Welcome back to BattleBots Update, if you’re wondering what the point of this particular article is this is my “event report” that goes up after I get back from attending the taping of the show’s latest season. I’ve done them in 2016 and 2018, but not 2017 because that was when ABC got cold feet about robot combat and decided to invest in I Can Find $3,000 In Your Home. Unfortunately, they failed to find $3,000 in that show. Yup, it’s been three years and I’m beating that dead horse… because maybe I’ll find $3,000 in it. I feel like these articles are becoming a “tradition” of sorts here on BBU but I’m fine with that because it means the series is doing well and if there are events for me to go to then naturally there’s going to be episodes to discuss and crack bad jokes about for the rest of the year. In other words, “business is good”.
As always this is a spoiler-free post. You can read this entire thing and not have to worry about finding out that Scrap Daddy HW210 showed up as a triple alternate and snuck in the back door to the Top 16 where it relied on everyone else having disposed of bots like Tombstone, Bronco, Minotaur, and Bite Force ahead of time so it could nickel and dime its way to the championship finals where it claimed a free KO over a battered Bombshell who was responsible for previously doing the aforementioned dirty work. Whoops. In all seriousness there’s no spoilers here both out of respect for the sport and also because I signed a few papers that said I would not do exactly that. Now that Mythbusters has ended Adam Savage has started doing Discovery Channel’s wetwork by way of pointing the Chicken Gun at the houses of NDA violators and firing explosives at them. I don’t want any of that bullshit, I’ve only got half a house left as it is.
Also before we get into this post my ears have been burning a bit so there’s a couple of things I’d like to toss out. It is not my intention to come off like I am “flexing” or whatever the kids are calling it with these posts; I put these event reports together because I assumed that fans of BattleBots Update would like to know what I’ve been up to and what it’s like to actually be at the show when it’s taped. I’m not trying to weasel in a “look at me I’m so bad ass” as I share photos of me pretending to get a blowjob from Warhead or whatever. Jealousy is not the reaction I want to elicit, especially if people think BattleBots is footing the entire bill for me to attend the show because that is absolutely not the case. Airfare, lodging, and even the VIP tickets all still cost money. Fortunately I’ve been able to offset that cost through crowdfunded support as well as trip sponsors, working on my own, and as repayment for other services. So yeah, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch” and all that. I get paranoid about the dumbest shit.
Most of these posts start out with me venting about travelling in some form. I don’t exactly like flying, but I also don’t absolutely hate it. I would much rather deal with the chaos of an airport and get to LA in about five hours than drive there myself or — even worse — ride a goddamned bus. That takes 23 hours from Corpus Christi, by the way. That is a multi-day trip consisting of sitting in my truck which does not have a fully functional sound system and has no CD player. I would literally rather drive my truck off of a cliff in New Mexico than complete that fucking journey. So I flew, and longtime readers of BattleBots Update might be aware of my ongoing love/hate relationship with various airlines. In 2016 I flew Southwest and the severe rain in Houston grounded my connecting flight which caused a massive shitstorm of rescheduling. I flew American (or United or something fuck I can’t remember) in 2018 and because I’m tired of paying $50 to check a suitcase filled with bullshit I went back to Southwest this year. Mercifully, there were clear skies in Houston and no one pussied out of their responsibility to take me to Los Angeles.
The airport in Corpus Christi still sucks, though. It’s called the “Corpus Christi International Airport” but that’s a fucking lie. I swear to god every outbound flight either goes to Houston or Dallas first and then those airports will take you where you need to go, including any international destinations. A better name would be the “Corpus Christi We’ll-Take-You-Somewhere-Else-First-So-You’re-Officially-Their-Problem Airport” but I guess it would cost a lot more money to have a sign made with all those letters on it. The airport’s abbreviation code is “CRP” which I’ll say is good enough because it’s certainly “crap”. I fly out of Corpus multiple times a year for things other than BattleBots and I shit you not every time I step through their X-ray machine my GIGANTIC PENIS sets off the detector and the TSA agent has to give me a patdown. This happens at no other airports that use the same systems, it is purely a Corpus thing. I think the agents there just want an excuse to touch dudes’ crotches because the guy behind me in line set off the detector in the exact same manner and received the same treatment. These guys could just ask instead of going through this whole dog and pony show of “whoops looks like we detected something in your groin area we better check that out sorry but them’s the rules”. Some dudes actually want to have their dicks touched by other dudes; I know that’s a novel thought in Texas but hey, try it sometime. But at least give us drink coupons afterward.
