Robot Wars is back! At least, it’s kinda back. These are not your average Robot Wars episodes, for these are celebrity specials, where several people with varying levels of fame get behind a robot they
got someone else to build built themselves. Either someone is going to come out of this as some kind of genius or they’re all going to be terrible and fall apart within 5 seconds of going into the arena. I’ll let you figure out which one it was.
This is of course a preface, with the 9th wars coming about at some point next year. This is just a bit of fun; An excuse to decorate the house robots in tinsel and Christmas lights and let a few giddy wannabe engineers loose with their fantasies.
Anyway, on with the show! There’s absolutely no point watching the introduction, because not only does it sound like an updated version of last series’ intro, but you get half a dozen clips of the robots fighting, something you’re supposed to be watching in the programme itself. I don’t understand why they feel the need to give half of it away before its even begun, but I suppose we’re stuck with it. I suppose we’ll be stuck with it for S9 too. The format is much the same too, except we’re skipping a step because there are only 4 teams in this time around. So it’s straight into the Head to Heads, where a KO win gives you 3 points and a judges’ decision gets you 2. If you lose, you get zero. Also half of your robot will be in pieces, most likely. The scoreboard is new and snazzy though, so at least we know the production crew have been spending their time doing something worthwhile.
And now we can really let the wars begin. Or at least we can once we meet the robots. For some reason, Dara decides to kick things off whilst standing on some stairs above the arena itself. I suppose that does give you a real indication of just how big the filming set actually is, plus it beats him aimlessly wandering around the arena like he did last series. That’s Angela’s job this time, though she does have some company in the form of the house robots.
We next get introduced to all of our celebrities, and the professional who’s going to be
building their robot helping them, followed by a video montage of last season’s greatest hits for each of them. Unfortunately for Gabriel Stroud, his only highlight was being flipped over by Eruption. That’s not even really a highlight.
First up we see the grand unveiling of Scott Mills and Chris Stark’s robot, Arena Cleaner. Yes, that’s genuinely the name they chose for it. It looks like a discount Carbide in pastel blue, which is kind of what happens when your mentor is Dave Moulds, who was one half of Carbide. The robot is fitted with a deadly bar spinner, which is bright yellow. This is a robot all about colours, if you couldn’t tell. Oh and if you didn’t know, Scott and Chris do stuff on the radio… Probably.
Next we have Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who is by trade an astronomer and TV presenter. She’s probably the closest celebrity here to being a roboteer, but that doesn’t mean she’s going to win. On her side is Shane Swan, also known as ‘That guy from Dantomkia who likes to hit things with a hammer’. Their robot is Interstellar MML. No, I don’t know what the MML stands for either. It’s a front hinged flipper, similar to Mute or Firestorm, or even Envy, which is one of Shane Swan’s own robots. See a pattern emerging here?
To battle! In the arena to oversee proceedings is the bulldozer from hell, Shunt. And we are off!
Things start off tentatively. That’s not surprising, given these people have never controlled robots before. Arena Cleaner doesn’t actually set off for a few seconds, but the spinner certainly looks vicious. Interstellar MML is swerving around everywhere, trying to get the robot to actually go in a straight line as they head for Arena Cleaner. Unfortunately, the robot decides to show off one of the exposed wheels at the exact point that AC starts moving, and they tear the entire wheel clean off. KABOOM!
Interstellar is still moving, but AC is on a rampage, tearing a hole in the flipper with their next hit. The bar spinner is not only fast, but it’s also got a large radius, so the Cleaner doesn’t actually have to get too close to land a hit.
This is emphasised when Interstellar gets just a little bit too close once again, and this time it’s the other wheel that comes off. Interstellar is now basically scrap. Not that it stops AC coming in and causing even more damage.
I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a decent quality video to take screengrabs from. So nice.
Now we all know Interstellar is toast, and the clock counts down to zero soon after. That doesn’t stop Shunt deciding to have some fun, pushing the stricken bot around before literally putting a hole in the flipper with its axe. One down. Arena Cleaner take the 3 points.
Now, we still have two more robots to introduce. Our next competitor comes from the Brownlee brothers, who are Olympic triathletes and damn good ones at that. Their mentor is Gabriel Stroud of Sabretooth, which means they shouldn’t bet on having a working srimech at any point in their fights. Their robot is called Jar. Possibly the most random name given to a robot ever. If you want a description, just Google ‘Beta Battlebots’ and you’ll get an idea. Their hammer is gold though, and I’m pretty sure their front scoop was salvaged from Sabretooth itself.
