Robot Wars is to make its return to British Television in another half-dozen of the most brutal sixty minutes on television. Chassis will smash, metal will tear and rubber will burn. To celebrate, we remember some of the victims and survivors of the first wars.
The winner of the inaugural wars, Road Block won the contest while it was still finding its format. The gauntlet would only last two series before the production team realised that people were only concerned with which monstrous machine would win in a fight, not which one could get round an obstacle course quicker. Roadblock’s most distinctive feature was the fact that it looked cobbled together from a bunch of ominous road signs. It would flip its opponent over with its front facing ramp and while it couldn’t move, rip it to shreds with a saw on the back.
Recyclopse was the first machine to realise that the quickest way to eliminate your opponent was to flip it over, because if the wheels were facing the sky, then the competition’s machine couldn’t move, making it somewhat useless. After Recyclopse’s innovative weaponry any serious competitor was forced to implement a SHREMECH (or self-righting mechanism) into its design, or have a ground clearance of zero so that the vehicle couldn’t be tipped. This was often at the cost of offensive or manoeuvring capabilities. Recyclopse was created from entirely recycled materials and driven by Rex Garrod, a legend who cemented his legacy in the pits by beating the arrogant Cambridge team and their piercing machine, Mortis. Have a look at the below video to see his bigger brother Cassius do a back flip.
Panic Attack won the second series of the show, thanks in part to the driving of Kim Davies, known as the best pilot of the entire series. Panic Attack’s spider decal was the result of a completion in a school in the team’s native home of Cwmbran, South Wales. Their original design was very basic small box with a Swedish lifting fork on the front. Later additions were made to keep up with the competition, but as they never had as much success with the more advanced models, they became a testament to the power of pure simplicity.
Chaos 2 is the only combatant to win the series twice, both in the third and fourth competitions. It was originally called Robot the Bruce in series one, only claiming the name Chaos in series two. It wasn’t until the third incarnation that the wins really started to pile up. It was then that the flipping arm on Chaos 1 was replaced by a powerful, pneumatic CO2 powered scooper. It was the most powerful of its kind in the contest. It not only flipped its opponents in the air multiple times, it could also be used to self-right, causing itself to do a back flip. So devastating was the scoop that Chaos 2 was the first to flip a rival out of the arena.
Distinctive for its unique weapon of a kinetic flywheel, Hypno-Disc did not need to lull its opponents to sleep to defeat them like the name would imply. That flywheel was dangerous. Never in a Robot Wars arena did a single weapon do so much damage. The Robots after they fought this devastating machine looked like they had just been put through the shredder. Their first opponents, Robogeddon, looked like a robot undressed having been stripped of its armour entirely after less than three minutes. Much was made of its undefeated streak, sadly stopped by two time champs Chaos 2. The ultimate flaw with Hypno-Disc was that while it defined raw power, the team behind it could never truly tame it.
Razer is a testament to the power of perseverance. Beginning its career in the second series, Razer didn’t even place until the fifth. A Robot with an intimidating design, a powerful weapon and an excellent driver, Razer was lacking in one department. Reliability. It would just stop in the middle of a fight losing all mobility and control over its weapon. It proved time and time again that the performance in the pits was just as important (if not more so) than the performance in the arena. They fought through the technical shortcomings however and rose to the challenge time and time again, winning the Fifth Wars and two world Championships, becoming the most successful British machine in the sport.
No look back on Robot Wars would be complete without talking about the Irish demon Nemesis. A mad eyed, purple haired freak, Nemesis was a true Irishman in that the love of the fight was purely for the fight. Never the winning. If it was… well, that must have been a disappointing six years. Constant winners of the Good Sportsmanship awards, Nemesis and its son Diotior (Irish for annihilation) always showed how far good sportsmanship got you. Nowhere. The spotted purple fur was always a glad target of the House Robots, especially Sgt. Bash and his flamethrower. One of the great treats of every series was to see Nemesis or Diotior go up in flames like a sacrifice at a pagan feast.
There you have some of my favourite Robots from the legendary Robot Wars series. Why don’t you follow us at @VultureHound and tell us some of yours.