[BattleBots: S9 E4 is available through the Discovery GO app with a cable subscription package.]
It’s BattleBots time once again and with this episode we’re approaching the halfway point of the first half of the season. Now I know you’re probably saying “Draco why don’t you just say we’re a quarter of the way through the season” but that’s because much like last year we’re going to have a short break in the middle of the season. So we’re at half of half and even though mathematically that factors out to a fourth just work with me here. Also thanks to July 4th this episode’s Science Channel airdate was fucked sideways so this whole mathematics analogy doesn’t matter. Chris Rose is doing his own educational BS-ing when he introduces Kenny Florian as the proton to his electron. You might be wondering why he didn’t say “the proton to my neutron” and that’s because protons and electrons don’t touch each other. This means the balls aren’t touching which therefore means “it’s not gay”. Wouldn’t matter if it was though because Kenny can probably kick you hard enough to turn you straight anyways.
This week’s fight card is predominately the “round two’s” of a lot of robot’s we’ve already seen. The main event pits Tombstone against Sawblaze both of whom won their earlier battles against Lock-Jaw and Rotator respectively. Each of those losing robots are also back this week taking on Quantum and Bombshell… again, respectively. Cobalt rides high into its next match against Duck and Blacksmith gets paired up with another crusher this time in the form of Kraken because I guess now that Al Kindle has cursed the crusher design that’s all he’s gonna get this year. The only new robots debuting in this episode are Nelly the Ellybot and Rainbow and honestly both of those robots are too shaky to make any guesses as to the winner. I guess Foxtrot is also debuting this week (in the Science Channel fight) but let’s be real here nobody’s got high hopes for that thing.
DUCK vs. COBALT
Each of the robots participating in this battle are riding into it with 1-0 records so far. They’ve both defeated one opponent each to get here but they did so in very different ways. We’ll get to Cobalt in a second but in Duck’s first fight it was matched up against Bombshell to “settle the score” so to speak. Last year many believe Duck was cheated out of its deserved win in the “Last Chance Rumble” by Bombshell so naturally these two robots meeting one another was bound to happen in what is sure to win this year’s Giant Washer Award for “Worst Match-up Made For Ratings”. Bombshell is also competing tonight so again I’ll get more into this later but basically all you need to know is the rematch was over in like one hit, and no it didn’t involve Duck getting its shit pushed in so deep that it threw it up. Duck expertly lifted Bombshell into the wall and let physics do the rest. Duck won but as Hal Rucker said after the fight it wasn’t ideal because he only got about 15 seconds’ worth of time in the arena to try out this season’s new version of Duck in a combat setting. If Hal’s not careful he’s gonna get another 15 seconds here except he probably won’t come out ahead this time.
Cobalt was built by Dave Moulds and Sam Smith of Team Carbide. They’ve been here before and, speaking of Bombshell, managed to lose in the Round of 32 when their wheels were expertly targeted and shredded apart. By Bombshell. Dave and his teammate Sam shrugged off the loss and decided to focus their attention elsewhere. In the process of doing this they managed to win a Robot Wars championship with Carbide and their other robot Tungsten is among the top-ranked machines in the Asian circuit as of this article. Naturally they decided to come back to the USA and they rebuilt Cobalt in the process. The new robot has more in common with Tungsten than it does with its original design and this new approach seems to be working so far. Captain Shrederator pussied out when it was drawn to fight Cobalt and when SubZero stepped in to fill in the gap it stepped out of the arena about 50 pounds lighter. This thing is fucking mean and with the amount of damage it can dish out Duck is likely to have its claims of being indestructible extensively tested. I say this, but Kenny points out Cobalt’s leading wedge and says it might get stuck on the floor. So help me god… if this motherfucker is telegraphing another fight outcome…
The underside of Duck’s plow has these stupid slots cut into it and if you’re expecting Cobalt to draw first blood because its narrow leading wedge is the perfect size to fit right in there you wouldn’t be alone in that assumption because I’m right there with you, but we’d still be wrong. Somehow Duck’s beak wins the ground clearance battle when the robots hit head to head and Duck almost gets a great box rush on Cobalt until it tries to lift its opponent up and loses its grip resulting in a gentle toss as Duck’s plow hits the spinner. That’s as gentle as Cobalt is going to be for the rest of this fight because as Duck tries to scurry away from the wall its back corner catches Cobalt and immediately the robot is thrown high enough into the air to put Bronco to shame. Duck is able to recover from these couple of hits but its second run at Cobalt doesn’t have the same result as its first. The two robots meet head-on, Duck loses the ground clearance battle, and Cobalt drop kicks this stupid fucking bird straight at the drivers’ booth hard enough to warp Duck’s lifting plow ensuring that it will never get another second of leverage on its opponent for the remainder of the match.
