For the first time since 2004, Robot Wars is back on televisions. More specifically, British televisions, so unless you’re living in the UK then you didn’t catch the series’ revival on BBC Two Sunday afternoon. Unless, of course, you knew where to look, put on your pirate hat, and sailed the seas to find buried robot fighting treasure. Yo ho, yo ho, a pirate’s life for me, now let’s get to recapping.
We can argue about robots, camera angles, and presentation all day long if we wanted to, but theres two areas where Robot Wars beats BattleBots to a pulp: Nine fights per hour long episode and no commercials. TAKE NOTES, AMERICA.
If you’re not familiar with the Robot Wars setup, eight robots compete in a pair of four-bot rumbles, and the top two bots from each bout advance into a World Cup style group stage. The four remaining robots fight each other one-on-one in a round robin format, earning three points for a knockout and two points for a win by judges decision. At the end of the group stage, the two robots with the most points advance into the championship fight, where the winner moves on to the grand finals at the conclusion of the season.
Unfortunately, all this action means I’m not going to recap every single fight, because it would take hours, so let’s go through this thing bot-by-bot, and I’m going through this off of memory since I didn’t take notes and can’t find a way to rewatch the episode just yet, so my apologies for any inconsistencies or inaccuracies, but I think I’ve got it all straight.
With the exception of Razer, this is probably the most well-known bot and team in the competition. Behemoth has fought in more Robot Wars competitions than any other robot, and the team may be familiar to American fans, since they brought Radioactive to BattleBots last season. You may remember Radioactive as this hunk of plastic scrap that got obliterated by Tombstone.
Behemoth advanced from its rumble against Carbide, Bonk, and The General relatively easily, and moved on to the round robins. There, it earned two points from a judges decision win over Nuts, in which it spectacularly used its scoop/lifter to launch a mini bot into the ceiling, and then picked up three more points against a weaponless Terrorhurtz which was unable to self-right after being tossed over.
Behemoth’s last fight of the group stage was against Carbide, and that was where its weaknesses became apparent. The front scoop serves as some defense against spinners, but it’s really a more offensively minded wedge rather than a defensive one that you’ll find on a bot like IceWave or Witch Doctor. Carbide dealt major hits which started to take a toll, and it eventually resulted in Behemoth finding itself knocked out in the bottom of the pit.
Despite the loss, Behemoth still advanced to the finals of the episode where it met Carbide yet again, but it was too banged up to be effective. Right near the start of the contest it appeared as if Behemoth’s left drivetrain had become disabled, and then it drove itself into the pit for an anticlimactic finish.
It came up short, but Behemoth was one of the most impressive robots of the debut episode. Now it can only wait and see if it will receive the lone wildcard spot into the grand finals at the end of the season.
I had a whole lot of things to say about Behemoth. That is definitely not the case for all of these robots, and it’s not the case for Bonk.
Bonk is a CO2-powered axe bot with a front wedge, but it was fairly ineffective in its rumble. It’s difficult for me to say exactly what happened, since there was a lot going on in the rumbles and the camera angles made it particularly hard to see the action at times, but it eventually ended up turned over on its back (possibly from an attack by Behemoth?) and unable to self-right.
A loss in the group fights means the end of the road in Robot Wars, so that was all that we’ll see from Bonk this season.
If you’re looking at that image and think that Carbide looks a whole like Cobalt from this season of BattleBots, it’s because Carbide pretty much is Cobalt. While it’s not an exact replica (the spinning bars are different, for one), but both are built by Dave Moulds and have the same basic construction.
I thought Carbide looked a little underwhelming in its group fight with Behemoth, Bonk, and The General. It was still effective, ripping one of The General’s wheels off at one point, but it seemed like the spinner wasn’t operating at its full potential.
My concern only grew at the beginning of the group stage when it was thoroughly dominated by Terrorhurtz. The spinner looked improved, but Terrorhurtz utilized its wedge as an effective spinner killer, deflecting most of the damage right back at Carbide until Carbide went down by knockout.
