"We are the crew and we're here to tell you - we're gonna bash them, we're gonna trash them. In the wars you know we're gonna thrash them. The forecast's bad. You better get running. It's gonna be tough. There's a Plunderstorm coming!"
— Mike, Bryan and Ken's introduction in the Third Wars

Plunderbird was the name given to five separate box-wedge shaped competitors that competed in the first five series of Robot Wars - the only robot in Robot Wars to fight in all five of those wars. Plunderbird was well known for its team, the International Wreck Crew, who portrayed themselves with a "tough-guy" attitude, and frequently sang raps. The robots themselves were mostly unreliable, driving into the pit in Series 2 and not getting off the mark in Series 3. They lost in the first round in three of the five wars they entered, which curiously were the odd-numbered wars, the same pattern suffered by the Ming robot series and Adam Clark's machines.


The original Plunderbird

Plunderbird 1 was a basic box-wedge shape and was powered by a custom-built 12 volt engine to drive it up to 7 mph. It carried a range of interchangeable weapons built into box-like constructions called "Pods", which could be inserted into a cradle built into the front of the robot. The two shown on television were a retracting spike guided by a laser sight, and an electric circular saw on an extendible arm, which was usually concealed, but could flip out of the robot when operational. It travelled an insufficient distance in the Gauntlet after driving onto a grille and getting attacked by Shunt, but when Dreadnaut broke down, it appeared that Plunderbird 1 would qualify for the trial. However, Dreadnaut saved itself at the last minute, and Plunderbird was eliminated. However, the interchangeable weaponry gave it a nomination for the Best Design Award, which it won.

Plunderbird 2

Plunderbird 2

Plunderbird 2 was created from the shell of its original counterpart, but was wider, black in colour, and with thicker armour and more sloping sides. The aerial flexed, allowing it to bend away from House Robot attacks. Its main weapon was a steel screw ram. In addition, it had heavier and more powerful tracks as well as a steel bulldozer blade, both of which were added to prevent a repeat of Plunderbird 1's misfortune. To compliment the pushing capabilities of the bulldozer blade, the top of Plunderbird 2's wedges had notches to prevent robots from driving up it- a feature that was later carried over to Plunderstorm and Plunderbird 4.

"The ram at the front was very effective as when they hit someone it effectively went to 0mm ground clearance and allowed it to get under other robots. "
— Oliver Steeples[1]

Plunderbird 2 was easily the most successful of the Plunderbird series, as it managed to reach the semi finals, knocking two House Robots off the ring during the King Of The Castle trial, the only robot to do so. Although defeated in the Gauntlet for the semi finals after Matilda cut off its radio control aerial, it won the Sportsmanship Award for the series.



Plunderbird 3, known as Plunderstorm, was entered in Series 3.

"The boast is: this can go faster than time."
— Jonathan Pearce's ironic introduction

Plunderstorm was created from a brand new shell and chassis. It was a steel wedged ramming machine that featured a series of ramming spikes and a circular saw weapon. This cost £4,000 over 500 hours and was mostly made from steel. However, due to the popularity of the team and the low success of the robot, details on Plunderstorm were neglected in favour of the team. Nonetheless, Plunderstorm lost in the first round of Series 3 after it broke down on entry.

After the loss of Plunderstorm in Series 3, the team, now consisting of only Mike and Bryan, shifted their attention more towards comedy and entertainment. As a result, both of their remaining robots were rather inefficient, and appeared so that the team could entertain the audience.


Plunderbird 4

Plunderbird 4 was seeded 26th in Series 4 and the only Plunderbird machine to be seeded for Robot Wars, the team arrived in a Chinook helicopter. The robot was built from the shell and chassis of Plunderstorm. Whilst retaining the basic box-wedge shape of all Plunderbirds, Plunderbird 4 was painted yellow and red (assumed to be in reference to Thunderbird 4, which was also primarily yellow and red in colour) and featured a hydraulic slicing claw, referred to as a "Slicer Dicer" (originally Plunderbolt), although the team humorously claimed that the robot's main weapon was "fear, surprise and brute force". The robot was armoured in aerospace aluminium and travelled at 15 mph. Much like Plunderstorm, Plunderbird 4 was neglected in favour of broadcasting the team's antics.

