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Welcome back. If you’re here that means you’ve decided that reading the rest of my drivel about Robot Wars: The First Wars is worth wasting time on, and I’m grateful for that. You’ve invested too much to skip this article and the one after it. That’s exactly how Cracked markets their shitty clickbait articles, by the way; “well, I’ve already read most of these 15 Unbelievable Far Left Jokes That Don’t Even Have Fucking Punchlines so I guess I better read the rest…”


Last week was Robot Wars’ “lightweight” special, which was really just a polite way for the producers to strip the majority of these pieces of shit from the field since something that weighs just four kilos realistically isn’t going to win any goddamned fights. Cunning Plan, a wedge, ended up moving on to the Grand Final because it was the only robot in that heat built by someone who wasn’t psychologically crippled at a fundamental level. The Demolisher was the runner-up and that robot was literally just a fucking remote controlled toy with a metal chassis stuck onto it. That’s where the bar was set for quality. The other four robots — Sat’arn, Krayzee Tokyo, Bugs, and Vector of Armageddon — may as well be considered static objects because they were literally outmatched by a toy truck.


The mysterious voice introduces Jeremy Clarkson as “the father of all wars”. Weird, I didn’t think Clarkson was the religious type. Anyways if my jokes about having sex with Matilda are getting stale and you think I’m stretching too far to make a cheap stab then I’d love to see the look on your face when you hear Clarkson talk about aphrodisiacs and “an urgent need to have sex” as part of his painfully long opening monologue this episode. (In case you’re wondering, I accept apologies in the form of cash donations to the PayPal link in the upper right.) Clarkson’s opening chatter seems like it was connected to the wrong episode, however; he’s talking about fighting with remote controlled cars. Buddy, that was last week. I mean literally, at least half the fucking field started their lives at a Toys R’ Us.



Anyways, here’s this week’s lot.

WHARTHOG: First of all, that’s not how you spell “warthog”. Now, I know people in England spell all kinds of shit wrong under the guise of trying to appear classier than Americans but whatever, I know that “wharthog” isn’t correct at all in any language — real or made up. I want to say Wharthog looks like a decent robot, a solid 5 on a 1-10 scale, but Jonathan comes in and says some shit like how this robot has a two meter turning radius. Fucking how? This robot has exactly two wheels, how can it possibly lack the ability to turn in place?

PSYCHOSPROUT: I want you all to know that I wrote and re-wrote about a dozen goddamned jokes for this thing because the moment I saw the fucking Wile E. Coyote ball roll out from the fog machine room I had to literally get up and leave my desk to go take a walk and have a good long think about my life and at what point things went wrong. Billions of years of cosmic chaos occurred so that one day I would sit here and write a joke about some shitty robot that looks like a DeviantArt submission. Fuck me.

BODYHAMMER: With a name that sounds like the first draft of a crappy wrestling move, Bodyhammer strides out into the view of the camera and shows off whatever the hell that thing is inside of the slot cut in its chassis. I’m beginning to see a pattern emerging and I’m going to assume that the next robot that comes out of the smoke room will be a cube because this is apparently the “Introduction to Basic Geometry” episode of Robot Wars.

Get a load of this shit. Literally.

Get a load of this shit. Literally.

TORQUE OF THE DEVIL: It may not be a cube like I assumed, but Jesus Christ get a load of this disaster. My hat goes off to Adam Pengilly and Lee Chenery for crafting a robot that looks exactly like a pile of shit. It’s like they saw that one scene in Jurassic Park and were like “hey look that would make a great robot”. Torque of the Devil resembles what would’ve happened if Matilda’s parents had a miscarriage. Was that a dead baby joke? You bet your ass it was, BattleBots Update is officially hip with the 11-14 male demographic. Join us next week when PewDiePie guest writes.

REALI-T: I get that this is 1998 and the robot combat circuit wasn’t as full of as many different designs as there are today, but when you see a circular-shaped robot you tend to have expectations about what it’s weaponry is going to be. Generally, it’s probably going to be something that can attack along the entire perimeter of the robot, so you can imagine how surprised I was to see that Reali-T’s weapon is in fact a pair of pissant ramming spikes mounted at its front. The robot also has six drive motors. Six. One for every robot this episode that shouldn’t advance to the Grand Final.

FULL METAL ANORAK: Hey, here’s some neat trivia for you. “Anorak” is British slang for what we in modern day call a “sperglord”. Like, the people who obsess over fucking trains and robot combat and shit? Those are “anoraks”. This robot’s name is literally “Full Metal Autism”. No joke that I can write will top that so we might as well just get on with the Gauntlet.


Philippa introduces us to the Gauntlet for what feels like the an eternity. The good news is we’re all now qualified to receive a PhD in the field of “hey I can sort of see the sliding rack the corkscrews come out on”.

