[BattleBots: S8 E6 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
We’re now six episodes into the 2018 season and maybe I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of this again. Or not, because I’m writing this article way later than I normally do because I spent all weekend taking care of some unrelated BS that ballooned out into a monstrosity that ate up all of my time. I just want to say one thing, fighting with the undertow of Windows program incompatibilities AND dealing with programs not receiving input from their global hotkeys settings because they don’t have administrative privilege even when you specifically set them to have it is the most annoying shit on the planet. Speaking of computers sucking our boys Chris Rose and Kenny Florian kicalck this episode off by having some technical problems of their own. You see, the gag here is that they don’t have WiFi access because SawBlaze misunderstood a wish of good luck and decided to make like Chris-chan’s late father and literally cut that internet down. This opener is actually really funny to me because if you were at the event then you’d know that it doesn’t even matter if SawBlaze took a dump on the router because the reception was unbelievably terrible in that building anyways. The only way you were getting on Twitter was if you were standing outside in the goddamned parking lot.
Last week I mentioned there were a lot of robots who’ve yet to make their season debut and I think I jinxed it because we’ve got a new robot in almost every single fight this episode. The main event features the debut of everyone’s favorite flipper Bronco, but the regular fights all have some interesting robots too. Chomp finally makes its comeback and it’s pitted against Team Whyachi’s Warrior Dragon who has also yet to make an appearance this year. As far as newcomers go, the Dutch robot Reality is paired up with SawBlaze in the opening match, and if it’s newcomers you all want to talk about look no further than the Science Channel rumble because all three participants are entirely new robots that we’ve yet to see: Valkyrie, Bale Spear, and Predator.
SAWBLAZE vs. REALITY
Totally True Trivia™: Reality’s design changes based upon how its opponents perceive it.
Up first in this week’s show is SawBlaze fresh off of a win where it beat the shit out of Overhaul, a robot built by Jamison Go’s former teammate. It was a one-sided fight filled with enough sparks and slams for the producers to include it in last week’s “top 10 hits” compilation so you know SawBlaze isn’t fucking around. Overhaul ended up getting shoved into the wall with some expert driving on SawBlaze’s part where the robot got jammed or high centered on something and was counted out… but not before SawBlaze dug its blade right into Overhaul’s biting jaw and literally sliced through the metal bracketing and right into the weapon motor. Those who think SawBlaze’s saw is just for show and to scrape up a lot of sparks for points with the judges can go back and look at the aftermath of that fight because that diamond-tipped disc very nearly sliced Overhaul’s dick right off. I guess that makes Overhaul a futa? Don’t google that. Anyways SawBlaze is back to prove that it is the new gold standard in “dustpan” bots, especially after a poor showing in the 2016 season that saw the robot make an early exit via judges’ decision.
Hey, how many (name of a group of people known for not being very smart) does it take to screw in a light bulb? I don’t know, but I do know it takes four different Dutch teams to build a heavyweight drum spinner and name it “Reality”. Reality is the end result of a sort of “dream team” of builders from the Netherlands whose combined history of bots include far too many to enumerate here, but you might know them for Tough as Nails, a Robot Wars competitor popular for its unique articulated chassis that could squeeze and clamp down on opponents using a massive CO2 powered ram. Reality has no pneumatic rams to speak of and instead features a 60+ pound drum. Yes, it’s that small and still somehow that heavy. That likely has something to do with the fact that the motor components that power Reality’s weapon are actually kept inside the drum. That’s fucking crazy. I mean, sometimes it’s pretty common to see this design feature in small 3 pound robots but I can’t recall the last time it was used in a heavyweight. Also every goddamned time this robot was in the arena the guy whose job it was to keep the audience pumped kept playing the first 30 seconds of that Eminem song from 8 Mile. You know, the one that says “snap back to reality“. Fuck me.
Reality’s driver mashes the ready button with his head because he’s LOL SO RANDOM HAHA and I guess Jamison was paying attention to that or something because the first thing he does in this fight is catch Reality and faceplant it into the wall as hard as it fucking can. (And then brings down the blade for SPARKZ right in front of the hosts so they can get a really good look at how little SawBlaze is dicking about this year.) Reality gets away, drum spinning full blast, but can only manage to get a couple of light grazes on SawBlaze’s front and weapon before it is once again corralled into SawBlaze’s tri-tipped wedge thing and put back into the wall. Reality gets a dose of its namesake courtesy of the screws while SawBlaze again comes in for some easy points and brings its saw right down onto the spinner’s back left tire. I forgot to mention before the fight started but Reality’s team added a gratuitous amount of additional armor to the top of their robot and you can sort of see why because SawBlaze is slicing pretty deep into it; if that top armor wasn’t there I’m convinced that some random important piece of bullshit would’ve either been sliced into by now or straight up torched thanks to SawBlaze’s secondary flamethrower weapon.
Chris mentions Jamison minored in welding. I didn’t know that was a thing you could minor in at school. I mean, I’m not saying I would have done that — I wouldn’t — but that’s because I minored in “journalism”. Consequently, it’s the same reason why I can spit fire too, just like SawBlaze. While this is going on Reality is managing to get a few more little hits in, one of which actually plinks SawBlaze up a bit but the spinner doesn’t capitalize on it. I’ve noticed that Reality’s drum can get up to a reasonable speed pretty quickly but it seems to just lose all of its momentum at the lightest of hits and isn’t transferring its kinetic energy very well. There are spats of seconds here and there where if you look closely you’ll see that Reality’s weapon isn’t working. I don’t know if that’s because the driver has to go easy on the gas because the motor is inside the drum or what, but they better figure their shit out pretty damn quick because SawBlaze’s weapon has been going this entire time rain or fucking shine and now Reality is parked up onto the screws with none of its wheels touching the ground.
