Robot Wars is to make its return to British Television in another half-dozen instalments of the most brutal sixty minutes on television. Chassis will bend, metal will rip and rubber will burn. To celebrate, we remember some of the victims and the survivors of the first wars.

Road Block

The winner of the inaugural series, Road Block won the contest while it was still finding its format. The Gauntlet round, an obstacle course that would mostly test the driver’s handling of the vehicle, would only last two series before the production team realised that people were only concerned with one thing, which monstrous machines would win in a fight. 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 was on its head, Road Block would rip it to shreds with the saw on its back.

Recyclopse

Recyclopse wasn’t the first robot to realise that if your opponents’ wheels were facing the sky, then the competition was rendered somewhat useless, but it was the most effective at making it happen. 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. Giving your machine this defence often came at the cost of offensive or manoeuvring capabilities. Recyclopse was created from entirely recycled materials and driven by Rex Garrod, a roboteering legend who cemented his legacy in the pits by beating the arrogant Cambridge team and their extremely deadly looking machine, Mortis. Have a look at the below video to see Recyclops’s bigger brother Cassius do a backflip.

Panic Attack

Panic Attack won the second series, thanks in part to the driving of Kim Davies, perhaps the best pilot in Robot Wars’ history. Panic Attack’s spider decal was designed by the winner of a school competition in the team’s native home of Cwmbran, South Wales. Their original design was a 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

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 for the perfected little pugilist. It was then that they replaced what was initially a flipping arm with a more powerful, pneumatic, CO2-powered scooper. It was the mightiest 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 if it was ever caught upside down, causing itself to do a really awesome backflip. So devastating was the scoop, that Chaos 2 was the first to literally throw a rival out of the arena.

Hypno-Disc

Distinctive for the uniqueness of its weapon – a kinetic flywheel that could rip a robot’s bodywork off its chassis – 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

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 only one department. Reliability. Tournament after tournament, Razer would be on an absolute tear, and suddenly just stop in the middle of the arena, 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.

Nemesis/Diotior

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 (and highly flammable) fur was always a glad target of the House Robots, purpose-built by the studio to be the enforcers of the Robot Wars Arena. Sgt. Bash was a particularly rough dance partner for Nemesis as he was armed with a bloody great 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 festival.

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.