Plunderbird 5 was the final machine of the team. A brand new machine which was lower, wider, faster and more powerful than its predecessors, it was black and red and resembled Plunderbird 4, this was largely achieved by using a similar claw weapon to the previous robot. The weapon was now referred to as a "Plunderthocker", and the steel plate at the front of the machine acted as a lifter to trap a machine beneath the claw. Unlike all its previous incarnations, Plunderbird 5 ran on wheels but had a 2.5 cm ground clearance. However, it only won one of the five battles it fought in, and was destroyed in its final appearance by S3. The team joked in Extreme 1 that it had self-righting Sidewinder guided missiles.

Plunderbird team

Bryan Kilburn, Ken Burt and Mike Onslow with Plunderstorm

During an interview in the Robot Wars Magazine, Brian Kilburn said that he was working on a robot named Plunderbug One, an eight-legged walker. The team had a grudge with the Sir Chromalot team, mainly because of the entertainment they both provided. The team were nominated for the Sportsmanship Award on three occasions, winning the award in Series 2.

Mike Onslow, the team captain, who was a model maker for a living, still has the Plunderbird shells that he created, except for that of Plunderbird 5, as it was destroyed, and occasionally brings them to various live events.

Robot History

Series 1

"We intend to kick butt with this, and be afraid, there's a Plunderstorm coming."
— Mike Onslow
Plunderbird 1

Plunderbird 1 enters the arena

Plunderbird shunt

Plunderbird 1 is eliminated early on

Plunderbird 1 had equipped the spike weapon for its Gauntlet run. It trundled out of the starting position and attempted to take the right pathway. However, Shunt bulldozed its rear ram into the side of Plunderbird 1, and pushed it across the side of the arena and up against the ramp, wedging it between it and the pyramid in front. Plunderbird 1 was unable to escape as Shunt came back forward and struck with its axe. Time expired and Plunderbird 1 had covered a distance of only 4.81m, putting it at the bottom of the leaderboard. Dreadnaut broke down shortly after its own Gauntlet run, and it seemed like it would need to retire, but managed to recover in time for the Football trial, securing Plunderbird 1's loss.

"We will be back and we will get them next time!"
— Mike Onslow, on the house robots

At the end of the series, largely due to its interchangeable weaponry, Plunderbird 1 was awarded with the Best Design Award for Series 1.

Series 2

Mike Onslow: "...but that's not gonna happen this time, 'cos we've got: all new track system, a big bulldozer blade and..."
Bryan Kilburn: "...wonky aeriel"
— The Plunderbird team after reviewing Plunderbird 1's early demise

Plunderbird 2 drives into the pit in the Gauntlet


The underside of Plunderbird 2

Plunderbird 2, the successor to Plunderbird 1, was armed with just a pneumatic ramming blade this time. In its Gauntlet run, it shot past the Sentinel with ease, before driving straight into the pit just beyond it, despite this, Plunderbird 2 had covered 10.5 metres, enough ground to progress to the next round, finishing 5th on the leaderboard overall. This act prompted the other teams to call Mike, Bryan and Ken "chickens" back in the pits, because they believed it was performed intentionally to avoid damage from the house robots.

Mike Onslow: "We're not chickens, we just wanted to get through to the next round!"
Various Teams: "Bawk, bawk, bawk!"
Mike Onslow: "SILENCE! How dare you! We're back and we're gonna stay! More violence!"
— The Plunderbird boys Post-Gauntlet reception

Plunderbird 2 is victorious in the trial

Plunderbird 2 redeemed itself greatly in the Trial stage of the heat, which was King of the Castle for this heat. Plunderbird 2 was victorious in its run, after it was able to stand its ground after the initial shoves from the house robots. Plunderbird 2 then scooped up Dead Metal, carried it over to the edge of the ring and knocked it off. By which time, Sergeant Bash was very near the edge itself, and was thrown off balance by a nudge from Plunderbird 2, leaving just the latter on the ring. Plunderbird 2 was the only robot in the heat to be victorious, so went through to the next round.