The screws continue to turn and the rattling and jostling eventually cause Reality to get back down and immediately the robot charges at SawBlaze, connecting with its center wedge. This is the good shit I’m talking about because now SawBlaze’s middle thingy is all bent up on its tip and that spike definitely isn’t going to do a fucking thing in the way of gaining leverage anymore. It almost seems like Reality is in the process of making a comeback in the second half of this fight… but SawBlaze still has the two “good” wedges on either side of its frame and it’s still able to funnel Reality right into the Saw Zone (trademark pending). SawBlaze pins Reality against the wall and brings its blade perfectly down into the center of the robot. Watch it, it slices right fucking into Reality like nothing at all. Smoke starts to emit from the visible slice in Reality’s armor but I think that’s just residual heat dissipating or something because that top panel is sort of angled upward and I don’t think the smoke is coming from any batteries or electronics that are damaged, but still SawBlaze is heating its opponent’s shit up hot enough for it to smoke just on friction alone.
SawBlaze even gets in on Reality’s drum, because it’s doing fuck all right now. The dragon’s saw comes right down onto Reality’s weapon and starts cutting into it as well. Obviously the goal here is to slice through the aluminum and get into the motor stuff inside, but SawBlaze doesn’t quite make it through and Reality breaks free. Reality actually gets one pretty good slam into the wall but it’s too little too late. The fight goes to the judges who obviously rule in favor of SawBlaze but hats off to Reality for hanging in there for the whole fight while taking that kind of damage. After the fight Chris says he still doesn’t know what Jamison’s banana was for. It’s for scale, Chris.
WINNER: SawBlaze, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
PETUNIA vs. MONSOON
Totally True Trivia™: Making a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference substantially improves your chances of winning a fight.
This next match features two robots who each have a win under their belt meaning that someone’s going to get their perfect record stopped dead in its tracks before it has a chance to bloom. In the red square is Petunia who we saw several weeks ago when it surprised quite a few people by taking out the still unproven Rotator. Petunia’s got 100 pounds of armor and its strategy, just as Mischa de Graaf mentioned last time around, is that the robot has to first take a hit before it can land one of its own. Clearly, the solution is to have a robot with “fuck you” levels of armor and that’s exactly what Petunia’s packing. Petunia absorbed hits from Rotator and then came in with its biting jaw when Rotator’s discs were either slowed down or just busted outright. The tip of Petunia’s jaw got sheared off, which wasn’t exactly part of the plan, but overall the gripper bot dominated. The same strategy applies here against Monsoon and Mischa is confident that once he gets Monsoon in Petunia’s jaw his robot will crush them like foil.
If it’s hits Petunia is wanting to absorb, then it’s hits that Monsoon is willing to make. Monsoon’s main mode of attack is its single-toothed spinning bar powered by the legendary Motenergy brand of motors (see, I called it by the right name instead of the colloquial “Etek” this time so that I don’t trigger the DANGER4 team *winky face*). These motors have long since been a staple of the sport and are renown for their high energy output. You guys know this already though, because I talk about them all the time. They are ubiquitous within BattleBots, and since these motors are normally used to drive golf carts around you can imagine how much “oomph” you get out of them when the only thing you’re running is a 50-ish pound weapon instead of a vehicle that weighs a few hundred pounds. Need proof? Monsoon fucking laid Red Devil out hardcore in its first match. It didn’t win by KO, because Monsoon seems to have some reliability issues, but god damn I don’t even think Red Devil’s team is going to be able to put that shit back together.
The teams each say some encouraging things to each other before the match, Petunia’s team chanting “PINCH IT!” in Dutch while Tim Rackley over on Monsoon’s team says… something. Dude speaks English, allegedly, and nobody knows what the hell that man just said. Anyways the fight is underway and Petunia right away is all up in Monsoon’s face dangerously close to its spinner. Normally in a fight like this you’d want to at least make an effort to get around to the back of your opponent but Mischa is just like “yeah okay” and he’s going right for the jugular. That’s some damn crazy confidence in your armor, dude. Even crazier, it’s working too; Monsoon gets a couple of glancing blows powerful enough to throw some sparks and Petunia is successfully keeping it at bay. I don’t think I’d have the balls to do what Mischa is doing right now because all I’m seeing in my head is Petunia’s beak being a perfect target for Monsoon to connect with and blow to fucking bits.
And yet, that doesn’t happen. Petunia comes in for another shot and it looks like the robot’s wedge gets snagged on the ramrod thing on the floor which affords Monsoon the split second it needs to whip around and slice part of Petunia’s right side armor off. This is really inconsequential because aside from getting stuck on the floor Petunia has pretty much kept its front end facing its opponent. Except for when it doesn’t, and Monsoon cleaves straight into the fucking back of Petunia. This hit leaves a literal perfectly straight gash right up Petunia’s ass. A brand new asshole. With a little help from the screws Petunia gets back onto its wheels but after having been anally devastated by Monsoon the robot starts having some incontinence problems and begins leaking hydraulic fluid all over the fucking place. I’m serious about the “all over the place” bit too because Petunia just floors it across the arena like it’s trying to write its name in cursive. Monsoon chases Petunia down for a second major hit that causes the robot to do a complete backflip… but Petunia’s still going.
