BattleBots Beat: Robot Fightin’ Times Are Here Again (Episode 1)

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo

Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn’t doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn’t happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
Senor Weaselo

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No, that wasn’t the name of the episode, that was me trying to be clever. Also I figured a second season of this means it deserves a category, maybe I’ll retroactively categorize things like the Season 2 recaps?

Oh, and we got a banner! Thanks Low Commander!

Anyway, BattleBots is officially back, our two-year wait is over, and I don’t know who’s happier about it than the announcers. Other than the founders and builders I guess. Seriously, Chris Rose and Kenny Florian are excited.

55 robots (looks like there’s no Mystery 56) will duke it out for this year’s Giant Nut. But things are going to be different this time around. As Chris and Kenny put it, it’s just like any other sports league now, with a “regular season.” 20 episodes, with the first 18 weeks being robots fighting, and fighting, and fighting again. Where a loss does not immediately eliminate you, because you’ll have a few fights, but it’ll certainly damage your chances of being in the last 16, and that final 16 in the last two episodes then compete in a bracket. Hell, even the name of this most-of-season has changed! They’re calling this portion of the season “BattleBots: Fight Night.” And there’s less talking, and definitely less “The Narrative!” talking, and more talking about past robotic history (they mentioned Donald Hutson and Team Mutant Robots’ six total Giant Nuts, and how Tombstone and Minotaur’s builders have never fought in BattleBots. And more talking about the specs of the robot, there were weapon weight and weapon speed and horsepower stats for each tale of the tape. Which I think is because of the change to Discovery and Science, where the people who otherwise watch those channels actually might care about those things sometimes. Like me. I am very happy about this because “The Narrative” is great and all, but we’re here for some robot fighting. So let’s get to the robots fighting!

Blacksmith vs. Bite Force
First off, Faruq Tauheed is still a pun master, with Blacksmith’s “Jersey Thor-nado” and many Star Wars jokes for Bite Force. Not sure where that falls in with Bite Force, but it’s Faruq doing his thing.

Paul Ventimiglia noted that Bite Force wasn’t too worried about Blacksmith’s hammer. The fire is a nice touch, but Blacksmith’s hammer wasn’t as strong as BETA’s or as accurate as Chomp’s. However, they’ve redesigned the hammer, which now has two points to try and concentrate the force from the strikes, as opposed to the previous hammer, which was blunt and had the fire in the middle. Also the head kept coming off.

The fight started fairly evenly. Blacksmith had a pair of prongs attached to the front of the robot which did a pretty good job of keeping Bite Force’s vertical bar away. But once Bite Force could get under those prongs or get to the side of Blacksmith the damaged quickly piled up, including able to lift Blacksmith. Not to say Blacksmith didn’t have its chances as a result of this, and the prongs delaying Bite Force meant that by sheer number of hits Blacksmith had the upper hand, but until some pieces of something went flying you couldn’t really see much of an effect. And then we realized that the stuff that went flying wasn’t from Bite Force, who got smart this year and put armor on top of its weapon chain so it wouldn’t immediately disable after a few strong attacks, or one well-placed strike from a hammer, as happened with their fight with Chomp. It was whatever held Blacksmith’s fuel line together, which meant that Blacksmith’s flame was gone for the rest of the fight.

By the last minute of the fight both weapons had been damaged, as Bite Force’s bar wasn’t spinning (I think Blacksmith was able to jar it by number of blows, rather than one flush shot) and Blacksmith’s hammer wasn’t firing, and it became a shoving match. Bite Force was able to push Blacksmith onto the screws with the final push with 7 seconds left, stranding the hammer bot there for the end of the fight. Blacksmith was saved by the bell, but Bite Force wins by unanimous decision.

Mecha-Rampage vs. Free Shipping vs. DUCK!
Quick background, because these are new robots but with some old teams:

Mecha-Rampage is by Team C2 Robotics, formerly Team Coolrobots, best-known for building Toe-Crusher, Minion, and Overkill from the Comedy Central days. Then they built the two iterations of OverDrive in the ABC show before coming up with this take on a horizontal spinner.