"Well maybe they're not all talk and no trousers"
— Jonathan Pearce as Dead Metal is knocked off the ring

Plunderbird 2 pushes Enzyme into the PPZ

Plunderbird 2 was placed up against Enzyme in the Heat Semi-Final. In the battle Plunderbird 2 immediately wedged underneath Enzyme using its bulldozer blade, before pushing Enzyme into Sergeant Bash in the PPZ, and then onto the flame pit. The two competitors were eventually picked apart by the house robots, with both then escaping the PPZ heading for Sir Killalot, until cease was called for a judges' decision. The judges unanimously gave the win to Plunderbird 2, putting it through to the Heat Final.

"Well, you gave them a bashin'"
Craig Charles sums up the Heat Semi-Final

Plunderbird 2 shunts The Mule around

In the Heat Final, Plunderbird 2 was up against The Mule. In this battle, Plunderbird 2 once again immediately wedged underneath its opponent forcing The Mule to face to one side, unable to push back. Plunderbird 2 turned around, still with The Mule propped on its wedge, and pushed The Mule across the arena, almost into the pit of oblivion, whilst also withstanding the constant kicks from The Mule's weaponry. Towards the end, Plunderbird 2 nearly pushed The Mule into the PPZ, but The Mule began to slide off the wedge, and Plunderbird 2 was less able to push it, but cease was then called for a judges' decision. The decision went in favour of Plunderbird 2, putting it through to the Series Semi-Finals.

"Just before the Plunderbird team go on, they've only got the whole audience clapping them, to their own song"
Philippa Forrester

Plunderbird 2 is stopped by Shunt

Prior to Plunderbird 2's appearance in the Semi-Finals, the team entered the arena to entertain the audience whilst the arena was being prepared. However, Plunderbird 2's great run in the Second Wars came to an abrupt end in the Gauntlet stage of the Series Semi-Finals as it only travelled 0.9m. Plunderbird 2 drove through the blocks, but was pushed right back to the wall by Shunt, before Matilda hammered the final nail into the coffin by slicing off the aerial with her chainsaw. There was hope in Haardvark's Gauntlet run when Matilda started dragging them back, but unfortunately for the Plunderbird team, Haardvark just scraped through after a distance of 2.4m.

Mike Onslow: "We've got the grudge match, that's gonna be fun."
Bryan Kilburn: "Its not quite the same, is it?...You were driving, its your fault."
Mike Onslow: "Stop being so sensitive."
Bryan Kilburn: "I can't help it, I'm a sensitive lad. Got a Kleenex?"
— Bryan Kilburn turns on mock waterworks after being eliminated

Plunderbird 2 and its team was later awarded with the Sportsmanship Award for Series 2 at the end of the series.

Series 3

Plunderstorm in arena

Plunderstorm (aka Plunderbird 3) in the arena.

"The forecast's bad. You better keep running. It's gonna be tough. There's a Plunderstorm coming!- Next year!"
— Mike, Bryan and Ken after being eliminated from Series 3

Plunderstorm as it would have looked with its disc

Plunderbird 3 (Renamed as Plunderstorm for this year) had a very brief war. Shortly before the fight, the team were asked by the crew to remove their saw blade as it had a risk of shattering, to which they begrudgingly complied.

Thermador vs plunderstorm

Thermador shunts Plunderstorm into the arena wall

The robot had only one fight against newcomers Thermador. It started off with only one track working, so struggled to move away from its starting position, it was knocked once by Thermador, who then retreated, but a couple of seconds afterwards, Plunderstorm broke down completely, leaving it at the mercy of the House Robots and Team Lobster's machine, eventually finishing with Sir Killalot spearing the beaten Plunderstorm with its lance into one of the tracks, before lifting Plunderstorm up, carrying it around, and lowering it into the pit.