I don’t get why air travel is such a big “thing” these days. You’re basically on a glorified bus that just so happens to be able to fly and travel a lot faster than a bus on the ground, but other than that it’s the same shit. Cramped quarters, bad seats, a tiny bathroom with a shitter half the size of a normal one, and you can’t smoke. But for some reason there’s this weird obligation for people to hand you tiny bags of pretzels and half a can of Coke poured into a little cup? And people get up and move around all the fucking time on a plane. Why? Just sit down. You don’t need any of the shit out of your backpack in the overhead compartment, it will be there when the plane lands. Are you telling me you can’t sit still and be quiet like a decent fucking person for a couple of hours? Basically my point is airplanes turn normal people into retards, and most normal people are already close to being 16 bits shy of a Super Nintendo as it is. Also why the hell do they still tell us that you can’t smoke on a plane? Can you even get a goddamned lighter through security in 2019? If you’re smoking in an airplane bathroom the fact that you’ve dicked with the smoke detector should be the least of the airline’s worries because the bigger problem is somehow your dumb ass managed to get a fucking lighter onto the plane in the first place.
Also making someone pay three dollars for a 20 oz Mr Pibb should be illegal.
CALIFORNIA KNOWS HOW TO PARTY
I arrived in California and since I was the first person in my party to make it to LA I was tasked with getting to the Airbnb we’d rented and scoping things out. This required the use of Uber which I’ve yet to use since the last time I had to get a ride from LAX back in 2016. You know… when I lamented how nearly impossible it was to hail a ride on a Windows Phone. Turns out the Airbnb was about 50 minutes away by car and as luck would have it no one wanted to take that ride because lord knows there’s a lot more money to be made taking people 5-10 minutes away from LAX instead of fucking 50. Strangely enough it was only about a dozen miles away but because this is California we’re talking about that meant getting there was an absolute goddamned nightmare because California roads are basically somewhere between “Hell on Earth” in a metaphorical sense and “Hell on Earth” in a literal sense. I did eventually get a ride but it was with someone who was a little too eager to play the explicit versions of rap songs and I’m not talking about the ones where an F-bomb slips every couple minutes, I’m referring specifically to the kinds of gangster rap you’d hear parodied on The Boondocks with lyrics consisting entirely of language that I am far too white to repeat. But whatever, I got to where I needed to go wherein I discovered that there were no laundry facilities anywhere on the property. In a place we’d be staying in for nearly two weeks.
I don’t know about you but I don’t own 14 pairs of socks and underwear so this was a problem. I know it’s illegal to drink from a straw or something in California but as far as I know “the liberals” haven’t outlawed shit made by Maytag so I checked with Airbnb and sure enough the listing did not include “laundry” in the list of amenities, though all of the other places we looked at did. That’s what you get for making assumptions I guess.
Getting around California seems like something that I wouldn’t be able to do with any confidence whatsoever but luckily I didn’t have to do any of the driving while I was there because two other people arrived in their own vehicles and were more than happy to cruise around California. Rumor has it that before one of them showed up he rented a red convertible and reenacted the entirety of the music video to Randy Newman’s “I Love LA” shot for shot. BattleBots was being taped in the same place as last year: a set of hangars owned by Boeing that were formerly used to assemble military jets or something and were now abandoned because that sounds about right when it comes to defense spending in this country. Still, I am glad that these buildings had some utility instead of just sitting there and encouraging people to spraypaint shit I can’t read onto them. Because the event was in the same place the other side to that coin is that absolutely no one had any sort of phone reception at all. None. It’s one big Faraday cage either because it was specifically designed to be that way or because the building was constructed out of enough lead and heavy metals to kill the entire population of the fucking planet ten times over. If you had to make a call or answer a text you had to walk all the way out of the building, do your business, and walk all the way back. Apparently there were hotspots set up for crew and builders but word in the pits was these didn’t work either.
