[BattleBots: S8 E3 is available online through Science Channel with a cable subscription.]
Now that we’re firmly into the thick of the “Fight Night” season and everyone knows the cast and crew it seems like the editors are taking some more liberties in giving Chris and Kenny personalities beyond simply being two guys sitting beside the arena yelling non sequiturs between play-by-plays. Last week’s episode opened with Kenny virtually jumping up and down in excitement over Icewave, this time he’s teasing us with Double Jeopardy which has BattleBots’ first ever proper projectile weapon. Double Jeopardy’s ammo is a five pound slug of solid metal that can hit a target with about two and a half tons of force. Kenny shows off the bullet and then tosses it to Chris who is supposedly just out of shot getting his makeup done. It’s kind of a dumb gag but I guess it beats Carmen Electra catching it between her tits which is probably what would have happened if we were still watching this show on Comedy Central. I know a good many of you are probably in disagreement with that statement because you’re starstruck over Carmen’s hotness or whatever but just trust me on this, it doesn’t matter how bangin’ the boobies are you will eventually get fed up and tired of shit like this the twentieth time you’ve seen it.
This week’s episode promises to be a good one. The main event fight features the debut of HyperShock 3.0 going up against Bite Force, whom we’ve already seen this season. I can confirm that “the rake” is back this season but Bite Force doesn’t have a dumb drone or anything like that so I highly doubt that we’re going to see it today. Also on deck in the same rumble as Double Jeopardy is Gamma 9, the first robot from the Gammatronic Robot Brigade in well over a decade. Former competitor Splatter makes its return in an upgraded form as Whiplash, Axe Backwards arrives with the heaviest weapon of the season, and Team Toad finally make their BattleBots comeback with Hypothermia. Up first we’ve got a bit of a rematch though; Overhaul and Sawblaze are two of “the MIT robots” and each builder wants to prove they’re the best. This fight is technically a rematch because last season there was a rumble of MIT robots between Overhaul, Sawblaze, and Road Rash. Road Rash died immediately so it came down to just these two machines and Sawblaze came out on top. Will their “rematch” go a different way?
OVERHAUL vs. SAWBLAZE
Totally True Trivia™: Jamison Go was named after the popular Japanese board game Go.
Overhaul has competed in every season of the BattleBots reboot and is starting its third season with an official win/loss record of 1-6. No, I didn’t get those numbers backward that’s one win and six losses or in other words “Mr. Bonestripper from Team Wetware”. That’s a shame because Overhaul is objectively not a bad robot. It’s sort of this weird mix between Complete Control and Razer and for a grappling robot it’s definitely got the muscle it needs to brute force opponents around the arena and carry them to the hazards but for whatever reason it just consistently loses. It’s been toppled by Lock-Jaw, had its claw blown off by Nightmare, had its sides split by Cobalt, had its radio receiver smashed by Beta, and that’s only four of its six losses. I don’t know, maybe it’s the anime paintjob? Haru-chan (the anime waifu on the back of Overhaul) is just too kawaii desu baka ramen pocky– sorry I think I had a stroke or something. What was I talking about? Oh, Overhaul keeps losing but has remained pretty much the same machine over the years which I guess speaks volumes about Charles Guan’s confidence in his design. He built the speed controllers that his robot uses and ended up selling some to other builders as well so the guy’s certainly no idiot. He’s just eccentric and probably has a body pillow with that anime character on it. Hey I won’t judge, I used to know a guy who had a life-size dragon plush and believe it or not I’m not speaking in third person right now!
SawBlaze’s builder Jamison Go has a unique perspective coming into this fight because he was formerly on Overhaul’s team back in 2015 before they all split up and went their separate ways. He knows how Charles works and thinks, he knows how Overhaul works in general, and he also knows how Overhaul fights because as I mentioned earlier these two robots have battled before. Chris Rose says they haven’t but that’s only because they met in a non-tournament rumble so technically it didn’t count but by this point we’re just splitting hairs. The point is Jamison knows what’s up. After being shafted by the PRIMARY WEAPON rule last season SawBlaze has returned with the same overall design except refined even further. SawBlaze is very similar to a former BattleBots competitor named S.O.B. which had a “dustpan” on its front and a saw mounted onto an articulated arm. S.O.B. had a pretty successful run so we know it’s a proven design, hell Skorpios is also back this year and it basically looks exactly the same as SawBlaze so that’s two dustpan robots two years in a row. The major difference with SawBlaze is that alongside the saw the robot also has a flamethrower tucked away next to it so after it slices into someone’s armor the robot can fire up the blowtorch and cook their insides. Also the fire is green because science. I don’t know how hot it burns because I couldn’t find a straight answer I just know that the presence of copper in the fire’s fuel source can cause that effect so maybe Jamison tossed a couple pennies into the gas tank or something.