"Plunderstorm? It's not even a shower!"
— Jonathan Pearce
"We had a mechanical malfunction, and we decided to leave and fix it! Some people might call that losing..."
— Mike Onslow

Series 4

Plunderbird 4, seeded 26th for the Fourth Wars, did little in its first round battle with Vercingetorix and Fat Boy Tin. In the battle, Plunderbird 4 and Vercingetorix ganged up on Fat Boy Tin, forcing the huge machine into Sir Killalot's CPZ. Plunderbird 4 hung back whilst Fat Boy Tin was toppled onto its side. Vercingetorix then went on to attack Plunderbird 4, flipping it onto its side, before then being righted. Despite this, Plunderbird 4 went through to face Knightmare in the second round of the heat.

Knightmare Plunderbird 4

Plunderbird 4 topples at the hands of Knightmare

This was the only fight in which Plunderbird 4's claw was working, and even then, it was not working to its full potential. In the battle, Knightmare slipped underneath Plunderbird 4, backed away before ramming it again. The two constantly bumping each other but no significant attacks could be made at all. Plunderbird 4 got underneath Knightmare, rendering the robots stuck together for a short while. The pit suddenly opened and Refbot pushed Knightmare off of Plunderbird 4 to let the battle continue. Plunderbird showed a little sign of aggression, lightly pushing Knightmare, but Knightmare darted away to attack again. Finally, in one fell swoop, Knightmare toppled Plunderbird 4 onto its side. The house robots closed in, before Sir Killalot dumped it into the pit, confirming that Plunderbird 4 was out of the wars.

"Shout out loud, make lots of noise!
There's damage to be done by the Plunderbird boys!
Gonna stamp on you, gonna hit you hard.
Gonna send your robot to the breaker's yard!
What's the word? Plunderbird!
— Mike and Bryan's exeunt song from Series 4
Firestorm vs plunderbird 4

Plunderbird 4 is flipped by Firestorm 2

Plunderbird teamed up with Bigger Brother in the Tag Team Terror of Series 4. Against Firestorm 2 and Scorpion, the two faced a tough opposition. Plunderbird 4 joined the action as the rules disintergrated and pushed Scorpion around. Firestorm rammed Plunderbird from behind, but was sent back to the Red Zone by Refbot. Plunderbird backed away from Scorpion, as Firestorm rammed into it again. Firestorm got around to the side Plunderbird 4, pushing it all the way into the Red Zone and slamming it into the side wall. Plunderbird was freed after Matilda lifted Firestorm away from it. Plunderbird pinned Firestorm against the side wall, giving Bigger Brother a chance to flip it, but it didn't get it over. Plunderbird and Scorpion came to blows, but Plunderbird seemed immobilised after the attack. Firestorm almost flipped it over, flipping it onto its claw, before driving right under it, and being pinned momentarily. Plunderbird, still static, was gripped by Sergeant Bash and forced into the side wall. Bigger Brother and Plunderbird were eliminated by a Judges' decision.

Julia Reed: "What's your biggest weak point?"
Bryan Kilburn: "The robot."
— Before the Playoff

In the Play-off, Plunderbird had problems internally, and therefore only played a small part in the upcoming battle. Plunderbird watched on as X-Terminator flipped Bigger Brother, who self-righted. Bigger Brother came back and lifted up X-Terminator and slammed it into Plunderbird 4. Refbot bumped the lifeless Plunderbird 4, then left it touching the side wall. After a long time of battling on Bigger Brother and X-Terminator's part, X-Terminator bumped the corpse of Plunderbird, but then in a piece of poor driving, went straight into the pit. Despite doing little in the entire battle, Plunderbird and Bigger Brother took third place.

