BattleBots Update is supported primarily through community support and crowdfunding, this project makes virtually nothing from ads. If you enjoy this project and are able please consider backing it on Patreon or Ko-Fi, thanks!

[Antweight Anarchy series 1 is available online here.]

Welcome back to BattleBots Update’s coverage of the first season of Antweight Anarchy. We kind of took a break there for a while because BattleBots dropped the official list and photos of all 63 robots competing in the upcoming season 11 so I had to go put together a behemoth of an article talking about strategies and design points. Needless to say that wore me out and now I’m just looking forward to going to back to writing about some fucking Hexbug toys bumping and smashing into each other inside a miniature Robot Wars arena. This is relaxing compared to what I just got done doing.

DID YOU MISS ME

The break in Antweight Anarchy content couldn’t have been better timed though, as strange as that sounds. See, we made it just two parts (of six) into the series before I had to go rewrite The Bible and that meant we wrapped up all of the qualifiers for the series. We stopped just before the “Redemption” battles so it’s not like we left anyone or anything hanging. Let me break down what these redemption battles entail. So up until this point we’ve seen 3-way rumbles where one robot advances onward; those winners are automatically put through to the semifinals. The losers however have been mixed up and drawn to fight one another in order to see who’s worthy of still advancing onward to the semifinals, whereas the losers will appear in a multi-way melee later on down the road to come back into the tournament.

From this point onward we’ll be seeing bots we’ve already been introduced to however for these upcoming six battles the losers are put into the special melee pot and the winners advance on to the semifinals. (Likewise, semifinalists who lose in future battles automatically qualify for the melee because they were semifinalists.) With that said everyone we’ve seen lose so far will be coming back for one last attempt at making it in via longshot. That means Demon Dragon, Diotior, Mantis, Sting, Airstrike, and yes even Donald Thump, plus others who were previously eliminated. Up first is SMIDSY versus “The Betas” so I can’t wait to see the arena floor get mopped with these two flimsy hammer bots again!

BETAS vs. SMIDSY

BETAS

Weapon: Gear-driven hammers

SMIDSY

Weapon: Lifting wedge

Pictured above: Pressurizing.

Coming back into the fray are Betas. “Are Betas”? “Is Betas”? I don’t know what’s grammatically correct with this competitor but I just know however you want to word it they still suck. Originally matched up with the likes of Hit and Sting within the first few opening seconds of the fight Hit had floored it across the arena, scooped up a Beta, and toppled it over using its flipping arm. This left just the one Beta all by its lonesome who was promptly flipped over as well and both robots were left to languish in the corner by the arena floor grate. Betas brings not one but two whacking hammers into the arena, one on each bot, but since this is little more than two unmodified Hexbugs they leave a lot to be desired and apparently on their own these robots are grossly underweight. Two 75 gram robots versus one 150 gram robot? C’mon, let’s be real here.

SMIDSY returns after a proper ram fest against Rusty in a battle where Diotior was also in the arena but mostly just forgotten about and treated as an afterthought. (Rusty ended up pitting Diotior because hey the pit was open so why the hell not.) These two robots were definitely the stars of that match and SMIDSY just could not win the ground clearance battle because Rusty’s more angular front plow concentrated all of its inertia into a focal point rather than spreading it out across a wedge like SMIDSY. Still, SMIDSY’s design isn’t a bad one and with a lifting wedge and the ability to drive both ways up I feel there’s little that Betas can do to it. So long as SMIDSY doesn’t do some dumb shit like open the pit and then drive into it we should be on track for Betas to be outta here.

One Beta down, one to go.