Free Shipping is from Gary Gin, who’s considered by many to be the best driver around. He first built The Big B which came out of nowhere to finish runner-up in the Comedy Central Season 4 lightweight division, drove Lucky last season, and routinely wins Robogames (the last THREE, 2016–2018, and five of six if you include 2012 and 2013; there was no Robogames 2014) with his heavyweight Original Sin. Which is four wheels and a wedge or a plow. And it routinely beats robots like Last Rites and Touro Maximus. Which are the 220-lb. versions of Tombstone and Minotaur. Sometimes he does this while Original Sin is down a wheel. Or two. Or maybe even three? Not all four though. Free Shipping has a forklift. Also fire.

DUCK! is made by Hal Rucker’s Black and Blue Robotics, and you’d know them best from last season’s The Ringmaster, where they lost to Bite Force after their weapon crapped out early. Bite Force’s did after that, but the damage was done. It reminds me of former heavyweight champion BioHazard—it’s a very low to the ground lifter and is designed to be sturdy. It is based off his robot WHOOPS! which performs well at Robogames. And it’s also very sturdy, as a video of it beating Last Rites at Robogames 2017 shows.

The rumble began and from one of the first exchanges about 30 seconds in, Mecha-Rampage took a wheel from DUCK! which means that Mecha-Rampage is already a more successful spinner than OverDrive was. Mecha-Rampage came out the aggressor in the early portion of the fight which may have ultimately cost it. It and Free Shipping took a massive hit a minute and change in. Free Shipping lost one of its lifting forks, but that’s when it went south for Mecha-Rampage, which had its middle robot start smoking (Mecha-Rampage is actually three robots connected) and then caught on fire due to a weapons malfunction. The fire may have also been helped by a previous exchange with Free Shipping where it used the flamethrower but malfunctioned or misfired so they just dumped a whole bunch of fuel on top of Mecha-Rampage.

DUCK! then tried to lift Free Shipping and got a bit of a lift on Mecha-Rampage, which though on fire still kept attacking, including taking a wheel off of Free Shipping as well. We got a bot orgy joke out of it too, so thank you cable! This was thanks to the two lifters both connected to Mecha-Rampage, with DUCK! trying to lift Mecha-Rampage which was caught on the back of Free Shipping.

After the three separated, DUCK! was finally able to flip Free Shipping, and then flipped Mecha-Rampage a few seconds later. Free Shipping was able to self-right, but that last minute was all DUCK!, using the attrition that happens in a rumble as its weapon just as much as the lifter, which was enough to give DUCK! the unanimous decision. All three of them put on a fantastic show, though, as apart from the main event, this was the fight of the night.

SubZero vs. HUGE
HUGE is huge, as the name suggests. Its wheels are apparently 40″, and it has its spinner in between, inside the axle. SubZero, which competed but was quickly bounced from last season, added some modifications to get under HUGE or to try and stop the blade from attacking from above. This led to a Ghost Raptor comparison from Chris and Kenny.

SubZero started by leading with the “vertical blockers” in the rear of the robot instead of its flipper, because HUGE is so big that it’s a totally unorthodox fight. Those defensive modifications didn’t do very much, and HUGE quickly took SubZero’s flipper out too. It might not have the best driving and tactics by SubZero.

HUGE’s wheels because of how large they are flopped around a little. It got air from one of the hits from SubZero and the wheel buckled a bit and though the wheels are meant to be flexible, that might have affected their mobility a little as the wheel they landed on was a little crooked after the landing. And of course, I’m worried about how they’ll fare against spinners. The good news is, it’s difficult to flip and impossible to stay flipped. Two-wheeled robots with the wheels on the side like that are naturally invertible so the only thing that would be altered are the tusks on one end of huge which help feed into the bar in the middle.

SubZero survived the fight, but it was in pretty bad shape from the get-go. The flipper was disconnected, and HUGE made tears into the armor and entirely cut off those defensive blockers by the end of the fight. They didn’t get a flip off over the course of the fight; that air I talked about was HUGE taking recoil from the force of their attacks. It was a surprisingly easy decision here, as I don’t think anybody expected the power from the vertical bar. HUGE wins by unanimous decision.