Petunia’s also on fire now, by the way. It’s leaking oil, it’s on fucking fire, and it’s not dead. It’s fully fucking mobile somehow. Fire is consuming the inner left side of the robot and Petunia’s still skittering around like it’s trying to get a good angle on Monsoon. I’ve also just noticed that Monsoon’s weapon has died again and I’m guessing this happened after that mega blow that apparently caused Petunia to catch fire. This is exactly the kind of opportunity Petunia hopes for and if it weren’t for the fact that its weapon is dead — and probably that it’s got goddamned flames coming out of it — I’m positive Petunia would be treating Monsoon like its personal chew toy. Petunia might not even need to do that because Monsoon starts to die over near the Pulverizer and I have no idea what’s going on over there. Monsoon drove through Petunia’s makeshift oil slick a few seconds ago so it might be having some maneuverability issues because of it, but even if that’s the case I don’t think Petunia is going to be able to celebrate a freak victory because it’s in the process of actually exploding.
The entire inside of Petunia is on fire and that seems to be enough to finally kill this goddamned thing but believe it or not it actually survived longer than Monsoon who’s still dead in the corner. The referee starts to count Monsoon out and the robot miraculously comes back to life. Not fully back to life, but enough for the officials to stop counting it out and allow Petunia to get counted down instead. Monsoon still wins, but not quite with the same level of carnage and damage as its previous fight. Monsoon lasted two hits so if Tom Brewster and his team are serious about winning the Giant Nut they’ve got a lot of work to do in getting their robot significantly more reliable. And on the subject of “a lot of work to do”: Petunia. Holy shit.
WINNER: Monsoon, KO
CAPTAIN SHREDERATOR vs. SUBZERO
Totally True Trivia™: Captain Shrederator is the only robot to have been personally blessed by Donald Trump.
Everyone likes a killer shell spinner but god damn we’ve had some stinkers at the BattleBots reboot. Captain Shrederator (formerly Shrederator, and formerly-formerly Phrizbee) has returned for every single season of the reboot and currently has a pretty shitty 1-3 record. Back in 2015 it lost half its teeth to Stinger and got flipped over (and I got to make a sweet Pearl Harbor joke about it) and in 2016 it mustered a pretty vicious win against Deathroll but just couldn’t keep the momentum going and ended up being among the many freak wins that Chomp got that year. The Captain is back for 2018 and it’s already lost to End Game by KO. Nick Nave said he didn’t even know what the fuck went wrong and ended up replacing speed controllers, batteries, receivers, you name it. Half of the weapon teeth on its other shell were busted apart by End Game so I guess Nick and his team had no choice but to swap it out for their flatter cylindrical one. Here’s to hoping this whole “four match fight card” nonsense benefits this veteran… because as we all know our vets don’t get very many of those to start with. Owch, topical!
Speaking of robots that just need to win a fucking fight we’ve also got SubZero. Objectively this thing is bad ass, it’s like the old school Toro from back in the day except rendered on a Nintendo 64. SubZero has a great flipper on it. It always has, even when it was a middleweight. The team just never gets to use the fucking thing because it always breaks. Last season Icewave demolished the flipper and this year Huge has already crapped all over it and did enough damage to SubZero that the robot’s actual inner frame had to be repaired. Things aren’t looking too good for Jerry Clarkin & Co. though because their opponent for this match is, wait for it, another stupidly powerful spinner. I mean, it’s also Captain Shrederator who’s barely worked in the four total fights it’s been in, but still working or not this is another bad draw for a team who has yet to win a fight in the past three years. I mentioned earlier that most teams learned their lesson regarding those stupid drones from 2016 but not SubZero! SubZero is one of only two teams to have come back with a drone (the other being Warrior Dragon, competing later this episode) and this is the first time we’re actually getting to see it. Everyone say hello to Spitfire!
Nick shakes his head and mocks SubZero’s showboating by way of Spitfire discharging some flames before the fight. More on that in a bit, but dude I don’t think you get to decry “showboating” when your robot is painted like the American fucking flag, has entered the arena with a full size flag sticking out of it, and previous team photos have shown you guys wearing flag suits. There’s a pattern here. Let Logan Davis fart some flames out of his drone for a few seconds. Even though your robot sucks you’ve still won more fights than him. And speaking of sucks we’re right on time to see Captain Shrederator get up to a spinning speed of 10 MPH as SubZero needlessly backs into it to slow it down. Look, I get why Logan did that (SubZero was already pointed backwards when the bots were locked-in before the count down) but he could’ve just gone straight at the spinner and skipped that step. SubZero still tries to whip around and catch Captain Shrederator with its flipper but takes a little too long and the spinner actually starts getting up to a proper dangerous speed. SubZero does another 180 to start backing into its opponent again and we get to see how effective just a straight, flat, thick piece of metal is against a spinner like Captain Shrederator. There’s nothing for those teeth to get any purchase against so it just gets effortlessly bumped away. Chris even drops a “badunkadunk”, a word that I had to look up to make sure I spelled it right because I don’t have the right skin color to be using that kind of language (and neither does Chris).