Duck doesn’t move for a second presumably because off camera Hal is making the exact same face he made when Faruq announced Bombshell won that dumb rumble. Duck’s ability to take hot loads to the face from spinners and not break down is the only conversation topic Hal will speak at length about and yet here we are in a battle where Duck’s front end has been turned into a garlic breadtwist courtesy of some dude who doesn’t even drive on the right side of the road. At this moment the universe has conspired to end Duck it seems because the little pointy bit on Duck’s plow gets sucked into the Killsaw slots and affords Cobalt yet another amazing shot. Duck’s plow seems to be immobilized by this point but I guess it’s still free spinning because every time Cobalt drives into frame this thing gets kicked around in circles like the one good shot Falcon landed on Breaker Box last week. There are so many Kenny Florian Certified Huge Hits being landed here that the editors are sampling Chris Rose reactions from last season because we’re only 4 episodes into this year and there hasn’t been enough time for him to make enough new Tim Allen grunts to choose from.
Cobalt clips Duck again and this time rips its entire front end off reducing the machine to a shittier version of Diesector with dinky little arms on its side that don’t do anything. At this point there is virtually no way Duck can turn this fight around and come out on top. Well, actually there’s one. As Cobalt cruises around to try and line up another ace serve it hits a damaged portion of one of the Hellraiser ramps in the middle of the arena at full speed. It doesn’t appear that Cobalt has ridden atop this snag to high center itself so I’m assuming that it’s thrown a chain or that the force of colliding with the damaged floor broke something internally that was important. Cobalt is dead and Sam Smith (the guy on the team with the nicest hair) is rightfully pissed off; Cobalt was winning this thing until it stepped on a Lego and died. Duck wins the fight by “KO” but it comes at the cost of Hal realizing that his indestructible robot with a “more active ‘active weapon’ than last year” might not be as indefatigable as he’s been bragging about. I’m sure Greg Munson showed up to give Hal one of those “WINNER” medallions after the fight but this one’s going to be the most bittersweet.
Also thanks Kenny for telegraphing the outcome of the fucking fight. Again.
WINNER: Duck, KO
ROTATOR vs. BOMBSHELL
For the past two seasons Rotator has existed almost entirely as a robot whose schtick is that it has two spinners and a palindromic invertible design. That’s cool and all, but there were no design configurations available for Rotator beyond using either discs or bars. The only exception to this that I can think of is when Rotator removed one of its discs so that it could use extra armor to fight Bite Force in 2018. Beyond that this robot has, for better or worse, been a static thing. That changed this year because now Rotator consists of a central “drive pod” vehicle with attachment points at its front and back. Rotator can still show up to a fight sporting two spinners but so far this season Victor Soto has opted to go with only one spinning bar plus a wedge made out of hinged spikes essentially turning Rotator into a slightly less powerful and better armored version of Tombstone. This is the exact same configuration Rotator used against Sawblaze in the first episode of the season and it worked like utter shit so for Victor to use it a second time seems like a risky gamble considering the robot has no wins on the board both this season and in this configuration.
Bombshell also has no points on the board however unlike Rotator it’s not riding into this season with a lingering high from last year. Where Rotator decimated Icewave to the point where it didn’t return this season the high point of Bombshell’s 2018 was getting Tombstone stuck on its own weapon chain to knock it out. Don’t get me wrong that’s certainly an accomplishment few teams can say they’ve done but as far as high points go that was it for the robot who in the season prior to that finished in second place. Because of its strong finish in 2016 Bombshell was treated by the producers as one of the robots who should theoretically be able to hold its own against the likes of competitors like Bronco and Lock-Jaw. Surprise, it couldn’t. This year Bombshell was drawn to fight Duck in a rematch everyone was anticipating and it ended in seconds because Bombshell was flipped over into the same goddamned position that killed it 14 times last year and it died again. It used to be that Bombshell would get one of its bomber plane teeth painted gold for every win it had, now it just gets bandages covering up random letters on its decals every time it loses.
I keep dogging on Bombshell for being “another goddamned vertical spinner” but supposedly it is still a modular robot. Rather than fight Rotator with a horizontal blade of its own Bombshell’s team decided once again that their vertical spinner is the way to go and given Rotator’s track record with vertical spinners I can’t say that’s a bad plan. Bite Force was able to split Rotator’s face open like a shotgun suicide and while I’m not exactly certain Bombshell can do the same I’m still waiting with bated breath to see it land just one good hit. Bombshell comes close but surprisingly it looks like Rotator’s pokey things are actually succeeding in keeping the spinner at bay. The best either robot can muster in the opening seconds of the fight are glancing blows as the two spinning masses deflect off of the geometry of their targets until Rotator whips around in place and catches the right side of Bombshell. It doesn’t look like a particularly spectacular hit but that big ass blade Rotator is swinging around manages to hook behind the front wedge of Bombshell and jack up the front right tire which causes that side of drive to seize up.
Bombshell pivots, but Rotator strikes again at the same exact point. If there wasn’t something wrong with Bombshell before then there probably is now. Rotator T-bones Bombshell from the left and somehow physics as we know it temporarily forget how they’re supposed to work because this hit sends Bombshell flipping into the far corner of the arena near the hosts and straight up kills it. Yeah, it’s looking like ol’ Bomberman or whatever is shaping up to have an 0-2 Fight Night record now. I guess we can look forward to seeing Bombshell in the Desperado event or something because hypothetically speaking here even if Bombshell wins its next two fights and goes 2-2 I’m not so sure this robot would be chosen by the selection committee. On a good day? Maybe 16th plac– oh fuck Rotator isn’t done yet! While Bombshell is getting counted out Rotator seems unwilling to let this fight be one of those “bad wins” we hear so much about that the people in charge of ranking the robots don’t like. Rotator lands one more blow on Bombshell to give its builders something to do in the pits and the piece that you see ripped away from Bombshell is one of the fucking undersides to the wheel modules on the robot. I think we genuinely saw someone get wedgied so hard that their underwear ripped clean out of their pants.