"Hello, and welcome to Basic Shapes on the BBC."

“Hello, and welcome to Basic Shapes on the BBC.”

FULL METAL ANORAK is up first and before its run at the Gauntlet even starts the editors make the cutaway to show the builder’s introduction which is never a good sign. We learn that Full Metal Anorak’s weapon is apparently held on with just two screws. Damn dude, you really aren’t going to win this thing, are you? Anyways, Anorak cruises through the bank turnstiles before reaching what Jonathan calls the “landmines”. He then points out they aren’t really landmines. Yeah, no shit buddy. I’m pretty sure even a caveman could tell you that the “landmines” are just a pile of rusted automotive parts. Anorak actually makes it to the end of the Gauntlet completely uncontested, probably because the House Robots made the “Full Metal Autism” connection themselves and were too busy laughing to pay attention.

TORQUE OF THE DEVIL takes the stage and Jonathan informs us that its builders wish to travel to America and compete in the Robot Wars events here. These guys are really good sports if they’d be willing to fly all the way over here just to give someone a free win like that. Torque crawls out of the starting circle backwards because I guess the referees tried fucking them over right from the very start or something. While the drivers are figuring out which direction is forward on their transmitter, the editors cut away to the robot’s proper intro. I’ve said a lot of shit about this robot, but in the context of 1998 those are some pretty legit-looking weapons. Here’s hoping that they don’t die immediately and actually get to use them on someone.

Because I showed some shred of hope for this robot, Torque gets stuck on the arena floor grating and Sergeant Bash rolls on over to start fucking with it. Clarkson comes out and asks the drivers if their robot is made from asbestos because he’s a forward-minded kinda guy and knows that he can get a mesothelioma settlement in a decade when frivolous workplace lawsuits become en vogue.

tfw u gauntlet just rite

tfw u gauntlet just rite

The concept of the Gauntlet is already boring as shit by this point, but BODYHAMMER somehow manages to make it feel even more like the most tedious goddamned thing ever. The robot is pretty much an upside-down sno-cone in form and function and takes its jolly old time cruising through the metal gates which I guess none of the House Robots are allowed to drive through anymore. Even the team’s bio is boring as fuck, they literally just say “hi, here’s our team name and here’s our robot”. The anemic “thunk” that hammer makes summarizes everything about this piece of shit that I cannot put into words. Bodyhammer clears the course, then the cameras cut to the driver who makes a face that resembles Gumby in a centrifuge. Next robot, please.

WHARTHOG is about to tackle the Gauntlet and its appearance reminds me that out of the six robots in this episode, I hated this one the least. Wharthog promptly fucks all that up in literally three seconds by driving out of the starting gate and directly into the metal fencing where it immediately bends up its fucking wedge and gets stuck. For some reason the editors cut to the team’s introduction because I guess they wanted to give us ten seconds’ worth of show where our attention is optional. When all is said and done, Wharthog’s driver is the saltiest motherfucker on the show thus far and tries pulling some “I don’t want to talk to you” bullshit with Clarkson, who responds with near laughter. Wharthog’s final score is about two and a half Grunts.



The show cuts to Philippa who for reasons unknown is talking to a couple of farmers participating in a “world’s biggest watermelon” contest. No, wait a minute. That’s PSYCHOSPROUT. Mybad. Psychosprout lamely rolls off of the starting platform and just by simply doing so has already beaten Wharthog, so that’s fantastic. Sergeant Bash thinks the producers have gone back to playing the robot soccer trial, so it comes and whacks Psychosprout over into the spiked pyramid blocks. Because there’s apparently no reverse gear installed on this robot, Psychosprout gets stuck while Jonathan makes the worst possible puns about “rolling stones”. For the record, “the worst possible puns about rolling stones” means “any and all puns about rolling stones”.

The show jumps to the team’s introduction where we find out that inside of Psychosprout is a giant remote controlled car with an attached rollcage. Color me surprised, because when I saw this fucking accident enter the arena I was fully expecting there to be fifty thousand dollars worth of gyroscopes, accelerometers, and a classified military antigravity machine inside. Just to spite Wharthog, Sergeant Bash frees Psychosprout from the blocks and pushes it onward in the Gauntlet, ensuring a win before the officials call the run.

REALI-T is the last robot in the Gauntlet, and while I’d normally say some adage like “save the best for last”, “the last” in this case happens to be a robot allegedly built by three scientists that still looks like something you’d see hanging on the wall at a fucking TGI Friday’s. Just in case you can’t tell from looking at the dude with the long hair, Jonathan informs us that all three members of the team are sci-fi fans. Reali-T secures itself a place in the next round as it clears the ramp and if you watch closely you can see one of the corkscrew hazards try to photobomb the shot. Reali-T makes it over the second ramp as well, and when asked by Clarkson how they felt about that run Reali-T’s driver mentions how he was worried it wouldn’t hold together. Guy got scared over some ramps; he knows this is a combat show, right?