There were some differences I spotted between this year and last year, namely that the bathrooms I was talking shit about were completely absent. These were the same ones that were used for the cold opening featuring Sharkoprion, the one where he dropped a deuce so mighty that Chris Rose nearly died. Back when that was taped the producers had permission to allow Sharkoprion to bang into the wall and break tiles because “the bathrooms were going to be remodeled anyways”. Guess they weren’t done with that by the time taping rolled around again. Maybe they were trying to add an even bigger discrepancy to the ratio between sinks and toilets. Like I said, “defense spending”. Bathroom facilities were instead outside in these portable trailers that looked like someone hacked apart a bunch of mobile homes and strung together only their bathrooms to turn them into a piss festival you could tow behind a large truck. They were clean and a lot nicer than a standard porta-potty. My only complaint is that the little LED lights that were supposed to come on when the stalls were occupied didn’t work on nearly every single restroom so what ended up happening is someone would inevitably tug on the handle every few minutes because they mistakenly thought it was vacant. “Replacing the little VACANT/OCCUPIED circle thing on the portajohn lock with an LED strip” is not something I’d ever thought I’d bitch about, but that’s [Current Year] for you.
AT THE VENUE
In the previous section I mentioned there were some “differences” between this year and last year’s setup and by far the most obvious one was the new merchandise stand for the official BattleBots store. Right when you walked in there was this massive booth of swag. Everything that you could order online was at this booth with the exception of their “vintage” merchandise, which for some reason still includes that fucking Gamecube game that was never released but still mocks me with its “$299.98” price tag. It’s not for sale nor is it in stock. I’ve asked, trust me, because you bet your ass I’d pony up $300 for a copy of that fucker. Strangely they also did not carry prints of the team photos like they did last year presumably because getting the prints delivered so quickly was probably a fucking logistics nightmare last year and they weren’t keen on doing it again. Still, they didn’t have any stock of 2016 or 2018 photos though. I feel like at five bucks a whack that’s easy money because those are the most practical things to have autographed by the teams. To make up for this they had an exclusive keychain for sale based off of the “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” aircraft safety device that became popular in the robot combat world when it was jokingly incorporated into the weapon-disabling peace mods of various competitors. BattleBots’ version says “ROBOTS ACTIVATE!” on one side and has the show’s logo on the other.
I bought three.
The Battlebox’s ventilation system was overhauled as well. Previously whenever a robot’s batteries shit the bed and went up in smoke Trey Roski and the safety crew would wheel in a couple of ventilators that looked like hot dog carts and let them run for-fucking-ever. This was great if you were Joby (the hype guy who only has 10 songs on his iPod) but it sucked for everyone else, especially if you did not want to hear the first 30 seconds of “Mr. Roboto” for the eighth time that day.** Now there’s an entire ventilation system attached to the top of the arena and mounted up inside the ceiling of the hangar and man did this speed the process up. The only downside is now that the hangars have been sold I guess all those air ducts are going to have to be torn down. They seemed permanent so I was hoping that meant we’d be good for a lot of seasons of BattleBots on Discovery Channel taped in this exact location. Instead we got two. But hey, you never know; there might be another place out there that’s way better suited to handle the chaos, commotion, and law-defying pollution that the average BattleBots match ending in a battery fire KO has to offer. It’s California after all.
Everybody came back this year and that was really cool to me because in last year’s trip report post I talked about a guy named Oliver and his company 4 Ways Entertainment, and trust me I am trying so goddamned hard right now to not refer to this man as “Oliver & Company”. But he and his crew returned and I liked that because day to day these were the folks that we saw most often. They were the people who handed us our badges every day, gave us our wristbands, and walked us to the pits and told the door guard “these guys are important or something I don’t know just don’t give them any shit”. Normal stuff. I didn’t test to see if they were still willing to bring me chocobees from the break room because after last year I felt bad about letting people bring me refreshments when I am more than capable of getting them myself so I made sure not to talk about food from the lounge around them. Oliver and his crew were back, Chris and Kenny of course reprised their roles, and Faruq also returned as the ring announcer. FORMER BATTLEBOTS BAD BOY Derek Young came back as a judge as did Lisa Winter and rather than have a cycling special guest as the third judge Jason Bardis, builder of Dr. Inferno Jr., joined the team for the whole season. Guess after he lost to Chomp he figured he’d rather just sit on the sidelines and honestly I can’t blame him for that.
