Robot Wars is back! It’s been 13-years since the last series and I love it! Although not remotely a geek myself it was essential viewing back in the day and I tuned in for the new show last Sunday with high hopes for a return to form. It’s on BBC2 in the Top Gear slot and got a 10% audience share compared to 8.8% for the final Top Gear with Chris Evans. Somewhat ironically Jeremy Clarkson presented the first ever Robot Wars. Geek TV does surprisingly good numbers, the Big Bang Theory, for example, getting 3 million on E4. Although the new show is almost the same as the old version in format so far it doesn’t have the magic Craig Charles and sexy Phillippa Forester bought to it, PC Britain today very different to the late 1990s. Although a family show you always felt those two got up to all sorts when the camera was turned off and Craig no doubt snorted a line or two off Sir Chromealot, one of the series most noted robots over the years. What the young teen geek boys wanted to do with Phillippa certainly involved tinkering with her circuit boards. Today she sells double glazing on TV for Anglia Windows. Sadly glamour girl Julia Reed took over hosting after Craig was photographed using a bong in a taxi and the series died a death on Channel 5. That was the wrong kind of chemistry the show producers were looking for. But bringing geek Dara O’Brien in as host for the new season may not work either as he is one of those geeks and you always felt Charles and Phillippa worked because they were so not one of those roboteers. There were some very strange robot teams and mechanics. Angela Scanion is this season token totty.
Craig Charles - ….’On the first day, I was in the dressing room and looking in the mirror, and looking down at the arena. And they were pulling the robots into the arena on an invisible twine because nothing was working. And I was thinking: "Oh my God, what have I done with my career?" And you know, within the blink of an eye, it was the most watched show on BBC2….’
===The Box Set===
It covers all BBC content only, from Clarkson in series one to Jayne Middlemass and the American hybrid season where the UK did battle with the US and other countries. There were other spin offs around the six BBC series but not all included here. I recall that Clarkson spent most of the first season taking the pi** of the contestants and so Craig Charles was bought in off the back of his Red Dwarf geek success as Clarkson returned to Top Gear. Phillippa, of course, was the good girl from Tomorrows World and shamelessly there to get dads and sons to tune into her strategically placed zipper. The monotone football commentator Jonathan Pearce added an extra dimension to the show and much better at calling robot scraps than football games. The show also had a three person judging panel, Strictly style, consisting of geek Gods Noel Sharkey (head judge on every series: 1998–2003, 2016), Eric Dickinson, Adam Harper), Martin Smith (1999–2003) and Mat Irvine (2001–03). An Asian one was added to the new series for diversity reasons. These guys were called in to make a decision if the robots were still active after the time elapsed and decision made on points on who won.
Various arenas over the various seasons would see familiar and not so familiar robots do battle behind super toughened fiber glass shields. They were remote controlled from a box by the team, robot kit like power hammers, saws, crushers and flame throwers so to destroy their fellow robots. Often they would do exactly that and metal and cogwheels would fly everywhere. The arena floor would have booby taps like pits, fire traps, steam powered flippers and spikes to further hamper the robots and then if they strayed or were pushed into the wrong areas the house robots would join in the scrap. The most famous robots included Panic Attack, Chaos 2, Razor, Pussycat, Anvil, Firestorm and Tornado. There was a tournament with robots going out and then a trophy at the end of the season.
Kim Davies of Panic Attack was the best controller and would win the trophy a lot. Teams were mostly geeks and often eccentric. George Francis of Chaos 2, the big rivals of the above, was very strange and part boy and part girl. He/she sort of got stuck in puberty. Craig Charles looked bemused talking to him, sizing up whether he should shag it or ask if it has a willy and a virgina. We never had any ethnic characters I can recall and very much a white middle - class father\son thing. But the robots are the real stars and the combination of the two works really well.
It’s well worth buying the boxset. This is essentially viewing, even if you watched it all 13-years ago. It’s just very entertaining in a way very few shows can achieve, the Strictly Come Dancing of the new Millennium. Craig Charles is out there somewhere and should be reemployed on a show somehow.
The boxset is packed full of things to watch and plenty of extras. There are 4 discs in total. Some behind - the –scenes - stuff is quite revealing as you can see everyone is mates behind those scenes and the boys even flirting with girls! Outakes are quite funny and a spoof audio commentary isn’t that funny. There are hours and hours of stuff to watch that didn’t make the TV, which includes swearing. Geeks swearing is rather strange,
Robot Wars was originally made for US television and was brought to UK TV in 1998 and ran until 2004. The show was originally presented by Jeremy Clarkson and then a year later Craig Charles from Red Dwarf and more recently Coronation Street took over. Of the two presenters, despite the fact that I don't mind Jeremy Clarkson, I thought that Craig Charles was better as he wasn't quite so condescending and took the contestants and their work a bit more seriously. I watched a load of these episodes on BBC2 and found them pretty entertaining and it's one of those things you watch every now and again that you wish you could do yourself.
In a sense it was sort of a programme more for those of a mechanical mindset but what they created in the programme was still pretty clever to a large degree.
The format for the UK series differed a bit from it's US counterpart. In each heat, a group of six robots would compete through a series of three challenges. These robots had been built by each team to try and win the show by combining speed and agility of their robots with the all important strength factor. There was something quite sad to see a robot they had been working on taken apart straight away and you could almost see the disappointment in their faces as they watched on in despair.