I don’t know if “divide and conquer” was Betas’ plan, but it’s the plan forced upon it by SMIDSY as right away the wedge robot just runs away with one of the paper thin bots and slams it into the wall leaving its teammate to scramble to try and line up a retaliatory attack. I’ll tell you one thing that’s surprising me about this match right now is how effective Betas’ anti-wedge skirting is working, SMIDSY keeps coming in for a side attack and actually loses the clearance battle to Betas. While this is going on the Beta currently not under attack sneaks in to drop the pit. With SMIDSY’s ground clearance issues now spreading over into the fucking Betas I think we’re approaching a critical mass and something’s gotta give. SMIDSY seems to be able to take control if it attacks from the back but Betas is so twitchy in the arena that lining up hits like these isn’t easy. SMIDSY’s best bet is to ride up atop one of the Betas and just floor it forward in the hopes that its rear tires will provide enough traction and torque to still shove the hammer bots around. I can’t believe I’m writing this.

Tactically not the smartest move but still impressive and disrespectful.

For the early tactical lead that Betas seemed to have a stray blow from SMIDSY knocks off a side panel which understandably means that particular anti-wedge skirt will no longer function against SMIDSY anymore. Additionally one of the Betas gets in the way of SMIDY’s ass and winds up getting backed straight into the pit leaving the battle damaged one all by itself. In the replay you can see Betas landing a couple of blows to SMIDSY’s lid but there’s just not enough muscle behind the weaponry to make a difference. Also somehow the surviving Beta has lost its other side panel meaning it’s now only protected from the front. For all the maneuverability SMIDSY has it just keeps attacking from said front losing the ground clearance battle and taking pot shots from Beta’s hammer. They’re still not doing anything, but that’s points with the judges at the very least.

Stephen says “pressurize” so there’s this article’s quota, and as this happens SMIDSY catches the front end of the surviving Beta and is able to back it straight into the pit with its superior drivetrain. As per the rules of the event “more than 50%” of the robot needs to be immobilized so that’s why one Beta on its own was able to survive, since that’s 50% on the dot. With both Betas down that adds up to 100% (I think) and a victory for SMIDSY who’s now officially back in the game and qualifies for the semifinals. It’s a solid win, but I’ll be damned if those problems with the wedge aren’t a potential sign of worse things to come.

WINNER: SMIDSY, KO

MANTIS vs. TWO-HEADED DEATH FLAMINGO

MANTIS

Weapon: Grappling jaw

TWO-HEADED DEATH FLAMINGO

Weapon: Grappling arms

he cronch

In a previous article I explained how there were really two kinds of robots competing in Antweight Anarchy’s first season: things made from Hexbug toys and things that were 3D printed and sporting proper antweight (or fairyweight if you wanna get American about this) parts. Mantis… falls somewhere in the middle. It’s not a hacked toy – it’s an original creation – but it lacks the finesse and sleekness of something shit out by a 3D printer. This is a custom robot, but a handmade one; maybe all the hot glue snot gave it away. Mantis’ weapon is a clamping jaw that it can use to bite down and drag opponents around with though in its fight with Witch Doctor and Bane we saw this weapon used to little effect and at one point it even stopped working entirely. If Mantis can’t win this next fight though… maybe the scrapyard ain’t looking so bad.

Two-Headed Death Flamingo, commonly referred to as “Mingo” by fans, is a big brain robot idea from the knuckleheads that brought you Jellyfish in the Robot Wars reboot and Shark Setrakian in Bugglebots. It’s main draw is that it has two massive grappling arms that it can deploy down from the side to corral opponents around with but the arms can be retracted upward so the bot can avoid getting cornered weirdly. The Antweight Anarchy version of Mingo doesn’t quite feature that level of interactivity and instead is mostly a demo bot that has the arms already down and it swings wide and likes to get stuck in places. Case in point Two-Headed Death Flamingo is in the redemption rounds because it was smashed to pieces by Minotaur who showed no remorse ripping the hexbug guts out from under this thing’s flimsy chassis.

Two-Headed Death Flamingo helps Mantis drop the pit for reasons unknown.

