[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on February 10, 2012. This is before the reboot seasons that are airing today. As such this article focuses entirely on robots from the Comedy Central era of the show.]
Although the competition today is a shell of its former glory at one point in time BattleBots was sitting pretty as one of the highest rated series on television and touted a five-season show, seven officially sanctioned events in the span of 4 years, two video games (that were terrible), and an entire line of merchandising ranging from wind-up toys to keychains to radio controlled replicas of popular contenders and even fucking Happy Meal toys. BattleBots was it. It was the “in thing” to do, and it honestly was something that was only possible at the turn of the millennium; it was the pinnacle of technological and mechanical advancement and entertainment, the first completely contained (sort of) bloodsport. Megarace realized.
In the five seasons of BattleBots aired on Comedy Central there were a number of fights showcased that were laughably and ridiculously in favor of one of the competitors for a myriad of reasons. Maybe their opponent was built out of tin foil. Maybe they were broken from a previous fight. Whatever the reason was, in between nail-biting back and forth bouts between the series’ heavy-hitters there were always some fights in the mix that stuck out like a sore thumb. These are the seven most one-sided battles in the [televised] history of the sport.
The Obvious Winner: Ziggo
The One-sided Fight: Ziggo was a lightweight robot built by a closet furry that was renown in the sport for two things: destroying its opponents in a few quick blows or being bumped into the wall and stop working completely. Ziggo was the robotic embodiment of a cat, it’s a small spinning dome covered in blades; that’s all it ever needed to win. The Missing Link, on the other hand, was a more elaborate and robust-looking robot sporting a wider chassis and two big rubbery tires. In its official BattleBots photograph The Missing Link is seen sporting a Craftsman chainsaw but in this fight the driver smartly replaced his gas-guzzling tree killer with — and this is the best part — a phone book covered in nails. There’s a certain kind of crazy required to take a look at your opponent, Ziggo, and say “you know what would beat that? A phone book. With nails.” The guy who built The Missing Link possessed that craziness.
At the start of the fight The Missing Link proudly floors it across the arena and starts gently caressing Ziggo with the yellow pages. Its strategy is pretty obvious: push Ziggo onto the section of the arena where the bots are loaded in and get it stuck there. That’s a great idea. The bad idea is attempting to do so with what amounts to a phone book on a yard stick. This is not a precision device. It doesn’t take long for The Missing Link’s replacement weapon to come apart and it also doesn’t take long for Ziggo to get in close and pop The Missing Link right in its wheels, ripping them off. And then this happens:
Holy shit. In a shot that could only have been one in a million Ziggo strikes the remaining wheel on The Missing Link and sends the robot skittering across the arena floor. The wheel makes a half turn in one direction, then a half turn the other, and beautifully falls off. Then out of nowhere the Killsaws rise up from the floor and throw The Missing Link a few feet forward while spraying sparks everywhere.
This was the first fight BattleBots ever aired and I personally believe it’s the reason why the show lasted five seasons. You don’t get a beating of this caliber anywhere else.
The Obvious Winner: Complete Control
The One-sided Fight: Complete Control was a newcomer to BattleBots in this season (#2) and this fight was its television debut. Complete Control was a middleweight built by a guy from SomethingAwful.com armed with a clamping device geared down to ridiculous proportions. It’s sleek, blue, and Canadian design let it effortlessly glide across the arena, slip under opponents, and pick them up. Super Chiabot was a “super” version of the previous season’s Chiabot despite the fact not much changed between the two. The robot was basically a box covered in fake plants that had a large spinning disc in front and pooped miniature robots out of its backside. The minibots, as they were called, did absolutely nothing in the fight and one of them was even crushed by Super Chiabot when it was tossed away by Complete Control.
From the start Super Chiabot appears to put up a fairly commendable fight by getting right into the gears of Complete Control wherein a horrendously loud grinding sound can be heard as the Canadian robot’s armor is eaten away by the plantbot’s flywheel. It’s worth mentioning that for being an incredibly ballsy move it was also incredibly stupid; Super Chiabot drove straight into Complete Control’s weaponry which didn’t break from the impact at all. Without missing a beat Complete Control clamps down on the ghillie suit-wearing Chiabot and deadlifts it completely perpendicular to the floor. The move is considered to be one of the most iconic moments in BattleBots history.
