Newest Review: ... 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 ... more
Let the wars begin!
Member Name: Mauri
Date: 09/10/01, updated on 06/11/01 (480 review reads)
Advantages: Exciting, Good presenters, Interesting
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…
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!
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.
Weight - 116kg
Length - 140cm
Width - 66cm
Height - 66cm
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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