You know, when you look through the years of robotic combat in the UK, the most obvious thing you see is evolution. Evolution in technology, power, the machines and safety. But the core element is still there and despite us being in the 10th domestic UK championship, this is shaping up to be one of the best series yet. And top marks as ever to everyone’s favourite commentator Jonathan Pearce, he was well on form in heat 2 of this series. For future series the BBC need to throw everything they can at him to make sure he stays. He is Robot Wars.
So moving on from the carnage of heat 2 into heat 3. Not so many big names in this heat, in fact none of the competitors here have gone past round 2 in the rebooted series, so we’ll definitely have a another new name in the final. As ever a huge thank you to everyone who read my heat 2 preview and for the re-tweet by Robot Wars Mania, as we delve into another piece here. I appreciated I’m using a lot of pictures of Killalot in my title images, I’m really struggling to find ones I haven’t used yet! Never mind, lets get cracking.
Note – As I went to the filming I obviously know the outcomes of some fights, though these were only the first round melees. I will still be analysing the machines in the whole series as if seeing them for the first time, there will be NO spoilers here in these blogs.
Apex returns for this war sporting quite a different profile than in the last series. Although the robot itself is pretty much the same, the overall appearance looks completely different due to that new bar. Its a strange looking thing and one wonders how it will even work to good effect. I suppose the different angles and sides mean that it can make different kinds of contact such as punching holes in an opponent if it hits with one side or slashing them if it lands with the other. Apex also has a nice dark blue paint job too, something that will make it stand out in the arena, I like it.
Though the potential was there last time it only took one hit from Pulsar to stop it dead in the first round. It all depends on that bar, which by the way is interchangeable with the one we saw last time around. Its still a weighty piece of kit and though it takes time to spin up, it will do some big damage when it hits and this gives Apex a very good chance in this heat. Apex can also self right and this has been thoroughly defended by the team when it was questioned after the last war. This could be the crucial factor that keeps them in contention as anything that is hit from a spinning bar with that weight is going to be given some trouble.
Prediction – Very much in contention for the 10 way, in fact I’d say they’re favourites to get there. But will it be through the heat final or the play off? I’ll have to go with the play off. A couple of machines can cause headaches for Apex in this heat and also, is it reliable enough?
Yet another brilliantly designed, different machine enters the warzone for the first time this series. Enter Bucky the Robot, a machine designed on a set of wind-up chattering teeth! Its a great looking thing and one I’ve been looking forward to seeing for a while. I’ve been following the team with their build on Twitter and its great when you can see a robot start from scratch and make it here. The design is pretty much what you’d expect, a great big clamping jaw that comes down and attempts to bite other competitors. The little wind up key on the side is a nice feature too and Bucky is well in with a shout of being the best deigned robot of the series.
But what of its potential? Well its not really a tried and tested weapon so its hard to say. The concept is good, grab hold of an opponent and do what you wish with them, but are they going to struggle with that, is that wedge too steep? Lessons will be learned from this war as they always are with new machines but I like seeing something different and Bucky is certainly one I’ve been waiting to see for a while. Will entertain and will certainly give it a good go.
Prediction – You know, I genuinely think Bucky can make a real go of this and be in contention for a spot in the 10 way. Might not make it but I reckon theres at least one win in them in this very open heat. And keep an eye out for the mascot too. Not something you see all the time with teams, but it’s a great touch for extra entertainment.
Even though there are only 30 robots in this series I surprise myself with the amount of times I’m saying things like, great design or, something new. So in a way, the organisers have got it right, because here comes another one. Vulture is a neat looking machine and like Bucky, has a weapon that is not a regular in Robot Wars. The spinning bar on the back goes at around 6000 rpm and it sits on the end of that arm which also comes a full 180 degrees over to strike an opponent. To be honest its a concept I’ve thought about many times and surprised its not been seen more. Reminds me of early versions of Dead Metal and it will be interesting to see how it performs.
One also assumes it can self right with that arm which as we know is an essential in this era of robotic combat. But what of the damage potential? The disc/bar is relatively lightweight but its strike rate is high, even more so on the moving arm. Strong Hardox armour on the front as well which looks very robust and should be low enough to get under others. A strong first attempt this and again, like Bucky, Im very interested to see how Vulture gets on.
Prediction – Vulture is another great idea and is another example that there are some really good ideas for fighting robots out there and its great we get to see them shown off. But what about its potential? Well Im not too sure, something is niggling away at me saying something is missing. Maybe I’m concerned that the weapon wont be effective enough and I think Vulture will struggle. But as I say, this is a very open heat and can easily cause an upset. Either way this machine is a very good starting block on which the team can build on for the future.