Finally we have Suzi Perry and Dallas Campbell, our resident tech nerds. They’re joined by Craig Danby of Foxic. Foxic, unsurprisingly, looked a bit like a fox. This time round, their robot is called ‘The Cat’. Take a wild guess what it’s supposed to look like. The Cat is not without some serious firepower though, with a front scoop and a massive flywheel on wither end of the robot. This should be fun.
Sir Killalot is our house robot! I can’t believe they hung Christmas light off of him. It’s so not him.
It’s another interesting start to the battle. Jar is tentative, as expected, but The Cat seems to have already gone off on a wild one, and is driving pretty much everywhere it shouldn’t. Eventually they do get it under control, just in time for Jar to come over and swing that mighty gold hammer, miss, and promptly die.
I told you some of these robots would be utterly shit.
A close up of the robot shows that one of the CO2 bottles has managed to dislodge itself, which is terribly inconvenient. Not to let the fun end too early, Sir Killalot then picks up the robot by its golden hammer of uselessness, twirls around a bit, and then watches as the dislodged CO2 bottle actually falls out of the robot and onto the arena floor.
Right then, so we’ve had the first of the H2Hs. It’s currently power to the spinners, with Arena Cleaner and The Cat having won their fights and taken the full 3 points. It’s only right then that the next battle sees them face off against each other, right?
To fill the time, because this number of battles is not going to cover an hour, we get a little flashback of Apollo taking on the house robots, because Scott Mills mentioned trying to take them on. You know what, there was one common factor present each time Apollo took on and defeated a house robot. Storm 2. They were always fighting Storm 2. There was no reason for me to point that out, I just wanted to find a way of getting Storm 2 into the article.
Right then, battle time. Shunt is your house robot for this battle of the spinners, and we’re ready to begin!
The Cat, probably quite wisely, decides to lead with the scoop instead of the disc. And when Arena Cleaner try their first attack, it does a good job of deflecting them away. Again with the second shot, it manages to hold firm, even thought the bar spinner got really rather close to their tyre. The two robots start sizing each other up, getting very close without hitting each other. It’s a tense standoff, until WHAM! Arena Cleaner drives straight across the flywheel of The Cat and has their tyre taken off! Just to make sure, they then strike instantly afterwards, sending Arena Cleaner into the corner and needing a cleanup of their own.
So Arena Cleaner are finished. But, in keeping with tradition, Shunt then goes and plays around with the dead robot for a little while. Scott Mills and Chris Stark were not fans of this.
Conversely, on the other end of the scale, both Jar and Interstellar MML were looking for their first points of the competition. somebody was going to get them, but would it be the flipper (Which had to be put back together) or the hammer (Which also had to be put back together) that won out?
Matilda makes her first showing of the night! With no spinners amongst the competitors, I guess it’s only fair the house robots should have one instead.
Both robots started slow, but both went straight for each other. Once they were lined up, Jar went for it, bringing down the hammer… They missed. So they tried again, and missed again. Good news though, the robot was still working after exerting itself. With Jar bouncing around like a guy on ecstasy after every hammer swing, Interstellar tries to get underneath and flip them over. They miss too. Bring back the spinners(?)
Still, Jar is certainly looking the more aggressive here. Even though most of their swings are missing wildly, they’re certainly going for it. Interstellar on the other hand, well they’re not really doing anything other than drive around. Eventually, Jar’s patience brings them reward as they land a blow with the hammer! It puts a nice dent into Interstellar, but it’s certainly not a killer blow.
This gives them renewed hope, and they land another blow. They’re really going for this now. But, of course, it wouldn’t be right if the fight kept going on such a linear trajectory, because that’s too normal for us. Jar are doing far too well, so just as they hit their stride, one of the valves to the CO2 supply shits itself in half and the entire weapons array goes kaput. Basically, Jar is now a wedgebot.
Interstellar meanwhile is just chilling in one of the CPZs, allowing Matilda to come over and start poking and prodding. It achieves nothing other than giving Matilda something to actually do in the fight. The 3 minutes is almost up. Both robots have survived to varying degrees, but enough that we have our first judges’ decision of the night. 2 points to the winner, and the winner is…
Jar! I can’t say I’m really surprised by that. I doubt you’ll find anybody who was surprised by that. If you do, hold onto them because they’re an endangered species.
Anyway, this is now at almost 2,000 words so I’m going to leave it here. Part 2 will follow, don’t worry about that. Infact, Part 2 is a treat, because Dara and Angela are let loose with robots of their own, and much hilarity ensues. Well, I found it funny anyway.