Jason brought along The Doctor, by the way. His robot was set up on display to the left of the merchandise stand along with all three Giant Nuts the robot had won. Two of them were for lightweight championships and I think the third one was for a rumble victory. They were just kinda sitting out there and people were allowed to pick them up and take photos so naturally I grabbed two of them and swung them around between my legs because my mental age is permanently jammed somewhere around middle school. I also took nicer and more family-appropriate pictures of me holding them, but if Jason didn’t want people making jokes about big balls with his prized trophies then maybe he should’ve had a spotter stand beside them to specifically watch for “the guy from BattleBots Update”. Over on the other side of the merch booth Ray Billings had last year’s Tombstone set up too but unlike Jason he was smart enough not to put the Giant Nuts on display with it. According to Ray those are back in his garage alongside the Giant Bolt for kicking the most ass in 2015 and the fist from Tantrum that was surgically removed from the spinal cord of the Battlebox at the end of last season.
Seating for VIP’s was kind of strange this year because there were multiple sections of the crowd roped off at various points. I think the area we sat in was intended to be reserved for builders and their teammates but very rarely did I see anyone from any of the teams sit up there. That section was usually empty but the view was good so we asked if we could move over there and after a couple of days of no asses being present on the seats there the production crew just sorta shrugged and said “yeah go for it I guess”. We sat behind Mark Setrakian for a couple of days and he’s actually a super chill dude. I could also mention how smart he is, but this is the dude who built Mechadon so I’m assuming that angle is implied already. He was aware of BattleBots Update but I’m not sure if he made the association that this was the website that referred to his model Axis as “the Dr. Claw Dildo Table” and accidentally Google-sniped the search term “battlebots claw table” with that description. Speaking of BattleBots royalty, Peter “Ronin” Abrahamson was at the event once more helping coordinate the show and he brought with him one of the original Ronin toys from back in the early days. Old Ronin, too. No, not the version with giant sword, I mean the one with the saw blade. “Slightly newer but still old Ronin”. That was cool, especially because after Hurricane Harvey my collection of new-in-box BattleBots toys turned into an assorted collection of out-of-the-package toys because the boxes got ruined.
**EXCLUSIVE BONUS CONTENT: Because we love Joby one of the guys I was with took it upon himself to write down every single song that played so he could turn it into a Spotify playlist. I highly recommend putting this on during commercial breaks when you watch the new season on Discovery Channel, especially if you press the “Next” button every 30 seconds. It’s just like being there in person!!!
UP TO NO GOOD…
By this point I am almost certain you are aware of the “evil red-eyed Ray Billings” head that was floating around in the pits. You probably also know there were ones for Paul Ventimiglia and Donald Hutson too and if not, well then here’s a picture of them over next to the side of this paragraph. Early on during taping there were whispers of “the BBU crew” doing goofy shit at the show and most of that centered around the light-up signs. I can’t take personal credit for that beyond allowing it to happen, one of my friends designed the signs and stuck the LED’s in and god damn are those things fucking scary in the dark. I kid you not if you turn one of those motherfuckers on in a dark room the entire room will become filled with an eerie red light like you’re trying to develop photos of the person you clubbed to death with a hammer in the woods. It doesn’t help that the light is emanating from Ray Billings’ fucking face either. That actually just makes it worse.
