If last week’s article was anything to go by, this whole “Robot Wars: The First Wars” thing is shaping up to be a giant embarrassing mess of poor engineering, petty theft, and absolutely nobody giving a shit. Perfect. Last week saw the rise of Road Block, a robot literally built out of road signs, and gave way to the measurement unit “Grunt” (which in case you forgot is 140 centimeters). We were also amused and thrilled by the antics of Barry, a robot so goddamned terrible that it died immediately upon starting the obstacle course. There was also Shogun, an ineffective piece of shit built by luxury car engineers, and Killertron whose only claim to fame is being able to cause color bleeding with its bright pink shell when the camera is pointed at it. I feel like I’m forgetting someone. Oh, Nemesis; the robot with the toilet seat cover fabric. I think they call that a “loo” over there in Robot Wars land.
HEAT B COMPETITORS
Clarkson starts the episode off with awkward political stand-up that I’m sure was hilarious and relevant in 1998. I’ve never been anywhere near England so I cannot tell you how funny or not funny his jokes are but the crowd seems dead so I’m going to cautiously go with “holy shit kill yourself” to rank that stand-up routine. That’s his sendoff to the introduction of the six robots competing in this episode.
UGLYBOT: …these people are fucking with me now, right? Like, the show is now self-aware? Last week was a test to see if I could pick up on the fact that this whole show is a goddamned joke. They fooled me. Jonathan Pearce fooled me. The man sounds like he’s perpetually being sucked into a black hole and I didn’t question that one bit. God damn it.
SCRAPPER: I know we gave Nemesis shit for looking like a chair in the previous episode but this robot literally looks like a booster seat. It also has about nineteen feet of ground clearance so I guess that means it’s going to lose, but at least Scrapper’s builders had the foresight to give the robot a weapon. And a face. Because gimmicks.
RECYCLOPSE: Okay, full disclosure, I think the name of this robot is clever as fuck. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, these assholes took the “fake tongue” thing that Shogun had last week and ramped it up to a full-on weapon. Their weapon is literally a wedge that’s supposed to be a tongue, and it’s 90 centimeters long. That’s over half a Grunt.
DETONATOR: I had to do a double take at first, because I thought maybe for a second they sent Recyclopse out again, but no this is actually its own separate robot. I can’t shake the similarity, though; it honestly looks like these people tried to straight up copy Recyclopse and dicked it up in every single way possible. Is that a fucking pipe mounted on the front as a weapon? Also, “2.5 centimeters of ground clearance”? Fuck that. You can park a truck under that thing.
MORTIS: Here’s the part where I have to act like I’ve never seen this robot before in order to maintain the context that this is the first Robot Wars and I am not supposed to know ahead of time that Mortis is an overpriced piece of shit that hardly ever won any battles. I mean, uh, oh hey look they made the distinction of specifying “Japanese” axe blade. Neat hikikomori, bro.
LEIGHBOT: As soon as this coffin-shaped accident wheeled itself out into the arena I immediately lost it at the fact that it visibly looks like it was just pieced together from a car wreck. Also for some reason it wobbles when it drives; it’s not even doing anything and it already looks like it’s about to break. All of these failures are making Mortis look good by proxy.
Philippa shows up to remind us that she’s on this show, and to recap the Gauntlet in case you either forgot or didn’t see the first episode. I don’t know if it’s camera trickery or what but the Gauntlet looks massive when she stands in the center of it, yet the minute a robot shows up it immediately contracts inward and shrinks to a third of its size. Movie magic.
LEIGHBOT runs the Gauntlet first and before slowly crawling from the starting circle we meet the team — which allegedly contains the late Robin Williams but I didn’t see him anywhere — and they show off Leighbot’s weaponry which looks laughably weak. What the fuck is up with that lance? Pneumatics too hard or something? Anyways, Sergeant Bash shows up to cock block Leighbot’s traversing of the ramp but then backs off because I’m assuming they aren’t supposed to do that and Bash’s driver got whipped with a ruler. It continues to the second ramp and right as the fog machine kicks in Leighbot deploys its lance which is now sporting a goddamned fan.