I will say for a robot whose radio lacks the additional channels necessary to have functional arms I do think it’s cool that Two-Headed Death Flamingo can do a little spin move to deploy its grabbing arms. I don’t know if that was just a happy accident or what but if the judges still gave points for “style” well there’s some fucking style for you right there. Two-Headed Death Flamingo gets all up in Mantis’ face and even though it clearly lacks the motor power to shove Mantis around that’s not stopping it from slapping and thwacking away with its extended arms even going so far as to disorient Mantis and lead it into the upper corner. Mantis eventually finds its balls and bites down on one of Mingo’s arms and spins around in place before grabbing the other one and doing the same thing.

What the fuck did you think was going to happen?

Mantis is clearly trying to drag Two-Headed Death Flamingo upwards toward the pit button but despite how underpowered Two-Headed Death Flamingo’s drivetrain is it’s still pushing against Mantis and causing it to miss its mark leaving Mantis no choice but to just let the bird go. With a little help from Two-Headed Death Flamingo, Mantis is able to back into the pit trigger and drop the hazard open. Now the strategy is going to be to bite down somewhere on Two-Headed Death Flamingo’s free real estate and just drag it down to hell. After the replay is shown of the pit opening up Mantis has somehow managed to bite down directly on Two-Headed Death Flamingo’s center chassis meaning its triple-pronged forks are likely keeping Mingo’s own wheels off the floor and almost effortlessly Mantis drops Two-Headed Death Flamingo down the pit.

Not going to lie this fight looks like it was a real workout for Mantis, or maybe it’s just the type of robot that always looks like it’s struggling no matter what. No matter the case, Two-Headed Death Flamingo’s big wide arms weren’t enough to brace against the pit and keep it from dropping in so that leaves Mantis as the winner to advance onward and we’ll see Two-Headed Death Flamingo at least one more time in the free-for-all melee. It was a good effort, but let’s be honest here as bad as Mantis is did you see this panning out any other way?

WINNER: Mantis, KO

STING vs. THE SWARM

STING

Weapon: Mace

THE SWARM

Weapon: Grappling arms

ALL YOU MOTHERFUCKERS ARE GONNA PAY

Earlier in this article I mentioned how Hit was the reason why Betas wound up in the redemptions. What I failed to mention was that Sting was the other robot in that melee and it put up one hell of a good fight against the frenetic flipper; Sting was whipping around in place like a whirlwind landing all kinds of glancing blows and attacks to Hit that just couldn’t make a dent in the flipper. Even with Hit’s leading wedge busted off, from the sheer power of its own lifting arms, Sting was nothing more than a plaything that wound up in the pit after its weapon arm dipped into the hazard and the robot couldn’t get out. This time around however I think Sting and its mighty mace will be doing all the talking…

I know what you’re thinking and in case you missed it or just forgot because it’s been a while I’ll spoil The Swarm for you: no there are not four drivers, most of the robots are just classic Hexbugs. The things that vibrate around and move semi-randomly. It’s just not feasible to get a four-part minibot engineered down to 150 grams, the weight limit for antweights. Hell two Betas is apparently as much as you can get away with and that shit straight up sucks. The only member of The Swarm with a human operator is the green one, Crawlie, which features outstretched grappling jaws that don’t do anything other than give hugs. The spinning bar on Blend doesn’t actually work, neither does the “spinner stopper” on Skye, and Duck just scoots around mindlessly on its own. It’s a nice gimmick so long as you define “nice” as “0-2”.

Skye, taking the beating of a lifetime.

I appreciate Stephen’s commitment to the act but The Swarm at worst suffered death by a thousand cuts at the hands of the razor blades that were glued onto Tombstone’s spinner in its previous fight. These are just the same crappy little robots scooting and skittering about and it’s going to be a right pain in the ass for Sting to chase all of them down. Blend takes the first whack, then Skye, and then Sting just goes all out and drives on top of Blend while swinging its mace around back and forth. Crawlie takes several overhead swings to its lid and this is supposed to be the one robot that actually works but it’s dead in the water too. Thanks to the shape of Duck’s chassis it’s currently stuck against the arena wall unable to move and a similar thing is happening with Skye. The only member of The Swarm still “mobile” is Blend and that’s because it’s narrowed pointed front end ensures it can’t faceplant against the arena wall and get stuck.

