[BattleBots: S8 E1 is available online through Science Channel HERE.]
“I’ve waited two years for this,” says Kenny Florian who, in that time, has apparently earned the title of having one of the most “feared beards” in the world. Little known fact, Santa Claus also has that distinction seeing as how he ultimately has the authority to either give you that Lego set you asked for or simply break into your house, shit in your stocking, and murder your dog. With that opening remark BattleBots is back, BattleBots Update is back, and starting right now we’ve got 20 weeks’ worth of bot busting content. That’s twice as much as the previous season on ABC and equal to the number of episodes the show was getting back when Comedy Central was footing the bill… and this is just the first season on Discovery Channel. The reason why Discovery is so willing to invest in the show isn’t just because BattleBots is the beautiful bastard child of engineering and a demolition derby — that’s part of it I’m sure — but rather because the reruns of the ABC seasons were literally the highest rated broadcasts in Science Channel’s history. I mean, yeah the show was placed into the same league as crap like Meteorite Men, which was just 60 minutes of old white dudes kicking rocks around in the desert, and Oddities, which was basically Pawn Stars except instead of hocking valuable paintings people would show up trying to sell a B.C. era dildo made of animal bones or some other gross shit. So really you can’t be totally surprised but you also gotta remember that MythBusters was eventually delegated to Science Channel as well, and BattleBots still beat that.
I gotta be honest with you, I was slightly worried about the future of BattleBots because ABC is owned by Disney and from what I’ve heard through the grapevine of having worked in showbiz for the past decade The House of Mouse is brutal with their “contracts”. When you put your name on a Disney contract you are literally making a deal with the fucking devil so when ABC was like “nah we’re done with BattleBots” I sincerely thought that they had cleaned the founders out and were just going to sit on the rights to BattleBots indefinitely. Never in my life have I been so happy to be proven wrong. Discovery Networks is the same company that gave us shows like Junkyard Wars, Full Metal Challenge, and yes even Robotica. Dare I say, after a lifetime of being a lead-in to South Park and a bumper to whatever singing contest ABC was airing at the time, that BattleBots is right at home now?
It’s robot fighting time, 2018 style.
Up until this point BattleBots has run a simple single elimination tournament bracket (with the exception of their first event in 1999). The Pay-Per-View special, all five Comedy Central seasons, and even the ABC seasons were all “lose once and you’re out”. This worked well when you had in excess of 500 competitors across four weight classes like they did in the Comedy Central days but these days BattleBots only has the heavyweight class and there’s only around 50 entrants. Single elimination is still definitely doable however in order to give everyone a fairer chance of qualifying for the primary tournament the organizers have switched to something called “Fight Night”. Kenny explains it in more detail, and I sort of covered it in the event report article, but basically what’s going on is everyone gets four fights to prove their worth. The more wins you have and the quality of these wins directly affects your “ranking” within the tournament with the top 16 robots qualifying for a standard 16-man single elimination bracket afterward. Simple stuff, and it also lets competitors potentially bounce back from a bad first draw or a bullshit judges’ decision. Losing your first round no longer means you drove all the way out here for fucking nothing and now have to figure out how else to spend two weeks in California without going insane because you’re in goddamned California.
I want to say the fight cards are drawn at random but at no point do Chris or Kenny specifically mention randomness so I’m going to guess the fights were drawn “at random” (in air quotes) because Tombstone being matched up against Minotaur is a little too perfect in terms of luck, if you catch my drift. But again, at no point did anyone say the matches were actually random. I’m just being a dick. But anyways like Kenny said we’re in for a hell of a ride and there’s 55 robots all itching to get their jaws and claws on the Giant Nut. We even get a nice little graphic of all the competitors to emphasize the sheer number of them too. 55 robots, all neatly sorted out into eight rows of seven. You know, 8 times 7, fifty-five. Wink wink.
BLACKSMITH vs. BITE FORCE
Totally True Trivia™: Blacksmith is actually part of the Aggro Crag from Nickelodeon GUTS.
Blacksmith made its debut last season and I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t think it was possibly the most ridiculous thing there aside from Obwalden Overlord. I mean come on, the fire is in the hammer? The fuck is this shit, Skyrim? I ate my words pretty damn fast though because in Blacksmith’s first ever fight it straight up destroyed Basilisk and both constituents of Gemini before overexerting itself and catching fire but still clinging to life long enough to avoid being counted out. It was the most radical shit on the planet and even though Blacksmith ended up losing its other fights both of them were legendary losses. Bronco had a hard time disposing of the robot and I really don’t think there’s anything that I can say about Blacksmith vs. Minotaur that the phrase “40 million fucking views” can summarize on its own. This year Blacksmith looks tougher than ever with more robust front paneling and some additional protection on its signature weapon, THE BIG TIME HAMMER. I wish I had a picture of Al’s reaction to me visiting him in the pits and asking if his booth was “the home of the Big Time Hammer”. He knew immediately.