Craig Charles: "Talk me through your contribution."
Mike Onslow: "It was passive. Our strategy, we were just going to play dead and let him (Bigger Brother) get on with it."
— Post-playoff interview

Extreme 1

"As you will know, we are the Plunderbird boys, this is a new robot, for a new fight, but it's got the same attitude."
— The Plunderbird team

Plunderbird 5 made a variety of appearances in Extreme Series 1.


Plunderbird 5 in the arena


The Plunderbird team sing "Have You Got A Srimech?" with several other teams

It fought in two vengeance battles: The first was against Sir Chromalot, who they called 'a bunch of girlies' to spark a vengeance. In the proper battle, Plunderbird and Chromalot did a lot of pushing and shoving around the arena, until Plunderbird tried to grab Chromalot, but was lifted up by Sir Chromalot's flipper instead. It did manage to grab on to its opponent, and started pushing it towards the pit, nearly pushing it in, but missed, accidentally reversing over the edge of the pit, where it was pitted by Sergeant Bash. Plunderbird still wanted a rematch afterwards, though. At the end of the battle, Plunderbird sang their new theme tune, which was only really planned to be sung if they won the battle, but was used nonetheless.

"This was a vengeance battle to show who were the biggest showmen in Robot Wars - Plunderbird committed suicide!"
— Craig Charles

Plunderbird fought Mega Morg in another vengeance battle, this time relating to who sang better.

"Mega Morg boys are dressed in yellow, they think they're hard as mustard! But that robots about as useful, as a big blob of yellow custard!"
— The Plunderbird boys song to the Mega Morg team before the Vengeance Battle

Again this battle was mostly pushing each other around the arena, with the two robots dodging each other at the start of the battle and attempted to attack, before Plunderbird was lifted by Mega Morg's improved lifter. It then tried to grab hold of its opponent, and eventually did so. Plunderbird 5 then forced Mega Morg's lifter to jam open. Possibly because he got bored, Sergeant Bash then came in and burnt the Ninja Sheep on top of Mega Morg, Shunt then followed that up by piercing Mega Morg's top, but for a while couldn't get its axe out. When Shunt eventually broke free, Plunderbird then tried to prise open Mega Morg's front armour, until cease was called, and Plunderbird 5 won on points in a very dull battle. This would be Plunderbird's final victory in Robot Wars.

"That was just pushing and shoving and calling names. I would show you some highlights...but there weren't any."
— Craig Charles

Alongside Stinger and Scorpion, Plunderbird 5 fought Shunt and Dead Metal in the first House Robot Rebellion. It rammed Dead Metal, but was caught by the House Robot and sliced in punishment. As Plunderbird escaped, the floor flipper activated, sending Plunderbird flying up into the air and landing on top of an out of control Stinger. It was then seized by Shunt and finally pitted, Plunderbird 5 was soon followed by Scorpion just as Matilda entered the arena.

Plunderbird 5 was due to compete in the Tag Team Terror alongside Bigger Brother, they were to enter as one of the favourites for finishing third in the last competition, but was forced to withdraw after it charged down the entry gate, damaging the robot and the entry gate in the process. It was replaced, quite hastily, by Major Tom. However, this new duo didn't fare well in the competition after going out in Round 1. Plunderbird 5 was also due to compete in a mayhem battle to qualify for the second annihilators, however, it was unable to compete in this too, as it had suffered irreparable damage from its battle against S3 in the heats of Series 5.

Series 5


S3 slashes Plunderbird 5 to pieces

Plunderbird 5 was drawn against new machine S3. It got an initial shove on S3, but one of its tyres burst, destroying its maneuvrability and ground clearance. S3 flaked off pieces of its armour off its sides before breaking the piston mechanism on its weapon. Plunderbird was pushed into the CPZ, where Sir Killalot held it down while S3 continued to eat into its right side wheels. Sir Killalot dragged Plunderbird along the arena floor - Plunderbird's right wheels dropping off in the process - and placed it on the floor flipper. Refbot counted the ravaged Plunderbird out before it was tossed, and S3 attacked it one final time. This was the team's last appearance.