The first challenge their robots had to face was called the Gauntlet which was a maze filled with obstacles and defended by the show's robots. The team's robots moved as far as they could down the course in the time allowed. The last robot was eliminated.
For the second challenge this was called The Trial and this event varied sometimes. There were games like British bulldog and tug of war involving robots and after these games the lowest scoring robot was gone.
The third and final challenge was probably my favourite and was a fight to the death in a hazard filled arena in the studio as the robots go head to head to try and destroy each other. This was immense fun to watch and I'm sure to compete in as well as the robots battered each other to bits. Craig Charles added enthusiasm and excitement to proceedings from the commentary box.
This show was great fun to watch and I'm sure if you were involved it was as well and was almost like boys with their toys as the teams fought it out with their robots to be crowned champion.
Robot Wars was an interesting concept for a show that never quite lived up to its potential somehow. Essentially, assorted nerds, science students and father-son teams go hed to head against eachother with hom-made remote control robots, each with their own unique weapons systems, whilst professionally-made 'House Robots' such as the flamethrower-wielding 'Sgt. Bash' and the big, tanktracked 'Sir Killalot' help keep things interesting from the sidelines. Many of the home-made robots were rubbish, and there was fun to be had watching technophiles' pride and joys getting smashed to bits and fried in the space of seconds, especially at the hands of the more professionally made and ingenius robots, such as the one with a huge horizontal rotating wheel on the front that spun at high speeds smashing up anything that got in its way and Razor, which had an unnerving ability to capture and mercilessly crush anything that came near it.
On the other hand, the show was pretty formulaic and genearlly got very repetitive, especially as frequently the contestant robots followed a similar design and were not generlly very effective at destroying eachother. Craig Charles' segments and interviews between battles also got old fast, as did the sport-style commentary during matches. The show eventually fizzled out and disappearaed, though it coudl easily be resurrected and made popular again, perhaps by bringing in more bigger and more advanced robots made by independent technology companies in exchange for exopsure on tv, ideally with a much higher carnage content, with the show resembling the post-apocalyptic opening minutes of Terminator 2. That would be fantastic.
Robot Wars was a classic TV show at the height of its fame, and although it doesn't air anymore, it still remains in the collective cultural consciousness, and managed to generate frequently high numbers for the Beeb until it folded in 2003.
The concept is very simple; various teams of super geeks build robots, and then pit them against one another in epic battles, with the winner them qualifying on to a Grand Final at the end of the series. The arena had various obstacles such as fire, spikes, and moving platforms, meaning that those controlling the robot had to be very careful. Also, there are House Bots that run rampant around the arena, such as Sr. Kill A Lot, Matilda, and Sgt. Bash, who will attempt to rip the robots up with their impressive array of robot weaponry.
The show was initially hosted by Jeremy Clarkson and then changed to Craig Charles after one series, who added his own brand of humour and wit to things. Phillipa Forester also helped co-host by talking to the various teams both in the lead up to the battles and also afterwards, when all of the carnage has been meted out.
What I liked most about the show aside from the robot fighting was the backstage element, where we got quite an up close and personal glimpse at the pit area, where the teams would try to repair their robots, and in some cases, have to retire their bot because they couldn't fix it in time.
It may have been fairly repetitive, but the unique designs that people came up with for their robots made it worthwhile, as well as the personalities of the controllers. Probably the most memorable bot is Road Block, an extremely well designed bot that could scoop up other bots and virtually destroyed all of the opponents.
Original presenter Jeremy Clarkson was quickly dropped and in Craig Charles hands the programme has a little more humour though some of his scripted introductions and poetic round-ups are a bit feeble. The commentator is Jonathan Pearce who is the easily excitable football commentator from Channel 5. Pearce obviously gets his name from what he does to your ear-drums. With some of the 'wars' though the lack of any discernable aggression from the robots means Pearce has to earn his crust to make it exciting.
Phillipa Forrester has now left to be replaced by another navel showing young lady. The task of this lady is to interview the contestants to see what tactics they have, how they feel after losing or interviewing a 9-year-old relative of the robot maker. To these questions the answers always are 'Just go in and see what happens', 'Gutted' and 'I don't know really'
The stars usually are the robots themselves. These fall into two categories - those that are trying to win and these all look like manic video recorders and those that look like the products of an overactive imagination. What usually happens is that those in the first category push those in the second category into a pit or into the clutches of the house robots. The house robots have been built with large budgets and usually crush, mangle, set fire to the odd robots and then throw them into the pits. More usually what happens is one of the competitors robots becomes immobilised (i.e. it just stops). Sometimes there is controversy when two robots go into the pit at almost the same time. You can be sure if these incidents go to the judges the seeded robot always gets the verdict courtesy of a rule you've never heard of before.
Robot Wars is good harmless fun. The robots are the stars, their makers usually boring geeks who haven't seen the sun since last February. The presenters have the right balance of fun and seriousness.
This is one of those shows when I first heard about it I thought it would be just for blokes who never quite grew up or speccy nerds who rather than take up boxing would rather build fighting robots to take the hits for them, well some of the contestants may fit this bill but the show itself is pretty good entertainment.