Bombshell vs. Lock-Jaw
A pair of former spinner-killers… that are now spinners themselves. Bombshell was the Swiss army bot that used its weapons to great effect last season—okay, it only used its vertical disc and and undercutter to great effect; the axe was useless against Complete Control and the lifter was never used—but due to the short build time (six weeks) only the wedge-spinner combo was finished for this competition. Lock-Jaw, which used to have the grappling jaw, and then the spring-powered flipper, now has two lifting forks and two small vertical bars a la drum spinner.

Lock-Jaw immediately got the better of the first exchange, using the forks to get up and under Bombshell… which apparently doesn’t have a self-righting mechanism with that vertical disk? (Mike Jeffries said on Reddit they were on their third weapon motor after burning the first two out, so the disk which was supposed to act as their srimech wasn’t performing optimally. It did get fixed afterwards.)

It landed perfectly with the blade being on the ground. So Bombshell couldn’t move because its wheels weren’t touching the ground and was being counted out, so Lock-Jaw gave them another hit and got them on their wheels with the countdown (it goes down from 10) at two. Bombshell could drive but was still inverted, so it couldn’t operate at its best. The blade could move, but not with the speed that it would have when normally functioning.

Lock-Jaw controlled the fight and used its forks to get Bombshell on the wall, still inverted, blade back down and with its wheels back off the ground. This time Donald Hutson wasn’t going to let them back into the fight. Lock-Jaw wins by KO in 1:53.

Bonus fight!
So Science Channel gets a bonus fight, and for this episode it’s Kraken vs. Sharkoprion vs. Deviled Egg. I guess it’s so that way you’ll watch the Science Channel if you have it. Fortunately I do! (Yay!) So if I can catch the Science Channel encore to watch the bonus fight, I will. However, sometimes I will be busy with rehearsals and unable to watch it. I make no promises. I assume they’ll get posted to Youtube eventually, and then I can watch it and give the lowdown.

But this one I saw, so let’s do it now. Kraken’s the crusher bot, which is interesting because I believe it is a pneumatic crusher as opposed to the usual hydraulics. The good news is it’ll be faster, but will it be powerful? Sharkoprion is the vertical spinner-head. Instead of a hammerhead. I tried. Deviled Egg is a drumbot with really cool artwork on its sides, but unfortunately that’ll probably get torn up in the Box.

As the bots came out for the first exchange Sharkoprion was the first to attack… with its tail, similar to the “sit-and-spin” thwackbots of the past. It might do some damage (not much) but not as much in terms of points as them attacking with the disk. Kraken then got a hold on Sharkoprion, but no real damage was done to the shark—if anything more was done to Kraken as it bent a tooth, and to add injury to injury Deviled Egg attacked it from behind and damaged Kraken’s left wheel.

After Kraken had to let go (you can only hold your opponent for 20 seconds) Sharkoprion and Deviled Egg went weapon to weapon. Sharkoprion clearly got the better of it, as Deviled Egg was flipped and immobilized as a result. With Deviled Egg out of it it became a one-on-one between the two sea critters. Kraken got another hold of Sharkoprion, but it lost mobility due to the damage Deviled Egg did to its wheel. So it’s Sharkoprion that wins by KO in 2:17.

MAIN EVENT: Tombstone vs. Minotaur
Here we fucking go. By the way, Riobotz has the 6–4 advantage over Hardcore Robotics so far when their spinners collide—Last Rites and Touro Maximus are square at 2 apiece in the 220 lb. weight-class, but Touro Classic leads The Mortician 4–2 at 110 lbs.. Or at least that’s what the Robogames Wiki says. I am not counting Great Pumpkin or Swamp Thing for the purpose of this, although the Hardcore wedges have fared well against Touro Maximus.

For this fight, Tombstone went with its lower, shorter blade for the compact body of Minotaur. Minotaur has, well, its drum. I think it’s only the one model though they probably have spares.