SubZero continues to ram its ass into Captain Shrederator but a couple of these hits are imperfect and the robot actually hits the spinner with a corner. This is very bad because this is where Captain Shrederator is able to actually dig in and start doing some damage and wouldn’t you know it now SubZero’s ass is starting to fall off. Chris starts talking about PRIMARY WEAPONS because we haven’t seen SubZero’s yet and almost as if to cut Chris off mid-sentence SubZero pops its flipper after taking a direct hit and very nearly throws itself onto its head. Spitfire makes its presence known and tries to blow some flames down onto Captain Shrederator… but, really? You really think that’s going to achieve anything? The outer shell is spinning at a speed higher than most people in America can fucking count to. All that’s happening right now is those flames are being blown aside. Still, it’s aggression I suppose, and SubZero comes back in for some more attempts to slow the spinner down and ends up flipping itself over in the process. I don’t know if the flipper is firing because of an anxious driver or if the shock of being hit by Captain Shrederator’s shell is unintentionally causing SubZero’s weapon to activate, but at least the robot has a functional self-righting system to keep the bot on its toes.
SubZero’s shiny metal ass can’t hold up to much more punishment. Logan has been persistent in keeping that end of the robot facing Captain Shrederator, but not all of those hits were “good” ones and now its armor plate is hanging off of the frame. To no one’s surprise, Captain Shrederator knocks the plate off which forces SubZero to change tactics and come at it head-on with the hopes that its flipper doesn’t get jacked up. Again. SubZero gets a good solid charge at Captain Shrederator and fires its flipper just a second too late. By the time its flipper activates SubZero’s back on its ass and trying to self-right again while the decorative red stuff behind its “eyes” somehow got sucked out by the force of that hit. SubZero’s looking pretty fucked up right about now and if Jerry and his team want a win they’re going to need a miracle. Mercifully, fortune finally shines in their favor as SubZero hooks Captain Shrederator from an awkward angle and the hit puts the spinner up onto its rim resulting in Captain Shrederator careening into the arena wall with a horrifying crunching sound.
That hit was enough to kill something within the Captain because after that blow the spinner’s dead. By catching Captain Shrederator at that angle SubZero was able to use the kinetic energy of the spinner against it and this could not have come at a better moment because just take a look at SubZero right now. Kenny says it’s still moving, but I don’t know for how much longer because this thing looks like it’s about one and a half hits away from a KO loss itself. But hey, a win’s a win. Welcome to the uh… one… win… club, SubZero. Spitfire cruises over to try and score some points with its flamethrower but all that “showboating” before the match wasted its fuel and it’s got nothing left for when it actually needs it. Nick Nave was right all along.
WINNER: SubZero, KO
WARRIOR DRAGON vs. CHOMP
Totally True Trivia™: The “Warrior Dragon” is not the name of a toy offered by Bad Dragon. Yet.
Team Whyachi has been at this game for just over 15 years, and Warrior SKF (the main component of Warrior Dragon) has been around for about that long and wow you can tell. Look at that outer ring, is that a piece of random ass metal just tacked onto it to patch up some sort of gnarly gash? I don’t know how old “15 years” is when you convert robot years to human ones but holy shit this thing looks like a sick dog. When I was hanging out with the team in the pits Richard Stuplich was pretty amused by quoting back my own phrasing of “can’t they just retire this piece of shit already” and I think maybe I’m starting to see why he found that so funny. Warrior Dragon’s not a bad robot, it’s just old. It needs to be rebuilt as a “2018 robot” and not something that just barely missed the window of “was built back when we still had both Twin Towers”. Also, it’s Warrior Dragon, by the way. Not “Clan”. Warrior Clan was 2015’s iteration when it was a three-part multibot. It was supposed to be called Warrior Dragon in 2016 when they brought in the dragon drone (hence the name) but someone fucked up somewhere along the line and the robot was still erroneously referred to as “Warrior Clan”. The dragon’s not in this fight though so… am I supposed to go back to calling it “Warrior Clan”? Man, I don’t fucking know. Can’t they just retire this piece of shit already?
Over in the blue square is Chomp, a robot whom everyone seems to hate. The reasoning for this is pretty chomplica– complicated and when you weed out all the people with fragile masculinities who just don’t want women in their sport you’re left with this mixed bag of Chomp’s crazy ass history across the 2015 and 2016 seasons. In 2015 Chomp was KO’d almost immediately by Overdrive when the robot was backed into the screws (and the commentators’ remarks coined “spirited performance” as a euphemism for a shitty fight). Chomp still got a wildcard however when many (myself included) argued that there were other teams who deserved the spot instead. In 2016 Chomp came back with the design it still has today and hit this uncanny stride of wins that included a controversial judges’ decision over Disk O’Inferno, another decision over reigning champion Bite Force, and a KO victory over Captain Shrederator. A lot of people disagreed with the win over Disk O’Inferno and even though I understand the “judging criteria” I still sorta think it was a bad call but god damn people got mad about the win over Bite Force. I think the maddest dude was Paul Ventilationduct himself because he straight up brought the same fucking robot back this year completely unchanged. Whether you agree with those wins or not one thing is for certain, Chomp’s hammer is no joke. That thing can whack an opponent hard enough to sink them in a single shot and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a weapon co-engineered by the guy who built The Judge.
As I mentioned, Warrior Dragon has swapped out its titular drone for one of its “doorstop” minibots this fight. Their use is pretty self-explanatory, really. The idea is to jam the wedge into their opponent’s ground clearance to get them high centered while the big bot gets its weapon going and either attacks with the spinner or flipper. That’s what the little wedge tries to do and it connects with Chomp, making a “dink!” sound in the process, and Chomp just keeps driving. Warrior Dragon still gets in a flip which puts Chomp onto its side and affords it the opportunity to show off its new srimech for the very first time. Last season Chomp was outfitted with these shitty “wings” on the sides of its hammer that were absolutely unpredictable so this year it’s ditched them in favor of some pistons that poke out from the sides of the bot. Chomp’s self-righting is much more controlled and slower now but you can see the major flaw here when Warrior Dragon parks itself beside Chomp and just waits for it to roll back over. It makes controlling the fight very easy and the extremely low profile of Warrior Dragon’s chassis just makes it that much easier for the bot to immediately knock Chomp back over.