Hosted by Craig Charles of Red Dwarf, Coronation Street and a few sex and drugs scandals the show has a number of contestants who design and build mechanised fihting machines with the sole objective of smashing their opponent to pieces. Some of the creations are pretty wierd and certainly are well armed with pneumatic flippers, axes and spikes on them and in the case of my personal favourite, Hyponodisc, a large rotating metal wheel that spins at a ferocious rate ripping into enemy robots.
The format of the show has eight robots in a knock out format and the winner of each show progresses into the next round until the grand finals. The arena they fight in has a few fixed hazards such as flame throwers and a pit as well as the more threatening and much bigger house robots, enter their area and they are free to attack you so the ability to control your robot and generate power can be just as important as a good weapon.
The action is fast and furious and Charles has a great enthusiasm for the show and gets the crowd really going. When watching the fights you do not get a good idea of the scale of these robots until you see the after fight interviews in the back stage area and then you realise how big they actually are. A great show and lots of fun to watch.
I’ve always been a big fan of Robot Wars since the first series but now the show is becoming repetitive and resulting in it being boring. Just the other day I watched a Robot Wars special on BBC2. It was a competition of England vs Germany. Hearing what it was about I got quite excited but in the end it was a flop. First of all the Germans are new to building robots so their robots didn’t stand a chance. One robot even came without a weapon so it was just like a big sweet tin on wheels. It got to the semi finals which shows how good the German robots were. The Germans are so bad that the makers of the show had to have the Germans facing each other so that one of them made it to the final. If the British and German robots had been put together from the first round there is no doubt that it would have been an all British final. Saying that though the Brits weren’t much better. When you think of Robot Wars you think of Razor, Panic Attack, Chaos 2 etc. but not in this show. The best British robot was Fluffy who managed to make it to the final but was another robot without a weapon. The final was a major disappointment. Fluffy and the German robot shared the trophy because as neither robot had a weapon of any note they pushed each other around for the whole fight. The British judges had no chance to be biased and in conclusion probably let the British robot off lightly because I would have given the trophy to the Germans. Another thing which is disappointing me is the house robots. Mr Syko and Growler are fantastic but you never get to see them because the old, slow, boring and quite honestly crap Dead Metal and Matilda are always in the arena. I just hope the next series of Robot Wars is a big improvement on this showing because if not I think it will time to say 3,2,1 shutdown rather than 3,2,1 activate.
After suffering the embarrassingly dumbed down Robot Wars Extreme (RW:E) I'm relieved to say that the UK championship of Robot Wars is back and better than ever. The format for these 5th championships is as pure as it has ever been. There are no gimmick matches, no fake grudge matches and no more pinball/soccer/sumo to sit through. Just an 8-robot knockout tournament contested in full on each show. At last! In the heats, 8 robots start in a standard knockout tournament bracket. That means that there are 7 matches in total. The first round matches proceed in a fairly quick fire manner with next to no fluff in between. The roboteers are generally only interviewed for the build up to the semis and the final and thankfully they don't act like fools this time round. Sure, there are still some who have a lame catchphrase or ridiculous team uniforms, but they aren't indulged like on RW:E. I'm so glad that in this series the matches are the important part and not the fake staged nonsense that I had to put up with during RW:E. The standard of robots is better than ever so the matches are great. The stuff in between the matches is kept to a minimum. Eight robots start, one qualifies. Finally Robot Wars has discovered a near perfect formula. Watching super-heavy-duty radio controlled cars rip each other to shreds has never been so entertaining.
Ok im too old for this but what better way between the endless news ninety minutes and nuclear war looming to get some light relief. Ok it`s more violence and mayhem without the religious encouragement and British arms sales, but highly addictive in the background mayhem sense. Ok it?s the serious stuff now on the 6-20 BBC2 slot after endless repeats and fillers between the last British Championship and the start of this one. A rather fleshy Phillapa Forester is back in the pits after the baby, replacing the now sexier girl who used to wear the best leather pants. Craig Charles is till the top man with Jonathon Pearce warming up for the world cup with some robotic commentary. The biggest question on all the lips is weather `Chaos 2` can defend the championship. The second question that?s teasing us is weather George Francis is a man or a woman or somewhere in between. Maybe he or she is part android, not that I really want to know!. The other star of the show is Hypnodisc and its super destructive mighty weapon. Eat your heart on Ron Jeremy. Anything not made of armored plating is quickly shredded and spread around the immediate facinity on contact with it. And there are plenty of new comers lining up to be ahihalted by the more gruesome regulars. Hopefully there will be lots of newcomers after the endless repeats from the old favs. Pussycat is the second favorite this year with its all ends up mobility and powerful discsaw that hacks rather than slices other machines. Hurricane, another favorable bot uses maneuverability and pace to win matches as it relentlessly nudges and smacks big robots into submission. A lose wire can down the best of them. This year its harder to win as the robot that goes through to the next round has to win free often grueling rucks of sparks flying, bolt crunching chaos. And they often do two shows on the bounce at the BBC with the apparent long gap between broadcast programs and real
battles rather shorter. You can see them all scarred and twisted in the next round even though they have had a an apparent two months of rest time. I know its meaningless fun and is just behind motor racing as a possible Olympic sport. But it?s a great relief after a hard day?s graft for a little bit of organized mayhem over the stuff I deal with. Hopefully they wont be saying let the wars begin in India soon!.