WINNER: Rotator, KO
BITING OFF MORE THAN YOU CAN CHEW
Quantum is coming up later in tonight’s episode. You might remember this robot from episode 1 where it bit down onto Blacksmith and held up the entire fucking show — twice — before the officials said “fuck it” and told the judges to deliver a verdict as if the battle had gone the distance. Naturally they delivered a favorable decision to Quantum but I’m absolutely positive once they finished literally cutting Quantum’s tooth out of Blacksmith’s ass Trey Roski probably had several things to say to Grant and James Cooper especially because Grant mouthed off to Kenny Florian about how it was Blacksmith’s fault for getting stuck because it’s a shitty robot or whatever. You think that’s the excuse Harry Truman used when we nuked Japan? If they didn’t want to be nuked they shouldn’t have set up a civilization there and been assholes? I mean I guess in the end maybe that’s actually a viable reason considering the shit that happened at Pearl Harbor but you get what I mean. Also that’s the second time I’ve made a Pearl Harbor joke on this website. Go me!
Jenny Taft has met up with the Super Production-Delaying Bros in the pits to get the deets on just how powerful their weapon really is and what went wrong in their fight with Blacksmith. Grant explains that historically aluminum (he adds an extra “I” to the word when he pronounces it) is the gold standard for general purpose armor on combat robots and by and large crushers such as Quantum have no trouble biting into aluminum and letting go. Aluminum is a relatively weak metal so even just the weight of the robot being attacked is enough to let gravity do its thing and allow the robot to drop off the crusher’s tooth, but AR-500 is hardened steel. Molecularly this is an entirely different material. I’ll spare you all the scientific details (because this is my way of handwaving away the fact that I don’t fuckin’ know) but as Grant continues he says steel doesn’t deform and bend, it cracks instead. That might not sound like much but in terms of metallurgy this is the difference between poking your hand into a pile of cotton balls and poking your hand into the goddamned one-way bladed puzzle box from the Saw movies that cuts your arm off when you try to pull out. Once Quantum digs into the steel the material splinters and literally starts grabbing onto Quantum’s tooth at a molecular level. The result? Well, we all saw the Blacksmith fight.
I get the impression Jenny is kind of clueless about a lot of things as far as pop culture goes. Grant and James start demonstrating Quantum’s bite force in an abandoned part of the pits because while it’s technically dangerous I guess it’s not that dangerous. When Quantum effortlessly bites into a piece of aluminum Jenny asks how easy it was for the robot to do that. She specifically asks Grant for a percentage estimate of how much power they had to use. Hearing this sentence activates the “ZOINKS” part of Grant’s brain so he replies with “2%” and finally puts the Shaggy meme to rest on national fucking television. The team then bites into a piece of AR-500 steel for the cameras and as Grant tries to whack it free with a hammer he realizes the mistake he’s made and presumably the pit guys had to bring the cutting torch back out to fix this problem again.
NELLY THE ELLYBOT vs. RAINBOW
Nelly The Ellybot which hails from England, and yes I’m going to refer to as “Nelly” for the remainder of this article because there’s too many L’s to type in it’s name. I don’t necessarily have any issues with the letter “L” per se but this robot’s name is borderlining on the same bullshit that pissed me off about Battle Royale With Cheese. Team captain Sarah Malyan drives a bus for a living so when she decided to bite the bullet and finally build her first robot she opted to make something as big as a fucking bus. She also had to open up a GoFundMe page to pay for the last legs of this robot’s construction because let’s face it in The Year of Our Lord 2019 ain’t no one who drives a bus for a living is going to be able to afford to build a goddamned BattleBot. What do you think this is, the 1960’s? Though… it is kind of fucked up that she turned to GoFundMe to pay for the robot. GoFundMe isn’t meant for BattleBots, it’s where poor people are supposed to panhandle to pay for their spouse’s cancer treatment because they live in a backwards world where going to the doctor requires taking out a fourth mortgage on their home. Nelly’s weapon is a chain-driven hammer and combined with the outer armor paneling on the robot’s perimeter this robot almost looks like a version of Beta if John Reid watched cartoons in his free time.