The aftermath of Skye getting wrecked.

We get a close-up view of Duck stuck against the wall and when the camera pulls back out Skye’s been dragged away from the side of the arena and is currently getting the literal shit kicked out of it by Sting who’s spinning around and whacking at it while also chopping back and forth. Unfortunately given how simple the tech is under the hood of Skye it’s not going to just spontaneously stop working, that’s why battles with The Swarm feel like they take an hour and a half to finish. Skye takes another few shots while Blend betrays what I said about it earlier and finds a corner to die in. Duck somehow manages to get away from the wall and starts eating Crawlie’s ass all while Skye takes its turn getting stuck this time behind the pit trigger.

Mercifully because so much of The Swarm was “knocked out” the clusterbot was considered to be incapacitated meaning unlike the first time we saw this robot it’s getting mercy killed here. This sends The Swarm into the rampage rumble where it might just stand a chance considering nobody has to drive it and the little Hexbugs are just going to scurry around all over the place anyways.

WINNER: Sting, KO

BANE vs. AIRSTRIKE

BANE

Weapon: Spinning outer shell

AIRSTRIKE

Weapon: Wedge

Here comes Bane, because Airstrike is DOA.

Bane is billed as a shell spinner but like I said before it’s really just a sit-and-spin thwack bot that might be able to be nudged around with some finagling of the controls. I know there’s a custom BattleBots Hexbug that has an overhead spinner but maybe it just sucks for practical uses like these so production just doesn’t use them. That said, Bane still poses a significant threat because of its metal teeth; this thing spins up incredibly fast and in the recap footage we see it knocking loose the little pieces on Witch Doctor that comprised its plow. I was also expecting Bane to damage Mantis since Mantis looked like it had piss poor armor that would be easily shredded, but I was wrong. In the end Bane wound up thrown down the pit by Witch Doctor who went on to win the battle (obviously, because we just saw Mantis earlier in this article).

Now I’ll play along with the kayfabe that Bane is spinner, because it kind of technically is, but billing Airstrike as a “flipper” is just disingenuous. There is no mechanism in place to articulate Airstrike’s front flipping arm. It’s just a wedge, a wedge covered in candy corn. Airstrike went into battle against Scrappy and Donald Thump wherein Donald just died immediately and Scrappy attempted to go the distance. Scrappy, looking like a crappier version of Sting, actually won the fight because at one point Airstrike charged forward at Scrappy and tried to slam it into the wall. What wound up happening is this hit disabled Airstrike but Scrappy’s weapon arm got tangled up in Airstrike so it was ruled a “double KO” and the judges stepped in to deliver a verdict. Obviously Airstrike wasn’t the winner.

Grabbing stills for this fight was an impossible task.

For some reason Airstrike looks like it’s wearing some kind of special metal armor on its flipper for this fight, not like it matters or anything. Bane floors it from the starting arrow and starts spinning around but Airstrike is doing a whole lot of fucking nothing. Bane, confused, stops spinning and just rams into Airstrike to see what happens. Airstrike rebounds and scoots back forward a bit almost like it’s trying to come back to life, but it dies again. This is about the time I also notice the “thing” jutting out from the back of Airstrike, it’s a Hexbug “Circuit Board” skateboard toy so yeah that flipper is going to do fuck all. Bane stumbles and bumps around, slashes at Airstrike a couple of times, but what are you guys expecting Bane to do? The fight was over before it started.

We get a slow-mo replay of that one hit Bane landed and when the fight resumes Airstrike has been battered into the corner near the fake floor spikes and Bane is just spinning and whaling away at the dead wedge bot. Props to whoever is driving Bane because they’re essentially making up a “melty brain” drivetrain on their own by allowing the robot to spin and thwack in place but also still scoot around. Stephen seems displeased with Bane’s performance because I guess he hasn’t noticed that the other robot isn’t moving. This must mean Stephen is actually a Tyrannosaurus rex and his vision is based on movement.