Compared to American "Soft Core" television viewing, British TV can get rather risqué. In some cases it gets downright sick. At the forefront of this very welcome smut generation are BBC2 and Channel 4. Channel 4 is, in fact, so dirty, that in its infancy, so much porn was displayed late at night that television guides in newspapers put up red triangles to warn against unsuitable material for children under the age of 27. BBC2, however, simply tries to copy Channel 4 by getting obscuro foreign films aired in the middle of the night (they promise a lot of sex, and sadly enough, never deliver). During the rest of the day, it's a gardener's / geek's paradise. You can watch one and a half hours of gardening programs on a Friday night, and on some Sundays, "7 of 9" comes on in her very tight body suit. VERY tight. And everything's great for a while, all things considered. Then "Robot Wars" graces my 28 inch screen with it's computer generated intro, and irritates my 20 watt speakers with it's likewise computer generated theme tune. Next comes the genuine introduction: "And here to host robot wars, a man who polishes his buttons every time he does a panto; Craig Charles!" Craig Charles is the comedy genius who reads out words in "Red Dwarf" and "pretends" to be a smelly moron. At this point, our dirty host tries out some of his own stand up, probably to prove he's not talentless scum. Unfortunately, his idea of standup is literally standing up and seemingly saying words in no particular order. You know how dropout actors in American hit sitcoms manage to find their way into b-movies? Well it works differently over here in Britain. In Britain, after heading one of the most successful sci-fi comedy series ever, you are presented a gameshow (of your choice). Thankfully, gameshows have the same affect as b-movies, essentially killing off the dropout
actor forever. The guy who acted as "Kryton" in the same series, for example, presented a gameshow where you have to make helicopters, machine guns and submarines by using nothing but a local scrap yard. His body was never found. Likewise, the actor for "Kat" has not been see outside a brothel in south London since the last series. But I think this may be his day job. Next up we get countless stats for all the robots, as well as highlights of their matches so far (using the word "highlights" here really does push the English language to its limits). The statistics layouts are ripped straight out of "Gladiators" but are far more cheesy, especially with that damn commentator rambling in the background. If you want to know what the commentator sounds like, get an operation on your brain to remove all traces of vocabulary, sit on the toilet with a rhyming dictionary while constipated, push really hard on your unborn stool, and start reading the rhyming dictionary out loud. Even though the commentary is recorded AFTER filming, the commentator feels it's necessary to read out every stat presented to us in his husky and very strained voice. Name: Henry Weight: 60lb Weight Class: Featherweight Weapons: A small spike & a photo of their grandmother Turning Circle: 0 (this is only ever 0 or 20 metres) Maximum Speed: 2 mph Engines: Wheelchair motors (sadly, you can't make this stuff up) Now I'm happy to admit that the photo of the ugly old bitch on the back of their bot is just a joke, but you would not believe the amount of bot makers who seem to think that putting a drawing pin on the front of their robot as a primary weapon is really going to make any difference. And you'd think that if you were going to bother with actually making a qualifying robot, you'd make it cool AND make it work. A common weapon in the wars is the buzz-saw, but they're
powered by secondary electric motors like the ones you used at school (the 9 volt ones which couldn't winch up a 100 gram weight). The bots charge in with their deadly, whirring saws, which immediately stop dead on contact. You also tend to see "powered by wheelchair motors" a lot in the stats. I can only say that coaxing a cripple into giving you their wheelchair motors would actually be a lot of fun. Before the main event though, we spend two minutes getting "in-depth" interviews with the makers of the bots. The bot enthusiasts come in 3 categories: 1. 20-something students passing up their robot as a psychology thesis. 2. 50-somethings dirty-old-men with huge beards and "overclocked armpit moisturizers". 3. Single / out of work engineers who bring their kids / very ugly girlfriends for sympathy points. All the bot teams are forced to wear Robot Wars T-shirts, which can be very offputting when the subject has enormous, lactating man-breasts. In general the competitors are geeky... but in a dreadfully scary way. If you met them while they were building their bot, you would be very scared with the limp wristed way they handled a power drill. There's also a competitor whose gender I still can't decide (after three series of this crap) - and nor, it seems, can the pit interviewer. At long bloody last, the first fight begins... and oh! What's this? Neither the drawing pin encrusted "CyberHedgeHog" or paper maché "Velociraptor" are moving! But there's still five minutes of the match left! Let's just sit and watch them JUST IN CASE! After you come back from kitchen for a bucket of warm water and a razor, they actually seem to have moved! It can't be, can it? YES! They were moving the WHOLE TIME! At the halfway stage in the match (2 minutes, 30 seconds) the bots have eventually covered 5 metres total and collided. The stronger bot push
es the back end of the opposing bot around in circles at incredible speeds of 0.5 degrees a second. The rules require the bots to separate after one minute of contact to stop deadlock, so the faster bot backs out and immediately falls in the "Pit of Despair / Doom / Gloom / Armageddon / Destruction" (depending on what new word the commentator has looked up that week), which is a square hole cut in the ground. This disqualifies him by default. We are shown slow motion replays of the slow motion action from all 2 slow motion camera angles while the commentator tries to alliterate the the bot's name by going through the entire alphabet. If he can't make a cheap pun, he gives up and says "CARNAGE AND CATASTROPHE!" referring to the slightly grazed paintwork of the bots. This actually counts as damage! The paper mache robot eventually carries on to win the final. Craig Charles is then allowed to speak - this is quite a treat, as the main commentator's voice has already sanded off three layers of my laminate table with his voice. Craig turns to the winners first (always on his right hand side, so he can remember who to congratulate). His congratulations are always the same: "Wow. You beat the favorites and you're going into the next round - how do you feel?" The response is always the same "Great. Pfff-HEHE.. tehehe!" (too much nervous giggling ensues and is cut - there's about 500 metres of film of people saying "WOW! it's really Lister!" on the cutting room floor) He then turns to his left and remarks, "Aww. I thought you were going to win! What went wrong?" And hey! you only have to repeat this entire ordeal for six more matches and the program finishes! In the UK you have to put up with having only four channels to surf between, and this can be damn annoying. It does mean the quality of television has to be lifted to even be shown. And as Craig Charles woul
d say at the end of an episode: "The only show against this cause, seems to be ROBOT WARS (TM)" (Yes, he has to make something rhyme at the END OF EVERY SODDING SHOW).