Returning for its third season is Bite Force, former 2015 BattleBots champion. Originally a grappling robot, Bite Force dropped its lifter for a vertical spinner in 2016 and I’m sure we all remember how that played out. True, Bite Force beat Mohawk… but it’s fucking Mohawk. The real trouble came about when Bite Force advanced onward to face Chomp and its weapon chain got expertly sniped. To this day I still don’t even know how that happened because whenever Chomp swings its hammer it turns into a fucking kid playing with a jump rope and yet somehow it managed to neuter Bite Force on its first try. Despite being shamed on national television Paul Ventimillion is convinced there’s nothing wrong with Bite Force and this dude straight up entered the same fucking robot again. He didn’t even paint the goddamned blade. The only thing he did is add a guard to the weapon chain so in the event that it faces Chomp again Zoe Stephenson is toast. I’m convinced that he parked this thing in his garage for two years and just stewed until it was time to wheel it back out and murder everyone.
One thing people never seem to remember about the Battlebox is that the floor is about as flat as a parking lot. There’s all sorts of seams and shit to get snagged on and right away Blacksmith catches one of its front forks on a ramrod and this disorients it enough to allow Bite Force to land the first blow and lock heads with its opponent. Bite Force isn’t landing any hits due to the combination of Blacksmith’s and Bite Force’s forks scissoring each other but this position is still advantageous to the former champ because Al Kindle isn’t going to swing his hammer when he knows that it’s just going to connect with Bite Force’s blade and probably get blown to fucking pieces. Blacksmith gets a few good whacks but nothing solid and ends up getting part of its outer shell bent up by a stray blow from Bite Force’s spinner. Bite Force isn’t fucking around though and takes some gratuitous runs at Blacksmith and actually manages to clip the hammer because part of the outer plastic coating of it gets torn off. Blacksmith ends up under the Pulverizer and takes a shot but if you watch closely Bite Force’s weapon motor is either in the process of straight up dying or it just picked up an invincibility powerup.
Blacksmith senses something might be wrong with Bite Force and the hammer comes down right on the blade. What ensues isn’t unlike what happens when you decide to drop kick a Yahtzee game because little pieces of Blacksmith’s protective sleeve go flying all over the damn place. It’s also successfully stopped Bite Force’s weapon and hooked its hammer head into its cavity. You can tell Blacksmith is desperately trying to poz this motherfucker with fire but all that’s happening is unlit fuel being ejected from the wrong place because that risky hammer swing clearly broke fucking everything. With no fire Blacksmith switches to “plan B” which just so happens to be “beat Bite Force like it owes me money”. Blacksmith gets some powerful swings with its hammer and Bite Force just has to take it because right now it’s got no way of deterring its opponent from firing its weapon. The vertical blade gets spinning again but it’s all speed and no bite because the two bots connect and the blade just craps out immediately. Chris and Kenny start talking about how Blacksmith’s fire is out and the robot can’t do any damage but I’m like 90% certain these guys actually watched this fight so they had to have seen THE BIG TIME HAMMER come down and fucking demolish Bite Force’s spinner, right? Bite Force has no weapon. Blacksmith has at least half of one.
At some point Blacksmith’s hammer stops swinging and I guess it’s safe to assume it’s dead because even while it was working you could tell it was slowing down toward the middle of the fight. Bite Force has taken some serious blows in the second half of this match so it needs one last major push to possibly seal the deal with the judges, so what does it do? It shoves Blacksmith into the screws hard enough to get the robot high centered and also break the fucking screw. There’s not enough time left in the fight for Blacksmith to be counted out but ending the battle in a position where you definitely would’ve lost otherwise isn’t exactly the best way to win the favor of the judges.
WINNER: Bite Force, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
MECHA RAMPAGE vs. FREE SHIPPING vs. DUCK!
Totally True Trivia™: You only get free shipping if you correctly fill out the rebate form.
Mecha Rampage is the latest robot from BattleBots legend Christian Carlberg and boy is it something. Thankfully this article has pictures in it because otherwise I don’t even know how the fuck I’d describe this thing to you in order to give you a correct mental image. Mecha Rampage looks like someone plopped Tombstone into a character customization tool and did something wrong to one of the sliders. It’s got a really long chassis (sideways) and has a center mass with blades that spins around. It looks like someone tried to build a shell spinner but when they couldn’t make the parts fit together they just said “fuck it we’ll build around the shell” and now we have Mecha Rampage. Christian’s caught some flack over his more recent designs with people saying shit like “why doesn’t he just rebuild Minion” and that’s really sort of doing a disservice to the man’s legacy in the sport. Not everything Christian built was “good”, might I remind you of fucking Overkill? His team name was literally “Cool Robots” and while Overkill was hot garbage it was unmistakably cool. Mecha Rampage is sort of the same thing.