Rainbow is the first Russian competitor to participate in BattleBots. Depending upon who you ask this robot comes to us from a country who hacked our election and is actively undermining our democracy as we speak. I don’t know about that because these jokers look like they possess material pertaining to My Little Pony that would land them in fucking jail. Their robot is like a Windows 98 version of Tombstone which is kind of to be expected because if you check out the robot combat circuits in Russia this thing fits right in. It’s also worth noting that Rainbow wasn’t always called “Rainbow”. You see, over in Russia where the laws of our land hold about as much water as what’s left of Chernobyl’s fourth reactor, this robot has been competing under the name “Pinkie Pie” for reasons that I hope I don’t need to explain. Petr Kravchenko applied to BattleBots under that name but I assume the producers knew that Hasbro’s legal team would all perk up like dogs hearing a dinner bell the minute this robot showed up state-side. Pinkie Pie had to change its name so Petr renamed it “Rainbow”, then he was told he had to remove the robot’s pony-themed paint job so he just stuck a giant decal on top of it and called it a day. Welcome to America, copyright’s a bitch isn’t it?
When the fight started and I saw Rainbow’s weapon start to spin my first thoughts were “this thing’s about to lose to a goddamned elephant” but then I noticed Rainbow’s blade just kept getting faster and faster. It’s a slow burn and when it finally delivers a blow it doesn’t quite rip Nelly’s hammer off but my money’s on at least something getting jarred loose. Maybe a nut unwound a bit, who knows. After taking a shot on its hammer Nelly has already failed to live up to its battle plan of box rushing its opponent and with Rainbow’s blade now presumably full speed it is staring down the task of slowing the weapon down before it can land a hit. Rainbow’s blade deflects upward across Nelly’s wedge and connects with the upper part of the robot’s chassis. I didn’t want to say anything at first because I didn’t want to come off like too much of a dick but I think the upper half of Nelly is the part of the robot paid for by GoFundMe because Rainbow just cleaves right in and tears its fucking face off. The ears and eyes are just cosmetic but with half of its face torn away most of Nelly’s juicier bits are now out in the open.
Rainbow still doesn’t seem like that reliable of a machine, however being paired up against an opponent whose upper half appears to be made out of particle board or some shit was a best case scenario for the team. Nelly’s lower armor can take these hits without any trouble at all but the moment Rainbow’s blade goes any higher the elephant is screwed. Another final blow rips most of the other half of Nelly’s face off and the robot is knocked out. This is a good thing for Rainbow because while delivering this hit the robot’s weapon flexed weirdly and shredded its drive belt so this was the last hit it was going to get. Nelly’s hammer twitches but the cameras cut away and I can’t remember if it makes a full swing or not. I’m guessing no because the first hit of the fight was dealt squarely on the robot’s weaponry. I know elephants are rumored to never forget what happens to them but as far as I know this theory has never been tested on elephants who’ve received a full frontal lobotomy from a Russian robot that was once themed after My Little Pony but had to change its name because Discovery Channel doesn’t have Hasbro levels of money. I’m assuming that when Sarah returns to England and resumes her old job she’ll be driving a much shorter bus.
WINNER: Rainbow, KO
QUANTUM vs. LOCK-JAW
Quantum is the only robot in this fight who has a win under its belt so far but that win didn’t come easy. Technically I guess it did come easy because all the robot had to do was bite down on Blacksmith and that was it, but it caused the whole show to temporarily cease production while Trey Roski futilely kept bringing in bigger and bigger things to try and separate the entangled robots. They got as far as a set of small hydraulic spreaders but it wasn’t enough to free Blacksmith and at that moment I believe Trey cursed all of England under his breath and they wheeled the robots out of the arena and moved onto the next fight. Then, when they tried to resume the fight, Quantum did the exact same shit in the next taping session and the officials didn’t even bother trying to separate the robots. I guess that speaks volumes for the amount of sheer power behind Quantum’s jaw. So many teams and builders sing the praises of their crusher’s power but when’s the last time you saw someone like Petunia or Kan Opener do some shit like this? Quantum is the real deal, Blacksmith’s Al Kindle even begrudgingly said so in the pits. For this fight Quantum is wearing a set of double teeth presumably to get stuck on Lock-Jaw twice as badly.
Donald Hutson has introduced a lot of memorable robots to the sport. I honestly can’t think of a single one he’s built that doesn’t immediately convey its builder to you the minute you see it. He even built some piece of shit middleweight for Comedy Central to give away in some sweepstakes back in the day and even that thing had just as much care and attention to detail put into it as all of his other robots. Lock-Jaw isn’t that bad of a robot but it’s had one hell of a fucking time trying to find its place in the world. It began as a lifter/clamper sort of like Diesector with had goofy flamethrowers in its face and when that didn’t work out the robot came back with spring-loaded jaws that doubled as a flipper and now the Lock-Jaw we’ve seen for the past couple of seasons has been some weird vertical spinner hybrid. Donald’s wheelhouse isn’t spinners, he kind of sucks at this. But he’s a good driver and that’s why Lock-Jaw has remained a definite threat and a worthy obstacle for all of its opponents. Well, except for all the times it’s killed itself. Lock-Jaw is 0-1 at the moment though that loss came from Tombstone so really you can’t blame it for losing. Most robots lose when they face off against Tombstone, but Quantum is a different beast and in anticipation of this fight Donald has equipped Lock-Jaw with thicker top armor because I guess he didn’t see what happened to Blacksmith.