But, since Warrior Dragon is a piece of shit that’s almost old enough to get a legal driver’s license in most states this upper hand starts to blur. Warrior Dragon’s flipper is powered by the kinetic energy of its spinning ring and this thing is prone to failure. I can’t name a single goddamned fight where Warrior Dragon’s weapon system actually lasted the entire length of the match and this one’s not going to start that list because after getting in a quick jab that leaves its flipper jammed open Warrior Dragon starts smoking. Despite not having its weapons anymore Warrior Dragon still has the muscle to shove Chomp around and put it into the screws. Watch the minibot closely and you’ll see it take the place of Warrior Dragon as it waits for Chomp to self right and land on top of it. This actually completely immobilizes Chomp to the point where the ref seemed like he was about to count it out, but Zoe fires the robot’s hammer and the “hop” frees Chomp from the doorstop. Chomp finally lands a hit with its hammer that connects with Warrior Dragon’s lid hard enough to shed some sparks off of it… but it also rolls Chomp back onto its side for like the twentieth fucking time this match.
Clint Ewert straight up pulls the “I’m not touching you” excuse with the officials to let them know that he’s not actually pinning Chomp down and is instead just parked next to it waiting for it to self-right and blah blah you get the picture. Chomp predictably rolls back over and lands on Warrior Dragon who for some reason doesn’t move now. I don’t know if there’s some motor damage going on but Warrior Dragon doesn’t start moving again until Chomp’s weight is off of its back, but once that happens it springs back to life and trades some paint with Chomp until both robots slam into the screws and a whole bunch of crazy shit happens all at once. Looking at the frame-by-frame Chomp’s hammer appears to connect with Warrior Dragon a second time, closing its flipper from its stuck position, and as Chomp rolls over even more sparks get thrown out as the Killsaws rise up and snag the hammer bot. Chris reminds us that Kalim, the kid that Zoe picked from the audience to control her team’s Pulverizers, hasn’t had the opportunity to actually fire the hammers. That’s kinda sad, but at least this kid has got one of the best views in the house for this fight… even if the team he’s helping isn’t going to win.
WINNER: Warrior Dragon, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
“I didn’t expect a split decision,” says Chris. Yeah man, neither did anyone else apparently because boy were there a lot of salty posts and arguments after this one aired. Since it was Naomi who fucked up this time people came right back out and were all like “IT’S BECAUSE THEY’RE BOTH WOMEN REEEEEE” and just… god damn it, everyone. Everyone. Chomp can’t even start this fucking season without the same exact shit that happened in 2016 flaring up again? I don’t want to fan the flames, but yeah Naomi either wasn’t watching the same fight we were or she’s quite simply not an impartial judge. I don’t want to throw too many punches here because the last thing I want to do is make the wrong people think they have an ally in me. Because they don’t. And that’s all I have tosay.
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
VALKYRIE vs. PREDATOR vs. BALE SPEAR
Totally True Trivia™: Bale Spear’s weapon is made from a real baby fist cast in iron.
This week on Science Channel we’ve got a rumble featuring robots who, straight from Chris’ mouth, haven’t had the best of starts this season. All of them are introduced with a “0-1” record and none of their fights have been aired because they were all total shit. But hey this marks the first time where untelevised matches are being tallied up on-screen so maybe now that these fights are being acknowledged they’ll eventually be added to each bot’s page on the official BattleBots website so I can stop tiptoeing around spoilers and details on stuff that might still be under the NDA I signed. Anyways, someone in this rumble is going to be getting their first win of the season and starting things off in the red square is Valkyrie. Valkyrie features a design that sort of resembles PP3D from Robot Wars with some extra refinements. Right ways up this robot is an undercutter which means its spinning disc is so low to the ground that rather than attack its opponent’s chassis Valkyrie is instead going for the wheels. If you flip it over the robot becomes an angled spinner with the help of that pointy tip at the top of its front end. Valkyrie also has a number of different weapons at its disposal that the team can choose from depending upon their opponent such as the one-toothed disc the robot is using in this rumble, a six-toothed disc, and a double-ended bar. Earlier this season I mentioned there was an untelevised fight between two horizontal spinners that didn’t work, Valkyrie was one of those two robots; Valkyrie landed like half a hit and its weapon dropped onto the floor which high centered the robot and it was counted out.
Over in the blue square is Predator, a robot built by Craig Danby that closely resembles his other heavyweight robot Foxic. If you’re wondering how it lost its first match you really don’t any explanation beyond “this is a heavyweight robot built by Craig Danby”. Jokes aside — and believe me it is taking every fiber of my being to not replace this paragraph with the word “yiff” repeated about 200 times — Predator is really more of a souped-up version of Foxic in that its weapon is a hydraulic wedge that can raise up to lift opponents but it’s also got teeth inside of it so it can bite down as well. Two ways to control a fight, essentially. I don’t remember Predator’s first fight because it broke down pretty quickly and that was really about it which is a shame because this thing features so much HARDOX armor that the fucking company that manufactures the material sponsored it. That would be like if I showed up with a bot and my sponsor was “shitty cut-rate jokes at the expense of someone’s perceived sexual interests regarding anthropomorphic foxes even if said perceptions have been denied by the person you have them toward on multiple occasions and it’s gotten to the point where he replies to your posts on Reddit with low key sarcasm”. Yiff yiff.