If Free Shipping looks familiar to you that’s because it’s actually Original Sin. Original Sin is the heavyweight with the most championship victories at Robogames, yes even more than Touro Maximus (Minotaur) and Last Rites (Tombstone). The problem with Original Sin, and the reason why it’s never been to BattleBots before, is because it’s just a wedge and thus doesn’t have a PRIMARY WEAPON. There’s a difference of 30 pounds between what Robogames and BattleBots each consider to be a “heavyweight” robot so builder and driver Gary Gin took this extra weight allocation and used it to outfit Original Sin with a weapon as per BattleBots eligibility requirements. His solution? A fucking forklift. Not only that, a forklift with a goddamned flamethrower inside of it because I guess after adding the forklift Gary had so much extra weight still left over that he was like “might as well turn my robot into the dumbest fucking issue of Ghost Rider imaginable”. And I love it. It’s such a covert middle finger that you cannot help but appreciate Gary’s ingenuity and its “peace mod” is a wooden pallet. Brilliant.
Finally we have Duck, a simple bot with a simple name. Duck is yet another “robot from Robogames that did really well so we crossed some I’s and dotted some T’s to make it work at BattleBots” and formerly competed as Whoops where it quite spectacularly defeated Last Rites and ended up breaching the arena when Touro Maximus hurled it at the wall hard enough to bust a fucking panel off. Whoops was still fully functional, by the way, and that’s Duck’s ace in the hole. Duck is the most hardcore “CNC porn” out there. I’m talking full-on double fisting and stuff. Duck is literally a solid block of milled aluminum. There are no panels or parts or frames or whatever, just the lid and “everything else”. Duck is indestructible and its main weapon is an equally robust front plow that’s probably thicker than the biggest thing sold by Adam & Eve. The plow is adorned with an orange “beak” as the robot’s namesake and the entire block can lift up and down so that once Duck has pummeled your spinner into oblivion it can raise it up and drop it off at the Pulverizer.
As the rumble starts you can tell Duck’s initial plan was to go for Mecha Rampage but at the last possible second Hal Rucker was like “lol what was I thinking” and instead goes for Free Shipping. Duck and Free Shipping begin slamming into each other, neither one able to really get any purchase with their lifters, and just ignore Mecha Rampage outright. They’re so put off by the spinner that as Mecha Rampage approaches both robots actually start moving away from it like two prissy cunts shuffling away from an awkward nerd at a school dance. They don’t get far though because — in keeping with this school dance analogy — Mecha Rampage is actually packing heat and opens fire, ripping Duck’s back right tire off in a single shot. Gee, I sure do wonder what “piece of Duck” Discovery Channel is using for their “Twisted Metal Giveaway”. This hit doesn’t actually faze Duck at all because it’s specifically designed to tank hits like this (even ones that remove entire wheels) and just keep on going. Realizing that underestimating Mecha Rampage was perhaps a fatal error, Free Shipping slams the spinner into the wall and belches fuel all over it. Seconds later, once Mecha Rampage has had ample time to get away, Free Shipping’s flamethrower finally works.
Duck swings in to try and fuck with Free Shipping but really these two bots are pretty evenly matched and at no point has either of them managed to get the upper hand on the other. Mecha Rampage uses this time to start spinning again and barely clips Free Shipping’s wheel as the forklift tries to ram Duck across the arena. It almost seems like Gary may have flinched at the controls because Free Shipping comes to a halt and Duck slides off of the forks and gets away. Free Shipping turns its attention to Mecha Rampage and just plows head first into it, losing one of its forks in the process. This is also fine, but not in the same sense of Duck losing a wheel, in this case it doesn’t matter because Free Shipping is just wearing a disguise so by breaking part of its forklift off all Mecha Rampage has done is achieve the same harrowing realization as someone in the Terminator movies when they blow part of a T-800’s skin away to find out that it’s really a goddamned robot instead of a person and now they’re totally fucked. This realization hits Mecha Rampage like a
truck forklift and immediately the robot starts smoking.
Mecha Rampage seems “okay”? Something is quite obviously on fire inside of it but the robot is still driving and the center mass is still whirring around as its internals smolder and congeal into toxic sludge. The arena begins to fill with smoke and Free Shipping elects to make matters worse by reigniting its flamethrower to ensure that nobody can see shit. A lick of flame reaches Mecha Rampage and the robot finally catches fire. No idea if Free Shipping actually lit a flammable vapor or chemical or something but in any case things are getting shittier and shittier for C2 Robotics’ brand new robot. Duck crashes into the wall with Mecha Rampage in tow and against all odds somehow this robot manages to still fucking work. The open flame on Mecha Rampage goes out as the weapon spins up to speed and even in its crippled state proves to still be a formidable force because Free Shipping backs into it and loses a tire. Kenny says “huge hit there” for the second time this fight.
Fire is once again blasted into Mecha Rampage’s face courtesy of Free Shipping and, once again, the robot’s center part happily catches fire. This time though the spinner is dead. I guess it takes being on fire for a full fucking minute to kill Mecha Rampage which is absolutely insane. The fight devolves into utter chaos as all three robots lump together in a heap of missing parts and burning metal until Duck finally cuts through the nonsense and rolls Free Shipping onto its side and feeds Mecha Rampage to the screws all in the course of about seven seconds. This seems to be the push necessary to kill Mecha Rampage as the robot goes from being “a sorta mobile robot on fire” to just regular “on fire”. Free Shipping has been driving around on its side this entire time and careens into the wall by the drivers’ booth in order to jostle itself back down onto its wheels. The rumble ends as it began with Free Shipping locking horns with Duck, still as evenly matched as ever now with only three wheels apiece, while Mecha Rampage continues to be consumed entirely by fire. I’d say up until the last minute of the fight it was a coin toss between the duck and the forklift, but that back-to-back attack of flipping Free Shipping and KO’ing Mecha Rampage has to be what gave Duck the edge in the end.