Four seconds pass and in that time SawBlaze has already slid right underneath Overhaul and slammed it into the screws. Five more seconds pass (wherein the editors have barely had enough time to fade out the battle clock graphic) and Overhaul is now across the arena, into the wall, and presently getting whacked with the Pulverizer. Not even ten fucking seconds have gone by and SawBlaze has already pulled its pants down to whip its dick out like a can of spring snakes. Overhaul manages to get away and as it lines up a charge on SawBlaze its stupid unicorn spike or whatever gets caught in the slot for the Killsaws which trips it up, spins it around, and affords SawBlaze yet another free slam into the wall as well as some bites with its cutting blade. SawBlaze starts throwing so many aluminum sparks off of Overhaul’s ass that I’m actually going to need to wait until I can get my hands on a better encode of this episode before I can take screenshots for this article because the video quality drops down to fucking sub-VHS quality. I’m talking like “video playback on an Atari 2600” levels of bad. Thanks SawBlaze for giving me more work to do. (Note: I finally got an HD encode, enjoy the screen grabs.)
Jamison is just not letting up at the controls. Overhaul gets pushed into the wall again and the dragon just goes to town. I can’t even tell if the saw is actually slicing into Overhaul’s weaponry or not but it’s grinding off titanium levels of sparks nonetheless all while Jamison is openly talking shit to his former teammate. SawBlaze eventually backs away, as you have to at some point, and Overhaul just sits there. The robot’s not dead because it’s still twitching so there’s something quite obviously jammed somewhere it’s not supposed to be. It’s hard to tell what exactly happened but when Overhaul was shoved into the wall I noticed its upper spike attachment clipped the flipper near the screw and that may have gotten hung up under or behind it or something. Either that or perhaps one of Overhaul’s wedges on the sides of its front end were of the perfect size and shape to get hung up in the bracket-like shape of the spike strip. Whatever the case, the credits roll on Overhaul’s OVA until next time. Jamison flexes on national television and Charles storms out of the arena to go binge watch Bible Black or something. Don’t google that.
WINNER: SawBlaze, KO
Also, thanks to some post-fight pictures shared after this episode aired, SawBlaze not only sliced through Overhaul’s main lifting arm but it also started cutting into the motor that powers it and killed it completely. To quote the Flex Seal guy, THAT’S ALOTTA DAMAGE.
WHIPLASH vs. HYPOTHERMIA
Totally True Trivia™: If you crash a Zamboni you will develop both whiplash and hypothermia.
Jeff Vasquez and Team Fast Electric Robots have been involved with the sport of robot combat since BattleBots’ third season on Comedy Central. Jeff and his sons have competed all over the place with varying degrees of success but Whiplash is definitely a design where the team might be onto something. You might remember this team from last season where they competed with Splatter and didn’t really make that strong of a showing mostly because the robot inexplicably had what appeared to be armor made out of fucking fiberglass and that shit just got torn up right away. Think of Whiplash as the next evolution of Splatter; Whiplash is a robot that the team had already been competing with elsewhere and began life as a two-wheeled vertical spinner back when that was like the only fucking design people were building for a while. “Old Whiplash” sort of merged with the team’s heavyweight and beetleweight versions of Splatter to form the machine they brought to BattleBots this year. Whiplash has an unconventional weapon — a vertical disc mounted on a lifting arm — but make no mistake this is some serious shit you’re looking at; Whiplash finished in 2nd place at Robogames 2017, a finish which required the team to beat both Sewer Snake (sister bot to Stinger) and Touro Maximus (sister bot to Minotaur). Matt Vasquez has literally been driving robots his entire life so much like a person who’s funneled all of their free time into beating the same video game over and over in order to do it as fast as possible you could say Matt knows “a thing or two” about bots. Also I may have unintentionally injected myself into the analogy in the previous sentence.