Above: Literally Hell.

Above: Literally Hell.

This week’s trial is probably the worst thing ever. The Labyrinth is a whole goddamned maze consisting of walls identical to the part of the Gauntlet that I keep referring to as “waiting in line at the bank”. Right, because people generally make it through that obstacle okay and we didn’t just see someone in this very episode tap the wall and die immediately like it was a round of fucking Berserk. Keeping with the arcade-themed references, the role of Evil Otto is being played by Bash, Matilda, and Shunt because I guess Dead Metal has a bad agent who never gets it any screen time.

The race begins, or at least I assume it does because they play the suspenseful music and the countdown timer appears on-screen, but I wouldn’t be able to tell otherwise because I can’t actually see any of the robots moving. I only see Psychosprout because it’s a giant fucking dot. Once the cameras start cutting to individual robots, sure, I can tell they’re moving I guess. According to Jonathan they’re all having what I think is called a “shit-cade”… which is something that happens when there’s a traffic jam at the labyrinth gates. Funnily enough, “shit-cade” is also what you call a gaming bodega that doesn’t have a working Berserk cabinet. I bet you thought we were past the arcade puns. You thought wrong.

"Still Life" (1998, Mixed media)

“Still Life” (1998, Mixed media)

Bodyhammer and Reali-T spar a bit while Jonathan talks about spaghetti and then we finally see Torque for the first time in this match. Torque is busy making what appears to be a fourteen point turn in the middle of one of the maze hallways because it has the maneuverability of a cinder block. Full Metal Anorak is also here apparently and manages to squeeze past the House Robots because it’s a middleweight and therefore all of these silly trials don’t apply to it. Not much is going on in the way of comedy until we see Psychosprout’s progress because Psychosprout is sitting exactly where it started. The cut to Psychosprout was so surreal that I was half expecting “The Sound of Silence” to start playing while the camera slowly zoomed in.

Meanwhile, on the literal other side of the arena, Full Metal Anorak crosses the finish line and claims first place. Moments later — because “anorak” is a euphemism for “I can’t sit still for longer than ten secon– hey let’s go watch Pokemon on YouTube” — Anorak leaves the finish line and starts fucking with Matilda. Since it’s Matilda who’s being attacked, Jonathan has to start talking about what’s inside her ass. We get it, she’s the town whore. She’s fucked more dudes than a mandatory draft. Whatever.

The clock runs out on the Labyrinth, but it doesn’t really matter who did what because Psychosprout didn’t do a goddamned thing and loses by default. In fact, according to Clarkson the robot actually made negative progress. As you might expect, a performance that astronomically poor is worth at least two smokes from Clarkson before he lets you go back into the pits to sit down and think about what you did.



Team Cold Fusion

Weapon: Actuated hammer No idea


(No Team Name)

Weapon: Front drill & rear cutting disc

Before the match starts Philippa meets up with Bodyhammer’s builders to ask about their robot. They point out that there was a “small problem” with their weapon; apparently the problem is insignificant enough to enunciate properly because I sure as shit can’t tell you what it is. It looks like they spackled their weapon slot with metal and stuck a steak knife onto it as a backup. Let’s go with that. Torque’s team shows off their cute little X-shaped bandage they made for the gash in their robot’s armor and Philippa laughs at it because I guess she doesn’t understand how fiberglass works. Going into this match I’d like to say Torque might have the upper hand, assuming its weaponry works like it did in the team’s intro clip.



Look at me giving a shit and being optimistic. How quaint.

The fight starts and Torque is able to make about an eighth of a turn before Bodyhammer is already making contact and shoving it around. I’m not even sure how something conical can exert controlled force in that manner but I guess it speaks volumes about Torque’s design that apparently its chassis can stick to curved surfaces. There’s not a chance in hell I can explain the physics behind a fuck up of that magnitude. Torque’s rear weapon begins spinning at a speed so slow that I couldn’t tell you what it was by eyeballing it, but if I can see the individual teeth on the weapon as it spins then chances are it’s probably not even spinning fast enough to open a fucking letter.

Jonathan starts talking about how “damage” can come into play in the event of a judge’s decision, however I think he makes the same deduction I did when he noticed Torque’s weapon resembling a broken Discman and immediately 180’s into chattering about control and style as Bodyhammer drops Torque off on the arena railing. Granted, I can’t name a single moment during this season thus far where I’ve seen anything that would constitute “style” but I can at least give Bodyhammer credit where due and agree that it’s in control here. Shunt frees Torque from the wall after gently caressing it with its pick axe and the robot makes a stellar comeback and kills Bodyhammer and its drivers. I’m kidding. Bodyhammer puts it back onto the arena grating and the match ends.