Both robots leave their starting squares but Quantum is the one who shoots out like it’s on fire. Donald might have six Giant Nuts weighing his robot down but Quantum’s only got one big pair of regular nuts and this proves to be a bad opening move because it hits a familiar seam in the middle of the floor. Sadly, Quantum was unable to see the ghost of Cobalt attempting to warn it from the other side of existence. I don’t think this impact causes Quantum to do anything like shed a chain or whatever but I have noticed that the robot is already leaving massive blue skidmarks all over the floor like its wheels are made out of fucking modeling clay or something. Lock-Jaw starts throwing punches wildly no matter where they land and one of them kicks Quantum up atop its hinged front wedge. This almost seems like the kind of fluke that would immediately kill a robot however Quantum’s rear wheels extend behind the robot’s chassis so it’s able to get down, but it does look like either from this hit or one of the follow-ups that the robot has lost an entire half of a wheel already because there’s a chunk of blue stuff sitting on the floor.
Lock-Jaw’s lifting forks have never seemed particularly impressive to me but they’re coming into play in a lot of ways here. Lock-Jaw just keeps stabbing at Quantum with whatever purchase it can get and sometimes these prongs are slipping into the gap between Quantum’s front wedge and its chassis which temporarily hinders the robot from moving. Additionally as Lock-Jaw spins around these forks push against Quantum and successfully ward it off and prevent the crusher from reaching anything important on Lock-Jaw’s chassis. It seems like Quantum is just going to bite whatever it can get its mouth around — the toddler strategy — but even if Quantum got its tooth on Lock-Jaw’s weapon I’m not so sure Quantum would come out of that as ahead as its team thinks they will. It doesn’t matter though because Lock-Jaw lands a great shot on Quantum’s front right corner and the robot bounces, twitches a bit, and starts to smoke. It’s totally dead after landing a staggering zero blows on Lock-Jaw. Lock-Jaw, not wanting this fight to end without a big hit for the judges to remember, slams into Quantum’s crippled right side and flips the whole thing over ripping pieces off in the process.
Both of these robots are now 1-1 and their trajectories have officially crossed one another. Donald lets out the world’s most anemic “yaaaaaaay”.
WINNER: Lock-Jaw, KO
KRAKEN vs. BLACKSMITH
Kraken showed up last year and managed to win a single fight. It lost at least 3 or 4 other others including one where it did its best impression of Skorpios and jammed itself into the screws. Matt Spurk and his team-forward-slash-family are one of those crews who bring a fun-looking robot and they all dress up to play the part. Usually you don’t see robots like this have much success and Kraken’s sole victory in 2018 exemplifies that. I’d probably say about the same thing regarding Kraken this year had it not been for the fact that Kraken didn’t just beat its first opponent (Ribbot), its teeth actually punctured that opponent quite violently. That’s a level of strength we’d yet to see from Kraken considering the most the robot was able to do prior was bite down on one of Red Devil’s tracks and jam it up. I won’t say Kraken’s first fight this season changed my mind and made me peg the robot as the next potential champion but it certainly made me a lot more optimistic regarding this robot’s future. I don’t think Kraken’s going to win the Giant Nut this year but I do think it’s going to come a lot closer than it did last year… especially with Blacksmith as an opponent.
Al Kindle must’ve once been mean to a staple remover or something because so far this season he’s only been matched up against crushers. Blacksmith’s season debut fight was against Quantum where it was tasked with being the guinea pig that would inform everyone else what it’s like to go up against the robot that many have nicknamed “Razer 2”. Al’s findings? “Shit sucks you guys, for real. Now quit standing around and help me get this fucking tooth out of my goddamned robot.” Quantum’s jaw bit into Blacksmith and busted right through the robot’s added AR-500 steel and the robots became so entangled that the officials called it quits and declared Quantum the winner. Despite only taking hits on its lid Quantum’s tooth did actually bite into some of Blacksmith’s internals on its second attack so it’s not like all Al had to do was pry his robot off and charge his batteries. He had a lot of crap to replace. I’m not sure how Kraken’s jaw compares to that of Quantum’s but given the nature of AR-500 and the manner in which Kraken and Quantum each apply their forces I think we might see a little less deep tonguing and get an actual fight this time.
I just realized who Kraken reminds me of. Kraken’s new head looks like the team stole the blueprints to Warhead and changed a couple of numbers around. Given the fact that Kraken’s mascot costume looks like what happens when a seller on AliExpress lies to you it might be a safe assumption that Kraken’s head is the exact same outcome. Blacksmith just can’t get away from shit inspired by Ian Lewis this year. Kraken immediately goes on the attack and starts trying to bite down on Blacksmith and completely disregards the hammer because I’m guessing given the relative light weight of it Kraken doesn’t think it’s going to do much damage. So far it hasn’t, but neither has Kraken. Blacksmith rolls Kraken over in the first big move of the fight and tries whacking the robot in the dick to see if Kraken still thinks the weapon isn’t a threat. The robot eventually gets back onto its wheels but another potential weakness is located by Blacksmith; Kraken has a bunch of pokey bits on its head due to its weird geometry and at one point Blacksmith is able to hook its hammer into this area and get its opponent to start huffing flames for a good few seconds.