“Fuzzy” Mauldin formed Team Toad (named after his Lazy Toad Ranch) in 2000 and debuted his first robot Frostbite in the second season of BattleBots. Having seen the show’s first event on TV Fuzzy was inspired to learn more about robot combat which led him to Christian Carlberg’s Team Coolrobots website which at the time was incredibly informative (and Christian would actually respond to emails sent to him). Fuzzy showed up with Frostbite and ended up defeating Christian’s robot Overkill prompting Bil Dwyer to famously say “he learned everything he knows about BattleBots from Christian’s website and then beat him silly with it”. Fast forward 18 years and Fuzzy finally returns to BattleBots with Hypothermia. He’s also still painting all of his robots that same goddamned shade of orange. That’s his thing and it works because every time you see an orange robot your immediate first thought is “is that a Team Toad robot”. Team Toad stickers are also extremely prominent in the robot combat community and appear on tons of non-Toad robots (Vanquish had one, for example). Spotting the stickers has become somewhat of a “game” within the community due to how ubiquitous they’ve become. Hypothermia is a new iteration of Fuzzy’s robot Polar Vortex which has fought with mixed results outside of BattleBots. Originally it was a lifter, then it became a vertical spinner, and now it’s gone back to its original approach and features a lifting plow and some grappling arms that look like fucking Mickey Mouse gloves.
Hypothermia begins the match by popping a super wheelie which I guess is pretty cool but when the whole point of your robot mandates that its front wedge stays on the goddamned ground I really don’t think something like that is a very good idea. Whiplash obviously tries to capitalize on this slip up but arrives just a split second too late and ends up climbing atop Hypothermia and opening itself up to a free grapple. The advantage trades hands as Hypothermia makes a strong early showing and lands the first hit of the match as it takes Whiplash into the screws. Whiplash has some seriously exposed tires and last week this same move happened to Witch Doctor which resulted in one of its wheels being eaten off, but it seems to bounce back from this attack unscathed. Whiplash actually catches Hypothermia’s grappling arms with its disc on its way out from the screws which has the potential to just absolutely trash them, and appears to actually damage them somewhat, but after a couple of light bumps the arms fall back into place. No real damage has been done up to this point until Whiplash cruises in and pops Hypothermia’s right wheel sending the lifter twisting into the wall. Kenny comes very close to saying “HUGE HIT THERE”.
Control of the fight flips back over to Whiplash who gets a couple of little lifts and nibbles but nothing significant until Hypothermia tries to flee across the arena to potentially line up another run. Whiplash chases its opponent down and catches Hypothermia on its left tire ripping it clean off of its drive axle. The run ends with Hypothermia getting shoved into the screws, which stop spinning as you’ve probably guessed, and Whiplash decides to take a few seconds to try out a new move since it’s basically already won this fight. The robot spins around 180 degrees and raises its arm all the way around and hits Hypothermia on its lid with a backhanded slap. Earlier in this fight Chris mentioned something about “grappling” to Kenny and equated it to MMA fighting and I think that set something off in Kenny’s head because he’s been treating this entire fight like it was an actual MMA match or something because he’s pulling names and shit for all of these “moves” out of thin air and his commentary seems like it would line up better with two dudes taking turns punching each other in the head than two robots fighting it out.
Whiplash has basically won because Hypothermia just straight up stops working. I don’t know if that had something to do with Whiplash doing another “backhander” and digging into Hypothermia’s lid or what but it’s a sad state of affairs for Team Toad right now; Hypothermia’s lost a wheel, it’s knocked out, and if you watch closely you’ll see the chain that I assume drives its lifters or something comes apart. Hypothermia is counted out. Global warming is real. Watch out for those chemtrails. Bush did 9/11.
WINNER: Whiplash, KO
FOUR HORSEMEN vs. GAMMA 9 vs. DOUBLE JEOPARDY
Totally True Trivia™: Double Jeopardy was built by lawyers and ironically is a lawsuit waiting to happen.
Once upon a time Ian Watts built big bots. He and his extremely exuberant son Joe competed in Robot Wars in the UK for quite some time before making a trip to the United States to enter in BattleBots’ second season where they brought Bigger Brother. Bigger Brother only won one fight, against Mauler 51-50, but still managed to enter the history books by causing Mauler to break a flail on its armor prompting the spinner to violently flip out of control and coin the term “doing a Mauler” in the process. Bigger Brother continued to evolve over the years and eventually became something named “Or Te” in Robot Wars’ eighth series. After falling in one blow I guess Ian just went mental or something because he quit building big robots and became obsessed with multibots. He was a part of the Creepy Crawlies team that competed at BattleBots in 2016, returned to Robot Wars with The Swarm in 2017, and now in 2018 he’s repurposed the leftovers into The Four Horsemen, except there’s only three of them because running all four robots at the same time would put them over the weight limit. Look I know they use the metric system or whatever dumb bullshit over there in Europe but it’s not like calculating a conversion is hard. Showing up to an event with a multibot and being overweight only serves the purpose of demonstrating that while you somehow know how to build a robot you also don’t know how to add numbers. That might explain why Ian said he had “seven” robots though now that I think of it.