Complete Control proceeds to throw the entire robot over its back and promptly hooks itself into Chiabot and goes over with it. It then starts grappling and tugging at Super Chiabot in a manner that makes it look as though its attempting to rip its opponent’s broken weapon straight off of its face. Even when upside-down the thing is still capable of MMA-style grapples. The fight is stopped and both robots are rolled back over but when the buzzer sounds again it’s readily apparent Super Chiabot’s weapon is completely trashed and it loses to Complete Control by a landslide.
It’s worth noting Super Chiabot was built by Will Wright; the guy who created SimCity. He would have had better luck building a replica of the $1 bulldozer from that game instead of this mess. Let me put it this way, remember The Missing Link from the previous entry? That thing managed to beat the original Chiabot before being eaten alive by Ziggo.
The Obvious Winner: Nightmare
The One-sided Fight: People who are only familiar with BattleBots in passing can recognize Nightmare because it was one of the “poster robots” of the sport. Nightmare was a two-wheeled heavyweight robot sporting an inhumanly large vertical disc with two well-defined teeth on it. Its unique appearance and memorable blade decorations permanently burned it into the collective memory of the sport. Even though its history with BattleBots up to this point (season 3) had been shady and full of cheap losses this would be the first time we’d see Nightmare really shine. Slam Job, a pyramid-ish box with an ice pick hammer, was a rookie competitor in this tournament and was built by an average college guy who wanted to experience robot combat firsthand. Oh, he would experience it alright and would need a change of pants afterward.
This fight is BattleBots. It’s also only ten seconds long. Slam Job holds back on leaving the blue square and instead lets Nightmare come over to its side of the arena, its blade already roaring at full speed. Both robots do a half turn to face one another and Nightmare lands the only hit of the fight. This single hit was all it needed because in the blink of an eye Slam Job is hurled into the air head over heels eloquently erupting into at least a dozen pieces.
This one hit knock out victory is easily the go-to moment for anyone who is or was a fan of the sport. Watch the slow motion replays of it from the fight. Go on. You get to see it from three camera angles because that’s how memorable this fight was. This fight lasted ten seconds according to the official timer on the screen. Ten seconds. They gave more air time to replays of this fight than the actual fight. The disconnect between the two robots in this fight was palpable; on one hand you had Nightmare built by a serious and seasoned competitor and on the right was the lowly Slam Job built by some guy in college. Both builders no doubt pulled out all the stops and put forth 101% effort with the tools available to them but that just wasn’t enough; Nightmare absolutely erased Slam Job from history. Had this fight not been videotaped nobody would even know the robot ever existed. Not even the driver.
The Obvious Winner: Wedge of Doom
The One-sided Fight: Wedge of Doom has always been a pretty basic robot throughout its entire BattleBots career. Every incarnation of the robot featured a wedge design with some form of lifting device and this inaugural run of Wedge of Doom is no different; it’s a wedge with a lifting arm. The Wacky Compass, however, was a little bit of a mystery. It’s introduced as having a “spinning wacky bar” but when we actually see The Wacky Compass it appears to be missing its weapon; a little known fact about this battle is that The Wacky Compass won its previous fight in a knock out but broke its weapon in the process. Instead, it has been reduced to a waddling heap of metal with various cardinal directions scribbled onto it. It looked like a total piece of shit, in other words.
And piece of shit it is. The Wacky Compass can’t even get out of its starting square before Wedge of Doom has already smashed into the side of it, bent up the “NE” corner of the bot, and thrown it onto the arena saws which promptly finish off several of the other pieces of “armor” adorning the robot. By this point The Wacky Compass is dead; it’s still visibly functioning to an extent but its armor is bent up and preventing it from moving around. Wedge of Doom wastes no time and promptly shoves the dysfunctional stomper under the hammer wherein the broken machine gets flattened immediately.
