[Episode 3 and individual fights available on ABC.com]
It’s [insert day of the week here], and can mean only one thing; you’re currently at a job or place of higher education that’s making you miserable. Also, BattleBots Update I guess. Yay.
There’s been… a lot of “attention”, for lack of a better term, paid toward the Update recently. It’s taken a couple of articles, but I am both honored and mortified that this website is getting actual traffic. This is largely in part due to the communities GameTechMods and /r/BattleBots, two awesome communities of bot fans that discovered and shared this website. I can also say that the teams behind Stinger, Tombstone, Bronco, Nightmare (!!!), Ghost Raptor, and Overdrive are aware of and read this website.
So before this week’s article begins I’d like to clarify a couple of things just so we’re all on the same page. The person writing this? It’s a character act. I don’t actually hold anyone or their robots in ill regard; I also don’t “hate” the hosts/staff of the show. I say this because in the past I’ve hurt feelings because people did not know this is a gimmick; I’m here to take the piss out of everything, but at the end of the day I have a tremendous amount of respect for everyone involved with BattleBots. I apologize for any confusion or offense. Now, pretend you didn’t read this paragraph so this week’s article is still funny to you.
This week’s episode is special because we are now officially out of the qualification rounds and into the real meat of the tournament; the kind of meat that doesn’t go into 7-Eleven hot dogs and give you super cholera. 12 victorious robots (plus 4 shitty robots that were less shitty than the other 8) have made their way into the Round of 16, or as I like to call it: The Semi-Quarterfinals. Also Pretty Blue Dress Lady has a new dress on, and I just now noticed Green Tie Man has a purple tie on tonight. Fuck me, these running gags are already falling apart and we’re three articles in. Fine, I’ll play your game ABC; Molly McGrath talks to Chris Rose and Kenny MMA about how tournament brackets work because they’re apparently a new development in the world of sports.
This week’s episode is also special because we’re apparently past the point of having driver bios and segments that I get to give funny titles too. Instead the hosts recap how each robot got to the Round of 16 and they start off on a high note by saying “Chomp sucked but meh whatever it’s a wildcard”. Icewave’s driver goes into details about how their robot caught fire internally and that they had to give it the dirty fursuit treatment by letting the whole thing just air out. While this is going on one of his teammates removes the robot’s top cover to reveal the world’s biggest Lego Mindstorms motor.
Anyway I guess there’s no use in me padding the word count here with stuff we’ve already seen. The hosts go to the Board of Imaginary Numbers and the only thing that stands out to me is Chomp has the exact same stats as the character you usually pick first when you’re playing a game you’ve never played before.
ICEWAVE vs. CHOMP
Team Icewave (Sunnyvale, CA)
Weapon: Spinning horizontal blade
Icewave cooked itself in its previous match; its insides were completely rebuilt.
Team (Los Angeles, CA)
Weapon: Piercing jaw and flamethrower
This robot is, in fact, NOT Razer.
We’ve seen Icewave before; it was in the first match of the first episode of this season. In case you don’t remember, Icewave turned Razorback into a tricycle, burst into flames, and then the driver told the post-fight interviewer that he didn’t have time for their shit and needed to go put the fire out. Apparently, the internal damage was so significant that the entirety of Icewave’s electrical system needed to be replaced. I’m pretty sure before this fight Mark DeVidts told the operator of Icewave’s weapon to dial it back a bit. MMA guy describes Icewave’s weapon as being made out of gas. You’re so close. One of these days you’ll say something coherent, I just know it.
Chomp is new, however. Or new to us at least; Chomp is the first of four “wildcards”, robots that failed to qualify for the Round of 16 by beating their opponents but who still performed well enough to be selected by the judges to advance forward anyway. Chomp is the robot that put on a “spirited performance”, which is defined in the replay footage as “getting its ass chewed up by the screws in just under two minutes”. Of all the robots I’ve slapped with the “Razer” moniker, Chomp is the one that in my opinion most closely resembles the legendary robot. Chomp appears to be built from a piece of the famed Aggro Cragg and sports a decorative clamping jaw, because otherwise the robot looks like a fucking boulder with wheels. For some reason Chomp is also armed with a flamethrower, because fire. Considering Icewave’s weapon is gas-powered this may be one of the few times that a fire-based weapon is able to do significant damage, but something tells me that won’t make a damned bit of difference and that “something” spins around at a million miles per hour. MMA Man uses the term “jam up” to describe Chomp’s strategy. This is like the third fucking episode in a row.