Robot wars, where the men are almost men and the mechanoids are nervous. These guys really do sleep with their robots night and day. This is a guys program with machines and beards everywhere as the eccentric bunch of bot builders and their clan struggle to repair their crunching machines for the next battle. The series is a simple format where contestants build machines that can smash bash and each other to pieces whilst being hemmed in by various arena gadgets and house robots. The BBC own robots are of a far superior budget and design but are protected from embarrassing fights with the competitors by stringent confrontation rules and time limits. You get the feeling that if some of the contestants really let rip there wouldn’t be any house robots for the next show. The original format for the first two series was a straight UK championship with a novelty Christmas show. But its turned out to be BBC 2 most successful show ever so they have had to stretch it to the limits over the all year round program it is now. We have annihilators and Mayhems to grudge matches and the current All-stars riot gong on now. A World Championship has been born along with an Army Navy clash. The army was so hard up that they entered a challenger tank, which lost, to a converted lawn mower entered by some Dagenhmam six formers. The UK champion who owns the Chaos Two robot is a very strange character indeed. He’s not a mans man or a women’s man, he or she is more like a woman man. George Francis is his name, which is ambivalent as his sexuality and a great example of what type of blokes enter this bizarre show. There the sort of blokes who haven’t lost their virginity until late on in their lives and definitely got bullied in school. Back stage its even more geeky with a menagerie of national health glass and the type of guys that appeal to women like a free day trip to New York for Bin Laden. The excellent Cra
ig Charles hosts the show and a bubbly skinny blond packed into tight black cat suits to give the mechanics a serious hard on. This is probably the sexiest girl tat has ever taken them seriously in their life. In the pits the smell of axle grease mixes with the smoke and whiff of Craig Charles blunt as he propositions the angular blonde. Im not sure if the ex scouse peoples poet is genuinely pleased to be on the show amongst these mummies boys or the big smile is just the thought of working on TV after his rape allegation. The franchise is being over worked in the winter so far but it does fill that winter Friday night slot nicely after The Simpson’s. This time around they have added a bit of cringy WWF antics to spice up the bits between the fights. This involves Blind Date style monologues written on queue cards for the contestants to read out or go with what the have thought of to look cool. They are about as cool as The Hamiltons as the red blush spreads over their cheeks like a rash in a hoar house. We even had a tamper cam where the ever-jovial Irish lads who run the robot Diatour were seen putting a spanner in the front of a competitors bot. These were the team who had to strip down their robot for British customs a couple of years ago because they thought it could be a bomb. They also enjoy putting inflammable material on their device so it catches fire for the cameras. Thats basically their tactic as they try to win hearts not minds with their every machine. No correct if im wrong, but this show is way over the cerebral plimsol line of WWF fans. In America they call this cult viewing meaning it has the same people watching every week. All the competitors are good sports and help each other out with parts and labor when the clock is tight. But they do make fun robots that makes for some great TV.Charles is ebullient and hyper as ever trying desperately to squeeze out comment and personality from the ever s
o bland mummy’s boys. This is a forerunner to this years championships where will be introduced to all manner of ingenious and showy robots. Tonight’s episode saw a rare event with wheels flying of some of the better robots. Also a catastrophic fire on the biggest and meanest of the house robots in Kilolot. Contestants are generally minded not to way into the local boys, but when they do it can be a lot of hard work and over time for the programs technicians. Hypnodisc and Pussycat along with Chaos Two and Tornado are the favorites for this year’s title with the expectations of some cool new robots to come. If you want to see something to ease you into the weekend over grim war news on the other channels then this is the show for you!. But beware of Simon Pearces screeming comentary,it get worse as hes been signed up by Radio Five for the football,only because is gob and belly are as wide as Alan Greens.