However, Carbide erased any doubts anyone may have had pretty quickly after that match. Nuts was clearly the worst bot of the round robin stage, but Carbide absolutely eviscerated it to the point where it was a miracle that Nuts was operational for its final fight vs. Terrorhurtz. Nuts’ outer cage was totally ripped off, as well as one of its wheels, while the other tire suffered heavy damage during the knockout.
Carbide scored yet another knockout in its final group stage fight against Behemoth, pushing it into the pit after dishing out damage with its spinner, and then the two bots met yet again in the episode finale, where one hit effectively finished off Behemoth, giving Carbide the victory.
Carbide will advance to the grand finals at the end of the season, and after a rocky start its looking like a major force to be reckoned with and a threat to win the competition.
On the The General’s page on the Robot Wars website, it states, “The team’s main concern is that their wheels are exposed, which could leave them vulnerable to competitor’s weapons.”
Pretty much hit the nail on the head with that one.
In the rumble Carbide landed a direct hit onto one of The General’s tires, sending it flying across the arena, and leaving The General stranded and KO’d.
It really is a shame that we didn’t get to see a little more from The General, because with so few spinners featured in Robot Wars it would’ve been cool to see how it performed against some of the other bots in the traditional one-on-one setting.
Kill-E-Crank-E is definitely a strange looking bot. I understand the thin, pipe like construction, but it seems like it could’ve been done in a way that’s not so incredibly wide. But regardless, Kill-E is boasts a vertical disk which supposedly spins at about the same speed as a helicopter blade, so it can pack a punch.
That being said, we didn’t get to see a whole lot of it at work, since Razer seemingly singled it out and tried to make its robotic life a living hell for the entire rumble. Almost every time I looked at Kill-E-Crank-E Razer had its jaws wrapped around it, until eventually it was pulled into the pit (taking Razer with it) and ending the match.
An unfortunate result for the team, but a very fortunate one for me, since I will no longer have to type “Kill-E-Crank-E”, which is a real pain to do.
Sure, Carbide emerged as the episode’s champion. Yeah, Behemoth and Terrorhurtz notched several victories. Of course, Razer entered as the winningest bot in Robot Wars history. All that stuff is great, but it doesn’t matter, because no matter what anybody may tell you, Nuts was the star of the Robot Wars season premiere.
If you think that Nuts looks terrible, you’re not totally wrong. Its idea of a weapon is attaching some chains with weights on the ends, and then spinning around in a circle and trying to whack opponents with them. According to the Robot Wars website, Nuts cost only £1,100 to build, which currently equates to about $1444 in Freedom Dollars, which is incredibly cheap for a heavyweight robot.
What Nuts lacks in firepower, it makes up for in pure entertainment. It didn’t do too much in its opening rumble, and it only advanced to the group stage because Razer drove into the pit with Kill-E-Crank-E like your troll friend playing Donkey Kong in Super Smash Bros.
In the round robins though, Nuts and the team behind it made a lot of fans. Captain Rory Mangles and the rest of the team are just fun to root for. Throughout the whole episode they emitted the whole “we’re just super happy to be here” vibe, and it was awesome to watch.
In Nuts’ first fight of the round robin round, it was bullied around the arena by Behemoth for three minutes until it was defeated by judges decision. Nuts held up well, but couldn’t deal real damage as it was flipped around the arena and into walls. Its two googly eye armed mini bots were launched into walls and even the ceiling by Behemoth along the way, which was fun as hell.
In the second fight Nuts was pitted against Carbide, and it was every bit as bad as you might expect. The way Nuts is built makes it difficult for a launcher like Behemoth to really damage it, but that’s certainly not the case for spinners. Carbide ripped Nuts to pieces, again, and again, and again. Its outer cage which the chains are attached to became completely separated from the bot, and another one of its wheels was torn off, and the other shredded up.
With it taking so much damage, it was difficult to see how the team would be able to even
get it operational in the two hours before it was scheduled to fight Terrorhurtz, but the team was able to accomplish all that and more. Nuts entered the arena looking like it was held together by superglue and prayers, and then it inexplicably survived the entire three minutes against Terrorhurtz with a now-functional axe. The cage fell off yet again, leaving the already offensively challenged Nuts weaponless.