The fight starts, and I swear to god there are sound effects that were added in post-production for this season. Two of Icewave’s three hits on Chomp sound like it’s carving out a sign that reads “Mark VII Limited” (that’s a mom and dad joke). Oh also half of Chomp’s face is ripped off because each little facet of the robot’s chassis is a separate piece. Very interesting, I can see that Chomp’s builder took the Bigger Brother approach to creating her robot and missed every goddamned point in the checklist. Proving once again that the commentators probably aren’t watching the same fight we are, they point out that Chomp is “holding up well so far”. This is said as Icewave proceeds to dismantle the left side of Chomp and throw it across the BattleBox.
Chomp is showing a very spirited performance in the arena, it’s so spirited that the entire front-left drive assembly gets ripped out of its socket and spiked at the arena wall. Somehow, through all of this, Chomp’s flamethrower still works. Even though the robot has been thoroughly eviscerated its stupid fucking flamespitter is still pretending like it was a worthwhile decision. Realizing that Chomp’s other side needs to match, Icewave cruises by and completely fucks it up. Another wheel casually pops off of Chomp. As we see Chomp parked in the arena next to the BattleBots logo looking more or less like a pile of parts that used to be a robot, the commentators point out the robot “might be incapacitated”.
These are the people they hired to do the commentary.
Winner: Icewave, KO
Between fights we get a little bit of a reminder of how our next participants got here as well as learning a bit more about one of the drivers. Warhead is one of the robots coming up in the next fight and we’re reminded of how hilariously poor it performed in its match against Bite Force. Simon Scott mentions something about burning out a motor, but Ian Lewis insists that the most damage Warhead took was wearing down its chompers on Bite Force’s juicy bubble butt. The short of it is Warhead’s drivers had the opportunity to turn their loss into a learning experience and have identified their weak points. Good, because Stinger’s got six fucking wheels and if you don’t tear off at least two of them then I’m fucking done with this.
Matt Maxham is one half of Team Plumb Crazy; his former job involved sewage. Yes, Matt takes the low hanging fruit joke “I had to deal with other peoples’ poop” but to be honest having extensive experience in putting up with other people’s shit is probably the equivalent of steroids in robot combat. I mean it’s not bullshit, just regular shit, so Matt should theoretically be okay as long as he doesn’t eventually match up with Bronco. There would be too much shit in that case. The shit would get out of hand. This shit’s going critical. The shit is bananas, b-a-n-a-n-a-s.
SPONSORED CONTENT: Buy Charmin toilet paper. Eat at Taco Bell. Draino isn’t for drinking. Remember that board game Big John? You do now.
Purple Tie Man starts trying to spin this underdog “blue collar” plumber/farmer hero story about Matt Maxham and ends up fucking it up hysterically, one social faux pas after another. You probably shouldn’t have used the term “brilliant minds” to describe the group of people identified in this scenario as “people who are not Matt Maxham”. Kenny the MMA Wonder tries to help his floundering cohort save face and falls right in as well. This man did not just drop the spaghetti, oh no, he spiked that shit like a football. Great reporting all around guys, the awkward forced laugh from Molly pretty much sealed the deal on that one. That’s the kind of laugh you do on a bad date with an asshole that won’t shut up about My Little Pony.
STINGER vs. WARHEAD
Team Plumb Crazy (Sacramento, CA)
Weapon: Articulated lifting plow
Stinger’s plow can be swapped out for a number of different attachments.
Team Razer (Bournemouth, UK)
Weapon: Adjustable spinning disc
One of four wildcard robots that advanced onward despite having lost previously.
Stinger’s another robot that’s new to us, however unlike Chomp this robot isn’t a wildcard. Stinger knocked out Captain Shrederator in its qualifying fight in a battle that wasn’t televised because it presumably was not entertaining enough. How a full body spinner painted like the fucking American flag fails to make its fight “entertaining” is a goddamned mystery to me, but I guess that’s why Stinger won that fight and not Captain Bore-the-whole-fucking-audience-to-sleep. Stinger is a bright yellow robot with interchangeable plows and six wheels of “I don’t give a fuck”. In its introductory shot Stinger is seen sporting what looks like a forklift, and since it’s fighting Warhead I was like “but why”, however that’s just the promo shot; for this fight Stinger has what literally appears to be just a random ass piece of metal bolted onto it. It’s that kind of ingenuity that keeps this sport alive. Don’t tell anyone I said this, but Stinger also competed as “Sewer Snake” in other events, and it’s the arch-nemesis of Last Rit– I mean, Tombstone. Spooooooky.