The fight is ultimately called in Bane’s favor as a KO but I’ve gotta wonder why the production crew didn’t just stop the fight, figure out what the fuck Airstrike’s problem was, and then roll tape again? Surely that would’ve made for better “television”, no?

WINNER: Bane, KO

DIOTIOR vs. DONALD THUMP

DIOTIOR

Weapon: Vertical spinning blade

DONALD THUMP

Weapon: “Vertical spinning blade”

NO NOT THE MEME MAN

We recently saw Witch Doctor advance onto the semifinals and that’s all Diotior is – a Witch Doctor with some fur and googly eyes on it – so what’s this thing’s story? Why’s it down here in the redemption rounds? Simply put, it was outclassed by two opponents who were those custom 3D printed types. SMIDSY was the other robot from Diotior’s heat to lose because much like Diotior it wound up in the pit. On its own the Witch Doctor Hexbug is clearly a formidable opponent in the Antweight Anarchy series but its strengths were easily outmatched by two proper custom builds. There’s no real difference between Diotior and Witch Doctor, Diotior just had an unlucky draw and an ineffective weapon which I’m certain will be equally as useless in this fight.

Donald Thump is a pisstake at the expense of former US President Donald Trump. The fact that “Former US President Donald Trump” is even a real fucking phrase is proof that we’re living in the Dark Timeline. Anyways this is a replica of the Robot Wars competitor of the same name down to its ugly visage and even though it’s billed as having a vertical spinner of its own don’t believe the hype, Donald Thump is also made from one of those Circuit Board skateboard toys so that weapon is purely for show which is probably for the best because I don’t think anyone on this planet wants to see Donald Anything win. At least nobody who can read. Donald Thump was in the fray with Airstrike and Scrappy and died immediately with barely any contact from Scrappy. Donald in a one-on-one with Diotior is going to be like my dumb ass trying to go one-on-one with Michael fucking Jordan.

Remember that time Donald Trump got banned from Twitter lmfao

I’ll give Donald Thump credit, it immediately goes for Diotior to try and lock heads and push back against an advancing opponent. This almost works and I say “almost” because that shitty vertical spinner on Diotior that I was just talking smack about lands a blow that flips Donald Thump completely over. In one shot. This fight could be over right now but I think Diotior knows this is a free throw of a match so it whacks Donald again and puts it back onto its wheels. Amazingly, Donald Thump hasn’t broken down yet. You’d think after sustaining not one but two whole hits this hunk of crap would’ve caved in but nope the robot is as spry as ever flipping and twisting all over the fucking place.

Donald Thump looks like it tries to open the pit at one point but misses its mark and fails to do so. I don’t think there’s enough power behind its drive to properly hit the pit tire anyways and if this thing looks like it’s a nightmare to drive then you’d be correct because I own one of these toys and can confirm that driving it around is more of a suggestion than anything. Case in point Donald Thump goes for a jab, misses wide, and gets high centered on the lip of the pit. Diotior, a robot with some actual muscle behind its drivetrain, slams into the pit release button and drops the floor out from underneath Donald sending him to his doom and ensuring he won’t be getting a second term. Funnily enough I think that’s how they got rid of Donald in real life too, they just opened a trap door in the Oval Office and whisked him away back to wherever the fuck he came from. I don’t know, Michigan?

WINNER: Diotior, KO

GREED vs. DEMON DRAGON

GREED

Weapon: Wedge

DEMON DRAGON

Weapon: Spiked ram

You can barely tell what’s happening here because it’s been zoomed into 144p.

