The verdict is in on last week’s surprise article on Antweight Anarchy: it’s a Hit — I mean, hit! Anthony and the crew behind the show were thrilled over the feature, Stephen insisted his use of the word “pressurize” was intentional, and the robot combat community was mostly warm toward the article. The post on Reddit wasn’t 100% upvoted but I think that’s because there are people who don’t yet understand that this entire website is one big joke and I’m the punchline. But that’s cool, even the most popular songs on YouTube still have people who’ve downvoted it so it’s not like I’m taking it personally; I’m just pleased that at least “the vast majority” of the community hasn’t grown tired of The Update after six years. I can’t believe it’s been that long, I’m almost positive my old articles from 2015 read like trash compared to what’s being posted now. I’m scared to go back and look at them; six years is my longest consistent writing gig ever (previous record was four years for a variety/comedy website).
Anyways last time on The Update we took a look at a bundle of three fights from Antweight Anarchy as “part 1” because every fight was posted as its own separate video and I figured that was the most efficient way of going about business. Today we’ll be checking out episodes 4-6 which feature perennial favorite Tombstone, fan favorite Witch Doctor, and some stranger robots like the grappling jaws of Mantis and spinning shell of Bane. There’s also Demon Dragon, who’s up in the first group battle, so let’s cut to the chase and get to what we’re all here for. The jokes. I hope.
DEMON DRAGON vs. THE SWARM vs. TOMBSTONE
Demon Dragon is… well I don’t know what it is. It’s a walker, that much is made apparent by the dude who’s doing the impression of the disembodied voice from the Robot Wars reboot seasons. It’s a shuffler of some persuasion and it appears to have an array of screws mounted onto its front end that it can ram with? Maybe it’s a jaw and it can “bite” like a dragon? No idea, but this thing is covered in so many clearance sign clippings that I’m starting to think those might’ve come with whatever existing toy this robot is based upon. At least, that’s my assumption. My whole understanding of this stupid robot is one big assumption. It doesn’t even look like a dragon.
Fans of Robot Wars and BattleBots will recognize The Swarm as this is literally just a replica of the same clusterbot that competed in Robot Wars under that same name and at BattleBots as The Four Horsemen. All of the constituents of The Swarm are here, too. There’s Duck the wedge, Blend the spinner, Crawlie the grappler, and Skye the… whatever the fuck Skye was supposed to be. You’re probably wondering how this many tiny robots were engineered and I hate to be the person who pulls back the curtain but these are just regular Hexbugs with a shell on them. You know, the flagship toy that’s just a vibrating toothbrush head that scoots around? Crawlie is the only one of the four robots that’s controllable and even then its weapon is just for show, it’s an open grappler.
And finally we have Tombstone, who had some upgrades made to it in between its introductory glamour shot and its arrival in the arena. Can you spot the difference? I’ll give you a hint, it’s two pence and some goddamned razor blades. Yeah, in order to make the standard Tombstone Hexbug have a little more “oomph” behind it the design team added some weight in the form of a couple of pennies and sandwiched in two halves of a box cutter. This will probably fuck up the spin-up time of the weapon substantially but it will definitely turn this ordinary Tombstone into something nefarious. Tell me who you think is going to win: some spinning box cutter blades or whatever the hell Demon Dragon has going on?
The Swarm disperses at random, because like I said 75% of this clusterbot is an uncontrollable Hexbug vibrator, and Tombstone slashes at the legs of the crawling Demon Dragon. Demon Dragon takes a couple more steps forward and then seizes up, meanwhile Tombstone cleaves into the green Crawlie robot of The Swarm effectively taking the only human-controlled element of the group out of the equation. Not gonna lie, those pennies probably made a difference here. Ray Billings ought to be taking some notes for the real thing because maybe the difference between the real Tombstone winning another Giant Nut or losing another season is slapping a couple postage stamps on either end of Tombstone’s spinner and using the extra weight to his advantage.