The light-up signs were a big hit with everyone. Builders, fans, even the production crew. All three builders signed their respective heads and all three asked me if I could help them obtain one from the guy who assembled them. I guarantee the red-eye signs will make it onto TV because we wound up bringing them to almost every taping and sometimes just waved them around out of boredom or to intentionally distract people. We also brought some other goofy signs such as Chris Rose making his “O” face with the text “OH MY GOD” under it along with a Kenny Florian sign reading “HUGE HIT THERE” with extra emphasis on the “huge”. We also printed out a picture of a forklift for Free Shipping and had a couple of other one-time use signs but overall I kinda kept those to a minimum because in between now and last year the problems I’ve been having with my knee joints have gotten worse so I wasn’t really up for doing a whole lot of sitting/standing and jumping around with goofy signs like I was in 2018. That’s all part of getting old I guess. Some guys lose their hair, others develop the knees of a fucking octogenarian when they’re 30. I’m aging about as well as a Big Mac, I look the same after all this time but once you take a bite you realize there is something terribly wrong. Also my special sauce tastes bad.
Going back to the Kenny sign though that was actually a blown up version of a sticker I printed to give out to people. Stickers are a Big Thing™ in the robot combat community these days and virtually every single team — even the first timers — brought stacks of stickers to give out and trade. This time I came prepared because I carried a binder filled with all sorts of stupid shit. Some of them were BattleBots Update memes such as “Sabertooth Cat” while others were either related to my Twitch stream or just silly things in general that I thought people might find fun. I printed out a couple hundred stickers total (at the very least) and handed out almost all of them to everyone ranging from builders to crew and even to kids in the stands. Surprisingly I was asked by a few people if I’d be willing to sign the stickers and you bet I was eager to do that. I never really thought anyone would care enough about the goofy shit I do to see me as someone whose autograph would be nice to have, but it was nice. Also nice was the fact that I was the first person to autograph the crate that Kraken arrived in. Not so nice was how I think I was the only person who did so. But I gave out tons of stickers and maybe at some point one or more of them will make it onto the show, I can’t tell you who or when though and for all you know I could just be bullshitting you. Case in point, over there is a picture of Foxtrot’s fox hole which has been taped over with a “BBU” logo sticker. Given how much shit I talk about Craig Danby’s robots I think it’s appropriate for him to slap the sticker on his robot’s ass.
We also brought bingo cards with us that we played throughout both taping sessions on each day. They were your standard fare cards except their contents were randomly generated from a list of common-to-uncommon things you’d encounter while sitting in the stands. Things like “Joby plays The Final Countdown” or “Lucky loses a wheel”. Some of the spaces on the cards seemed super specific and improbable, like “Foxtrot breaks down without being hit”, but sure enough like clockwork we got to bust out the bingo dabbers and mark some squares. Center square was Joby saying “EVERYBODY ON YOUR FEEEEET” by the way, in case you were curious. The crew found out about the bingo cards through word of mouth and within a day they were asking us for copies so they could play along, which we happily obliged. Anybody who won and showed us the card got a free pack of BattleBots Update stickers because I had so many of the damn things to give out. Greg Munson also managed to get one of the bingo cards and he thought it was hilarious, so much so that we might hammer out a modified version of the card for watching the show on TV. Sadly all of the Joby squares will be absent but things like “Hypershock starts to smoke or catches fire” get to remain!
Since I was at every single taping session again, and because I don’t want this year’s Giant Washers to turn into a delayed disaster, I brought along a small notepad and took much better notes throughout the event. Apparently this was kind of a hot commodity back in the pits because not everyone was on the up and up with who was winning or losing so I let one of the guys from Bloodsport’s team take photos of the notebook in order to help everyone keep track of the early Fight Night qualification rounds. That was where I drew the line, though. Other people unaffiliated with teams noticed the notepad and asked if they could see it but I told them no because I wasn’t sure where “sitting in the stands and meticulously writing down the finer details of who won every single fight and why” fell within the spectrum of the NDA I signed. This was all stuff for my own records and by the time the finals rolled around I realized just how fucked everyone would be if I lost the goddamned thing because the contents of the journal would spoil literally the entire fucking show. Protecting the notepad became my own secret mission and when I forgot what pocket I stuck it in on my carry-on baggage I nearly shit myself.
IT’S ROBOT FIGHTING TIME
This is probably the part of the article that you’ve either been reading the above bullshit to get to or just immediately scrolled down to and skipped everything else. I don’t care, in either case the Google Ads for this page loaded so thanks for the $0.0001. Sucker.