Blacksmith is just throwing punches left and right to take whatever it can get but right now in terms of sheer hits with weaponry I’ve gotta say I think the BIG TIME HAMMER is in the lead. Kraken seems to have only fired its jaw once and that turned out to be a miss. I don’t think Kraken is taking any damage from Blacksmith but “damage” might as well have some kind of bullshit Soviet Russia definition in BattleBots because by virtue of landing hits Blacksmith has the edge. Kraken rolling over a second time isn’t helping matters and I don’t know what the fuck Kraken’s little narwhal is supposed to be doing but it hasn’t moved an inch since the start of the fight. At least last time they brought the minibot out it got stuck in the Killsaws. Kraken is on the ropes as far as points go but it’s been nothing but persistent this whole fight and right as the battle reaches the halfway point the robot catches a lucky break and whips out its signature move: The Letterman. Kraken comes at Blacksmith in such a way so that the mechanism that swings Blacksmith’s hammer gets caught right between Kraken’s teeth; now whenever Blacksmith fires its hammer it can’t complete a swing because the arm catches on Kraken.
Kraken starts to turn the fight around by bringing Blacksmith to the Pulverizers where one of the shots dealt falls straight onto its flaming hammer. Al’s bullshit senses start to tingle and he goes into defensive mode and asks if Kraken’s going to let go. Don’t worry dude, Kraken might have the oomph to bite through a shitty frog robot but it doesn’t have the ability to get through reinforced steel. Think of this like an extended version of that joke about 9/11 and steel beams. Kraken eventually lets go and a few moments later gets another loose bite on Blacksmith’s side. With just a few seconds left on the clock Kraken makes one last big push to score some bonus points and manages to skid across the floor and make one last trip to the Pulverizer for a blow right at the bell. This one’s absolutely too close to call but now that the robots have stopped moving it looks like there’s actually a ton of dents on Kraken’s dome and Blacksmith fucked Kraken’s upper lip up so much we might as well start referring to it as Joaquin Phoenix. You might not be surprised to hear this but the decision is a split, and one in favor of Blacksmith. I think what it came down to was the physical damage done to Kraken’s face that tipped the scales. Blacksmith can now finally claim a victory over a robot other than a shitty clusterbot, congratulations.
WINNER: Blacksmith, Judges’ Decision (2-1)
END GAME vs. RIBBOT
Up next is another fight where neither participant have any wins to their name this season. End Game doesn’t seem like the kind of robot you’d expect to see in this situation, especially after its impressive showing last season, but alas Jack Barker and his crew met their match with Death Roll because they could not contain the crocodilian singularity. We never really got a good look or an explanation as to what happened to End Game in its first fight, the robot just took a major blow and broke down. End Game initially had a srimech that looked like a pair of shutter shades but I guess it was more about form than function because that piece of shit didn’t work and I noticed it’s completely absent from the robot now. In its place there’s just a stick of metal poking up from the left side of the disc. I have no idea what the angle here is or if that chunk of material is even supposed to do anything, I’m thinking the strategy is now just “don’t get flipped”. Despite losing its first round End Game is incredibly powerful so for all we know this robot just stumbled out of the gate and now that it’s dusted itself off it’s ready to kick some ass for real.
Don’t let Ribbot’s outer frog costume fool you into thinking this machine is just a joke. That’s actually part of David Jin’s plan; he wants you to write his robot off as bullshit because it looks like he modeled it after the worst power-up in Super Mario Bros 3. In actuality Ribbot packs a punch that’s potentially as heinous as End Game’s and the reason why we’re seeing this modular robot with its vertical spinner again is because David says he needs to step up and match the power of his opponent. Ribbot is new this year and in its debut fight against Kraken we saw it deliver some serious blows to the crusher’s teeth but ultimately it wasn’t able to last against its opponent and slowly broke down over the course of three minutes. It looks to be in good form (and foam) though my concern is that the team is too busy wasting time doing dumb shit like taunting End Game with the cardboard shades they’ve put on their robot. Watch closely and you’ll see one of the team members cut the middle of the sunglasses out because the strips were right in line with Ribbot’s weapon and would’ve likely been sucked into the belts. Guys, don’t do shit like this. This is how you lose fights.
Ribbot becomes the next robot on the list of “competitors who’ve stubbed their toe on the invisible Legos embedded in the arena floor” and momentarily loses control. End Game isn’t able to capitalize on this early trip up but it does start to pull off some of Ribbot’s decorative foam pieces. Again, the impression I get is that these pieces are probably best suited to absorb blows from horizontal spinners because vertical ones (and crushers, like in its fight with Kraken) just sort of go right through it by way of hitting either around the pieces or from an unintended direction. The first
big huge hit of the fight is dealt and to my (and likely your) surprise it’s Ribbot that kicks End Game backwards and nearly busts one of the Pulverizers. End Game recovers and gets back in its opponent’s face delivering some heavy shots that at first I believed neither robot sustained much damage from but as the robots separate it appears Ribbot’s spinner has had all it can take. I believe there’s more than one motor running this thing so if this were a situation where one of them were damaged we’d at least be seeing this thing running at half speed but nope this fucker’s croaked.