Curt Nemeth is a veteran bot builder whose participation in the sport can be traced all the way back to 1995’s Robot Wars where he competed with Namreko 2000 which resembled a cross between a Dalek and a garbage can. Namreko stuck around long enough to eventually be dispatched and forced into retirement by Nightmare in 1999. Curt returned to BattleBots with Gammatron, a ridiculous walking robot that only won just a single fight when it landed a lucky shot and damaged its opponent’s innards, before finishing off the Comedy Central run of the series with Gammacide which was just a giant fuck off plow. Curt fell off the radar for 15 years until his team announced that they were coming out of retirement to participate in BattleBots’ eighth season with a robot named “Gamma 9”. I don’t know the significance of the number 9 but one thing I can say about this robot is “does Curt know what year it is” because I swear to god this thing looks like it was built in 2003. Was he frozen? In a coma? It doesn’t look like a shitty robot but it also doesn’t look like it was built during the current presidency. Or the one before it. Also you have no fucking idea how many times I spell this guy’s name as “Mnementh” because I am a shameful nerd who was a huge fan of Pern when I was in high school. Apologies in advance, Curt.
Finally we arrive to this episode’s hype beast: Double Jeopardy. Now I know you might be saying “but Draco this thing looks like it was built from a FIRST Robotics kit and is held together with shit from Home Depot why should I be excited” but take a look at the thing on top of this robot. No, that’s not a place where you can hook an RV shitter up that’s a goddamned cannon. For the longest time BattleBots prohibited untethered projectile weaponry; this restriction was lifted last year and the only team who came anywhere close to incorporating that into their robot was Brutus’ and in all honesty I really don’t think the trickshot guns count. Double Jeopardy is the first robot whose main weapon is an actual fucking cannon and it launches five pound rounds at its opponents. It’s an imperfect design though because the robot only has one bullet and arming it was a huge ordeal because according to the safety standards of the event the robot could only be loaded and pressurized when it was in the arena so even though you guys get to see this fight right away on TV when I was in the audience I sat there for like 15 minutes while they armed this thing. For one shot. I also want to point out the green square because I’m sure you’re probably aware of the fact that it wasn’t there for the previous rumble. It’s actually two pieces of material that the “art department” deployed each and every time there was a rumble starting from the second day of shooting onward. I think it’s adorable, you can tell it’s a prop and they even gave it some fake battle damage. I really hope me making fun of the green spotlight for the past two seasons isn’t what guilted the producers into making a fake green square because that would be awful, just paint a goddamned square there already.
(And speaking of my dumb ass in the audience, that was me with the “LONG LIVE GAMMATRON” sign. Of course it was.)
During the twitch test (when the green square magically vanishes) Double Jeopardy cocks itself to the left and is quite obviously aiming its cannon at Gamma 9 in what has got to be one of the biggest dick moves in the history of the sport. Gamma 9 is the size of a fucking billboard so I’m not really surprised that Double Jeopardy chose it as its target but I mean you can at least wait until the match starts before you point a gun at someone. Surprisingly Gamma 9 pulls away and Double Jeopardy doesn’t fire, even when Gamma 9 is sitting right in front of it moments later. Not only does Double Jeopardy fail to pull the trigger on Gamma 9, but Gamma 9 somehow uses the confusion of the
Four Three Horsemen’s dispersion to maneuver around behind Double Jeopardy and slam it into the wall. Gamma 9 proceeds to take two shots, one on each butt cheek, from the mini bots and both of its decorative corner plates get torn off. Gamma 9 is completely disregarding The Four Horsemen which is a pretty ballsy move considering the two spinners are managing to do some significant damage to the sides of it. Double Jeopardy gets muscled into the wall a second time and I guess the driver panics because the cannon goes off point blank in Gamma 9’s face. The bullet ricochets away and for all the chaos and mess made by the weapon’s sabot coming apart nothing seems to actually be damaged. Gamma 9 basically caught a bullet with its fucking teeth and spit it back out. Also I wonder if Chris accidentally said “shot his load” on the first take of that voice over.
Double Jeopardy is now spent. It fired off its singular round and now it’s got nothing in the way of offense other than ramming into opponents and trying to push them around. It apparently also has nothing in the way of defense either because one of the spinners of The Four Horsemen scrapes along Double Jeopardy’s face and just tears it to fucking pieces. A chunk of Double Jeopardy’s front right wheel is visibly torn off but if you watch the front left wheel you’ll notice that it too has come apart. I don’t know how much weight was funneled into Double Jeopardy’s cannon but I assume it was “too much” because when you have a heavyweight robot with armor so shitty that a fucking lightweight can cruise in and blow your entire front end — wheels and all — to bits you’ve got a major design problem. Gamma 9 tanks another shot to the face, this time by way of one of the spinners, and sends the robot reeling into the corner. Double Jeopardy isn’t able to follow suit because it takes another shot from the red spinner and you can just see the blade slice into Double Jeopardy like it’s not even there. This hit, combined I think with Double Jeopardy getting high centered on some debris, is enough to kill it. Meanwhile Gamma 9 is still plowing into the mini bots like nothing.