This programme has got better and better. The basic idea is for contestants to build a remote control robot (within certain specifications) and then fight against other robots to see who is the meanest toughest most destructive robot in the land. ***A BRIEF HISTORY The series began in 1997 screened on BBC2. The original presenter was Jeremy Clarkson. Craig Charles the current presenter took over at the beginning of series two. The original co-presenter was Phillippa Forrester who left on to have a baby at the end of series three. Her role was taken over by Julia Reed. We wait to see if Phillipa will return…. It started out as a low-key program then became a cult and now has a massive following amongst people (mostly males) aged 4-90… The excitable voice over has always been provided by Jonathan Pearce. ***THE HOUSE ROBOTS These robots are there to make life difficult for the competitor robots and are very unforgiving of any mistakes… DEAD METAL Weight - 112kg Length - 160cm Width - 100cm Height - 70cm Speed - 12mph Dead Metal looks like a robotic crustacean. He’s encased by a steel outer shell with jagged spikes and wheel guards. He’s the fastest of the house robots. He has pneumatically driven pincers that grab a robot and then a powerful circular saw to cut through them. Be prepared for sparks flying when Dead Metal is around! SHUNT Weight - 105kg Length - 130cm Width - 110cm Height - 70cm Speed - 10mph Shunt is the lightest of the house robot. He’s built a bit like a bulldozer having a rear mounted pointed steel scoop. As a weapon he has a diamond tipped axe capable of delivering a blow of 500kg /square metre. Both the axe and the scoop are powered by pressurised carbon dioxide. MATILDA Weight - 116kg Length - 140cm Width - 66cm Height - 66cm Speed -
8mph Matilda is a real character. She looks like a sort of robotic Triceratops, with carbon dioxide operated hydraulic tusks at the front and she has a real ‘sting in the tail’ with a chainsaw fitted to her backside. Her outer casing is made of fibreglass matting which is supposed to be more resistant than steel. She is a tough robot that always gets in to scrapes. Her one vulnerability is getting flipped over something the competitor robots take delight in doing if they can. SERGEANT BASH Weight - 120kg Length - 140cm Width - 90cm Height - 90cm Speed - 8mph This is the ‘special forces’ unit of the house robots. Camouflaged and possessing armour plating he has pneumatically operated pincers on the front that can cut through the toughest outer shell. His main weapon is a multidirectional flame-thrower SIR KILLALOT (series 3 onwards) Weight - 280kg Length - 120cm Width - 120cm Height - 130cm Speed - 5mph At 280kg Sir Killalot is the real heavyweight of the house robots. He is the meanest, scariest and most destructive of all. For weapons he has a huge rotating drill, a formidable hydraulic cutting claw capable of lifting 100kg in to the air or slicing through armour plating. His huge bulk is a weapon in itself as he can push smaller robots about the arena at will. He is too powerful for the competitor robots to take on ..But they try and Razer almost succeeded in immobilising him. THE SENTINEL (series 1 and 2)– a huge static robot with a powerful pneumatic arm that would just swat the smaller robots out of the arena. REFBOT. (Series4 onwards) Refbot is the largest of the robots but is not aggressive. His main job is to follow the action and relay some close-up pictures of the action. ***THE RULES The rules have changed since the early days, but the purpose remains the same, robots have to
fight against each other in a gladiatorial contest, the last one standing (or moving or less damage) is the winner. Initially six robots were involved in two heats. One robot is knocked out from each round and then the remaining robots go on to compete in a head to head semi-final and then a final. The last robot standing is the winner. The winners of all the elimination rounds go on to a grand final at the end of the series. Round one was ‘THE GAUNTLET’. This involved getting through a maze with two possible paths to choose from. The robots tried to get as far down the 15metre course as possible. The one covering the less ground in a specified time was eliminated. Depending on which path was chosen different hazards would be faced. One path led to ‘The Sentinel’ the alternative route would take the competing robot to face a selection of the smaller house robots, usually a better option. The next elimination stage was ‘THE TRIAL’. This event was varied from week to week. Each time a different aspect of the robot’s abilities was tested. The final encounter would be the all out fight in ‘THE ARENA’ event. This is like a gladiatorial contest. Where the competing robots go head to head. This has always been the best part of the show. The arena was divided in to areas, the central part is for the main fight but the corners are known as the ‘Perimeter Patrol Zones’ (PPZ). If a fighting robot should stray in to or be pushed in to these zones, the house robots waiting there are allowed to attack the trespassing robot. The house robots usually can inflict more damage than the competing robots. If a competing robot is immobilised for more than 10 seconds then it’s a free for all for the house robots, they usually end up cutting and chewing up the poor stranded robot before dumping him in to ‘The Pit’ (a square hole in the arena floor that no one ever gets out o
f). In the arena battles the rules of combat are very simple, a robot has to try and immobilise its opponent. This can be done in many ways; you can inflict so much damage that the robot stops working; you can push the robot in to the PPZ so that the house robots do the damage, you can send the opponent out of the arena or you can push the robot in to the pit. If at the end of the contest both robots are still moving then the decision goes to the judge’s panel. They decide which robot showed the most aggression and dealt the most damage as well as taking in to account the overall style of the performance. The big changes came in series 3 when the show became longer and new events in addition to the mains competition were included like robot sumo, pinball or football. The main competition now involved 8 robots and concentrated on the Arena format as the Gauntlet and Trials were dropped. In Round One, three robots go head to head in a pitched battle with the battle finishing as soon as one of the robots is immobilised. Round two will draw the four remaining robots against each other, facing off in twos and then the final head to head. ***THE WEAPONSJust about anything goes, spikes, pincers, cutters, slicers, chain-saws, spinning blades, flails, hammers, axes, flippers, maces…. For the competitor robots a maximum, of two weapons are allowed. ***TACTICS These differ widely and have changed through the series. “Flipping”- A popular tactic in the first series was to have a flipping weapon that would turn the opposing robot belly up. In most cases this would result the robot being stuck and thus losing the contest. Eventually most robots incorporated self-righting mechanisms in their specs. to avoid this danger. Some decided that building a robot that would run both ways up was the best solution. In response to this the ‘Flipping’ robots developed more powerful flipping mechanism