WINNER: Duck, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
SUBZERO vs. HUGE
Totally True Trivia™: SubZero is named as such because of the number of wins it has.
SubZero has been around a long time, longer than most people probably assume. Originally a middleweight, this robot became a heavyweight some time around 2009 and has remained as such ever since. It’s not a bad robot but just… damn. You know? SubZero’s probably not Giant Nut material but it’s at least worth one or two wins before it gets dispatched by fucking Tombstone or something. SubZero made its BattleBots TV debut last season where it faced off against Icewave and managed to survive the full three minutes and even stop Icewave’s weapon but when push came to shove SubZero just couldn’t take the heat and its whole damn flipper ended up coming off and it lost the fight. It’s up against another dangerous spinner, this time of the vertical variety, in Huge. To combat Huge’s massive blade SubZero has been equipped with a whole bunch of random shit meant to brace against Huge’s chassis and prevent its weapon from reaching SubZero’s. Maybe it’ll work? This dumb shit worked against Icewave when Ghost Raptor was busy inventing “weapons” to avoid disqualification so honestly who really knows? Last season SubZero had a drone named Spitfire, though it was never used. Spitfire is back even though it’s also not present in this fight. Just trust me on this one. You’ll like Spitfire.
Scaling up a successful small robot into a heavyweight isn’t a new phenomenon. Sometimes it works (Blacksmith), sometimes it doesn’t (Wrecks). Jonathan Schultz once built a robot called Tiny Huge that was a vertical spinner mounted between two giant wheels. Tiny Huge did okay, so he built a slightly larger robot and named it Huge. Huge also did reasonably well so obviously the next logical step was to dial it the fuck up and make it into a heavyweight, “HUGE” (though for the sake of editorial cleanliness I’m still rendering it as simply “Huge”). My initial remark of this robot being “like Gabriel from Robot Wars, except it doesn’t suck” was technically kind of off the mark because the lineage of Huge is kind of cloudy and I’m not fully certain which of the two robots actually came first. In any case though, comparing the robot to Gabriel is a natural conclusion because they’re both kind of the same thing except instead of having a torque-driven axe Huge is armed with a giant fucking bar. I don’t know how large the blade is but the wheels are 44 inches in diameter and the weapon is understandably a little shorter than that to allow for flexing and whatnot; it would not surprise me if the thing was a full meter long.
SubZero spins around during the twitch test and aims itself at Huge ass first. When the fight starts SubZero kicks it into high gear and floors it backwards and ends up hitting Huge’s wheel because the robot turned to the side specifically to avoid a head-on collision with SubZero’s butt. SubZero recovers and swings its rear end around and almost lines it up perfectly but rather than getting Huge’s weapon to hotdog its buttcrack the spinner gets deflected to the side and slices off the entire left component of SubZero’s bumper rendering it about the same amount of useless it was prior to the fight starting. SubZero hooks its flipper into one of Huge’s wheels and tries to raise it up but doesn’t get enough purchase on it and ends up taking a glancing blow from Huge’s bar which visibly dislocates the flipper. Catching a stray hit from the Pulverizer absolutely does not fix this problem. All the shit hanging off of SubZero’s ass starts catching on the arena wall and screws which causes the driver to over correct and drift into Huge. Huge connects with another blow but the angular sides of SubZero prove to be more effective at warding off shots than all of the robot’s goofy ass attachments were.
It looks like SubZero’s flipper isn’t dead after all because the robot catches Huge’s wheel a second time and again tries to lift it up but of course this doesn’t work. SubZero receives another whack from Huge’s bar and if that flipper wasn’t busted before it’s sure as shit dead now because it’s quite visibly flopping around in its bracket. Also Kenny has to say “big hit there” because Huge has temporarily stolen the use of Kenny’s favorite word to describe hits. Really at this point SubZero’s got nothing left in terms of offense so it just goes full kamikaze and starts aggressively getting in Huge’s face, spinner be damned. The flipper’s face starts rocking around like a cheap bobblehead but it’s getting some great traction against its opponent because unlike Gabriel, Huge does not appear to have anything on its wheels to assist with traction. This allows SubZero to shove Huge all the way across the floor into the screws and somehow dodge every single Hellraiser in the process. Also I suppose that means the Hellraisers are back for this season. That’s neat. I guess.