Kenny starts talking shit about Gamma 9’s PRIMARY WEAPON but I don’t really think it matters in this scenario because I feel like the constituents of The Four Horsemen might be too low for the claw to reach them in the first place. Gamma 9 takes turns muscling the white and red spinners into the wall, taking a direct blow to its backside in the process, and as the white spinner gets slammed into the spike strip the little yellow wedge named “Butter Cup” finally makes its presence known and wedges itself under Gamma 9 like a doorstop. Everyone involved in the fight who’s still alive starts to show signs of wear at the same time with both the red and white spinners starting to smoke and Gamma 9 visibly slowing down. The spinners seem to be toast or otherwise uncontrollable and Butter Cup and Gamma 9 both take hits from the Killsaws. Gamma 9 corrals the spinners into the wall and you can see that both of them are totally blown the fuck up and smoking like someone replacing one bad habit with another. Curiously this ram also seems to disable Gamma 9 because the robot stops moving leaving Butter Cup as the sole survivor. There’s not enough time left to count Gamma 9 out so the match is sent to the judges who turn in the first retarded decision of the season.
WINNER: The Four Horsemen, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
Technically Kenny was correct in that The Four Horsemen should have been counted out because those two spinners absolutely comprise “more than 60% of the robot’s total weight” and they were dead way before Gamma 9 broke down. I’ll call bullshit when I see it. Gamma 9 was robbed of a knock out win and I’m not just saying that because I’m the only person in the history of BattleBots to hold up a sign with the fucking word “Gammatron” written on it.
WAR HAWK vs. AXE BACKWARDS
Totally True Trivia™: War Hawk’s construction was funded entirely by revenue from casinos. (Illegal underground ones, not the Native American kind.)
War Hawk is a robot built by Rob Farrow who’s been around in the sport for quite some time. He studied the communication habits of large primates, I think, and I’m trying to give this man more credit beyond just calling him “Monkey Man” and making fun of the fact that up to this point all of his robots were monkey-themed culminating in the disaster that was “The Killa Gorilla” for Robotica. He finally got away from that goofy shit and named his current robot War Hawk (“WAR” being an acronym for Western Allied Robotics, his team). I can appreciate that because 15 years ago I was on this stupid kick of making robots that were dragon-themed and I even went as far as to give them cringey “species” names on my team’s old website. Eventually I quit doing that. Anyways War Hawk is… another goddamned vertical spinner. If that weapon disc looks familiar to you it’s not because you’re crazy or because 90% of the robots have a similar one this year, that disc was actually used by Brutus last season. Adam Bercu gave it (or sold it, I don’t know) to Rob and he painted it red because even the guy who jerks off to Congo has better sense than to unironically use something painted gold. That’s a lesson I myself haven’t yet learned. Last week I casually mentioned I made the mistake of seeing what the wider internet had to say about BattleBots on social media. One of the people I stumbled across was genuinely claiming Witch Doctor was “racist” because of their appropriation of voodoo. When that person gets a load of the fact that this
Indian Native American-themed robot is driven by some white dude I want front row tickets to that fucking meltdown.
Back in the days immediately following BattleBots being cancelled by Comedy Central when the sport was still sort of alive before it kinda went quiet there was a heavyweight robot named “REDRUM” which was basically just a giant fucking steel drum that had been turned onto its side and repurposed as a spinning weapon. That’s the best way that I can describe Axe Backwards because it’s sort of the next logical step for that kind of robot. The majority of Axe Backwards’ internals are housed inside of its massive 100+ pound drum which spins independently of the two giant wheels sticking out of either side of it. Early CAD renders of the robot hinted toward the idea that it would also have a rack of axes that it could swing overhead like a torque-action thwack bot but I don’t think that made it into the final design. Axe Backwards still has axes stuck on its ass but it looks like they’ve been mounted sideways instead of vertically which leads me to believe that it can act like a normal thwack bot instead of the overhead variety. Also I kinda don’t see the robot being able to do the overhead swing anyways considering how the box hanging off the back of Axe Backwards containing “all the shit we couldn’t actually fit inside the drum” would screw up the weight distribution and balance. Kurt Durjan’s still got himself a hell of a bot though, especially if it can get 100 pounds of metal spinning up to speed in just one and a half seconds. There’s robots armed with weapons half that weight that can’t even do that.