It managed to avoid falling to pieces though, and while it didn’t mean anything from Nuts’ perspective, the match going to the judges meant that Terrorhurtz finished with only five points compared to the six it would’ve earned in a knockout, meaning that it was eliminated as Carbide and Behemoth moved on to the final.
In a lot of ways, Nuts is representative of one advantage Robot Wars has over BattleBots. Bots simply get to fight more in Robot Wars, and that creates more opportunities for fun and whacky stuff like we saw with Nuts. Watching Nuts was a blast, and that’s something that could never be replicated in BattleBots. If Nuts came to America it would’ve been decimated in its first fight and then that was it, and it would be written off as a piece of trash that never should’ve been here. While it was clearly never going to win, Nuts’ performance showed that gimmick robots do have worth, and it leaves me wondering which BattleBots competitors might shine in this format. Obwalden Overlord, anyone? (Okay yeah, there’s no way the Overlord would survive three fights and it probably has a very long rebuild time, but a man can dream, right?)
If you’re brand new to Robot Wars but are familiar with BattleBots, then the best comparison I can come up with is that Razer is the BioHazard of the UK. When you think of Robot Wars, you think of Razer. It’s the most iconic bot of the series, and with a career record of 41-7 it’s easy to see why.
The bot is built by Ian Lewis, who is also behind BattleBots’ Warhead, and is equipped with a claw that bites down with nine tons of force. This allows Razer to use pierce right through the opponent’s armor, and then drag them around wherever it wants. However, as we saw in this episode, that can be somewhat of a blessing and a curse.
Razer went after Kill-E-Crank-E in its rumble, and once the pit was opened it tried to throw Kill-E in. Razer did manage to accomplish that, but there was only one small problem — Razer ended up performing something of a kamikaze attack, driving straight into the pit with it, resulting in Nuts and Terrorhurtz advancing to the group stage.
While Nuts was a lot of fun, it really makes you wonder what might have been in a round robin round featuring the likes of Razer, Terrorhurtz, Carbide, and Behemoth.
No, you’re not imagining things, that robot does look familiar. It’s an awful lot like BETA from the current season of BattleBots, and it comes from the same captain, John Reid. The axe doesn’t come down with the same force as BETA’s hammer, and there are other differences in the robots, such as the two bots’ wedges, but they’re very similar robots.
Terrorhurtz advanced from its group fight with little effort after the Razer kamikaze attack, and its first one-on-one fight came against Carbide, which it completely annihilated. It wasn’t the axe that did the damage, but rather Terrorhurtz’s front wedge which was able to absorb the force of Carbide’s spinner, leaving Carbide to receive the worst of the damage.
Terrorhurtz did suffer some damage to its weapon system though, which hurt it in its second match vs. Behemoth. Terrorhurtz was totally unable to use its axe in that fight, and Behemoth was eventually able to get underneath it and launch it onto its backside. Under normal circumstances Terrorhurtz would be able to use its axe to self-right, but with the weapon broken there was nothing it could do as it was counted out.
With three points from a knockout against an already broken Nuts Terrorhurtz would’ve been able to still advance to meet Carbide in the final, but Nuts was able to survive long enough for the match to go to the judges, meaning that Terrorhurtz finished with five points, and missed out on the final due to its head-to-head loss against Behemoth.
It was a solid showing for Terrorhurtz, but it leaves you thinking what could’ve been if its weapon would’ve worked in the Behemoth fight or if it was able to knockout Nuts like it should’ve.
There were some hitches, such as some shoddy camera work, particularly in the rumbles, but at the end of it all the debut of Robot Wars was a blast, and I dare say it may have even been more fun than most of the BattleBots episodes this season.
No commercials and five more fights are certainly massive pluses, and while I don’t hate the feature spots on the teams in BattleBots like a lot of people seem to, the frequent pit interviews in Robot Wars that go into more detail about the rebuild process are certainly a better and more educational use of that time.
I don’t know how I’m going to be able to keep up with blogging about two shows now (and I’m sure I’ll miss some stuff along the way), but more robot fighting is never a bad thing, and I’ll be looking forward to Sunday afternoons just as much as Thursday nights over the next several weeks.