End Game, sensing weakness, cruises in and pulls Ribbot’s front right fork off leaving its opponent mostly unable to act as a pusher now. The frog ain’t looking so hot, but suddenly its disc springs back to life. Was it a feint? Did it actually screw up for a minute? Did End Game kick something back into place??? Whatever happened here this isn’t good because without Ribbot’s front forks there’s nothing to really keep the robot steady when it goes in for a hit. It’s all disc, and that’s exactly what End Game gets a faceful of. The two bots collide again and now it’s Ribbot’s turn to start ripping wedge forks from its opponent, but more importantly End Game spits out a weapon belt. There are two belts running that disc so it’s still able to run but obviously the team kind of wants both of them… you know, so the weapon works at full strength. This hit from Ribbot looks to have done more damage than just a shed belt implies because End Game starts showing issues with its left side of drive to the point where the ref tells the team that their twitching doesn’t constitute controlled movement. The robot ironically starts to hop around and I guess the ref is okay with that because we don’t get another cutaway of him counting the robot out, but as this is going on Ribbot doesn’t let up and throws another punch and this one is the killer blow.
…and then the ref counts out End Game for real.
WINNER: Ribbot, KO
SCIENCE CHANNEL EXCLUSIVE
DEATH ROLL vs. FOXTROT
When it comes to spectacular comebacks this season I can’t think of a better example than Death Roll. This croc was getting its ass handed to it by End Game for at least a minute straight and the robot was bouncing and twisting across the arena so violently that if this were a bad video game I am certain Death Roll would’ve clipped through the wall or something. But despite driving like a glitch in the Havoc physics engine Death Roll stayed the course and with a couple of decisive blows it managed to kink End Game from a weird angle and busted the spinner for a table-turning KO. Afterward I’m assuming the team just did nothing but repair their robot until minutes before this fight because I refuse to believe that Death Roll was able to take that kind of punishment and just walk it off. The robot returns to the arena once again and this time is slightly more complete than it was in its previous match; Death Roll’s self-righting mechanism has finally been added and it’s a ridiculous severed arm holding a Bowie knife. I love it.
Craig Danby is probably the world’s greatest engineer because he invented robots that break down only when a camera is pointed at them. His robots are the embodiment of Kel Mitchell’s character in Mystery Men except rather than be invisible only when no one is looking instead we have a case of the robots only working when they are not being observed. If we didn’t already have a robot named “Quantum” this year I’d just nickname Foxtrot that. Foxtrot is an improvement — allegedly — over last season’s Predator (which itself was an improvement over Foxic from Robot Wars). Overall we’re looking at about the same design here, Foxtrot is a very robust wedge with a lifting plow that I assume can also double as a clamp in a pinch. Like Craig’s other robots this one is also fox-themed because Craig likes to play an ongoing game where he tries to see if people can guess his online habits. In order for Foxtrot to be an improvement over Predator all it needs to do is drive around for three minutes. That’s it. It doesn’t even have to win the fight, the robot just needs to waste three minutes of everyone’s time.
Foxtrot is quick… like a fox. It cruises across the arena before Death Roll can leave its square and immediately connects with the spinner. Unfortunately for Foxtrot it’s not able to take advantage of this angle and Death Roll boops it on its snout a couple of times with it spinning blade. To give you an idea of how stout Foxtrot is armor-wise, this hit doesn’t actually appear to do anything to the robot aside from pissing it off. I was almost too busy writing the previous sentence to notice this, but Death Roll has also stopped moving now. This is only temporary and is likely an effect of having gotten too close to a fox because I think in real life they’re supposed to stink or something. Or maybe that’s wolves, I don’t fucking know. Foxtrot drifts around and dodges Death Roll to line up another shot and as it lunges forward once again it misses its mark and rather than hit Death Roll’s disc with its wedge Foxtrot instead aims its front right wheel at it. Death Roll takes a chunk out of the armor and this blow is enough to incapacitate the fox.
You made it 52 seconds, Foxtrot. My official ruling is that Foxtrot is not an improvement over Predator. It is just as bad if not worse.
WINNER: Death Roll, KO
TOMBSTONE vs. SAWBLAZE
Tombstone is a rock solid nightmare of a robot. Even though out of the previous three seasons it only has one Giant Nut everyone seems to have a more innate fear of this robot than something like Bite Force. I guess it’s because Bite Force seems more “beatable” because its weapon isn’t as big and theoretically there are a lot more angles you can come at it. In the case of Tombstone there’s a certain kind of intimidation that comes with staring down a hunk of spinning metal that’s as big as a fucking Subway catered meal. Beating Tombstone seems “less possible” than other bots and when Tombstone’s only other match so far was what amounted to a two-hit KO over Lock-Jaw competitors like SawBlaze have every right to be terrified. After the Lock-Jaw battle Ray Billings said the only damage he sustained was a zip tie coming loose. “Five cents’ worth of damage.” Well, maybe if you sprung for the ten cent zip ties you wouldn’t be in this situation, asshole. Tombstone has several bars it can equip but so far we’ve only seen the giant aluminum magnum dong, aka “the DeVito”. I don’t know if that’s what it’s actually called.