Dare I say it but the fight actually looks to be turning in SubZero’s favor because even though the robot has lost the use of its flipper it’s covered in enough pointy shit that Huge consistently keeps getting hung up on it and shoved around. Huge is also upside-down at this point which is kind of confusing because its little “cannon” legs aren’t facing the right way but the spinner still works and technically it shouldn’t matter what orientation the robot is in, but whatever. Huge catches SubZero with the side of its blade that’s spinning downward and the ensuing hit pops the robot at least four feet into the fucking air and back down into its “correct” configuration. It doesn’t look like Huge bounced very high on TV but I sat across the arena from where this hit happened even I was like “holy shit is Huge going for a slam dunk”. SubZero’s face gets progressively more trashed which prompts Chris Rose to ponder the deeper points of the robot not using its “primary weapon”. Ultimately he understands that perhaps SubZero’s flipper doesn’t work because it looks like the aftermath of a shotgun suicide and Huge decides to make the gore a little more gratuitous by cleaving into the flipper’s face.
The fight’s favor turns once more as all these hits start to tally up on SubZero and the robot just kinda peters out over by Chris and Kenny’s table. Huge continues to fucking demolish this thing though and carves off the other rear bumper. It seems like both robots might be showing signs of wear because Huge doesn’t appear to be completely mobile; its right drive wheel looks like it is able to coast and spin freely but I’m not certain that it actually has any drive power anymore. Granted it’s been slammed into the wall a handful of times and took the brunt of Huge using its blade to hop over SubZero so I’m not exactly surprised here. Both robots are pretty much immobile by this point but like Blacksmith’s fight earlier in the episode there isn’t enough time left on the fight clock to count either robot out so it gets sent to the judges. Considering how much emphasis is placed on damage this year it’s no surprise that Huge comes out ahead.
WINNER: Huge, Judges’ Decision (3-0)
BOMBSHELL vs. LOCK-JAW
Totally True Trivia™: Lock-Jaw’s wheels became cambered after an accident with a falling piano.
Last season Bombshell shocked the robot combat world when it reached the championship finals of BattleBots and took second place (because Tombstone obliterated it, naturally). I’m being straight-faced when I say “because Tombstone obliterated it” but that fight definitely had the chance of going in Bombshell’s favor because it rolled into battle with its horizontal spinner and was just barely an inch away from hitting its target — Tombstone’s weapon chain. All in all, it was a great run for a robot whose first ever fight consisted of getting caught in Complete Control’s grappler and being subsequently burned to death. Bombshell was one of the few times where a “wildcard” really got the second chance it deserved and it’s back this season to do better than just second place. Bombshell used to be what became colloquially known as a “Swiss Army bot” because it featured a variety of attachments ranging from two kinds of spinners to an axe and even a lifting mechanism that we didn’t get to see. It also had a drone, because bandwagon. The team even went as far as to say their favorite robot was Mark Setrakian’s “The Master” because it pioneered modularity… so imagine my surprise when Bombshell shows up this year as “another goddamned vertical spinner”.
Donald Hutson has competed at every BattleBots event. Ever. All of them. He doesn’t always bring the same robots — and he doesn’t always win — but he’s there. He has his good years and his bad ones and the performance of his robots are the textbook fucking definition of “inconsistent” but at the end of the day he’s done pretty well in the sport. His super heavyweight robot Diesector won two championships but he’s arguably better known for his heavyweight Tazbot who never won a championship but was one of the poster robots of BattleBots’ early years due to how unique it was. The bullshit meme answer to “what is Donald Hutson’s most famous robot” is, of course, Gearcrow. Lock-Jaw has had a hard time finding its footing in the newer seasons of BattleBots; thus far its only official win was against Overhaul in 2015 and despite coming back with a unique spring-loaded flipper/grappler combo it lost to Yeti in a crazy slamfest and ended up losing to Brutus because of that stupid “primary weapon” stipulation. Donald’s robots have always been the perfect blend of “that’s not going to work at all” and “holy shit it’s actually working”… so imagine my surprise when Lock-Jaw shows up this year as “another goddamned vertical spinner”.
This fight inexplicably has boxing-style stats beforehand and I don’t really know why. I mean it’s cool and all because it lets you compare things like weapon speed and horsepower but there’s also a section for “reach”? I know what reach means, that’s not what confuses me, I’m just trying to figure out why something like “reach” is applicable to this sport because both of these robots are equipped with weapons where the concept of reach isn’t necessarily relevant. Also I don’t know what exactly is being measured here because normally you’d think it would be the spinners but it’s not. In Lock-Jaw’s case it’s probably the lifting forks but I don’t know what the fuck on Bombshell is three inches. I’ve seen this robot in person and I’m like 99% certain there isn’t three inches of wedge leading up to the spinner.
Bombshell seems to be having problems right from the start of the fight because its weapon isn’t really spinning so much as it is just “turning”. Things continue to get worse for the former runner-up before the battle clock graphic can fade away because with a single run Lock-Jaw manages to flip Bombshell onto its back. This isn’t a desirable situation for Bombshell obviously but the robot is invertible and can still drive around with the penalty of having its weapon spinning in the wrong direction (which, in theory, should right the robot upon making contact with an opponent or the arena wall). What this version of Bombshell quite obviously didn’t take into consideration though is getting stuck on its fucking corner because seconds after being flipped over Bombshell ends up tilted onto its face where absolutely none of its moving parts are in contact with the goddamned floor. I guess maybe Mike Jeffries did consider this situation because if Bombshell’s weapon was working the way it should I can see the robot’s bar connecting with the floor and knocking the robot onto its wheels again but no matter the case right now we’re dealing with a “this shit don’t work” situation.