Bale Spear is in the green “square”. Strangely, that sentence is harder to say aloud than it seems. Let me tell you something about this robot. Earl Pancoast is like an unintentional genius because his robots look… you know… like that, but they’ll catch you by surprise and out muscle you if given the opportunity. He’s got another heavyweight robot that looks sort of like Bale Spear named AG-gressive and either it beat Witch Doctor at a different event or it came pretty damn close to the point where Andrea Suarez and her team were like “oh shit we may have just lost to a guy whose entrance prop is a fucking pitchfork”. Bale Spear’s weapon is a pneumatic bale spear, because those are things that I have just learned actually exist, except for in this rumble the robot is equipped with a custom made punching fist nicknamed “haymaker” because farm jokes. You’re probably wondering what the fuck is going on with Bale Spear’s wheels because in its official photo it has four regular tires like a normal goddamned robot and I wish I could tell you what those front things are for but I have literally no clue. Bale Spear tried to use them in its first fight and the resulting lack of traction literally caused the bot to cook itself during the pre-fight twitch test. I don’t know why the team tried to use them a second time but I’d be lying to you if I didn’t say I was secretly hoping that they’d slip into the slots for the Killsaws. Also, speaking of Bale Spear’s first fight, I want to say it lost to like a dinosaur or something but that seems… wrong. Somehow. But not? I wish I took better notes at the event.
Now pretend you’re Earl, the guy driving Bale Spear. Which of these two opponents seem like the better one to take on given the “unique nature” of your robot? There’s Valkyrie, the one with the spinning disc of fucking death, and then there’s Predator, the one with the weapon that probably can’t do anything to you. I know which one you probably picked, but Earl follows a different path in life because Bale Spear floors it toward Valkyrie and rams straight into it. Bale Spear throws a punch about a half second too late and misses but manages to hold up surprisingly well considering its front wheels look like Earl tried to copy Heavy Metal Noise but screwed up one very important detail. Predator joins the fray a split second later and takes
a shot to the face a boop on the snoot from Valkyrie’s disc, gets spun around, and… stops working. I wish I could say more, but that’s it. I don’t know how Craig keeps doing this but god damn. Fucking Bale Spear is still working man, your robot was outlasted by that thing. Earl is literally the dude that Team Whyachi’s Udder Gun is marketed toward and his robot is still fucking working after this exchange. How.
So, Predator’s out. Meanwhile Bale Spear climbs back on top of Valkyrie and ends up getting one of its front “wheels” busted off. The second one immediately follows. I’ve gotta be honest here, they both lasted a hell of a lot longer than I gave them credit for considering the kind of weapon they were taking hits from. I’m telling you man, Earl is a secret genius. Bale Spear is still completely mobile with only its back two tires and I almost want to say that was an intentional move on Earl’s part because now Valkyrie is only going to be able to chew through a bunch of sacrificial garbage as long as Bale Spear keeps its front end facing toward it. For a robot with one — nope make that two — flat tires it’s surprisingly mobile. Also seriously dude, pneumatic wheels in 2018? I was making fun of Mjollnir for doing that shit back in 2001. Earl shouts “FARMAGEDDON” and I’m not so sure that he’s aware that he’s not winning this fight right now. Or maybe he is? Maybe losing half his wheels and having the other two go flat is all a part of the four-dimensional chess that Earl is playing at this very moment.
Bale Spear is just eating hits from Valkyrie left and right and against all odds its goofy ass haymaker fist is still punching out into thin air as if it could possibly breach the armor panels of its opponent. Earl shouts out “Superman Punch” because I guess he’s got a specific name for a move that I would personally describe as “getting stuck near the edge of the arena while your opponent busts one of your headlights which are actually taillights because they’re stuck on your robot’s ass for reasons unknown”. While this is going on Chris reminds us that Predator has done what is officially referred to as “fuck all”. He’s then brought back into the match once Valkyrie rips a piece off of Bale Spear and spikes it at the wall in front of him. Bale Spear throws another punch and socks Valkyrie right on its weapon and somehow this thing doesn’t just bust off and sneeze compressed air. Also, that weapon apparently still works? Earl legit fucking taunts Valkyrie by saying “get some” when his own goddamned robot has gotten more than enough itself already. Kenny starts talking about Predator but Chris shushes him and says it’s Predator’s nap time. The editors cut to Craig Danby to show us that he’s still just hanging out and hasn’t gone off to get a snack or something.
Valkyrie eventually manages to pull one of Bale Spear’s flat tires off after taking about a minute longer than we all probably expected. Bale Spear continues to try and move but I guess all that damage finally caught up to it because with just one (flat) tire left the robot appears to be dead. Valkyrie rips that one off too, probably out of genuine frustration, and leaves Bale Spear in the corner of the arena with no tires. It’s worth mentioning however that Bale Spear doesn’t stop trying to move until the referee officially calls the fight. Props to Bale Spear, seriously. That thing looks like a fucking joke but if it still had tires right now it would be fully mobile. Think about that. Nothing on that robot has actually broken down; no slipped chains, no blown batteries, no cooked electronics, nothing. Even the pneumatics still work. The only reason it’s dead is because Valkyrie had to pull every single tire off. Jesus fucking Christ. I’m sure we knew that Valkyrie was going to end up winning this fight but the robot that gave it the most trouble isn’t the one any of us were anticipating.
