I have a headache, but I’m going to write this anyway, because Robot Wars. It just might not be as *good* as they usually are.
So with Scott Mills and Chris Stark declared winners of the first episode of Battle of the Stars 2016, we were treated to another episode with different celebrities, different mentors and different robots. That means more license for destruction, especially if they get kitted out with spinning discs again. I’m going to skip over all of the start bit of the episode, because we all know what happens there. Just Dara and Angela wandering around, telling us how everything works. It’s a rehash of yesterday’s intro, just with everyone swapped around.
Instead, let’s focus on the robots. The glorious, metal monsters of mayhem that are going to be out there fighting to the death… Or until 3 minutes has passed.
First up is footballer Robbie Savage and his machine “Robo Savage”. I already like the name more than I did for 100% of the names of the robots from the last episode. He’s teamed up with Jason Marston, who piloted Thor all the way into the grand final last series. Together they have come up with a robot that basically looks like a more colourful Bronco. Half decent looking flipper though, especially as it can supposedly lift 3 tonnes. But can it lift Robbie Savage’s gigantic ego???
Next we have Kadeena Cox, a Paralympian for Team GB, who is partnered with Ellis Ware, who also managed to get into the grand final last series with his robot Pulsar, albeit because Chompalot decided to catch fire and they got reinstated. Their robot is called ‘Kadeena Machina’ (Again, love the name), and surprise surprise, it has a spinning disc! It’s a vertical disc (15Kg, 2000rpm) mounted inside a robot that runs on 2 wheels, meaning that Kadeena Machina is probably going to be a royal pain in the ass to control. It’ll still probably win though.
Shunt, one of the favourite house robots for these specials, is your arena custodian for the battle, and we’re ready to kick things off!
Robo Savage (RS) is straight out of the blocks, no messing around. Kadeena Machina (KM) sits there, patiently watching and waiting. Robo Savage goes in for an attack, but is met by the vertical spinner in all its glory, and the sparks begin to fly as the flywheel starts grinding against the armour plating of RS.
Robo Savage retreats, backing up and staying away. The quality of the driving already looks far better than in the previous episode, as both robots look to gain the advantage. KM seems more controlled at the moment, but RS is the aggressor. However, even if it does look the more controlled, KM is having the problems that mounting a giant spinning disc on a two wheeled bot will give you, i.e. a lack of balance. There are several points where the robot simply tips itself onto one wheel. Robo Savage, for the moment, can’t take advantage. They’re trying, but they’re not landing any flips in.
Finally, having the almighty power of a spinning disc pays off for Kadeena Machina, as they turn around and launch a full frontal assault, hitting Robo Savage’s flipper arm and completely destroying the front end, rendering the weapon totally and utterly useless. Robo Savage is still mobile, but now it’s just one giant target for Kadeena Machina. More hits land, but none do quite so much damage until the moment of inevitability, when Robo Savage’s tyre gets well and truly eviscerated. WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE EXPOSED TYRES?!?!
Robo Savage is now well and truly immobilised, not that it stops Kadeena Machina doing some more damage, notably to the dragon wings that served no purpose other than to be a great big target for the flywheel. I suppose it that regard it’s largely fulfilled its purpose. KM then takes a break from causing large scale destruction to do some break dancing across the arena floor, because why not?
If you couldn’t guess what happened next, Shunt got involved, tossing Robo Savage around like a giant metal pancake. By this point, the robot was probably as effective as one.
Right, so that’s the first match done and Kadeena Machina comes away with the 3 points. The domination of rotary weapons seems to have continued from last time out, but will it continue all the way? Well, now we get to see the other two competitors who’ll be trying to put an end to their rivals.
Our next big unveiling comes courtesy of Neil Oliver, who is a TV presenter amongst other things, and his two kids. He’s joined by Will Thomas from Team Shock, who’s robot Shockwave also got into the grand final last series, before being trashed by Carbide. Their robot for this event, however, is a rather militaristic and futuristic crusher named Soldier Ant. It looks vicious… It looks like Tiberius, had Tiberius been created by a group of black ops mercenaries.
Finally we have Jordan Stephens, one half of the band Rizzle Kicks, and his mentor John Reid, most famous for axebot supreme Terrorhurtz. Their robot is, erm, it’s called Dee. They were doing so well with names in this episode, and now this. Sigh.
Dee itself is a bright pink thwackbot, or Gabriel but 10x smaller and 1000x more colourful. It is simple in design, but has rather a lot of protective armour. Because, ya know, vertical spinners.
So, in the arena for the house robots is Dead Metal, everyone’s favourite metal Hedgehog.
And we begin! No spinners this time, which means we might get a fight that lasts longer than 30 seconds.
Now, Dee is a fast robot. It’s a damn fast robot, and that’s shown when it shoots out of the blocks, hitting Soldier Ant at full pelt and then bouncing off. I have a feeling that’s going to be Dee’s entire game plan. It doesn’t look that controllable though, Infact it looks completely out of control, wildly driving around the arena, spinning in circles and generally not doing very much to bother Soldier Ant, which is taking a much more measured approach to the fight. And that approach pays off, because the Ant is able to quietly creep up on Dee, then catch them in their claw, clamping down and holding onto them.
Dee escapes courtesy of the 10 second holding rule, then drives straight into the arena spikes, which I had genuinely forgotten actually existed. After working their way out of the spiky maze, they go in the attack, launching full speed attacks on Soldier Ant. It doesn’t look like it’s doing much damage. Soldier Ant is also having trouble keeping Dee still enough to actually bring the claw down. Usually their slippery rivals manage to get themselves away in time, barring one or two small attacks. It’s a very close battle. But then the tide turns back in favour of Soldier Ant, as they grab hold of Dee’s exposed wheel (Again, why???) and puncture it. Punctured tyres are never good.
Dee can now basically only spin in a circle, though that was basically all it was doing anyway. Soldier Ant continues its cool and calm approach, not being drawn in unnecessarily, instead trying to target the attacks. But Dee is still managing to evade them, largely. They’re still hanging on, and they’re hanging on long enough for this to go to a judges’ decision. But have they done enough, despite the punctured wheel, to best the Ant?
Well… No. Soldier Ant takes the 2 points and a place in the fabled top 2 after the first round of battles. But there is still so much more to come, anything can happen to the standings. Unfortunately, you’re going to have to wait until next time to find out how the rest of the battles unfold, because it’s almost midnight and I still have a headache. But hey, this means you get a bumper packed article next time.