"Well, it was slightly worse than we thought it would be. I have to admit, we slightly underestimated the militant wing of the Salvation Army...we now have a clusterbot."
— Mike Onslow

US Season 1

Plunderbird5 EW1

Plunderbird 5 sporting a Union Flag in the War of Independence.

Plunderbird 5 (sporting a Union Flag on the top of the robot for this competition) briefly competed in the first season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors, in the War of Independence special. In its first round clash, Plunderbird 5 started well as it was easily able to push back Rosie the Riveter, knocking off several of its ornaments. Rosie the Riveter retaliated by slamming it into the arena wall and side grinders. Both robots ended up severely limping by the end of the battle, with Rosie only being able to drive forwards and reverse, and Plunderbird losing its left hand drive. However, Rosie the Riveter got caught on the arena floor, and its movement was restricted as well. The judges were called upon at the end of the battle, a close judges' decision put the American team through, eliminating Plunderbird 5 from the competition.


Series 1
The First Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Gauntlet
Heat C, Gauntlet 4.81m (6th) Eliminated
Series 2
The Second Wars - UK Championship
Semi-Final, Gauntlet
Heat K, Gauntlet 10.5m (5th) Qualified
Heat K, Trial (King of the Castle) Victorious (1st) Qualified
Heat K, Arena Semi-Final vs. Enzyme Won
Heat K, Final vs. The Mule Won
Semi-Final 2, Gauntlet 0.9m (6th) Eliminated
Series 3
The Third Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat M, Round 1 vs. Thermador Lost
Series 4
The Fourth Wars - UK Championship
26th Seed, Heat, Round 2
Heat L, Eliminator vs. Fat Boy Tin, Vercingetorix Qualified
Heat L, Semi-Final vs. Knightmare Lost
Tag Team Terror
With Bigger Brother, Third Place
Round 1 vs. Firestorm 2 & Scorpion Lost
Playoff vs. X-Terminator 2 & Inverterbrat Won
UK Series
Extreme Series 1
Other Battles
Vengeance & House Robot Rebellion (with Stinger & Scorpion)
Vengeance vs. Mega Morg Won
Vengeance vs. Sir Chromalot Lost
House Robot Rebellion vs. Shunt & Dead Metal Lost
Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat C, Eliminator vs. S3 Lost
US Series
Season 1
War of Independence
Representing UK, Round 1
Eliminator vs. Rosie The Riveter (USA) Lost
Plunderbird 2011

Plunderbirds 2 and 4 (and the weapons pod for Plunderbird 1) on display at the 2011 UK Championships


  • UK Wins: 5
  • UK Losses: 8
  • US Wins: 0
  • US Losses: 1

Series Record

  • Series 1: Heat, Gauntlet
  • Series 2: Semi-Finals, Gauntlet
  • Series 3: Heat, Round 1
  • Series 4: Heat, Round 2
  • Series 5: Heat, Round 1
  • Series 6-7: Did not enter

Appearances in Merchandise


  • Plunderbird and Firestorm are the only machines to name a Model 5 machine. Other machines such as Bulldog Breed entered five versions of the machine, but Plunderbird and Firestorm were the only two to designate their machine as the fifth in the series, rather than a general name.
  • Plunderbird is one of two robots to win two different awards, along with Gemini. Plunderbird won the Best Design and the Sportsmanship Awards.
  • Plunderbird was the only robot to fight in Series 1 and 5.
  • Plunderbird 5 was the only one of the robots not to be at least nominated for an award.
  • Plunderbird 1 and Mortis were the only robots in Series 1 to have tracks.
  • Plunderbird 4 had a brief cameo on the sitcom Spaced in the episode "Mettle".
  • Plunderbird has more first round losses to its name than any other UK Semi-Finalist.



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