(No Team Name)

Weapon: Twin spikes


Team Anoraksia

Weapon: Sharpened razor blade

"They'll never survive my secret weapon held on with two screws!"

“They’ll never survive my secret weapon held on with two screws!”

Philippa doesn’t talk to either of these two teams before their match. It’s really hard to feel excited for either of these robots when the producers have made them less exciting than Torque of the Devil, but I’ll do my best. Reali-T’s team talked about how they fucked up some of their electronics after the Labyrinth, and wouldn’t you know Anorak’s builder gave the same spiel. Cripple fight? Cripple fight. Listen carefully in the moments before the fight starts and you can hear the far more interesting go-kart race happening next door.

Anorak makes contact first and stabs Reali-T with its cheese slicer. To the surprise of literally no one, this has no effect. Hilariously, Jonathan is talking about this exact thing while this is going on describing how Anorak’s driver was all “watch out for my blade” and shit before the event. Look dude, you may have won the Labyrinth trial but your robot weighs as much as a regulation BattleBots lightweight competitor; your arsenal of fucking kitchen accessories is absolutely bullshit.

rip in peace, dead by spaghetti

rip in peace, dead by spaghetti

Speaking of bullshit, it’s been a while since Sergeant Bash has tried any funny business with its cutoff saw. Let’s see how this plays out. Sergeant Bash rides in, separates the two fighters, and its engine belches black smoke all over the place. Par for the course in my book, great show Sergeant Bash. Where’d that weapon come from anyway, the same hardware store as the entirety of Full Metal Anorak? Jonathan praises Reali-T’s UFO shell for standing up to Sergeant Bash’s weapon. Of course the shell held up you dipshit, the saw didn’t even touch it. By that logic Reali-T’s armor is also immune to falling stage lights and particle accelerators too. The real scoop here is Anorak, a robot whose armor is getting all kinds of shit on by a robot that resembles a wad of steel wool.

“Is he using excessive evasion, is he trying to dodge reality?” Jonathan asks. God damn, man. I think that’s a little too esoteric and existential for Robot Wars.

I don’t know what Anorak is actually trying to dodge but it sure as shit ain’t the floor grates, because that’s exactly where the robot parks itself and loses.



Team Cold Fusion

Weapon: Actuated hammer No idea I don’t fucking know, just whatever, man.


(No Team Name)

Weapon: Twin spikes

Clarkson uses his level 1 Speech skill and attempts to rile up the crowd by introducing this fight between a beeping salad spinner and the top of an ICBM with the phrase “almost unbelievable”. I can’t tell what his angle is, really. Is he being sarcastic because these two robots are shit? I guess it’s sort of unbelievable that there’s only two of them left because if I had it my way I’d have disqualified all six of them about 15 seconds in the the Gauntlet each and spent the rest of the show making lewd remarks about Matilda.

Hey man you can't park there.

Hey man you can’t park there.

For some reason Bodyhammer’s team didn’t put their fucking hammer back on. They told Philippa they’d “think about it” when she asked, but what all is there to think about? Their opponent weighs half as much as them, has no active weapon at all, and might as well be named Surface Area: The Robot. That’s like the best possible scenario for a robot armed with a hammer. Jesus fucking Christ sometimes I can’t understand what’s wrong with these people. No wonder a bunch of them fucked off and founded America in the 1700’s so we could have not one but two civilizations built upon the foundation of being a total dumbass.

Bodyhammer spends the majority of the fight running from Reali-T, because reasons. This results in Bodyhammer getting high centered on the arena floor grating because of course that’s going to happen. Reali-T’s team is visibly happy with this outcome since I think that constitutes an immediate loss, but then Shunt comes in and frees Bodyhammer and the fight continues proving once and for all that there are no “officials” at Robot Wars and the producers are in fact just making shit up as they go along. Reali-T gets stuck on part of the arena wall too, but rather than give that team a freebie the fight is called in favor of Bodyhammer.

Look, I’m not saying Reali-T should’ve won. In the grand scheme of things I honestly don’t think a 40 kilogram robot stands a chance among the heavyweight finalists, but the producers could at least feign some sort of fucking consistency in this show.

And that does it for this episode of Robot Wars. There’s only one more heat left before the Grand Final… which for reasons unknown appears to be just tacked onto the end of next week’s episode. Expect feigned excitement and a rushed show while the editors try and cram in four minutes of additional battle footage of six engineering mistakes while Jonathan Pearce breathes into a paper bag in a futile effort to stay calm.

– Draco