Traction, tracks, movement, traction, track…tion. Ahh I see what they did! Very clever. At first I found myself chanting, ‘Are you Suicidal Tendencies in disguise?’ like some Ginsters eating football fan but I can confirm this is a brand new machine. We don’t see many, if any tracked robots these days with most teams opting for the speed and simpleness of wheels. There are benefits with tracks though, high levels of grip are good for pushing and can be tougher than most wheels, however they are very slow and many tracked machines don’t tend to have a high top speed. They are also exposed on nearly all sides which a nice target for an axe or some chattering teeth.
The weapon looks mean as well. A big crusher on the front which, again, has the potential to cause some serious damage. The crusher actually looked to me like the one you used on your own robot design for Arenas of Destruction on the PS2 & PC from way back when (shout out to those who played that). We also have our first school based team for this war and the mentor in this case is none other than Will Thomas from Aftershock, who put together a club for some of his students to build this machine. Great stuff.
Prediction – I still like the idea of school based teams and I wish that sort of opportunity was available when I was in school, though up until now none of them has gone too far in Robot Wars. I’m not sure much will change here with Track-tion competition wise, but the experience for this team in building and competing will be second to none. They’ll enjoy it every step of the way, but I am expecting an early exit in this instance. As ever though, I’m always willing to be proved wrong.
The most well known robot in this heat by a mile, and the one with the most pedigree returns for an eight series in succession for Team Hurtz. Terrorhurtz is one of my favourite ever robots, a revolutionary design with its flat, bladed axe that strikes with around a ton of force. Though it is well engineered and has one of the most respected roboteers around with John Reid, Terrorhurtz has rarely blossomed in UK championships, especially since the reboot and has still only once been beyond the heats. That was the amazing run in series 6 where only Razer could stop them but despite the reputation and being the only machine to beat Carbide without the judges getting involved, Terrorhurtz has gone out in the last 2 wars at the head to head stage. A shame for such a good machine.
Can it they turn that around this time though? The armour on the front is very, very strong and the only major visible damage I’ve ever seen inflicted on it was against Aftershock last time. And this time its even stronger so should withstand even more. The axe is ridiculously powerful too. Its about time Terrorhurtz had some more success and now is the chance for them to make it so.
Prediction – Hugely experienced in this heat of relative newcomers and is well poised for a heat win. But once again I have to stick the knife in. For the last 2 series I have predicted that Terrorhurtz will win its heat. This time I’m not going to predict that for two reasons. One, Im sick of being wrong. Two, I also genuinely don’t think it will. Might be reliability, might just be a bit of bad luck. It just hasn’t happened for Terrorhurtz yet. Either way they should definitely be in the 10 way.
So, Rapid. What can I say about Rapid? Well I remember what I said about it in the last war. Yes for those who follow me you may recall back to the time when I gave Rapid the worst robot ‘award’ in the last series. Why? Because if something is too complicated to fix, how can it be any good? That was my logic. That and maybe the fact that it cost more to build than my annual salary, and for it to be irreparable after 2 fights means it was going for £12,500 a fight. Yea, not great.
Still, I don’t want to incur any team wraths or curses they may rein down on me, and I’m glad to see it back all shiny and gold. Its a nice looking machine, and I especially like the polycarb on the back that shows all the (highly expensive) workings inside, a bit like Chaos 2. Rapid still seems to be pushing for a new age of robot development, which is good. That’s what technology is for right? It lives up to its name too, top speeds of over 20 mph and very nimble. Rapid this time sports a wider front wedge to make it easier to get under other machines. That wider front wedge is gold. Probably real gold to fit in with the cost of the rest of the robot….. No, thats it. Im going to stop now. Rapid is expensive, end of. Maybe I’m just tight…
Prediction – See here’s the thing. On paper Rapid is well designed, well engineered and should go far. But the fact it had to pull out in series 9 because of that puts it at a disadvantage in some people eyes. Its not like the team have dumbed it down, its still, as they put it, over engineered, if not more so this time. That all said, I’m actually tipping Rapid to win this heat. They should have done better last time, by a mile. They were all over Aftershock at the start of that second round fight and lessons will have been learned. Im not trying to score any brownie points or anything for the criticism last time, I just really think Rapid will come out the strongest this time around.
So there we go, 6 more fighting machines are all set to enter the arena in one of the most unpredictable heats ever. As ever I can’t wait for it, it should be brilliant. Once again thanks for sticking with me and feel free to leave any comments on your heat favourites and not so favourites. Below I’ll leave a link my Twitter page below, feel free to check that out and also links to other heat previews in this series. I’m also leaving a bonus link to YouTube where I’ve uploaded the Carbide/Gabriel/Big Nipper fight from the last heat from my view in the audience; that’s well worth checking out. In the meantime everybody stay safe, don’t do anything I would, and let battle commence on Sunday at 8.
Twitter – @jaymess24