Lock-Jaw continues to poke at Bombshell even though this fight is essentially a sure thing and somehow Bombshell manages to tilt onto its other corner while still having its wheels totally off the floor. Mike asks Donald to knock him back onto his wheels to keep the fight going and Donald actually does so, but he waits until there’s just two seconds left in the knockout count before righting Bombshell just to make Mike clench his butt for as long as possible. Also pay no mind to the shaky cam, one of the cameras in the arena was shock-mounted by a blind person or something and it rattled around a lot but the crew fixed it after the first day of taping; I assumed the editors just wouldn’t use any of its footage but I guess when you’ve got a potato fight this bad a faux earthquake might be a neat trick to suggest there’s more action than what’s actually happening. Nothing of merit happens once Bombshell is put back onto its wheels; Bombshell’s blade starts to spin again but there might be something wrong with its motor or some other part because it doesn’t have much force behind it and goes from spinning to dead over the course of like ten seconds.
Bombshell ends up getting knocked onto its corner a second time over near the drivers’ booth and Lock-Jaw is all like “hey man I gave you another chance and you blew it”. Lock-Jaw also appears to shoot Bombshell the finger as it’s being counted out. So there’s that. Also I’m sure you’ve probably noticed the Vero banner under the drivers. In fact I know you’ve noticed it because it doesn’t quite look like it should be there. That’s because it wasn’t during taping; in actuality a giant “BATTLEBOTS” banner is there and apparently it serves the purpose of being an anchor point for motion-tracking in post-production. You can see the actual banner in some of the fights where overlaying something on top of it would’ve been extremely obvious, like the rumble in this episode where Mecha Rampage filled the entire goddamned arena with smoke. I just thought it was interesting that BattleBots was doing that for sponsors again. The last time they did this was during the end of the Comedy Central era when they used the beams in the arena wall to motion-track in advertisements for Taco Bell and fucking Doritos 3D’s. Remember those? I bet you didn’t until just now.
Oh, and Bombshell also lost.
WINNER: Lock-Jaw, KO
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
KRAKEN vs. SHARKOPRION vs. DEVILED EGG
Totally True Trivia™: Sharkoprion is a real shark.
So here’s the “Science Channel exclusive” content for this episode, the fight responsible for “delaying” this article. I elected to just wait until the episode aired “in full” on Science Channel before finalizing this piece because that’s the path of least resistance and doesn’t require me to do any confusing or complicated shit regarding the content of this website. Just work with me here. Kraken is the first robot introduced in this rumble and I have it on good authority that Matt Spurk is a fan of this website and personally asked me not to hold back in regards to his robot so, purely because I have his permission, Kraken is the sole reason why Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1940’s. Don’t ask me how that works in terms of timing and all that, I just wanted to see how close I could get to a Holocaust joke on BattleBots Update without going too far. Sorry, Matt. In any case now that I’ve thoroughly destroyed the readership of this website Kraken is a robot equipped with a pneumatically-driven clamp featuring two sharp fangs. The whole theme of the robot is to be an angler fish in appearance and function and I say “in function” because the little dangly bit hanging off of Kraken’s head lights up just like a real angler. It’s like a cuter and less shitty Tentomushi.
Ed Robinson is a bit of a mysterious man because for someone that colorful I can’t seem to find a damn thing online about him, his team, his robots, or his old event Robo Joust. He’s the guy from this episode’s opener who said “I LOVE STEEL” and because this fight wasn’t present in the original airing on Discovery Channel I’m sure you all were wondering who the fuck he was and why he was arbitrarily here. Yeah, it’s Ed. Let me tell you something about Ed: this man fucking loves sharks. To my knowledge every single robot that this guy has ever built has been shark-themed. There was Fintastic from Robotica, Snookums from Robot Wars, and now Sharkoprion in BattleBots. The only exception that I can find was a lightweight from 2001 named Robot X that was armed with a sai. Other than that? Sharks. This guy has busted more nuts to Jaws than I have to Jurassic Park and that’s a lot of nuts. One thing he and I also have in common is that we both swallow swords. Ed does so in a literal sense, I’ll leave the second half of that comparison — and its punchline — up to you to figure out. Basically what I’m telling you is don’t look at this robot and be surprised that it’s painted to look like a shark, instead focus on its finer details like its hellacious vertical disc or the fact that there’s a laser pointer stuck on the robot’s head because, to quote a famous supervillain, “it’s a frickin’ shark with a frickin’ laser beam on its head”.
Deviled Egg is the final robot in this 3-way rumble and it’s just a drum spinner. No frills really, aside from all the actual frills carved into this robot’s outer shell because the team went with a steampunk motif. You know, come to think of it there was another team that was supposed to compete last season that had a steampunk theme, but what was their robot? Oh, right. Clockwork L’Orange. You remember Clockwork L’Orange, don’t you? The robot built by my main man Ray? Not Billings, the other one. Scully. I say “built” but I mean, the robot arrived something like 25% done so really nobody built anything? That was the main issue with that robot. Apparently this machine is directly related to Clockwork L’Orange insofar as the team behind Deviled Egg was somehow involved with that one too. I don’t know the full scoop but whatever it is I’m sure it’s more interesting than the hydraulic lift gussied up to look like a giant fucking steam man that the team wheeled the robot into the arena with.