When you’re Axe Backwards there’s one thing you don’t want your opponent to hit. Okay two things, and the hosts have already mentioned what they are: your wheels. I’m a little confused by Axe Backwards’ strategy of “driving forward and then hitting War Hawk with my right tire” but mercifully the fight doesn’t end immediately when War Hawk tears it off and throws it into the audience as a souvenir. No, the fight pretty much ends a couple seconds later when after landing a glancing blow to Axe Backwards’ tire War Hawk lines up a better shot and pops the entire fucking thing into the air and dislocates the left wheel in the process. To give you an idea of just how hard this hit was War Hawk didn’t even touch the left side of Axe Backwards when it landed that blow and yet that’s the wheel that popped loose. Axe Backwards is still partially mobile after this hit because it looks like the motor assembly just came out of its mount and is otherwise still working but obviously without being mounted onto something sturdy all that wheel is going to do is spin around aimlessly. The drum also appears to be dead which comes as absolutely no surprise to me because I’m sure a whole bunch of shit has come loose inside of it.
Axe Backwards starts spinning around in place to try and make use of those hilariously dinky backup axes and while I want to say that a million-in-one shot could hook War Hawk’s disc or belt/chain the right way I know that’s a pipe dream because War Hawk cruises in and cleaves off one of the two axes with another major blow. I’ll give credit where due though because props to Axe Backwards for somehow managing to stay in War Hawk’s face this whole time even as what appears to be major structural components of it fall off. War Hawk eventually catches some part of Axe Backwards’ flailing left wheel and it pops right off. I’ve reviewed the footage a few times and I can’t see any point of failure that War Hawk could have hit but it does look like the motor was literally just hanging on by its wires so they likely could have just frayed apart under stress. Axe Backwards is down to one wheel. It’s lost this fight. Unless Rob Farrow spontaneously realizes that he’s been wasting his life building robots and just walks away never to be seen again Axe Backwards isn’t going to win, and yet the damn thing is still moving. War Hawk clips the surviving mini axe off of its opponent, jacks up its rear chassis, and throws it near the screws. This seems to be the hit that finally puts the last nail in the coffin for Axe Backwards but despite it being counted out I still give it props for twitching until the very end. Considering Kurt has at least three more fights ahead of him I’m astounded he allowed his robot to get trashed that badly.
WINNER: War Hawk, KO
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
FIGHT CARD PREP
So far this season Science Channel has been all over with bonus content and they alternate between entertainment and informational factors. We’ve had a rumble, we’ve had a pit report on how to come back from devastating losses, and this week the Science exclusive is another pit report this time focusing on how teams prepare for a tournament where they’re going to get four qualifying fights no matter what. It starts out with Chris’ same recap of the “Fight Night” structure from the first episode so if you don’t mind I’m just going to skip over that because if you’re watching BattleBots and reading this website then you’re enough of a fan that you already get how this works.
Andrea Suarez from the Witch Doctor team puts it best when she says that the event has gone from single elimination to a “war of attrition”. She’s right, even though tournaments are normally about who can outlast everyone else this event is a unique twist because everyone’s getting the same amount of fights to start with. If you can keep on top of your shit and keep your robot running at 100% you stand a pretty good chance to win if your opponent isn’t able to maintain that same level of shit-having. Speaking of not having your shit together, Greg Gibson — who had more shit together than Andrea last week — bestows upon us the wisdom and importance of bringing spares. You might remember last season this dude was buying used tires from the Bronco team and that has got to be the BattleBots equivalent of like sucking dick for crack money or something. This time Greg’s got his own spare tires. And spare drums. And spare forks. Spare everything, really.
Lucas Sloan, the builder and driver of Basilisk, is also afoot in the pits. We have yet to see Basilisk make its debut this season but I’m like 90% positive Basilisk had fought its first match by the third taping session (a.k.a. episode three) so it makes sense that he’d have something to say for this segment. Much like Greg, Lucas stresses the importance of bringing spare parts except rather than bring actual parts (which he’s also done) he elected to bring an entire fucking 3D printer with him to pull new parts out of thin air. We get to see a close-up of what’s cooking and it looks like Lucas is trying to create the key crystal that opens up Superman’s palace of solitude or whatever the fuck. Ravioli Babioli who’s currently responsible for Red Devil this year explains that there’s not a single part of his robot that he can just order online or buy at the store because the robot’s original builder Jerome Miles watched too much Monster Garage as a kid and now everything he makes is some weird custom shit. Red Devil is like driving a DeLorean really, all of your replacement parts are special order and you look like a huge dork for driving it.