Okay, you got me Leighbot. That fan is both brilliant and stupid as hell but I commend you for the effort. You’re officially the least worst robot that has entered the Gauntlet in this episode, a title which you would’ve taken anyways considering you went first. Bravo. Meanwhile, Jonathan cool your fucking jets it’s literally just a fan. I’m convinced this man thinks magic is a real thing.
SCRAPPER won’t stop making eye contact with the camera and it weirds me out. For a robot that has more space under it than a parking garage you’d think it could tackle the ramp with ease, but no Scrapper promptly starts fucking it all up and the editors cut to the Scrapper team who inform us that they placed the robot’s control board literally right front and center on top of the robot. Wow man, can you people do fucking anything right?
Scrapper can’t seem to figure out the mystery behind the inclined plane so it instead becomes the first robot to brave what I referred to last week as “waiting in line at the bank”. Unluckily for Scrapper, it just so happens that the House Robots were planning a bank heist and show up guns blazing. Bash even has the audacity to cut in line. What a piece of shit. Scrapper dies immediately and buries its face in the wall while the mysterious voice tells everyone to cut it out and shut it down. Jonathan starts naming words that start with the letter “S”.
RECYCLOPSE, or “Good Detonator”, arrives and immediately Jonathan starts making “aye aye” puns. Sometimes I wonder if this man legitimately has no social filter. Recyclopse floors it in between Bash and Shunt and tries tonguing its way out of the threeway it gets itself into, which as you can probably guess doesn’t exactly work. There’s a clearing and the robot takes the opening and speeds into the back wall, going down on Matilda in the process. This is the second week in a row I’ve been making sex jokes about that robot but when you arm your robot with a fucking tongue you assholes are making it awfully hard for me not to.
Also there’s apparently a flipper hidden inside of Recyclopse’s tongue, making the robot marginally less of a piece of shit. Its driver informs Clarkson that he wanted to flip a House Robot to which Clarkson responds “that’s impossible”. Right, and Shunt can’t ever lose in the Sumo arena but we all saw how well that theory held up. World peace is impossible, Jeremy, upending a robot from a Nine Inch Nails album cover is well within the realm of possibility.
DETONATOR, or “Bad Recyclopse”, is next up and immediately the robot proves to be just the most pathetic goddamned thing I’ve ever seen and literally dies on the starting platform. David Crosby, the person on the Detonator team who isn’t a woman, starts having an autistic fit. There’s a cut to the team’s introduction where one of the girls predicts the future and says that they’d perform better in battle and not in the obstacle courses. She even pronounces it slowly and with the certainty of someone who thinks they might have HIV because lo and fucking behold, their robot is somehow performing worse than Barry from last week.
Jonathan starts taunting David from the Detonator team, earning back my respect after the “aye aye” pun from Recyclopse’s obstacle course run in the process. By this point Shunt has come in to try and free Detonator from the starting circle. You know you’ve fucked up when the goddamned House Robots, whose job is to ruin your shit, are coming in to see if you’re okay. The robot finally gets about four seconds to make progress before they run out of time. Clarkson comes in, pushes David away, and tells him to go to the hospital. After ruining this man on national television he then starts hitting on the girls which probably is a bad idea considering they’re in high school.
MORTIS shows up for its run at the Gauntlet, a robot whose team literally looks like they had to put their D&D session on hold so they could drag their robot to the event. Speaking of D&D, none of the House Robots appear to be paying attention so Mortis is able to floor it down most of the Gauntlet before everyone shows up. Moments prior to this Mortis’ driver hits his robot with a hammer to show how tough it is, ignoring the fact that most of these robots can swing harder than him, a spot of bravado that’s immediately undone when Shunt stabs the tank with its own axe and locks it down.
Immediately the driver channels DarksydePhil and starts making excuses, even as Clarkson comes in and taunts him with the whole “it’s so powerful” routine he delivered moments ago. A man who cannot leave well enough alone, Clarkson blurts out an insult directed at the Detonator team. Legends say you can still hear the airhorns and “OOOHHHH” echoing to this very day. Also, how the fuck are they measuring distance in the Gauntlet? I ask because Mortis clearly made it way further along than Detonator, who only made progress in the obstacle course because Shunt ran into it.
