PlayStation 2 game based on robot combat TV series; 2003)
- BattleBots Collegiate Championship (partially lost unaired spinoff of robot combat TV show; 2009)
- Mechanoids (partially found BBC robot combat game show; 2003)
- Robot Wars (found cameos of robot combat-themed BBC 2 ident; 1999-2000)
- Robot Wars (lost footage and HSE documentation of behind-the-scenes accidents of BBC robot combat game show; 1998-1999)
- Robot Wars (lost near-death footage of Jeremy Clarkson from robot combat game show; 1998)
- Robot Wars (lost work on unfinished cartoon series based on robot combat game show; existence unconfirmed; 2002-2004)
- Robot Wars (partially found footage of robot combat show qualifying auditions and battles; 1998-2003)
- Robot Wars (partially found unaired or partially aired battles of BBC robot combat game show; 1998-2017)
- Robot Wars (partially found uncut battles from BBC robot combat game show; 1998-2017)
- Robot Wars Extreme: Series 1 (lost original BBC Choice version of robot combat battle; 2001)
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors: Season 1 (found TNN robot combat game show; 2001)
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors: Season 2 (partially found behind-the-scenes footage of TNN robot combat game show; 2002)
- Robot Wars Revealed (partially found BBC Choice spin-off of robot combat game show; 1998-2000)
- Robot Wars: Series 8 (lost unaired pilot of BBC robot combat game show; 2016)
- Robot Wars: Series 8 (partially found Science Channel reruns of robot combat game show; 2018)
- Robot Wars: The Kick-Off (lost BNN robot combat special; 2001)
- Robotica (found TLC robot combat game show; 2001-2003)
- Robots Revenge (partially found Discovery robot combat documentary series; 2001)
- Why Hypno-Disc can't work in an office (found testing video of Robot Wars competitor; 2000, 2007)
- Amazon UK Prime page for Plunderbirds: Talk Robots.
- The Kickstarter for Plunderbirds: Talk Robots.
- Robot Wars Wiki article for International Wreck Crew.
- Robot Wars Wiki article for International Wreck Crew's Plunderbird machines.
- Haslemere Herald article on International Wreck Crew. Retrieved 02 Dec '21
- Things I Like discussing the team and its robots. Retrieved 02 Dec '21
- Robot Wars Series 2 Grand Final, where Plunderbird 2 was awarded the Sportsmanship Award. Retrieved 02 Dec '21
- Robot Wars Series 1 Heat F, where Plunderbird 1 was awarded the Best Design Award. Retrieved 02 Dec '21
- Unofficial Robot Wars Facebook post on the Kickstarter, with some being put off by the £10k target. Retrieved 02 Dec '21
- r/lostmedia discussing the mockumentary being released on Amazon Prime. Retrieved 10 May '23