We get a clip of Whiplash brutalizing Hypothermia from earlier in the episode and I’m sure you’d be expecting to hear Fuzzy Mauldin start talking about his secret stash of wheels or something, but nope it’s Jeff Vasquez from Team Fast Electric Robots giving the Fight Night format his stamp of approval, presumably because he won. Lock-Jaw’s Donald Hutson, who at some point appears to have stolen one of my flannel jackets to wear around in the pits, also knows the importance of “spare parts”… except like the result of a fucked up round of Telephone he apparently had that advice repeated to him from the Inertia Labs team because he’s decided to pull a Bronco and brought two identical robots to the event. Hey dude, that’s kind of a dick move and people had been raising eyebrows at Reason and Xander for two years, not to mention Robot Wars specifically mentioning in their own rules that a team couldn’t just straight up bring a duplicate robot. Double Jeopardy’s team gets away with having two of the same dude on their team because they’re identical twins. That’s different.
Finally who else could round out a segment on attrition than Al Kindle, wielder of THE BIG TIME HAMMER. “You want to be the best, no matter what,” he says as the editors play some B-roll of him cradling a visibly jacked up flame hammer. He’s not wrong, but there’s a lot of ways to define being “the best”. You could be the literal champion of the event, sure, or you could be like Blacksmith and share the honor of “most viewed BattleBots match of all time” by being an unkillable fucking brick of metal that can catch fire and still drive around like that’s a totally normal thing that happens all the time. Think about every BattleBots match that’s stuck with you over the years. Nightmare turning Slam Job into a shitty modern art sculpture. Mauler busting a tooth on Bigger Brother’s ass and violently self-destructing. Vladiator ripping the arena spike out of its neck at the last possible second to kick Minion’s ass in the super heavyweight finals. Blacksmith beat that, and all it had to do was catch fire and impressively not die. Oh yeah, that’s the good stuff.
HYPERSHOCK vs. BITE FORCE
Totally True Trivia™: HyperShock’s rake is on display in the Sports Hall of Fame alongside Michael Jordan’s batting glove and an X-ray of Joe Theismann’s leg.
Rake. That’s literally all I need to say to convey this robot to you. HyperShock debuted in the sixth season of BattleBots and for all intents and purposes was fairly unmentionable. It defeated Mohawk which basically means it claimed free points and ultimately lost to Bite Force when its electronics cooked themselves. HyperShock also apparently fought Icewave in a grudge match that I did not know actually happened so you can imagine how confused I was to see a picture of that fight being used as the background for BattleBots: Design & Destroy on speedrun.com. (No, I’m not on those leaderboards. Yet.) HyperShock returned for the seventh season and that’s when Will Bales found his calling. His robot became an overnight sensation after swatting an expensive and ornate drone out of the sky using a cheap ass rake from the hardware store. If you weren’t around back then I cannot appropriately convey to you how ridiculous this was but it was such a memorable moment in that season that the miniature RC toy version of HyperShock comes with an optional rake attachment. That’s how fucking insane this thing was. I formerly painted Will as a crazy man trying to get the echoes of Chris Rose’s voice out of his head; I don’t know if that still haunts him or what but I know something sure as hell is because it’s not every day that you decide to turn your robot into a monster truck that lost a fight with a fucking highlighter factory. If I had to describe HyperShock’s new weaponry to you I’d say it was from the Cutlery Corner Knife Show.
Bite Force has the esteemed honor of being the first robot that we get to see more than once this season which means that I don’t have to put anywhere near as much thought into this paragraph as I’ve had to for everyone else up to this point. Two weeks ago when this robot kicked off the new season and defeated Blacksmith in a tense match I accused Paul Ventimillivanilli of literally shelving his robot since 2016 and not touching it. He messaged me on Facebook and confirmed that I’d hit the nail on the head. What can I say? The guy is confident in his robot. I still think he could have at least painted the blade though, especially against HyperShock who’s basically four big wheels and a Pantone swatch. Paul’s gotta be feeling good though because he has a very unique upper hand in this fight in the form of already being past those “first fight jitters”. He’s been in the arena, he knows how his robot’s working, he knows what to expect. Will Bales doesn’t have that luxury in this case. He just has eyeglasses that probably have a drinking straw molded into them.