The greatest thing about this fight is how much of a mismatch the two designs were. Team Delta, the team behind Wedge of Doom, has never once built something that wasn’t completely streamlined. All of their robots could probably fly if you put wings on them. Believe it or not The Wacky Compass weighs almost exactly the same as Wedge of Doom, perhaps even more if it still had its weapon, but since it was removed I’m guessing both robots weighed about 60 pounds (walking robots received a special percentage of additional weight in each class). Wedge of Doom is completely refined and enclosed on every side. The Wacky Compass literally looks like a walking crab trap stuffed with electronics and pieces of scrap metal. It was so flimsy it was completely knocked out after two nominal hits. You know you’ve got a horrible design when you can bend the sheet metal around the edges and it prevents you from moving.
The Obvious Winner: Mechavore
The One-sided Fight: I wanted to go this whole article without featuring two losing robots built by the same guy but I just couldn’t help myself with Towering Inferno. Towering Inferno comes to us from the same guy who brought us The Missing Link. Though this battle takes place three tournaments later (season 4) it appears that our driver here hasn’t learned much. The guy who built Towering Inferno originally built the first model of the robot using Legos. That’s how you know it’s a quality machine. I’m guessing somewhere on the chassis of Towering Inferno is a sticker reading “CERTIFIED IN LEGO”. Its opponent Mechavore was a no-frills destroying machine inexplicably featuring a cobalt blue fiberglass top. Its weapon was a hellacious cutting disc that made short work of former BattleBots poster robot Vlad the Impaler. That’s right, Mechavore beat Vlad so bad it was forced into retirement.
The moment the arena lights turn green the most ear-shattering mechanical screaming is heard as the gasoline engine powering Mechavore’s cutting disc roars to life and the disc immediately takes off spinning at physics-bending speeds. Towering Inferno takes a moment to mosey on over to Mechavore and proceeds to stab the robot’s cutting wheel with one of its flimsy hammers (the red one) which is promptly sheared off. The impact also completely destroys the drivetrain for that side of Towering Inferno. At this moment Mechavore can safely sit on the sidelines and take a standard knock out victory over Towering Inferno but the driver isn’t the least bit interested in that at all. He decides to teach Towering Inferno a lesson on why having triangle-shaped wheels is a really stupid idea.
The icing on the cake is the fact that Mechavore still isn’t quite done utterly humiliating its opponent on national television. Mechavore was never the type of robot that would continuously beat on a crippled opponent until they were counted out; that’s considered bad sportsmanship in the realm of robot combat. The guy who built it, however, owns a giant party boat. He knows how to laugh at everything and not give a fuck while he’s sailing off into Margaritaville or whatever. Mechavore approaches the giant hunk of metal it ripped off of Towering Inferno, lines up a slap shot, and uses its weapon to blast the piece of scrap metal directly at Towering Inferno.
It then comes in and slices off the robots orange hammer, you know, to make things even.
The Obvious Winner: Vladiator
The One-sided Fight: Trimangle was a behemoth of a super heavyweight sporting a low chassis, four big tires, and a massive spinning triangle-shaped blade powered by the same kind of motor running Nightmare’s disc, and we’ve already seen what that thing was capable of doing in a single blow. Vladiator was a giant metal brick constructed by the builder behind Vlad the Impaler, a legendary fighting robot responsible for a number of knock out wins and tournament championships in the heavyweight division. Vladiator took everything that made Vlad deadly and bumped it up a weight class. It’s weapon was this tiny little pneumatic lifting spike that theoretically is supposed to dead lift 300+ pound robots (don’t worry, it totally can).
Going back to our geometry-laden friend, Trimangle was proof of concept that Team Loki has never built a single thing that will ever work properly except for that one time their robot Surgeon General somehow won a few fights. Even though I just discredited everything they’ve built Trimangle looks beastly at the beginning of this fight; it floors forward and its spinning triangular blade looks five kinds of wicked. It seriously looks like it’s about to bust some heads until the robot’s biggest flaw becomes apparent: Trimangle can’t fucking turn. This isn’t some Zoolander-esque “he can’t turn left” nonsense; Trimangle is literally unable to turn. It only does so when Vladiator rams it or when it gets hit by the hazards. No really, watch it. Despite this, Trimangle gets one solid hit in with its blade and manages a second glancing blow that actually shears the lifting spike right off of Vladiator.