Demon Dragon is dead, that much we know for sure because it’s just stopped moving now that the replays are done and the fight has resumed. My best guess as to what happened is Tombstone probably popped loose one of the legs of the walking mechanism and because Demon Dragon is so fragile this one twisted ankle caused the whole assembly to jam up. Demon Dragon even has side panels so how Tombstone achieved this is anyone’s guess, this just so happens to be my guess. While I was focusing on Demon Dragon it looks like Skye and Blend from The Swarm have vibrated over to the far corner of the arena near where the floor flipper should be and Duck is cruising around in the middle of the box. We’re down to what amounts to a chicken with its head cut off now. This is Tombstone against the literal randomness of the goddamned universe. If you’re into quantum theory this fight should be giving you a science boner any second now.
Duck takes a hit from Tombstone and gets thrown into the pit release trigger in such a way that its sloped wedge is on the wrong side of the tire for it to be able to get away. Skye and Blend start do-si-do’ing around in the corner so Tombstone comes in and cleaves the two robots apart sending Skye flying across the floor and Blend left in the corner. Now I remember what Skye was supposed to be, it was that piece of shit covered in chunks of used tire that was meant to absorb impacts from spinners and slow them down. Yeah, looks like that stupid idea doesn’t work in the antweight class either guys. Skye’s outer chassis shell has been bent in the chaos of this fight so it seems the little Hexbug under it is only capable of spinning around in circles. Blend is doing the same thing, presumably because tangoing with the damaged Skye also knocked its own outer shell loose.
Tombstone goes back and hits Crawlie again, warping the grappler’s claws, before plowing into Blend and kicking it into the wall. I think 50% of this multibot is knocked out which means this battle should probably be over, because now it’s just Tombstone repeatedly curbstomping a tiny robot that has no one behind the wheel. It goes without saying Blend’s horizontal spinner is also purely for show. I feel like I shouldn’t need to say that but you never know with these things. Skye gets stuck on Crawlie, then gets beaten and bashed away which actually rights Crawlie in the process but I guess something’s wrong with that robot because it doesn’t come back to life. Duck is still stuck by the pit tire, and Blend gets whacked across the arena and shoved up Demon Dragon’s ass.
Duck eventually gets free of the pit tire because Tombstone hits it, Blend has buried itself in the far corner opposite the pit, Skye seems to still be aimlessly spinning around, and Crawlie has been flipped back over but is still dead. The fight is finally called in favor of Tombstone by way of knock out. Could’ve used that verdict about a minute ago but I can’t blame the production crew for wanting to get a good field study on the effects of pennies and razor blades on Hexbug toys.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
MINOTAUR vs. TWO-HEADED DEATH FLAMINGO vs. GREED
They’re not pulling any punches with this next fight because right out of the gate the first robot introduced is Minotaur, which as you might have imagined is just the standard Hexbug BattleBots replica toy of the Brazilian bull. As far as I can tell they haven’t taped any razor blades to Minotaur so this is just a stock robot, though given who it’s been drawn against I find it a stretch to say that Minotaur won’t be the one coming out ahead. Hexbug picked some solid robots to turn into miniature RC cars and so far with the exception of the abomination that was Diotior (based on Witch Doctor) they’ve done well so far as-is. I’m not sure what kind of damage Minotaur’s drum can do, but it’s probably going to be the sturdiest robot in the fight.
Two-Headed Death Flamingo, or just “Mingo” for short, is based on a real-life competitor of the same name. With a name that fucking dumb of course there’s a real-life counterpart. Despite the name, the real Two-Headed Death Flamingo is basically a central wedge with two sideways-mounted arms that it can deploy downward to corral opponents around with, and then retract upward so that the robot doesn’t spend the entire fight being fourteen goddamned feet wide and impossible to control. Antweight Anarchy’s version of Mingo however just features the arms in an always down position meaning this one’s going to be a nightmare to control near the edges of the box.