The “Fight Night” format from last year is returning this year so I probably don’t have to do much explaining because I’m sure you’re familiar with it. If not, basically it means everyone gets up to four “qualification fights” and the robots who perform the best advance on to the Round of 16 where a single elimination tournament takes place to determine the season champion. The majority of the episodes you are going to see this season will be Fight Nights just like last season. Also like last season the producers have confirmed that the Desperado tournament will be returning which, again, the CliffsNotes of that just means that a team on the verge of elimination can participate in a quick 8-bot mini tournament to automatically qualify for the Top 16. With even more competitors than last year that means getting into the final tournament is going to be tougher than ever, and one of the things I like to do in these articles is expand upon some of the newcomers that caught my attention at the event who I think are worth keeping an eye on. Again, endorsement of these robots is not meant to imply that they qualified for the Top 16, or that they even won any fights at all. It just means that I personally found them to be interesting.
- Bloodsport: As recently as about 10 or so years ago horizontal spinners still ruled the Battlebox. Before Bite Force, Paul Ventimiglia built Brutality and won a BattleBots event with it. Bloodsport is a throwback to the glory days of Hazard and Tornado Mer. The design might be something that has been “figured out” in recent years but I can’t pass this one up.
- Gruff: Gruff is not a new robot in any sense of the term, but it’s new to BattleBots so that’s where I’ve drawn the line. Gruff has seen moderate success elsewhere and I feel that as a hardy “control” style bot that it stands a pretty good chance of upsetting some of the greats if given the chance.
Hydra: Team Whyachi’s replacement for Warrior Dragon is a monstrosity of a flipper whose weapon system is hydraulically powered. That might sound crazy because thus far we’ve really mostly seen slow hydraulic crushers, but if you saw the videos Team Whyachi shared of their weapon tests then you’ll know this one packs a punch up there with Bronco.
- Kraken 2.0: Okay, so this is not officially a newcomer but the new Kraken is an incredible redesign that I can’t just ignore. If there was a Giant Washer Award for “Robot I’d Be Most Willing To Fuck” this seadragon gets it. Hands down.
- Mammoth: Some chucklefuck literally entered half of a swing set as a robot and BattleBots said “sure that’s acceptable”. Last year Huge opened the floodgates to designs “so stupid they just might work” and Mammoth — who is actually larger than the arena starting squares as opposed to the exaggerated jokes I made about Ultimo Destructo — fits that descriptor to a T.
- Quantum: Calling this thing “Razer 2.0” is disingenuous because Team Razer had nothing to do with this and I feel that if anything the design of this robot is somewhere between being an homage and “this design is just the optimal configuration for a crusher and any resemblances to persons living or dead is entirely coincidental”. Quantum was built by the guys behind both the new Robot Wars house bots and Specter which won China’s “King of Bots” event. Serious firepower under the hood here.
- Ragnarok: Monsoon’s team has officially split into two and in the process absorbed the team behind Vanquish from last year. The result is Ragnarok, a robot armed with an electrically-powered axe bearing the same black and gold color scheme as its predecessor. This one’s a major toss up because Tim Rackers has been involved with some great bots, but Jack Tweedy has been involved with bots that get cut in half. Normally I’d say “let’s split it down the middle” but Icewave beat me to it. ZING!
Shatter: This robot has made the list purely because 16 years ago I was banned off of a message board that its builder was an administrator of and that’s fucking hilarious to me. Also Shatter can drive sideways or some dumb shit like that.
- Sidewinder: Another robot like Mammoth that’s firmly in the realm of “this is genuinely retarded but what if it actually works”. Sidewinder’s weapon is mounted, you guessed it, sideways. It looks like someone fucked up while playing a bad robot combat video game but it just might be insane enough to work.
- Texas Twister (& Spitfire): Two things. Here’s a Team Toad robot that isn’t painted bright fucking orange, and apparently Spitfire is a free agent. Getting big time Surgeon General vibes from this one, hoping it can do the Lone Star State proud.
- Wan Hoo and Railgun Max: Neither of these robots have a design that is particularly impressive to me but I do find it intriguing that teams from China are now reciprocating and coming to our events here in the US. Should make for some interesting battles.