Word on the streets is Matt Spurk made a double alliance with both Sharkoprion and Deviled Egg in order to team up and take the other robot out. At some point one of those alliances has to break and it looks like it’s with Sharkoprion because Kraken bites down on Sharkoprion’s tail and the shark responds by whipping around and slamming into Kraken hard enough to fuck up the lights on its eyes. More importantly this hit also knocks Kraken’s right drive motor out of alignment or something because immediately after the attack Kraken is left spinning around in place. The robot seems to become a little more mobile after biting down on Sharkoprion a second time but I think the shark can already smell the chum in the water. Deviled Egg is desperately trying to get someone to notice that it exists because it takes a nibble out of Sharkoprion’s face and also rips the stabilizing arm off of the back of Kraken and nobody seems to really give a shit. Deviled Egg eventually lands a pretty good blow and chews up Kraken’s left wheel prompting Chris Rose to point out that it was Kraken’s “rear left” wheel. Strange, I didn’t know Kraken was built in Robot Arena 3 and thus had invisible parts floating in thin air outside of the robot’s chassis.
Sharkoprion gets away from Kraken and like some kind of fucking cartoon both of Kraken’s teeth just fall out like it bit down on a jawbreaker. As Sharkoprion gets away it bites Deviled Egg right on its ass and rips away some of the robot’s decorative plating. More importantly the hit also digs into Deviled Egg’s chassis so deep that when the robot is also tossed onto its back the bent up part of its rear armor high centers the robot and leaves it immobile. Sharkoprion doesn’t stop there either, it keeps the momentum going by biting into Kraken’s left wheel and rips the foam right out of it. Kraken bites back down but the robot is literally toothless and doesn’t cause any damage. Kraken’s wheels start to spin as the robot tries to bring Sharkoprion to a hazard but due to all the damage its drive system has sustained it doesn’t go anywhere. Kraken is eventually forced to let go of Sharkoprion and as the shark wriggles free we find out that Kraken has somehow stopped working. If you’re keeping score at home that’s two for two for Sharkoprion. What can I say, he loves steel!
WINNER: Sharkoprion, KO
TOMBSTONE vs. MINOTAUR
Totally True Trivia™: Tombstone’s blade spins so fast that the area around it is actually five seconds in the past.
Tonight’s “main event” really has no more weight or bearing on its outcome as the previous fights thus far, it’s just called the “main event” because it’s the most intense match-up of the episode. Future main events aren’t really any better or worse but the participants probably won’t be as attention-grabbing as Minotaur and Tombstone. Speaking of Tombstone, it’s the reigning champion. What else is there to say? Tombstone visually hasn’t changed much aside from the addition of that white chain tensioner wheel tucked inside of its frame near the weapon axle. It’s still got the alternate blades, alternate wheels, and its innards are still tightly packed with more foam than your average Amazon order. Rather amusingly Tombstone arrived this year with that dumb tank track thing. I’m pretty sure it’s from their sponsor, NPC Robotics. (The sticker on the front was a dead giveaway.) “NPC” actually stands for “National Power Chair”, not “Non-Player Character” in case you were wondering; as their old name implies they’re a company that was originally founded to create parts for wheelchairs, however enough bot builders began scrapping chairs using their parts — and ordering replacements directly from NPC — that the company somehow developed into a design firm that makes shit for the military now. Real talk. They also sell a motor that costs ten thousand fucking dollars, but you can get a discount if you buy in bulk!
Minotaur is arguably Tombstone’s “arch rival” as the two teams frequently meet outside of BattleBots with their respective counterparts Touro Maximus and Last Rites where I believe they have equal numbers of wins and losses to each other. This fight is going to disturb that peace in the universe for sure. Minotaur is also seemingly unchanged from its last appearance because both of these robots have been refined so much over the years that there’s very little left to actually dick with and when one of these robots loses it’s usually due to driver error or something so catastrophic that you actually cannot appropriately prepare for it. Don’t get me wrong here, Tombstone breaks a lot of shit, but Minotaur has got to be one of the scariest robots in the field. Just look at the mess it left in its wake last season: Photon Storm dead in one hit, Warhead decapitated and KO’d, all six of Bronco’s wheels ripped off, and of course the fight with Blacksmith. This thing’s drum spins at 240 MPH and that’s not just some arbitrary number, that’s the fastest that BattleBots will actually allow (because Hellachopper was disqualified last year for having a weapon that spun far in excess of that number and the safety crew was like “wow this might kill someone no thanks”).