Greed looks like a flipper, but it’s not introduced as one. The disembodied voice says it’s just a “pusher”. I believe there’s another one of those “Circuit Board” toys under the hood of this robot because that’s the only explanation I have for its super long chassis, it’s to hide the fucking skateboard underneath it. Despite being based off of no one in particular, Greed evokes memories of Robot Wars’ Push To Exit, which looked about the same and had a forward-hinged flipping arm that, if memory serves me right, didn’t do a damn thing. Also at one point the robot was covered in framed photos of dogs and the hosts of the show were like “literally what the fuck is the matter with you” except they just said that with a friendlier and more British tone.
All three robots charge forward at the start of the fight. Good. This is what I want to see, three robots going all in no matter the fact that two of them are made out of spraypainted cardstock. Greed locks heads with Two-Headed Death Flamingo and tries to take the upper hand but Minotaur comes in from the side breaking the fight up and stealing Mingo for itself. Two-Headed Death Flamingo gets popped by Minotaur’s spinning drum and knocked into the wall and immediately you can tell something’s come undone under the hood because the robot seems to be driving diagonally and is caught against the wall. This is why the real-life version of this robot can retract its arms, to avoid exactly this from happening. But hey, shit like that’s hard to do on a shoestring budget and it’s even harder to force additional features into RC bases that lack additional channels so what are you gonna do?
Greed takes a shot to its side from Minotaur that pops it up in the air but the bot comes back down without looking like it’s sustained too much damage. Meanwhile Two-Headed Death Flamingo is busy being gutted alive by Minotaur and it becomes apparent that under Mingo’s inner chassis is what appears to be a stripped down miniature car because it looks like it has automotive steering. Meanwhile Greed takes another hit, this time straight to its back end, and if you look closely you can see the clear plastic of the aforementioned Circuit Board toy jutting out from the robot’s ass. It seems Minotaur’s drum has basically kicked loose the outer shells of both of these robots leaving them either immobile (Greed) or barely mobile (Two-Headed Death Flamingo).
The green wedge bot seems to be well and truly dead, but since Two-Headed Death Flamingo is still twitching about Minotaur comes in and wrestles with it and ultimately frees it from the corner it’s been stuck in for most of the fight. Props to Mingo, it’s still trying to drive around even though it’s basically been crippled almost from the start of the match. Eventually it gets slammed into the wall near the pit trigger and I guess the robot’s grappling arms get bent downward to such a degree that the robot’s wheels come off the ground because the bird’s dead. Mintoaur opens the pit just for shits and giggles because Greed’s long been “counted out” and Mingo isn’t long for this world either. Would it be cool to see someone get dropped down the pit? Of course. But is it going to happen? No, there’s not enough time for Greed to get dragged out of the corner.
Two-Headed Death Flamingo is counted down and the fight is called in favor of Minotaur.
WINNER: Minotaur, KO
WITCH DOCTOR vs. MANTIS vs. BANE
We have another unmodified Hexbug in the form of Witch Doctor. Technically this is the second time we’ve seen this robot because in the previous article Diotior was based upon this exact toy (no really, compare the two). Building off of what we know from the “first time” we saw this robot in action we can sadly expect an underwhelming vertical spinner but a robot that’s otherwise pretty nimble around the floor. Much like Minotaur in the previous round, this looks like a stock Witch Doctor with no changes or upgrades made to it. A solid ram bot, but not much else. Gotta keep those Hexbugs safe for the kids who might stick their finger in a spinning toy weapon. Idiots. If this were the 1950’s not only would this have a real spinner it would probably also have uranium batteries.
Mantis is clearly an original design of some persuasion, it’s not based off of any Hexbug or other toy that I am aware of. This puts this robot in the same category of competitors as Rusty, SMIDSY, and Hit except Mantis doesn’t have a 3D-printed chassis and it looks like it can literally fall apart at any second. It’s a grappling robot with three prongs poking out from its front end and a piercing Razer-like beak for biting down on other robots with. The beak doesn’t look like it can do any significant damage but inside an arena with a pit hazard Mantis could be the dark horse of this battle if it can drop the pit and then grapple its opponents down into it.