UGLYBOT is the final robot to attempt the Gauntlet in this episode and I’m glad that the producers remembered about this robot because I sure as hell didn’t. Uglybot appears to be larger than the space inside of the starting circle, meaning that it’s probably not going to be able to get out. That proves to be correct as the robot immediately gets
jammed up stuck in the wall and requires CPR from Shunt. Uglybot gets pushed back onto the starting circle and breaks the fucking platform in the process, then time runs out and we discover that they ultimately traveled 1.6 meters, or just over one Grunt. According to the Robot Wars Wiki, this is the worst score of the season. Congratulations, Uglybot, you truly are the worst thing ever.
Clarkson smokes the drivers one last time and then the show cuts to the final standings after the Gauntlet. I guess that means Detonator gets to come back. Fuck.
Rather than go for sumo a second time, Clarkson shows up to introduce the concept of “Bulldog” which is apparently a playground game from Great Britain. Sure, I’ll buy that. The object is pretty basic, all of the competitors are placed into the arena at the same time and they have to make it to the other side while dodging all four House Robots and some of those giant trapezoid bricks from the Gauntlet. Clarkson misgenders Matilda and immediately backtracks, possibly as a means to rile her up for angry sex later. Also, when they cut to Matilda being all huffy it’s a clip of her in the Gauntlet. I’m assuming the editors were hoping nobody would notice that.
Philippa goes into the pits to chat with the teams wherein Mortis’ driver does some more bragging while Recyclopse’s guy takes the piss out of everything and says he won’t get hit by Mortis because his robot “has wheels” not realizing that “having wheels” hasn’t stopped a single traffic accident ever. Philippa finds the Detonator team somewhere in the fucking dark and that David guy starts talking like a goddamned caveman. All I could make out was that the robot couldn’t turn left. Yeah dude, it couldn’t turn left, or right, or do anything else either. But I see what you’re doing, tackling problems one at a time; good on you man. Leighbot and Scrapper’s teams weren’t available for comment because they were out comparing each other’s robots to various kinds of basic shapes.
This event is going to be a total goddamned mess to narrate but here goes nothing. Jonathan jinxes Detonator just as the match starts and kills it. Meanwhile, Recyclopse takes refuge behind one of the bricks hoping that nobody is going to notice the giant circle robot with the fucking spotlight. Mortis manages to clear the arena, and Leighbot and Scrapper are busy playing touchy-feely with each other. The camera cuts to the pits where the rest of the competing teams’ members are watching the event remotely and as you might imagine David Crosby is losing his fucking mind. After one more cut he straight up bolts out of shot presumably to go do some full body stimming or something, much to the amusement of Jonathan.
Scrapper manages to join Mortis on the other side of the arena while Recyclopse appears to have actually died over by the brick it was hiding behind. Leighbot, as slow as it is, also manages to cross the arena leaving only Bad Recyclopse and Good Detonator behind, though considering how much of a monumental piece of shit Detonator is, Recyclopse still gets to advance onward.
As the match ends Recyclopse topples Matilda with the help of Mortis, and Clarkson pulls the Detonator team aside to ask them if they are capable of following basic fucking directions. By this point Detonator’s builders can apply for government disability benefits and skip all the paperwork because it’s already been done for them by the hosts of this show. Detonator’s driver says they put “everything” into it and had been working on the robot for days. Days. Christ, here I am thinking it would be weeks at best. No wonder you fucking lost; the guy from Mortis straight up tops that by saying they took three months to build their robot — and they fucking won.
Also, that awkward laugh she does in the pits after saying that they’re going to win next year. I cringed so hard my face turned inside out and exploded.
RECYCLOPSE vs. SCRAPPER
Weapon: Pneumatic flipping arm
Weapon: Front and rear-mounted cutting saws
Scrapper has two blinking LED lights for eyes. Recyclopse has one giant floodlight for an eye. I’m already so tired of these stupid faces on all of the fucking robots and we’re not even a full third of the way through this season.