The roster of returning robots and teams is sure to keep things interesting as well. You got your former champs Bite Force and Tombstone of course plus the perennial favorites like Bronco and Witch Doctor. Interestingly though this season we’ve got some teams who have come back after taking an extended break from BattleBots; Deathroll, Cobalt, and Poison Arrow (as Copperhead) come to mind. Additionally some robots have come back but with new drivers, such as Skorpios. Even still we have teams who’ve returned but with new entries like how Team Nightmare is back with Breaker Box or Team Whyachi bringing Hydra and Falcon. There are also competitors who are missing this year like Icewave and Mecha Rampage (or whatever new disaster Christian Carlberg might have been working on). Overhaul was also absent, though that was because Charles Guan was busy and not because he was willing to admit his robot is a complete and total embarrassment. My point is this year there were a TON of shake-ups and there’s no telling how that’s going to translate into the event but it’s going to be crazy to watch unfold.
Speaking of Sidewinder and how I mentioned it looks like someone screwed up while attaching parts in a bad robot combat video game, this year I brought along with me my copy of BattleBots: Design & Destroy. It’s the only BattleBots game that got released… and it was kind of terrible. But I figured I could nab myself a really cool souvenir if I got Trey and Greg to sign the cartridge. I knew I was going to see them at the event and each of them were pleased to see that the game spawned from the Comedy Central seasons was still floating around out there. Trey was actually a little more tickled than Greg because I can tell he doesn’t really know about the collector’s market for video games. I assume he just thinks old video games are phased out sort of like how no one messes with VHS anymore. Seeing this old thing come back around blew his mind for sure. In any case I am now the proud owner of what I am declaring to be the world’s most valuable copy of Design & Destroy. $0.01 IS greater than $0.00, after all.
EVERYTHING ELSE I GUESS
Like last year my friends and I spread our shenanigans around outside of the BattleBots venue and we hit up some various places around the area. Unfortunately due to the different shooting schedule for this season we did not have as many off days as 2018; last year we had four, this year we only had two. We had to make them count… so we wound up going back to Disneyland again. Specifically we checked out the neighboring California Adventure park which I’d never been to before. I’ve only seen the Defunctland videos about it on YouTube which primed me to expect nothing short of a Michael Eisner diarrhea mountain. Turns out the park is fine. It’s not as glamorous as Disneyland because it doesn’t have its own massive Cinderella castle but California Adventure makes up for it in other ways like a recreation of Coney Island as “Pixar Pier”. There’s a restaurant called Award Wieners though and you can bet your ass I chowed down on a schlong there. The hot dogs weren’t that bad either. Last year I joked about Monsoon’s Tom Brewster taking his family to Disneyland but that’s something he actually did because half of the people I was with ran into him at the park. Sadly I did not because while I’d like to say I was getting a churro from Mexican Buzz Lightyear the truth of the matter is that I was probably looking at overpriced guff of Disney characters that make my dick happy. Sorry, Tom, and sorry to you as well for making you read the preceding sentence.
On the only other day off we had my party split up and I went around town with a buddy of mine checking out the shadiest dollar stores that we could find. I had issues convincing people last year mostly because none of them wanted to venture into the riskier sides of town with nicer-looking vehicles — which is a valid concern — but thankfully I found someone who gave as little of a shit about their own personal safety as I did and wow does Los Angeles have the weirdest shit. A lot of the places that we went to were basically the retail store equivalent of a “banana box” vendor at an open air market. If you don’t know what that is it essentially describes a vendor who has a ton of imported (and commonly bootleg and/or dangerous) goods from China inexplicably categorized into the thick cardboard boxes that bananas are often shipped in. The boxes are commonly aligned in rows and the prices of their contents are written on the sides. I’ve troweled through dozens of these kinds of places over the years and most of them carry the same uninteresting things. Well, maybe “uninteresting” isn’t the right word to use here because they’re definitely good for a couple of browsings but you can only see the same 400 sleeve CD case with a funny name so many times before you get tired of it. We found a couple of winners though, namely something called the $.98 Outlet. Weird name, I know. Even weirder is that the “8” on their sign was new so what the fuck was it before? 99? If so, why change it? Why make it 98? Not everything in there was 98 cents anyways, it was all in dollar amounts that ended with 98. This shit makes no goddamned sense, anyways here’s what I got.