WINNER: Valkyrie, KO
BALE SPEAR & PARALLAX vs. BASILISK & DOUBLE DUTCH
Totally True Trivia™: Double Dutch was named after the jump rope game, however unlike in jump rope if you screw up jumping over this robot you’ll lose one or both of your legs.
Whoa whoa, hang on. What the fuck? That was a fast commercial break, I was trying to take a piss and I heard Faruq start yelling so I rushed back out to see what I was missing. Wait, another rumble? This wasn’t on the fight card on Facebook. Who’s in it? Bale Spear and Parallax against two other bots? It’s a tag team? Didn’t Bale Spear just fight in a rumble? Whatever, it gets two fights this episode I guess. It’s the same shitty robot with a crappy spike and giant monster truck wheels, you get the picture. Except this was the aforementioned fight where Bale Spear cooked itself when it tried using those stupid metal discs up front. Sorry, this is all moving very fast for some reason and I’m trying to eyeball everything and let you all know what’s going on. Bale Spear is paired up with Parallax for this fight; Parallax is a 4-wheeled wedge with a spinning drum embedded inside the wedge so once it gets under an opponent it can follow through with a solid hit to pop ’em in the air. Even though it refused to die in its previous match Bale Spear still kinda sucked, and we haven’t seen Parallax fight yet but for all intents and purposes this bout is basically “Parallax versus two other robots”.
Hey look who it is in the blue square, Double Dutch! I remember this thing! Its builder was like five kinds of upset that he wasn’t able to make it to the 2016 season and he got the Giant Washer Award for saltiest builder. Glad you could make it out this year, I really like the two chopper blades that spin in opposite directions. Double Dutch also has slightly angled wheels for some added maneuverability to let it strafe in a couple different directions. It’s not quite on the level of Mecanum or omni-directional wheels but it might offer the robot a very slight edge when it comes to making quick dodges. Double Dutch’s partner for this fight is Basilisk and I guess since it doesn’t have its dumb drone this time around I can’t say the robot hasn’t improved. It still looks like the same thing that Blacksmith beat the shit out of last season and I’d venture a guess that’s probably correct… so really this fight is actually “Double Dutch versus Parallax and there’s two other robots also in the arena just for the hell of it”. By the way am I the only one who’s noticed that the audio mixing is really strange? Is this fight actually happening or did I fall asleep with the oven on again?
Wait, that was a quick fucking start to this fight. There’s music playing? When did we start doing that again? It looks like the bots are obeying the normal rules of a tag team wrestling match because only Bale Spear and Double Dutch come out of their starting squares while their teammates hang back. Double Dutch’s blades are both spinning but the bottom one looks like it might be a little too low to the ground because it’s throwing sparks everywhere, but regardless the robot still collides with Bale Spear and rips a whole fucking tire off which somehow gets lodged in between Double Dutch’s upper blade and its chassis and disables both weapons. Super. Basilisk decides to fuck the rules and charges in to start attacking the crippled Bale Spear which prompts Parallax to do the same thing in an effort to try and defend its buddy. Meanwhile Double Dutch’s bottom blade has apparently fallen off at some point because it’s a piece of shit. Basilisk gets in a proper flip on Bale Spear which surprises me because this whole time I thought that flipper was just for show and didn’t actually work.
What’s left of Double Dutch and Bale Spear start sparring with each other while Basilisk tries to shove Parallax into the screws and I think the cameraman staggers backward because he was too close or tripped on a cable or something? That’s kinda weird that they’d leave that shot in but I guess it makes sense because the first two episodes had that shaky camera in the ceiling of the arena and they left that bullshit in too. The camera shakes… again? Wait a minute, that’s artificial shaking. Yeeeaaahhh… Chris and Kenny are getting the Blair Witch treatment too. Hang on, a fucking dinosaur steps into the arena? Who tagged him? What? Also it steps on Basilisk and Bale Spear… but Bale Spear is still working in the very next shot– oh. Oh…
It’s a commercial for the new Jurassic World movie.
I’m going to go finish taking a piss and pretend I didn’t see any of this.
WINNER: Basilisk and Double Dutch (That’s who actually won this fight, by the way. Ironically they were the ones who apparently got stepped on.)
The producers didn’t stage this match for the sake of a commercial, they took an existing fight that kinda sucked and added in some CGI dinosaur feet. Believe it or not the 20 seconds of the fight that you see before the product placement steps into the shot are about all of the “good parts” from the fight. It started out pretty great with Double Dutch ripping that tire off of Bale Spear but that hit completely killed Double Dutch’s weaponry and at some point the bottom blade literally did just straight up fall off. Parallax and Basilisk both suffered from a bad case of “I can’t believe we fooled the selection committee into accepting our robots” and with only three wheels Bale Spear was not able to put up a controlled or cohesive fight. It went to the judges and I guess they just flipped a coin or something.
BRONCO vs. BOMBSHELL
Totally True Trivia™: Bronco’s chassis is 43 feet long.