At the start of the match Scrapper starts to pirouette and dance around the arena, doing a wonderful job of aiming zero of its six total saw blades at its opponent. Because of this the fight ends in a matter of seconds as Recyclopse throws the “steam train”, as Clarkson calls it, right onto its side. Everybody including the Scrapper team acknowledge what a piece of shit their robot is, and I have to as well because look at this — there’s barely a paragraph here for this fight.
MORTIS vs. LEIGHBOT
Random Violence Technologies
Weapon: Pneumatic “Japanese” axe
Leigh City Technical College
Weapon: Retractable lance, rear-mounted grinding wheel
Jonathan starts talking about the weapons each robot is bringing into the match and as soon as Leighbot fires its lance he retracts his words faster than a politician accused of being racist. Mortis immediately begins hacking away at Leighbot with its JAPANESE blade and pops several holes into its opponent, which Jonathan has taken a liking to calling a “pepper pot” now because I guess he’s using a crossword puzzle from the London Times to write his commentary. Also, I don’t even know if “the London Times” is a newspaper but it sounds believable so I’m sticking with it; it’s better commentary than the shit Jonathan is throwing up at the moment. Anyways, Leighbot’s flaccid lance ends up getting bent to hell by Mortis’ JAPANESE weapon, who then retreats into Matilda’s corner to lure Leighbot over.
Leighbot, not realizing a bait when it sees one, follows Mortis over to the corner where Mortis proceeds to ram the coffin into the wall and over onto its back. Jonathan has a seizure, and the mysterious voice tells everyone to knock it the fuck off.
MORTIS vs. RECYCLOPSE
Random Violence Technologies
Pneumatic “Japanese” axe Ramming blade
Weapon: Pneumatic flipping arm
After its tussle with Leighbot, Moris apparently broke its weapon. It’s JAPANESE weapon. As such, the robot has been reduced to the most expensive ram-bot that has ever been entered in any robot combat event ever, including the eight-wheeled bullshit New Cruelty tried to pull in BattleBots. Rex Garrod, builder of Recyclopse, says he wants to “get his tongue in the right place”. Jonathan takes note of this and vomits for four solid hours.
The weaponless Mortis is immediately on defense as it flees from Recyclopse who cannot have the camera pointed directly at it without its floodlight rendering the camera lens inoperable. Mortis attempts to take refuge with Matilda because for some reason everyone wants to fuck that robot and I just don’t get why. Is it the giant ass? Is the pussy that bombastic that it warrants having to deal with a chainsaw? No matter, Mortis — whose drivers bragged about it being “bulletproof” just moments before the fight — manages to get impaled on one of the spikes that come out of the arena floor. Despite having literally no weapon Mortis is still able to get underneath Recyclopse twice, the second time taking it to Sergeant Bash’s corner. Jonathan says this is “poor steering” even though last time I checked, pushing your opponent into a Corner Patrol Zone is a fairly strong tactic.
The fight ends and the camera cuts to Clarkson who has absolutely no idea what the hell is going on, announcing that the match is going to the discretion of the judges. The judges rule in favor of Recyclopse because they either weren’t watching the fight or instead got the two robots mixed up because even though Mortis is an expensive piece of shit — and even though Mortis ran away and got pegged by Matilda — Mortis was admittedly still able to use its chassis shape to effectively get underneath its opponent. Recyclopse just stuck its fucking tongue out and flipped its flipper a couple of ineffective times. Not even Rex Garrod thought he won that fight which is saying something because he’s the chillest and realest motherfucker on this show so far.
Clarkson wishes us all sweet dreams, and the episode ends.
That just about does it for Heat B of Robot Wars: The First Wars. I’ve got to say, the robots that have made it onto this show are pretty ridiculous both in form and in function. I guess it’s a byproduct of the era because we’re only a third of the way through this series and I’ve seen countless designs that just scream “what the fuck is the matter with you why would you do this?”
Shoutouts to the official Robot Wars Facebook group, who enjoyed last week’s article. I try to be non-intrusive and respectful of existing communities, so please feel free to share and post articles to whichever groups, bulletins, or other kinds of communities you spend your time on. The Update is basically guaranteed to get you easy upvotes and all that stuff if that’s what you’re into. (Self-promotion makes me feel like a narcissistic asshole.)