So how is Trimangle the “obvious loser” here? With the exception of not being able to turn it is clearly winning this fight by disabling the weapon of its opponent. Despite scoring loads of points with the judges this was a bad move because by castrating Vladiator Trimangle has effectively reduced its opponent to a 300 pound box that can hurl itself across the arena at speeds of up to 35 MPH. Thirty-five miles per hour. That’s fast enough to get pulled over in a fucking school zone. Let’s crunch some numbers here. Force equals Mass times Acceleration, right? That’s 300 pounds multiplied by 35 MPH. I get 10,500 as an answer. I don’t know how to apply this number because I’m not a physicist but I am officially labeling it as the number of ass kickings Trimangle has just unleashed from Vladiator.
Vladiator lines up one shot — one single shot — and plows straight into Trimangle’s weaponry and destroys it probably while shouting “I CAN DO THAT TOO”. Vladiator is past the point of giving a shit, it has gone into a berserker rage and its only mission objective is to make Trimangle its toy which it proceeds to do after doing flips off of the arena hazards like they’re not even there. From doing nothing more than repeatedly bashing its opponent Vladiator manages to noticeably screw up two of Trimangle’s four wheels and even causes the robot to begin belching out copious amounts of smoke all without having any weapon whatsoever. To finish off a fitting bout demonstrating the horrors of domestic abuse and battery Vladiator mounts Trimangle’s smoking and beaten carcass and parks there until the timer runs out.
The Obvious Winner: War Machine
The One-sided Fight: Mark Setrakian is a maniac. He took the idea of “fighting robots” and ran with it until his legs just couldn’t take it anymore and then he threw the idea like a javelin as far as it would go and killed a small child with it. That’s Setrakian in a nutshell. His robot Snake, just like Mechadon, was the embodiment of nightmare fuel. When you hear “snake” in a robot name you might be expecting a reptile-themed paint job, not a robot that actually looks and moves like a snake. Well guess what? Snake was a goddamned robot snake. It had a large Graboid-from-Tremors mouth and its ass was a spinning drill. War Machine was simplicity realized. It’s a ten-wheeled box with a single piece of steel bent into the shape of a plow mounted onto it. For reasons unknown it also had two small pieces of wood stuck on top of it along with a holographic blue sticker. This design has bothered me for almost a decade.
It’s pretty obvious that Snake isn’t much of a fighter, it’s more or less trying to sell itself on intimidation alone. Apparently, though, Snake won its previous fight by knock out and I’m assuming his opponent rolled forward and spontaneously burst into flames because I cannot see Snake being dangerous to anything if you’re more than five feet away from it. War Machine lines up a shot and almost like a reflex Snake assumes this really creepy attack stance that actually makes its opponent flinch. War Machine actually stops when Snake throws its pose. It doesn’t work a second time, however, and War Machine pounds Snake right in the gut and throws it against the wall causing the mechanized reptile to being smoking and shooting sparks out of its abdomen.
I might be a reptile expert, but I’m no robo-reptile expert. Despite this I do know that it isn’t a good thing when a robot starts smoking and War Machine’s low blow easily took the wind right out of its opponent. Snake never leaves the wall for the rest of the fight and instead writhes around uncomfortably against the arena spike strip and does things like trying to eat the Pulverizer and attack the crowd or something. For such an amazing robot Snake failed because its weak point can be described as “anything that isn’t its head or tail”. It lost to the equivalent of a bomb-disposal robot.
The Obvious Winner: The Crusher
The One-sided Fight: Oh, Stewbot. There is nothing I can say about this robot to fully give you an idea of what this thing was, so here’s a picture of Stewbot in all its former glory to do the explaining for me:
That is a red monster truck towing a platform trailer full of Legos. Whereas the whackjob behind Towering Inferno built his first robot models out of Legos here is a robot that is actually built out of Legos. Hold on I’m not done yet, you haven’t even seen the team behind this thing:
I’m not going to make fun of Stewbot or its team too much because these guys weren’t there to win the championship. These two guys were the hosts of ZDTV’s Computer Stew and they were there to promote their show. They were trolls, in other words, and Stewbot’s maiden voyage into the arena wasn’t televised either, so that’s why they’re here as an Honorable Mention. They lost in the most brilliant manner imaginable, though:
Goodnight, sweet prince.