Hot on the heels of Donald Thump comes “another goddamned Circuit Board”, Antweight Anarchy’s, variant on my meme about vertical spinners. Greed is a long and slender robot whose chassis is obviously meant to hide the plastic skateboard under it. Unlike Airstrike this robot isn’t listed as a flipper, it’s just a wedge bot though I should admit it does have a passing resemblance to Robot Wars competitor Push To Exit who did have a flipper. Greed was one of the two robots discombobulated by Minotaur in the qualifiers and went out rather quickly after some well placed shots to its rear end no doubt unsettled the mechanics underneath. The Circuit Boards that this robot was made from have weak drivetrains so chances are it’s going to struggle to shove its walkerbot opponent around especially if the production crew allowed it to weigh twice as much.

Demon Dragon was in a fight with Tombstone. That’s all I can tell you about this monstrosity because despite its side panels and generous amount of cardboard sticking out all over the place it caught a bad blow from the spinner and just sorta seized up and died. Apparently Demon Dragon’s weaponry is a set of fixed jaws at its front end made from screws but for all the bells and whistles this thing has it just prefers to live a quiet life and do absolutely nothing. Considering Greed has no real active weapon to speak of we might actually see some proper aggression out of Demon Dragon.

Demon Dragon, in Repose

Demon Dragon leaves its starting position walking with a sense of purpose for once and looks like it’s going to try and flank the fourteen foot long Greed. This doesn’t work as Greed slips around and briefly bumps into Demon Dragon before locking heads with the beast. Demon Dragon’s jaw bites down onto Greed’s ass and as soon as this happens all movement from the robot ceases. Is the fucking “off” switch just mounted on the front of this thing or something? I’m not sure what kind of damage Demon Dragon is capable of doing with its screws but it certainly looked like its walking drivetrain would’ve had the power to overwhelm the crappy toy skateboard underneath Greed’s hood.

So that’s it, Demon Dragon is cast into the free-for-all rumble where I’m absolutely positive it’s just going to die again. This was a best case scenario for the walker and it couldn’t even manage to land a hit without just dying on the spot. I don’t know what Demon Dragon was made from, it looks like a kit of some sort, but someone please put this thing out to pasture. Fuck Demon Dragon.

WINNER: Greed, KO


Now that we’ve moved past the qualification fights we’re going to see more 1V1 fights than 3-way rumbles and as such there’s going to be a bit more content in each of these articles now… at least until we get to the heat finals when we go back to one fight per video but we’ll cross that road when we get there. For those of you playing along at home with your bingo cards every robot who won a fight in this article is advancing onward to the semifinals after successfully capitalizing on their second chance. Everyone who lost however is going into the big pot of robots for the “redemption rumble” at the very end of the series to see whose robotic claw pops up from the dirt in front of their gravestones.

Yeah you knew there’d be a still of this in the article somewhere.

Some of these robots just had bad draws and I was expecting them to advance onward with no qualms whatsoever. Bots like Sting, SMIDSY, and even Diotior given Diotior’s match up against Donald fucking Thump. But then there were the wildcards where it was anyone’s guess who was going to advance on line Bane vs. Airstrike. Who knew Airstrike was going to be dead on arrival? And did anyone really expect The Swarm to do much of anything in its redemption battle? I’m just glad this one was called much sooner than the Tombstone fight as amusing as it was seeing the little bots get battered around.

But that’s where we stand now. Everyone who won a fight in the first two articles has already gone ahead to the semifinals and now everyone who won a fight in this article will be paired up with one of them. After the semis (“Part 4”) we have the heat finals (“Part 5”) and after that the sixth and final article kicks off with the big rumble to see who’s going to cash a check straight into the Grand Finals, we do said Grand Finals, and then have a playoff for third place to find out who’s at least got a podium finish. Hopefully that’s not too confusing, it might sound it but it all makes sense on paper at least.

Thank you for checking out this installment of BattleBots Update. If you’d like to support this project you can do so with a recurring monthly pledge on Patreon or a one-time donation with Ko-Fi. (Additionally if you want to support Antweight Anarchy, here is the show’s own Patreon.) Finally as you all know there’s BBU stickers over at Redbubble that’ll look great on a toolbox or robot of your choosing and remember to follow BattleBots Update on Facebook where we were just recently denied a Verified check!

– Draco