I’ve been waiting 12 years to see Robot Wars back on TV. 12 agonising years of watching the first 7 wars on YouTube, hoping one day that it would be back to grace my TV screen. I even signed a petition to bring it back, something that now means I’m inundated with change.org emails regarding topics I couldn’t care less about.
But it worked. Robot Wars is back.
It’s fairly obvious that the 8th wars is an experimental series, testing the waters to see how much interest it can gather. For a start, there are only 4 house robots. Shunt, Dead Metal, Matilda and Sir Killalot 2.0 are all back and rebuilt, not to mention 3x heavier and a lot more kickass. Unfortunately there’s no Sgt. Bash because the BBC didn’t have enough time or money to rebuild him. Someone buy the Sergeant a pint to take his mind off it. Not only are the house robots different, but so is the arena: The pit now descends about 5x faster than it used to, the floor flipper seems just a little bit pathetic (Plus the guy operating it needs some training I feel), there are arena spikes that have as much use as the killsaws on Battlebots (i.e. none) and the CPZs are now an interesting L shape, something that gives the house robots slightly more license to be dicks to everyone.
There are 40 teams competing over 6 episodes, a number that will no doubt increase should the series be successful. The lack of adverts means that Robot Wars can fit an amazing 9 fights into each episode, unlike Battlebots which struggles to fit in 4. Some of the old guard: Razer, Terrorhurtz, Behemoth, Thermidor 2, Storm 2, Dantomkia, Supernova, King B etc are back and looking to see if time has worn well on them. But they’ll have to face a new set of eager, destructive and sometimes downright ridiculous robots along the way.
The first episode sees the return of a few legends, not least former World Champion Razer, who if they were doing seeding, would likely have been one of them. We also have the axe swinging madness that is Terrorhurtz and one robot that’s been through more incarnations that James Bond, Behemoth. It also sees a very dangerous looking robot in Carbide (Sister robot to Battlebots’ Cobalt), an S3 rip-off in Kill-E-Crank-E, a giant tractor in the form of ‘The General’, Nuts (Which is just a bit nuts) and Bonk. I don’t know how they come up with these names either.
The first matchups involve 2 heats of 4 robots, with two going through. You may think that was designed to increase the amount of carnage at the start of the episode to draw people in, and you are most likely right in thinking that, but what it actually ended up doing was giving everyone a preview into just how utterly shambolic the camerawork was going to be. If you think it gets better after the melees, when it becomes 1 on 1, I can tell you now that it doesn’t. But then again, with Jonathan Pearce back in the commentary booth, I’m too busy listening to him to care much about the camera angles.
Heat 1: Razer v Terrorhurtz v Nuts v Kill-E-Crank-E
Onto the battles! Heat 1 saw former World Champions Razer fight it out alongside John Reid’s axe wielding maniac (Terrorhurtz), some flailing chains (Nuts) and a metal pipe (Kill-E-Crank-E). We’ve already has the pre-fight introductions from the new Irish presenting duo of Dara O Briain and Angela Scanlon, indicating the fighting format and reintroducing the house robots, as well as interviewing each of the competing robots. The most interesting part of that was seeing Team Razer’s homemade sausage rolls, which probably tells you a lot. The Kill-E-Crank-E boys state that their robot’s purpose is to ‘destroy things’. No shit. But then they also say that it’s ‘very manoeuvrable’, and proceed to spend the entire fight getting dragged around by Razer. Right….
John Reid meanwhile looks ready to hike through the arctic half of Canada, and then shows Angela, who is still eating Team Razer’s sausage rolls, how tough the robot is by getting her to spank it with a spanner. I can’t imagine what their faces would have been like if something had actually broken. Nuts? Well, I think their name tells you all you need to know about them.
Moving slightly off topic, having Dara as host is a remarkable change from Craig Charles, who spent at least half the post match interviews shouting at people. I’m not sure Dara O Briain could shout if he tried.
Regardless, each of the robots gets introduced into the arena by a rip off Terminator voice, with their teams stood behind them- a move the BBC seems to have somewhat stolen from Battlebots, but with less Faruq Tauheed reciting poetry like he’s 12 years old. That, and the robotic voice Robot Wars utilises sounds about 50x creepier and 3x harder to understand. We also get introduced to the judges, which include engineering Santa himself, Professor Noel Sharkey. We also get properly introduced to Matilda for the first time as this heat’s resident house robot; The thought of only having one house robot in a battle is odd, but then most of the time the competitors are too busy with each other for it to be a problem.
With Jonathan getting increasingly excited, that can mean only one thing- the battle is about to begin! Discount Terminator begins the countdown, and Robot Wars is officially back. It’s fairly obvious from the start that Razer and Terrorhurtz want to avoid each other, and the battle splits off into two: Razer vs. Kill-E-Crank-E and Terrorhurtz vs. Nuts. We get a taste of the slow motion replays that take up far too much airtime when 30 seconds is set aside to show Terrorhurtz’ axe missing Nuts by about 5 miles. Nevertheless, Razer and Terrorhurtz are on top, with Razer picking a fight with Nuts’ minibots and practically turning one of them into a kebab. Kill-E-Crank-E realises it’s a bit useless and opens the pit, which almost downs Nuts. Unfortunately, Nuts just about gets away.