Finally the last robot introduced in this article is Bane, named as such because I guess it’s the bane of everyone’s miserable existence. It’s billed as a shell spinner but in actuality that shell is hard-mounted to the driving pod underneath the robot and it just spins around in place until someone hits it. I think Hexbug has made a non-standard generic “DIY BattleBot” where an overhead spinning blade is an option, but this doesn’t appear to be made from that. This is some other miniature RC kit that’s had a lid covered in aluminum spikes stuck on top of it. It’s fast and nimble meaning when it starts spinning it gets up to speed very quickly, but since this amounts to a thwack bot it’s going to rely on the impatience or outright stupidity of its opponents to run into it.
Bane draws first blood by locking heads with Mantis immediately, almost as if the robot was intentionally facing diagonally to make this lunge from the start. That’s naughty. Witch Doctor eventually gets in on the action and joins the two locked together robots to deliver some blows of its own before ducking out and immediately going for the pit button. This is a strategy I thought I’d see Mantis go for but I guess if Witch Doctor is just going to drop the pit as soon as the fight starts then that’s their prerogative. Mantis will surely attempt to capitalize on this kind gesture in due time, assuming Bane doesn’t tear it to fucking pieces.
Witch Doctor cruises back into the fray and catches a blow from Bane before getting snagged in Mantis’ triple-pronged front forks. Stephen says the word “pressurize”. Bane recoils all the way across the arena near the pit trigger with both Mantis and Witch Doctor in close pursuit, neither one wanting to let the spinner start doing its thing. Mantis seems to have hit the wall with a little too much eagerness however because now its leftmost fork is stuck underneath the mechanism that the pit tire is attached to. Mantis is able to get away with a little help from Witch Doctor and completely misses a chance to bite down on the crowd favorite. Meanwhile Bane has driven over near the pit and much like what we saw with Sting this immediately causes the robot to stop spinning like a fucking maniac because now it needs to get away from the hazard. Thankfully unlike Sting, Bane has a directional indicator for a mast so it should be able to get away relatively easily.
While Bane is trying to get away from the pit to my surprise Witch Doctor has managed to T-bone Mantis and has shoved it dangerously close to the pit all on its own. Witch Doctor isn’t able to capitalize on the attack and Mantis gets away while Bane finally gets a direct line of sight away from the pit and escapes to the opposite corner and starts spinning. Witch Doctor picks on Mantis for a bit and then turns its attention to Bane. Bad idea because Witch Doctor catches the short end of that stick and loses a chunk of its plow. Again, these are just the pieces that are supposed to come off of these robots as “battle damage” so it’s not like Bane has the power to split fucking atoms or whatever. I also just now noticed the other half of Witch Doctor’s plow is sitting on the floor in the corner opposite the pit so that’s going to significantly reduce Witch Doctor’s ability to keep opponents slammed onto its front end.
Mantis lunges forward and manages to actually bite down on Witch Doctor. Like I predicted we’re not going to see any plastic get pierced here, but now the voodoo bot is stuck in Mantis’ grip. The problem is all of Witch Doctor’s wheels are still on the ground so it immediately kicks it into reverse gear to get away from Mantis and is able to overpower the grip of Mantis with its drivetrain to get away. Bane darts out of view of the camera, disappears for a few seconds, and then comes back with a massive ram onto Mantis’ rear end. No damage seems to be sustained from this impact, and much like a shitty rock band from the 1970’s everyone splits up again to go fuck off and do their own things.