What do you get when you pit two robots against each other where the common strategy is to box rush them immediately and prevent them from getting their weapon up to speed? You get two robots who are given all the time in the world to get their weapons up to speed and when they meet in the center of the arena, weapon to weapon, magic happens. The first hit is a little love tap. The second is a little more serious and Minotaur gets flipped over and recovers. The third? Both robots get violently flung away in opposite directions, Chris Rose makes a face that has now become a meme, and Tombstone digs into the floor and ruins it. Ray Billings apologizes for fucking up the floor though so he’s absolved himself of being in trouble. Tombstone just comes out swinging and Minotaur really seems to have been compromised after that mega blow because its weapon isn’t spinning that fast and after several more blows from Tombstone the Brazilian machine is quite clearly a little worse for wear. But Daniel Fretas, Minotaur’s driver, doesn’t really give a shit; Minotaur’s weapon seems to be dead but the robot simply refuses to get out of Tombstone’s face and even though most robots would be swatted away by Tombstone’s blade somehow this machine manages to just grind against the champion and refuses to fucking leave.
This fight is so fucking intense that Minotaur starts getting hung up on damaged sections of the floor. That’s right, these two bots are throwing punches so heavy that improvised hazards are now coming into play. I can’t even tell if the curlicue on the floor that Minotaur is stuck on is the one that they showed a second ago or if it’s a totally new one that Tombstone created at some other point while it was spinning and twisting away like a goddamned Garry’s Mod actor. Tombstone nicks a totally different part of the floor in the background of the shot and sends shrapnel flying toward the hosts and then as it strikes Minotaur again a third fucking divot in the floor appears right next to the one that Minotaur got stuck on. Just how many fucking holes have been made in this fight? We’re literally like two or three gashes away from having people come into the arena and try to putt golf balls around Huge or some shit. Tombstone ends up spinning around, cutting another goddamned hole in the floor, and spins Minotaur onto the same snaggletooth it made a moments prior.
Minotaur’s dead by the way because even though the robot is actually still somehow functional it’s high centered on the part of the floor that Tombstone dug up. I genuinely do not think I’ve ever seen a fight where someone fucked up the floor and then somehow got their opponent stuck on the area they damaged. Tombstone wins this fight and the damage done to Minotaur was incredible. This was the last fight of the first taping session and both teams hung out for quite some time afterward to take pictures and sign autographs. I swung by to check out the bots and the front of Minotaur literally looked like an iced cake that someone had dragged their finger through, that’s the kind of damage that Tombstone’s weapon was able to achieve against solid fucking aluminum. Cake icing.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
And there you have it. The wait is finally over, the fruits of #WeWantSeason3 have been realized and the 2018 season of BattleBots is officially underway! One thing I noticed right off the bat is that I had sort of assumed that each of the 20 shooting sessions were going to be their own self-contained episodes and that wasn’t perhaps entirely correct. For the most part the fights in this episode were the ones from the first shooting session (Blacksmith vs. Bite Force was the first one they taped, for example) but the bonus rumble that was added in the Science Channel premiere was actually something from the second shooting session later that same day. There was also a fight missing from this episode that I remember being in the very first shooting so I guess the producers are just loosely following the taping sessions and using them as more of “outlines” in a way, if that makes sense. I won’t get into details about the battle that was skipped just in case they patch it into a later episode or something (I checked the robots’ pages on the BattleBots website to see if they has just added the results for the skipped fight and they had not so this is why I’m hesitant to get into specifics).
You can certainly tell the difference between the ABC and Discovery versions of the show though, and I mean this in a good way. I feel like ABC tried to put a little too much of a “reality TV” spin on the show because that’s sort of what they’re used to doing by this point whereas Discovery has traditionally been more of a “show and tell” sort of channel… for the most part. In any case there are a few aesthetic changes that I don’t like and that’s purely from a standpoint of content creation (like overlaying interviews with slow-mo replays) but the pacing of the show is a lot quicker and there’s a little less conversation and a little more action. Viewership results from the Friday night premiere of the new season placed BattleBots sixth. I don’t proclaim to know how TV executives think and act but the only shows that did better than BattleBots that night were Live PD, House Hunters International, and hockey. I don’t get the hockey thing nor do I get shopping for houses internationally, but I can sort of see Live PD taking the #1 spot if only because it is admittedly sorta fun to watch police offers try and talk to crack dealers who come up with the worst possible excuses to “explain” what they’re doing.
Anyways that’s all the BattleBots Update for this week. The wait wasn’t so bad! I wish I could tell you who to expect in the next episode but like I said since the producers are slightly mixing up the order of the fights I don’t know if I’d be correct, and I also don’t think I’d be allowed to spill the beans anyways. Make sure you follow BattleBots Update on Facebook so you don’t miss when the next article comes out! This number of followers this website has on Facebook jumped up by about 150 after the show premiered and I didn’t have to do a damn thing so I’m totally okay with that. This website isn’t hosted for free so I do have to keep the lights on and thus far you all have helped tremendously with your pledges on Patreon and the one-time tips through PayPal. It’s really helped take the edge off of paying the bills and I’m about to have to adjust my plan again because somehow I’m using 230,000 out of 250,000 allocated file slots for uploaded content and that seems absurdly incorrect. Joy.
(Also yes that was an Elvis Presley lyric that I buried in the closing section.)