SawBlaze is also 1-0 and Jamison Go’s approach to robot design is a little more focused than most. All of his robot’s armor is up front because his philosophy is that if you just spend your weight putting “okay” armor all around your robot then you wind up with a shitty design that someone like Tombstone will destroy. SawBlaze has a lot of exposed delicate pieces at its rear but if Jamison’s skill behind the wheel is true then none of that will matter because his opponents will only see the heavily armored front end of his machine. In SawBlaze’s previous foray into the arena it came outfitted exactly as it is for this fight: cutting disc as opposed to the heavier ripping one and thick flexible rubber armor to absorb the kinetic energy of horizontal spinners. This format worked against Rotator who showed up to the battle looking like a crappier Tombstone, so now it’s time to put this configuration to the real test. B R I N G M E T O M B S T O N E.
The rubber pads on SawBlaze worked well against Rotator, and Jamison was eager to show off how undamaged they were to Jenny earlier in the episode, but I think that’s because Rotator’s bars are way inferior to Tombstone’s so that was probably bad data collection. SawBlaze’s special armor works against Tombstone for exactly one hit before Tombstone rips off the right set of padding. In scientific terms this is “extremely not good uh oh”. Despite losing the pad SawBlaze does succeed in temporarily extinguishing Tombstone and we see the spinner violently heaved into the wall several times. SawBlaze doesn’t let up even while Tombstone very clearly is trying to spin its weapon up to speed resulting in the robot bouncing around. That’s a very ballsy move on Ray’s part because you’d think that bouncing and flexing would possibly cause Tombstone to shit out its weapon chain immediately. Eventually the former champ does power down its weapon but as soon as there’s a split second of stability it’s right back up to top speed. SawBlaze chases down Tombstone but somehow Tombstone catches SawBlaze underneath its front wedge and the damage done with this hit is staggering.
SawBlaze’s right tire is visibly chewed up however it also appears that whatever Tombstone reached down to strike has become bent up and is now lifting one side of SawBlaze off of the ground. The robot still kind of works but it’s been reduced to mere pivoting. Ray smiles because I’m guessing he and I are on the same page here and we both kinda know what’s going to happen next. Tombstone continues to strike SawBlaze because the robot is making the mistake of still moving around. The right half of SawBlaze’s front plow is knocked loose and becomes bent outward. A second hit on this same part tears the damaged half of the plow off and lobs it across the floor. SawBlaze is easily on its way out right now but the dragon refuses to go down without a fight. It can still swing and drift and because of this the refs have not counted it out. Tombstone is fully mobile but it’s having a hard time getting any meaningful purchase on SawBlaze because right now it’s only landing hits on the part of the robot that looks like Detroit and we all know you can’t fuck that up any more than it already is.
SawBlaze makes one final push and hooks Tombstone from the side. The inward curve throws the spinner off and Tombstone spazzes out hard enough in the middle of the arena for the safety crew to start angrily mixing up another batch of Bondo to fix all this shit. Tombstone rebounds and contorts but ultimately it lands back onto its wheels and keeps spinning. This was SawBlaze’s last stand because shortly after landing back on the ground Tombstone cruises in and cleaves into SawBlaze’s left wheel, the only one that was consistently still working. The dragon is now officially out of commission and literally spends its entire KO countdown punching itself because it had a chance to take on the former champ and screwed it all up.
WINNER: Tombstone, KO
There you have it. This season’s starting to pick up and we’re on the move now because almost everyone in this episode participated in their second of four qualifying matches. We’ve even got a couple of competitors pulling ahead of the pack at 2-0. Duck managed to defeat both Bombshell and Cobalt but I’ll be damned if that victory over Cobalt wasn’t a fucking monkey paw wish. Death Roll has beaten End Game and Foxtrot, but does that win over Foxtrot really count? Still, I’m of the volition that a win is a win any way you slice it and speaking of slicing Tombstone is also 2-0 now but are you really surprised to hear that? A ton of these robots are also now at a respectable 1-1, but the inverse of 2-0 also applies here. End Game is in the 0-2 club and that just blows my mind. When I think of End Game I think about hits like the ones that ripped off Brutus’ armored front end and threw Son of Whyachi into the air… but then I also remember that while those hits were impressive End Game didn’t actually win those fights either. Maybe it’s a little too strong? But Bombshell though, Jesus fucking Christ you guys. 0-4 in 2018’s Fight Night rounds and as we speak this robot is already halfway there again. I don’t know what it is about this robot. It had one good season and ever since then it’s just been a total disaster.
I know as this article comes out you’ve probably already seen the Discovery Channel version of episode 5. We already know who wins and who loses and by virtue of Science Channel delaying the airing of the episode covered in this article we’ve fallen behind by a week. I can’t really help that, but that’s the TV biz for you. I feel kind of bad because the delayed airing of this episode came as a very sudden announcement and no one had any advance notice. If there were more of a heads up I would’ve tried to put together one of my shorter miscellaneous article ideas but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to get one of those ready. In any case, we wound up getting a staggered broadcast schedule last season and we got through it just fine so I know we can do it again.
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