s that could throw a robot out of the arena over the side wall or at the very least flip the robot so far in to the air that substantial damage would be inflicted on landing. “Damage”- Another approach is to cause major damage to the opposing robot. A variety of weapons can be used (see above). The two most spectacular though must be the spinning cutting disc that can literally tear up the outer shell of a robot on contact and the pneumatic cutting device that can chew its way through armour plating and damage the internal workings of the robot. “Pushing”- some robots rely on their bulk and speed to literally push other robots around the arena. Trying to push them in to the clutches of the house robots or ‘the pit’ ***THE BEST OF THE COMPETITION ROBOTS ‘Razer’-the most elegant robot ever built!- it looks like a metal bird of prey. It has a razor sharp beak like tip on the end of a flexible articulated neck. You have to keep Razer away, if it corners you it brings down its beak with tremendous deliberate force and tears right though anything in its path. Awesome! ‘HypnoDisc’-This robot has the most effective weapon in the wars, a huge rotating disc with exposed blade that tears apart anything it comes in to contact with. You’re only chance is to flip it over if you can get close enough. ‘Chaos2’- A double and reigning champion. The king of the ‘Flippers’. Its flipping arm can propel an 80kg robot high in to the air and out of the arena. ‘Gemini’- This is a cluster robot. When the contest begins this robot splits in to two smaller independently controlled robots that attack in unison. Both halves possess powerful flippers. A bit like fighting against two mini Chaos 2’s. Gemini is a brilliant design and one of my favourites! ‘Panic Attack’- Winner of the second wars, this is a pushing
robot. It is very fast and manoeuvrable managing to push robots in to the pit or in to the path of the house robots ***WHY IS IT GOOD? ‘Robot Wars’ manages to appeal to all ages and can be considered a real family program. It’s probably the only thing that we sit down to watch together in my house. It’s fast paced and very exciting to watch at the same time you can appreciate the amazing ingenuity of the competitors in building the robots. The standard of the robots vary and it is clear that some are more serious than others but it is always played in good spirit. My sons are desperate for us to build a robot and compete and I wouldn’t mind, unfortunately my total technical inability to convert a lawn mower motor, a chainsaw and some parts of an old shopping trolley in to a killer robot is a major obstacle. Before I complete this review I need to thank my 8year old son who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of Robot Wars and proved indispensable in my research. ‘Robot Wars’ is not on at the moment (Oct 2001) but a new series is due to be screened soon. In the meantime repeats of the previous contests can be seen on UK Horizons. ***Update*** The new series of regular Robot Wars is scheduled for next year 2002, but a new 'Robot Wars Extreme' is being shwon at the moment (Nov 2001) on BBC2 Friday 6.45. This features invitation 'grudge' matches between the most popular and destructive robots! Thank you for reading/rating… © Mauri 2001
"And they're in for the kill". Yes I am talking about Robot Wars. Never seen it? You are really missing a real treat. By nature I am not a violent person, but I must admit to being hooked on Robot Wars. I have to have my fix at least once a week and now more often with the older series on digital TV. I have watched it since the inception, with Jeremy Clarkson as the "Overlord", but I prefer Craig Charles in this role. Robot Wars originally came from an American contest. It is an action packed game, which allows amateur creators to pitch their robots against other robots. It is very satisfying to watch theses metal and composite marvels being crushed like paper by either the competitors (Roboteers) or the 'house robots'. The fights are all commentated by Johnathan Pearce. The show starts with three robots in the arena after a place in the heat semi-finals. They slug it out for about 3 minutes, however they are not alone. Alongside in the "CPZ's" lurk the house robots and 'Sir Killalot' a free ranging house robot. The house robots are Matilda, Sgt. Bash, Dead Metal, the Sentinel and Shunt, there is also, now the 'Ref Robot' who is there to see 'fair play' is adhered to! This is a relatively new robot He doesn't fight, he's just the Ref. and he provides some of the pictures. In each heat, six robots knock several different colours of engine oil out of each other in order to find a winner to go forward to the finals. To do this, two robots are eliminated in the first two rounds and the other three are knocked out individually, leaving one left who is the winner. **Gauntlet** Round one: this shows how agile the robots navigating a maze where there is a three-way choice of routes. Typically, one route would test ?The idea of the Gauntlet? which is to basically to get as far down a fifteen metre course as quickly as possible, intact, within the time