As of right now I’d say Mantis has made the most attempts to do something in this fight seeing as how it’s a control bot and also a much more complex custom build of a robot, but it just can’t seem to get a grip on Witch Doctor. I don’t know why Mantis is so obsessed with that particular robot when there’s a bright fucking green “spinner” that’s been blowing smoke up everyone’s asses this whole time. You’d think Bane might be an easier priority target to drop down the pit considering how uncontrollable it looks. Witch Doctor bumps into Bane to bring the spinner to a halt and although Mantis gets in the way for a split second, the spinner is dumped into the pit by Witch Doctor. Hey Mantis, that was supposed to be your thing. Now if this goes to the judges, which it probably will, you’re completely fucked because Witch Doctor literally just dunked on you.
Mantis’ main problem here is that after being pummeled around the arena its front forks are now slightly bent upward. All these head-on collisions and impacts with the arena wall have slowly taken a toll on the grappler and what we’re left with is a machine with a mostly functional weapon that can’t even get a good bite anymore because its front end is so fucked up. For fuck’s sake you’re getting beaten by a stock Hexbug, Mantis! Mantis’ crusher comes down and it’s a miss, of course. I know it seems like I’m talking a lot of shit on Mantis right now but Witch Doctor’s spinner has done fucking nothing this whole fight, though the only reason I haven’t drawn more attention to that is because that was to be expected.
In the twilight seconds of this fight Mantis once again gets Witch Doctor tangled up in its front forks, its grappler seemingly frozen in its down position, and very nearly gets its opponent over to the pit. Witch Doctor is obviously driving against the force of Mantis and Mantis just doesn’t have the drivetrain needed to turn and push against Witch Doctor’s attempt and fleeing. Witch Doctor gets away and Mantis is spun around so sharply that its back end gets caught hanging over the pit. This is basically the end of the road for Mantis, but before Witch Doctor can sink this free throw the clock runs out and “cease” is called.
If you predicted anything other than Witch Doctor coming away with the victory here then I question your IQ level. Mantis was a big foreboding machine in the arena, but when push came to shove this big ass waste of space almost wound up in the pit itself. Five more seconds and this would’ve been a complete cakewalk for Witch Doctor. The judges rule in favor of Witch Doctor, sending Bane and Mantis into the upcoming redemption rounds (spoilers?).
WINNER: Witch Doctor, Judges’ Decision
Antweight Anarchy’s first series consisted of only six qualification fights, so this wraps up all of the preliminaries. No new robots from this point onward as next week we go into the “redemption” rounds where losers from the first six fights return to vie for a shot in the multi-way melee to get back into the game. After that we move into the semifinals and later the heat finals where all of the losers from these rounds automatically qualify for the same play-in rumble. After that it’s the big showdown rumble followed by the championship as well as the third place playoff. Hopefully that all made sense. Just trust me on this, it does when you’re looking at the episode listings.
I’m glad that the inclusion of this fan series was met with fond surprise by the robot combat community. Like I said there’s a lot of directions and places I want to take The Update and this was one of them. For those of you wondering, since I mentioned “Lego Robot Wars” by name in the previous post, yes this coverage does also include Bugglebots. Please don’t bring the “wen bugglebots” meme to my social media page. There also a gaping hole in this website in the fact that I never actually finished season one of BattleBots because of the whole “hurricane” thing a few years ago. I intend to go back and wrap that up someday too. But for now, Antweight Anarchy is full steam ahead!
BattleBots Update is primarily supported by fan contributions. I know there’s Google ads that run on these pages but if I showed you my Google Analytics where the “page views” and “ad revenue” columns were side by side you’d be appalled at how dire the situation is (BBU received approximately 4.6K page views in September 2021 and even with all of those ad impressions I made a whopping 92 cents). So yeah, if you’d like to help support this project please consider making a monthly pledge on Patreon, or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. If you would like to also support Antweight Anarchy, here is the show’s Patreon. Official BBU stickers are always ready to go on Redbubble, and be sure you’re following BattleBots Update on Facebook to stay notified of things like when I go crazy and start writing about fan series you may have never heard of before.