Tonight’s main event sees the return of Bronco as it takes on Bombshell. Bronco is a relatively new robot but it represents nearly 20 years of experience and lessons learned in the robot combat circuit by builders Reason Bradley and Zander Rose… whose name I only recently discovered was spelled with a “Z” and not an “X”. Mybad. These guys started out by perfecting the pneumatic ram and when they wanted to take it a step further they flipped the piston vertically and stunned the sport with Toro. From there we saw pneumatic flippers from them in multiple weight classes, two BattleBots championships, and more spectacular flips than I can even begin to count. Bronco, however, hasn’t had the same level of success as the team’s older robots. Reason and Zander claim that every time you find a new way not to lose you come one step closer to winning. Sound logic. That’s why Bronco used to have 4 wheels and side panels in 2015, then when Tombstone beat it up the robot came back with 6 goddamned wheels and no side panels in 2016… and now after a brutal loss that saw Minotaur pluck every single fucking wheel off of Bronco the robot is back with 4 wheels again and, uh, spider ski legs? I don’t even know, but these guys are out of their god damn minds now because they’re talking about throwing robots off of overpasses and into traffic and shit. Bronco needs to win this year because I’m terrified of seeing what it turns into next season if it loses again.
You probably wouldn’t believe it if I told you this, but Bombshell has made it further than Bronco in previous BattleBots tournaments. As last season’s runner-up, Bombshell was trumped only by Tombstone in the championship finals (and Complete Control, but the team received a wildcard to advance onward anyways). Bombshell’s big thing was its modularity; the robot’s main weapon was its powerful axe but it also had three other weapons it could be equipped with in order to handle any type of opponent. This year builder Mike Jeffries said there wasn’t enough build time to give the new Bombshell that same complete range of weaponry so the team focused instead on keying in on just one of them and making it extra powerful. They settled on the vertical disc spinner aaaaand lost to Lock-Jaw when the disc did not work and the robot was flipped over and unable to right itself (specifically because the disc wasn’t working). It was a devastating loss to see the runner-up go down so quickly and easily, hopefully Mike and his crew have fixed the whole “can’t flip ourselves back over” thing because they’re definitely gonna need that ability against Bronco.
This is a tricky match for Bombshell because I’m not sure where it wants to actually try and hit Bronco. Probably not the front because that’s where the flipper is, and maybe not the back because that wedge is pretty low as well. The sides are potentially a no-go thanks to the spider legs but I want to say that if Bombshell gets a good scoop under Bronco then its disc can get between two of the legs and hit the chassis. But who am I kidding, Bombshell’s weapon looks like it’s fucking broken already because it ain’t spinning very fast and when it finally connects with Bronco it comes to a halt and doesn’t transmit a lot of energy into the flipper. Bronco retaliates with a near miss by the screws and gets into a light tug-of-war with Bombshell where both bots try to position themselves for a good hit with their weaponry but neither one can follow through. Bombshell shaves a few sparks off of Bronco’s anti-spinner attachments but no real damage is being done here. Bronco catches Bombshell on one of its corners and lets loose with a flip and spins Bombshell out of control and onto its back. I hope no one bet money on Bombshell’s disc working for this fight because otherwise you’d probably be pretty mad right about now.
Bombshell lands right back onto that same awkward corner as it did when Lock-Jaw flipped it over and — again, if its weapon was working fully — it should theoretically be able to bump itself back down onto its weapon bracket and wheels and be able to drive around but sadly we got nothin’. Bronco has won this fight and normally Reason and Zander just back down at this point but for some reason they’re going whole hog on Bombshell and appear to be trying to throw it “out” of the arena into that little segment by the entrance doors. Bronco flips Bombshell three more times, one of which actually puts the robot back down onto its wheels, but Bombshell’s unable to make anything out of this split second opportunity and eventually gets thrown out of the arena with a flip hard enough to shave sparks off of Bombshell’s ass. For some stupid reason the ref starts counting Bombshell out — implying that it’s even able to get out from that alcove — and even Mike is like “dude I’m out of the arena you can stop counting me out” but nope that ref is committed to his job and gives Bombshell the full KO count.
WINNER: Bronco, KO
We are rapidly reaching the point where the list of currently undefeated robots is dwindling. Reaching 1-0 is easy, but carrying that momentum into 2-0 is trickier. And a possible 4-0? You’re crazy. Right now the list of 2-0 bots includes the usual suspects like Tombstone and Bite Force, both the reigning and former champions, but there’s also some surprises among their company such as newcomers Huge, Monsoon, and End Game. SawBlaze, who went out in round one last season, is also in the club. There’s another robot at 2-0 right now who hasn’t had any of its fights televised yet and you will lose your fucking mind when you find out who it is. Nipping at their heels at 1-0 are bots like Bronco and Whiplash as well as some other surprise newbies such as Duck and Sharkoprion. Not in the club though? Minotaur, Gigabyte, Lock-Jaw, Yeti, Witch Doctor, HyperShock, Son of Whyachi, and Bombshell. Remember, there’s only 16 slots available in the main tournament and some of these greats are already down to a pitiful 0-2. It’s extremely possible that some of these vets and heavy hitters aren’t going to make the cut… but some will, and some of them are going to come out of left field and surprise you. I don’t know how many episodes the proper 16-bot tournament is going to take but I know there’s a ton of Fight Night content still to come.
We’re out of time this week on BattleBots Update, thank you for swinging by to check it out. Those of you curious about how the ratings for the show have been need not worry, BattleBots is back where it was and it’s even doing better than that Bering Sea Gold show that kept beating it. I told you guys once the sportsball stuff blew over we’d be back at the top. Anyways make sure you follow BattleBots Update on Facebook since it’s the only social media outlet I have because I am an old man who fears technology. If you would like to help support this project you can either make a monthly pledge through Patreon or a one-time contribution via PayPal. No new patrons this time, but I noticed that some of you whose credit cards were declined last month updated your info. My numbers went back up and it took me way too long to figure out that this was why. I kept thinking there were new people and I couldn’t find them and I was freaking the fuck out about it. I’m dumb. Thank you all just the same, though!