allowed, while avoiding the House Robots. **House Robots** *Dead Metal* This is thought to be perhaps the weakest, this was a giant scorpion, but with giant pneumatic pincers! *Matilda* This is the only robot with personality. It is a robot dinosaur with attitude and a chain saw tail. *Shunt* This is a robot that literally shunts things. It does however have a lanky axe too. *Sergeant Bash* This robot is equipped with a flame-thrower, handy for opponents of the cloth-covered variety! *Sir Killalot* This robot does as his name suggests. He is able to pick up robots in one hand and then crush them with his pincers. *The Sentinel* This robot is not really tough, but it can push contenders away with its giant pneumatic arm. The elimination side of the battle allows the ?Roboteers? to explore armourment, weaponry and other forms of defence, including the self-righting mechanisms (SRi-Mechs). The rules however do not allow an 'anything goes' policy when building your warrior. The regulations are provided to anyone wishing to join the official Robot Wars Club, which cost around £12.00. The rules do allow for a wide variety of robots. This show regularly pulls in BBC2s highest ratings and rightly so because it's original and good, even if it doesn't have the bite of American Robot Wars Championships. In between rounds the viewers of this show visit the pits to see how the teams were feeling and getting on. You may think from all this that it is a male dominated competition. It was early in its life but there is large females following who are prepared to build their own mechanoids. Not only that the 'behind the scenes reporter is female, originally Phillipa Forester and now Julia Reed. They interview and try to 'psyche' up the ?Roboteers? about to enter the fray. The behind the scenes workshop where contestants repair their r
obots for battle. My favourite part is when the 'dead' robot is dropped into the pit and then blown-up. I am sure that I should be working in the demolition industry instead of being a trained ballet dancer! One day I WILL enter this contest. Within the mayhem of the main wars there are two separate, further skill competitions. 'Pinball Warrior' and 'Sumo Basho'. Of these two 'Sumo' is my personal favourite. 'Shunt' the house bulldozer robot pits his brut strength against the ?Roboteers?? robots. It is a game thought to require brawn not brains. Wrong, this year?s winner (2000) was one of the smallest competitors in the contest. He side-stepped Shunt, when Shunt went in for the kill. Shunt fell out of the ring and therefore lost the bout. This even goes to prove the under dogs can win in Robot Wars. You can join the Robot Wars club - details available from the Robot Wars web site. Official UK Robot Wars site: http://www.robotwars.co.uk **Video** Robot Wars ? The First Great War Robot Wars ? First World Championships
Hey, I am a young guy studying computer science at degree level so of course I love this program. I get to play with dull robots all day in a lab if I want to but this is a hell of a lot more fun looking. Its a game show built for techies and those hobbyists who want to do a little more than drive a remove control car about the place...here you get to drive, hack, slash, maim, burn, pummel, crush...and more 'til your hearts content. Build your killer robot, enter the arena and watch your months of hard work be brutalised by something bigger and better on national television...great stuff! Robot Wars is exactly as its name suggests a battle between robots designed by members of the public. They compete in a gladiatorial style arena, battling against each other using whatever weapons they have at the disposal to beat the hell out of their opponents and either immobilise them, or to win a points victory against them, judged in terms of aggressiveness by a panel of judges. The competition takes place over a number of weeks as they battle it out to see who will be the overall champ at the end of it all. Recent times have seen the addition of robot football, obstacles courses, 'pinball' etc. which add something to the proceedings but also take away from them too. It is presented by Jeremy Clarkson(having taken over from Craig Charles) and Philippa Forrester who interviews the creators in the umm 'pitts' before the battle. And basically its a lot of fun. OK, so its to going to be to everyone's taste which is probably why it lurks on BBC2, but it is a lot of fun. Some of the robots are truly impressive 'warriors' whilst others are nice works of art which look damn good but which you take an extreme satisfaction in watching being torn to pieces by a more practical killing machine. All good clean family fun as as you watch the sparks fly from a disabled robot being torn to pieces by the seriously impressive House Robots before
being dumped into a smoking pit by the truly mean looking (and dumbly named) Sir Kill-a-Lot. The presenters are good, Jeremy Clarkson(Craig Charles in the original couple of series) introducing, Philippa Forrester doing the backstage interviews where you get to meet the faces behind the machines and get a close up look at the robots themselves - realising that they are actually pretty large, which doesn't really come across in the arena and full commentart being given over the match-ups by sports commentator Jonathan Pearce. Its fun and its not going to tax the brain too much, which is good for an early evening when you have just got in from work, college, whatever and are wandering in and out making dinner or just slobbing in a chair. Recently there has been too much emphasis put upon the side-games which I am not too big a fan of, but its still worth watching and better than yet another re-run of Star Trek or Thunderbirds which seems to occupy this time slot when Robot Wars is not around.
I think originally that Robot Wars was an American program? I could be wrong. Anyway, it was a brilliant idea. Get people to build robots, put a few in an arena together then watch them smash each other up, brainwave. When I first started watching Robot Wars (when I was young, getting old now you see) the robots weren’t much to look at and didn’t perform particularly well. They were lucky if they could last three minutes without breaking down/switching themselves off/driving into the pit. This year’s robots however were outstanding, well, most of them. In my opinion Chaos 2 was a deserving winner, brilliant robot and driving skills, especially when it flips other robots out of the arena. The bloke who commentates over the races (don’t know his name, anyone got any idea?) is great. He gets really hyperactive over things, “and it’s on FIRE!!!!”. The only person that I can thing of who compares to him is Murrey Walker, who also gets very over excited. In fact I think when Murrey Walker retires this year the Robot Wars bloke should take over. Anyone agree? Craig Charles does an excellent job of presenting the program, not that much presenting is needed, pretty self explanatory really. What was also good this year was that the teams really got into it, there were some really funny ones. Hypnodisc with their wirry hand signal, and wasn’t that little ginger haired boy sweet? That’s probably a female thing. The house robots add to the tension. Sir Killalot, being my favourite, has this great trick of picking robots up and swinging them round before letting go. I’m having withdrawal symptoms now that this series has finished. Hopefully they will hurry up with the next one!