Warhead is back as a wildcard because even though it was publicly humiliated and defamed by Bite Force(‘s ass) it’s one of the few robots that photograph well so I guess Warhead is here because of ratings. Oh well; this the only fight this season that’s pretty much going to be an exact repeat, and Lock-Jaw and Overhaul are rematching next week. Let’s talk about Stinger again and why this match is going to be no contest; I’ve seen Stinger do things that are illegal to write about to robots far far better equipped than Warhead. Ian and Simon better restock on those single serve Pringles packs and buy a fuckin book of crosswords or something because it’s going to be a long evening.
Within the first five seconds of this fight Stinger has already thrown Warhead onto its ass. If this is any indication, the next two minutes and fifty-five seconds are going to be more painful to watch than the time your punk ass neighbor in middle school dared you to watch his uncle’s copy of Faces of Death. Warhead is supposed to be able to right itself, but all I’m seeing is a British robot hilariously careening around the arena on its weapon until Stinger tosses it over into the wall. The side wings on Warhead finally serve their intended purpose and the robot self-rights. No more than two seconds later Stinger already has Warhead upside down again and on the screws. Boy, I sure am glad they gave Warhead that wildcard.
Warhead’s screw adventure leaves the robot visibly smoldering and with a piece of something having fallen off of the robot from somewhere on its battered chassis. I can’t tell you where that part fell off from and I’m willing to bet Warhead’s fucking builders couldn’t either considering how many goddamned parts that robot has in it. With Warhead still on its back, Stinger just indiscriminately slams into its opponent head first until Warhead’s drivers finally try doing something to fix the whole “upside-down” thing. Warhead lifts up its spinning Jello bowl or whatever that is and starts digging into the arena floor revealing a bright red interior; I can’t tell if that’s red because “hur hur it’s a dragon” or red as in “something inside of this robot is operating at a very high temperature because it’s not supposed to be flipped on its ass”. Anyway, to score some style points, Stinger comes in and tries to do a 360 no-scope on Warhead but dicks it all up and ends up hitting the spinning dome with one of its back tires, bending it slightly. Great job, Warhead, you’re officially as dangerous to Stinger as America Shredmaster or whatever the fuck.
Failed trick or not it doesn’t matter because Warhead still gets popped over to the Pulverizer and takes a shot right in the dick. Stinger somehow manages to get flipped over in this mess and in a matter of seconds demonstrates to its opponent the proper method of self-righting… again using only a piece of metal the builders probably found laying around in the parking lot behind a Wendy’s. Warhead doesn’t pay attention and instead uses this time to fuck up the varnish on its weapon by means of the arena floor. With the help of its opponent, Warhead is led over to the spike strip where it uses its weapon to perform a beautiful diagonal half-twist. I give it a 7, it didn’t stick the landing. The camera cuts to a shot of Ian Lewis so we know who is losing.
Suddenly, Warhead lands a hit! Let’s see how this plays out… so it hits Stinger, spins out of control, lands on its side, then gets shoved into the Pulverizer which results in one of its super effective wings getting bent to hell. All this because it hit Stinger once with its salad dryer of a weapon. For fuck’s sake Warhead the last time I saw a weapon do that much recoil damage was Magneton’s self-destruct attack in the Pokemon card game. One person gets that joke. The dragon runs itself into the Killsaws (taking the first hit this season, achievement unlocked) and the commentator that I keep calling Green Tie Man starts making oddly specific plastic surgery jokes. He also made a carnival joke when Warhead was stuck on the screw but I didn’t say anything because I hoped if I ignored him he’d cut it out. Guess not. If I had a dollar for every funny thing that man has ever said, I would owe someone forty-eight bucks.
Mercifully, the fight ends. One of Warhead’s team members is jumping up and down because when no one was looking they put reruns of BattleBots season five on the monitor she was watching this fight from. I assume the driver of Stinger went to prison because the 13th Amendment made it illegal to own people like that. This wasn’t just a repeat of Warhead’s previous fight, it’s a repeat if Warhead had rolled a 1. The only good that came from this fight is at least five PSA’s on domestic violence can be made from its footage.