Razer, meanwhile, has become bored of the minibots and gone back after Kill-E-Crank-E, whilst Terrorhurtz starts giving Nuts a pounding. In fairness, Nuts seems to take it all quite well, until Terrorhurtz practically caves in one of the wheels. Ian Lewis meanwhile tells Simon Scott to dump K-E-C-E in the pit, which will turn out to be one of the worst decisions he’s made since he fired Vinnie Blood. As Razer manoeuvres K-E-C-E towards the pit, the Scottish drain pipe manages to spin its wheel up right at the end, torquing Razer- who are still attached- right in there with them. Cue some dramatic shouting from Jonathan Pearce and the Razer boys looking like someone just shot their cat, and that’s the battle over. Done. Finished. Razer, the former UK and World champions, are gone in the first round. Meanwhile, Nuts find themselves going through by virtue of having had the ability to run away.
It is at this point about 30% of the people tuning in to BBC2 turned their TV off and decided they were never watching anything ever again.
Heat 2: Behemoth v Carbide v The General v Bonk
Having been told in the post match interviews that the arena is too cold for Terrorhurtz’ axe to work properly, making Razer’s demise even more hilarious, we move on to the second of the 4 way heats. This time we see Behemoth, a robot only 2 years younger than I am and known very well from the previous wars for continuously underwhelming everyone, Cobalt’s equally destructive sister (Carbide), a giant robotic tractor (The General) and Storm 2 with an axe (Bonk). I’ve actually seen Bonk before at a live event (Along with Behemoth), and it did a grand total of nothing except flail about a bit.
First in the pre-fight interviews we see Behemoth, and Dara reminds us all that he’s Irish by pronouncing it Be-heeeeee-muth. Behemoth has been around since 1998, but is now in its 9th incarnation, which basically makes it the robot version of The Doctor, but instead of Daleks it has to put up with Sir Killalot. The results are largely the same.
Next up we see the ferocious Carbide, which has the kind of spinning bar you see on Tombstone (I’m sorry for all these Battlebots references), but unlike Ray Billings, the team behind the lean, green fighting machine actually built a robot around it. Hopefully this means it won’t shit itself in half like Tombstone did last year.
Then we see Bonk, which is basically a box on wheels that just so happens to wield an axe. As opposed to Storm 2, which is a box on wheels that wields not very much at all (Well, it has a lifter, but that was only there because it had to be)- if they can win a World Championship, how hard can it be? As it turns out, very.
Finally we meet The General, which seems to sport a pair of Battlebots killsaws as weapons. If they’re as useless as their American counterparts, then you can kind of see which way the battle is going to go for them. Also, exposed wheels are a big no (See: Carbide and its massive spinning blade).
The robots are all introduced as usual, but at least robo-announcer can pronounce Behemoth correctly. We also get to see Shunt properly for the first time! And although he now weighs over 300kg, I can’t help but feel like someone put him through a trash compactor before the battle. Then again, Killalot 2.0 looks like he’s been hit by a bus.
And then the countdown begins, and heat 2 is underway! Straight off we see The General going for Behemoth, and also the saws create a nice shower of sparks off Behemoth’s scoop, I have a feeling it could rival Kill-E-Crank-E for most useless weapon this week. As if to prove the point, Behemoth then sends The General flying across the arena. Bonk, who has done even less, then manages to hilariously get themselves wedged on one of the arena spikes, whilst The General once again takes a pot shot at Behemoth’s scoop, and again does nothing.
Carbide, meanwhile, has been patiently waiting for the crowd of robots to disperse. The weapon not only looks menacing, but sounds it too. After helpfully telling everyone ‘Don’t drive down the pit’ (Something Simon Scott probably could have done with hearing in the last heat), the Carbide guys finally make their move, sweeping in and quite literally tearing one of The General’s wheels off. I’m not sure exactly what The General expected from this fight, but putting giant, exposed wheels in a battle with a spinner is never going to end in your favour. In the mean time, Bonk seems to have wedged their axe downwards and can’t get it back up, something Behemoth decides to take advantage of by flipping them over. After venting enough CO2 to accelerate global warming, it’s fairly obvious Bonk’s weapon is kaput, and with it their ability to self-right.
Not satisfied with having taken The General’s wheel off, Carbide then decides to come in and tear pieces off the stricken Bonk too. Evil bastards (Not that I’m complaining). What makes it even more impressive is that the weapon wasn’t even working properly. As you’ll see in the later rounds, when it gets up to full power, it is terrifying.
And so that ends the heats. Terrorhurtz, Behemoth, Carbide and Nuts all go through to the next round, a mini league if you like, where everyone faces everyone, no matter how many pieces you’re in. As this post is already 2000 words long, I’m going to split it into parts, and end this one here. The next one, detailing the destruction from the rest of the episode, should be up sometime this evening.
For now, those are your 4 proceeding robots. It gets even better from here on out…