Before the match has even started HyperShock spits out some sparks during the twitch test. Again, like I said Paul’s already had the opportunity to iron all this shit out and doesn’t need to worry about any nasty surprises like this. Will’s exuberance is noticeably absent after his teammate asks him if he saw the sparks. The officials start the fight and HyperShock continues to sparkle as it cruises across the arena weapons blazing. Its blades are spinning and the robot appears to be fully mobile so I’m not sure what’s causing the light show but in any case it would probably be in Will’s best interest to end this one pretty quickly because I don’t have a degree in mechanical engineering but I’ve accidentally fucked up enough radio controlled cars to know that sparks = bad. The two bots meet weapon to weapon and HyperShock catches the short end of the exchange as it gets rolled onto its back. It should be able to right itself from this position but I’m thinking the stuff shorting out might have been its lifters because they’re absolutely not doing anything. I don’t know if Bite Force knows this but just to make this fight a sure thing it cruises in and clips HyperShock from the side and blows it the fuck apart.
HyperShock’s lid flies off along with two of its batteries and god knows what else. This is the kind of situation where the officers bring someone into a crime scene to ask if they recognize the shoes. Don’t worry, the irony of Bite Force doing to HyperShock what that robot had previously done to Ultraviolent isn’t lost on me one bit. As HyperShock and its entrails come crashing back down one of the batteries appears to get hung up in Bite Force’s front wedge and it was pretty amusing watching Paul try and carefully get his robot away from the battery without either whacking it with his robot’s weapon or having it get sucked inside of it because that would have been a total shit show and they’d have been pumping battery smoke out of the arena for at least 30 minutes. Somehow Bite Force gets away from the battery and somehow the battery doesn’t get damaged in such a way so that the leads start shorting each other out. A potential end of the world scenario has just been averted and Paul gets a neat little “WINNER” pog to commemorate the occasion.
WINNER: Bite Force, KO
Chris goofs around with HyperShock’s lid and claims he’s taking it home, then the credits roll. Obviously he’s not keeping it but I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that Chris and Kenny are being a lot more “hands on” with their hosting and are incorporating “props” into their segments for both comedic and informative effect. I think it’s really cool that earlier we got to see Kenny actually hold and show off Double Jeopardy’s bullet because it helps provide a sense of scale. If it was just a shot of the bullet on a pit table or fancy turnstile or something that wouldn’t do you any good but because Kenny was showing it off you could process that it was about the size of a can of soda and then you go “wow that’s pretty big that’s fucking awesome”. Me and a buddy of mine met up with Will Bales after the fight and got to check out HyperShock and also take pictures holding up the armor like a chest plate and you really just cannot appreciate this robot’s paint job from a television screen. You gotta see this thing in person to really understand what color it is because yeah it’s neon yellow but there’s also like a weird pearlescent sheen to it. I’ve never seen anything like it and while I’m not certain if I’d drive a car that was painted that color I will say it’d look pretty badass on a Trapper Keeper (and I think that might have been the goal).
Ratings came in for this episode and they were a little rocky but if you looked a little closer you’d see that most of the stuff that knocked BattleBots down to nineteenth place was either the NBA finals (which I will concede are a major thing) or this show on Nickelodeon called Thundermans? I don’t know anything about that show but apparently its series finale was on May 28th so I can understand that being a big deal for the kids. Also the show wasn’t produced by that one guy who apparently sucks on the toes of his underage female actresses or whatever so it can’t be that bad. I hope everyone who was a fan of this show that I’ve never heard of got the ending that their show truly deserved. Speaking of shows getting the endings they deserve Roseanne got shitcanned because Roseanne Barr posted some racist shit on Twitter. Nice choice of “talent” there, ABC. Can’t wait for season two of I Can Find $3,000 In Your Home. See you winners later I’m laughing all the way to the bank because I don’t see any of your shit on the top 50. (Yes I am well aware ESPN is owned by ABC. Just let me have this moment.)
Thanks for checking out BattleBots Update this week. This project just continues to grow and the show keeps getting better and better. For those of you who want to take a peek behind the curtain at some things I’ve been working on I’m pleased to say that I’ve added pictures of every single one of my robots (at least those where pictures exist) to the Twilight Foundry Robotics page so you can take a look at the kinds of ineffective shit the guy who writes this website has built. None of the pictures link to an information page yet but at least they’re there. As for the robots who are missing photos I’m either going to comb through my old notebooks of plans and ideas to see if I can find the ones that correspond to the missing bots or I’ll just eventually make a proper sketch of what it used to look like. As always be sure you’re following BattleBots Update on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest posts and all that. You can also pitch in to keep the lights on by either pledging to BattleBots Update on Patreon or using this PayPal link for one-time contributions. I’d like to welcome Joe G., Dawson C., & Sharkbreath aboard the BBU Patreon Party Ship!
See you next week!