Winner: Stinger, Judges’ Decision
GHOST RAPTOR vs. WARRIOR CLAN
Team Raptor (San Francisco, CA)
Weapon: Lifting arm
Remember that one time with the net? Haha.
Team Whyachi (Abbotsford, WI)
Weapon: Flipping arm, spinning shell, and flamethrower
There used to be two minibots. Ask Nightmare what happened.
This should be a quick intro, here’s two bots we’ve seen before. The last time Ghost Raptor was in the arena its weapon blew up after Complete Control first got its rocks off by stuffing a net up Ghost Raptor’s ass. Team Raptor has replaced the broken blade with an even more badass blade. Just kidding, no they haven’t because who brings spare weapons to BattleBots? One and done, baby. Someone had the bright idea to slap a ramp on the front of Ghost Raptor’s already piss poor lifting device and called it “train mode”. Autism joke. The commentators and Pretty Blue Dress Lady are discussing how Ghost Raptor has to “adapt” to injury and loss of its weapon, completely ignoring the fact that the opponent, Warrior Clan, probably knows a little more about “adapting to injury” considering Nightmare used excessive force against one of its minibots resulting in death. This in turn caused in Warrior “Clan” to be reduced to Warrior “Duo” with half of the other minibot haphazardly stuck on top of the working one.
Two and a Half Warriors.
At the start of the fight the minibots separate. Oh cool, they fixed both of them, wow. When’s the second one going to move? Oh, it’s not? Okay, so it’s a decoy. Decent strategy I suppose, a good call given the circumstances, well played Team Whyachi. Hey would you look at that, the decoy minibot can still fart out fire! The fight takes an immediate downturn for Ghost Raptor when the working minibot of Warrior Clan gets lodged underneath the bigger bot. We all saw what happened last time a flamethrowing minibot got
jammed up stuck under its opponent, Ghost Raptor is more fucked than a guy who just accidentally killed someone. Wait a second. There’s no fire. Hang on, I need a moment to process this; you’re not missing much other than Warrior flapping its mouth more than your boss’ boss.
So… there’s two minibots in Warrior Clan. One of them can still shoot flames, but it is no longer mobile. The other on– Ghost Raptor watch out for the Pulverizer, the other one can still move around but can’t do the fire thing. Okay, this is a long shot, but I’m assuming none of the what, five, people in Team Whyachi thought to combine the two into one? Or at least tape the fucking things together? You could have had this shit over and done with 15 seconds into the goddamned fight you fucking goofs. This isn’t even half-assing it because there are five asses that comprise Team Whyachi and none of them are accounted for at this very moment.
While Ghost Raptor gets stuck on the minibot a second time, Warrior glides on over and keys a penis into Ghost Raptor’s paint job. It gets as far as one and a half balls before the illusion of Warrior getting hit by the Pulverizer happens, Warrior starts to barely smoke, and then actually gets hit by the arena sledgehammer. From this point, Warrior’s weaponry is shot. No flipper, no spinner. Ramming my previous point home about half-assing things, Ghost Raptor backs up onto the mobile minibot for the third fucking time. Warrior tries to use its flipper but surprise surprise nothing’s happening. The commentators say the flipper isn’t strong enough, because someone would be retarded enough to build a lifter that can’t lift in its own weight class. Next, they hypothesize that maybe Warrior can’t do anything offensively now. While these two winners are figuring out cause and effect, the camera cuts to Chuck Pitzer who’s just been informed that his DVR back at home skipped the episode of Home Improvement where they wrote Jonathan Taylor Thomas out of the show.
Someone has also provided one of the commentators with a piece of paper with the word “kinetic” written on it because they start dropping that SAT word a couple of times. Ghost Raptor sideswipes the firey minibot and of course the guy whose job it is to I guess press one goddamned button on his transmitter seizes the moment. This could have happened underneath Ghost Raptor three fucking times by now. There’s another shot of Chuck where the previous statement has been corrected to “actually, it just erased all of the episodes of Home Improvement“. Realizing that he’s not going to go home to an eight hour marathon of Tim Allen screaming at a power drill Chuck funnels his hatred into psychic energy and Warrior promptly parks itself on the Killsaws and catches fire. Seeing red, Chuck gets Ghost Raptor to pick up one of the minibots and slams it into the wall and does the same with Warrior, who has begun emitting a much more copious amount of smoke.
Winner: Ghost Raptor, KO
BRONCO vs. PLAN X
Inertia Labs (Sausalito, CA)
Weapon: Pneumatic flipping arm
Suffered motor damage in its previous match.