Over to the side is a picture of my shady dollar stores haul. From roughly left to right I’ve got a pin the tail on the donkey game purely because I thought the little burro was adorable. Then I found five different Webkinz figurines which amused me to no end because I just got done streaming a “wow Webkinz is still alive?” thing on Twitch a few weeks ago so all this new old stock of Webkinz shit that’s been magically finding its way to me is hilarious. The “See No” thing is one part of a two-piece set of crazy bullshit to prevent people from spying on you through your tablet or something; the thing that covers the camera is missing, but the paranoid genius who pilfered this stupid thing didn’t take the dead plug that goes into the microphone jack to kill all input. Guess that means they didn’t want the NSA seeing them whack off but were totally fine with allowing them to overhear their conversations about how Obama is still going to take their guns someday. The glasses are Zoomies and next to that is a USB power bank shaped like pizza that I’m too scared to charge or plug in because it might catch fire. There’s a little red gator toy, some goofy “SPECIAL” stickers, risky candy, unopened McDonald’s crap, and a knock off of Diesel cologne called “EXPLOSION POWER”. I cannot find a year of manufacture on the cologne but the packaging is yellowed to hell so I’m going to assume it’s at least a decade old. Also no, I’ve not yet opened it because it scares me. There’s a shitty knock-off Lego fidget spinner and an alligator pool thermometer, but the big find for me is that filthy drinking mug featuring the face of John Smith from Disney’s Pocahontas. I didn’t recognize the character at first but I bought it anyways because THIS is the “new old stock” nightmare shit I’m really searching for on these trips. There was a pile of these fucking things that had to have been sitting in this grungy store since 1995. They’re absolutely useless and the PVC/vinyl they are made from has been leeching phthalates for two goddamned decades which has turned them into slightly tacky globs that attract grime and absorb it into their mass. It’s terrifying, and I paid $1.49 for one.
And… that’s really about it for this year’s trip report. I hate to use the phrase “more of the same” to describe BattleBots, but I mean that in a good way. It means that they’ve found a groove that works for them outside of the hokey shit ABC kept trying to shoehorn in. This season’s episodes are going to be two hours long according to Greg Munson which means that I am going to have one hell of a goddamned time putting these articles together with a reasonable turnaround. You assholes are going to kill me at this rate. The only solace I can find is that this year there will only be either 16 or 18 episodes instead of 20. Normally that might sound like a bad thing because both of those numbers are less than 20 but the flipside is you have to realize each of these episodes are twice as long as they used to be so really you’re still getting more content. And boy can you expect them to deliver on the “more content” thing because supposedly they are wanting to feature a lot more footage of teams working on their bots in the pits and I hope that means we’ll be getting some technical breakdowns of bots because that’s the one thing the reboot seasons have been sorely missing. Consequently they’re also the one thing ABC got right… until they opted to not use them in the show and instead dumped them all onto YouTube separately.
In the end I had a lot of fun and I am looking forward to the premiere of the new season of BattleBots on June 7th. I don’t quite know what to tell you to expect in the way of the content release schedule for this website right now so we’ll just have to cross that bridge as showtime gets closer. I am not sure if they are going to do the “bonus content on Science Channel” stuff that they did last year but hopefully everything nicely falls into place when the show debuts. It’s going to be a great season, I can promise you that. With all the newcomers, new bots from old teams, and new crew members for old bots there’s a lot of opportunities for upsets and surprises and let me tell you this year will NOT under-deliver in that regard; things went down this year that I absolutely cannot wait to watch the reactions of.
About a dozen and a half articles are on the horizon so if you’d like to keep up to date you can do so by following BattleBots Update on Facebook. Additionally if you want to get involved financially you can make a recurring pledge through Patreon or a one-time donation through PayPal. I’m trying to think of some little bonuses I can toss up onto the Patreon page as a thank you to supporters, hopefully I can think of something to help better make it worth your while. Thanks again, and I will see you for the premiere of BattleBots!