Robot Action League (Berkeley, CA)
Weapon: Spinning vertical blade
Plan X has actually won at least 1 battle.
Bronco enters this match after having disposed of Witch Doctor by throwing the primary constituent of the minibot out of the arena. Before the fight, the announcers talk about how Bronco’s blade is so sharp and so low to the ground that it can peel tape off of the floor, ignoring the fact that the robot’s weaponry is so powerful that a misfire would level three city blocks. Reason Bradley from Inertia Labs says he’s concerned about their opponent’s spinning weapon because it looks powerful. I presume moments before the record button on the camera was pressed the director said “if you can’t think of anything just make something up”. While introducing the robots, Faruke takes the path of least resistance and makes an “eight seconds” joke about Bronco. Get it? Bull jokes? Yeah, I can tell you something else in this fight that’s “bull”. Plan X is, uh, was a minibot but it looks like its two cohorts said “fuck it” and bounced. So Plan X is just one robot that’s as big as four robots stacked in a pile that looks like it weighs as much as half a robot. There’s a lot of math there, but essentially I said Plan X weighs as much as one-eighth of the semifinals.
Hang on, before this fight starts let me open this soda real quick. Okay, what did I mi–
Hm. Eight seconds.
The best part of this fight isn’t even revealed until the replays are shown. The screws fucking devour the brain of Plan X. That stupid goddamned light-up meatball that was the literal centerpiece of the robot and gave the whole dumb thing its theme, gone. Bronco kicked Plan X’s ass so hard it became retarded. Enjoy that persistent vegetative state.
Winner: Bronco, KO
At the end of the fourth fight the hosts return to the floating magical BattleBots platform forward-slash soundstage and start shootin the shit about the rest of the robots in the brackets as well as tonight’s winners. For once, I agree with Kenny Karate because the most likely outcome of Icewave vs. Ghost Raptor is our saurian friend getting blown to fucking pieces. Here’s two spinners, one that exploded after a single hit, and the other that’s stood up to a couple dozen blows while also fucking more robots than Grant Imahara on coke. Bronco-v-Stinger, yeah that’s going to be an interesting one because Bronco is all about throwing robots through the air except the only pitfall here is that Stinger can drive through the air.
Next week’s matchups range from “meh” to “there will be blood”. Lock-Jaw, Overhaul. We’ve seen this. I’m going with Overhaul on this one because Overhaul generally keeps its ass planted firmly on the ground when lifting opponents up while Lock-Jaw… gyrates… or, something. Yuck. Bite Force and Hypershock, I’m interested in seeing Bite Force’s actual weapon come into play, and Hypershock’s weapon allowed it to commit fratricide in its previous match so hey why not this oughta be interesting. After that there’s Overdrive taking on Witch Doctor, er, whatever. One of them is a multibot or something and the other one has a flamethrower and Overdrive didn’t shake hands yeah yeah yeah. What I’m excited about here is Tombstone verses Radioactive. I know how the brackets are made (1 vs. 16, 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, etc.) and this is just beautiful. Radioactive could not possibly be any more fucked than it is right now. Fate has screwed that robot more than it has screwed Randy Quaid. “So dead” does not even begin to describe Radioactive. Don’t believe me? Pay attention to the commercial during the credits, they show two hits on Radioactive but those two hits are actually the same one from different angles.
I can’t wait to see this episode. It’s a good thing it’s on Sunday night otherwise I’d take off work just to see it, and I wouldn’t even call in because fuck work this is BattleBots.
Thank you again for joining me this week on BattleBots Update. I’m as impressed as I am humbled as I am mortified that this column has I guess what you could call an actual “following”. I wasn’t exactly privy to the readership stats of the BattleBots Update of yesteryear, but there seems to be a hell of a lot more discussion and activity this time around. I blame social media. Thank you for subscribing to me on Twitter and friending me on YouTube and putting me in your top 4 on MySpace.
I feel like this article is better than the first one, but not as good as the second one. I think it’s the lack of builder/driver bio segments. It made the chatter between fights hard to place because in a lot of cases if I wrote about the chatter and about the robots themselves in the BattleBox I’d repeat myself. Weird conundrum. I’ll get it right next week. I also noticed ABC has put some of the unaired fights up on their official page for BattleBots, so if they all go up I might be able to do some bonus content while we’re coming down from the high that is season six.
Also, be sure to check out the official BattleBots.com store!