First shots looked to Tombstone, and then the next one sent both spinning and a piece of the BattleBox floor with it. The weapon that lasted longer? Tombstone’s. Minotaur’s drum was totally dead by the midpoint of the fight. Granted, Tombstone’s weapon wasn’t in mint condition. It was even lower and possibly a bit cock-eyed, which meant that as Minotaur courageously charged against the champ hoping to use Newton’s Third Law to its advantage, Tombstone’s recoil meant the blade would throw sparks against the floor. (Ray Billings apologized about the floor.) Minotaur kept charging and taking shot after shot after shot, and for as long of a time as they spent without the drum, the fact they were still charging and charging shows just how sturdy Minotaur is. And the damage racked up on Tombstone too, the force twisted its frame in addition to buckling its bar. Again, Newton’s Third Law, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

You know what ended the fight? The floor. The chunk of the floor that Tombstone ripped up when the two collided at their hardest, the trailer shot that sent both bots spinning. Which Minotaur got caught on. Which led to it being high-centered, its wheels being unable to reach the floor. Yes, that’s what led to Minotaur being counted out, not the damage from Tombstone’s bar. Granted, probably saved them from taking more damage, and they took a hell of a lot of whacks from that big bar. Tombstone wins this clash of the titans by KO in 2:22.


So that does it for this week. Tomorrow’s main event is Yeti vs. Witch Doctor, a pair of fan favorites going at it, each of course looking for that first win. Which sounds like a pretty good and pretty fun fight. If you’d care to indulge me, here are some fights that I’d like to see and I’m not sure whether they’ll happen. So not Tombstone vs. Gigabyte (which we saw in the trailer) or anything like that. Also, because I have reasons. Some may be stupid but they’re reasons. Also assume that any “instant classic” rematch from the past two seasons would be cool too (Tombstone vs. Witch Doctor, Tombstone vs. Yeti, Blacksmith vs. Minotaur, Lock-Jaw vs. Overhaul, HyperShock vs. Warrior aka Rakening 2: Electric Yellow Boogaloo, etc.). But let’s keep this reasonable.

Son of Whyachi vs. Warrior
A Ewert family fight. I don’t think anyone could have a qualm against that, right?

Tombstone vs. Free Shipping
The Big Three. Sewer Snake, Last Rites, and Original Sin. Those three took home seemingly every United States heavyweight trophy for years, and were dominant long enough that they earned their nickname. For some reason Matt Maxham and Team Plumb-Crazy didn’t enter this season with Stinger, or else we could’ve had a Big Three rumble. Which would be awesome, though we know the other two would go for Tombstone first.

Bronco vs. Lock-Jaw
Two of the most recognizable and successful super-heavyweights of the Comedy Central years were Toro and Diesector, winning three of the five super-heavyweight televised tournaments (Toro in Season 4, Diesector in Seasons 2 and 5). Unfortunately they never fought one-on-one. But now we can have their successors fight! If you wanted to make it a super-heavyweight champ rumble, throw in Mecha-Rampage representing Minion. Or, though it never won the title, you could have Ultimo Destructo in representing Techno Destructo.

Gemini vs. The Four Horsemen
Because I don’t think we can throw in any more robots than this in a one-on-one fight, unless you count minibots. And I don’t. Except for Shaman, but Shaman’s gone now.

Overhaul vs. Brutus vs. SawBlaze vs. Valkyrie—any combination
The Team JACD/Overhaul Season 1 grudge match! We got an extent of it with the rumble, which was Overhaul, SawBlaze, and alternate Road Rash (because Brutus was beaten up too badly by Tombstone), so let’s do it again. It’s slightly different this time, so I’ll allow it… me. (Valkyrie, for those scoring at home, is what the Road Rash team came up with for this year.)

Lucky vs. Free Shipping
If you recall, Gary Gin drove Lucky last season. And now this season he’s finally got his own robot. Who will drive it like they stole it best?

Son of Whyachi vs. Gigabyte (vs. Bite Force)
The Carlo Bertocchini Memorial Trophy. Even if he’s not dead. Because these are the two robots to seriously damage the legendary BioHazard. Son of Whyachi won the Season 3 heavyweight Nut with its controversial shufflebot design, beating BioHazard in a classic. Megabyte (which Gigabyte is a 250 lb. version of) essentially retired it years later. Like, I think it was 2006. The last season of BattleBots on Comedy Central was 2002, and BioHazard was unchanged in those four years, while technology had changed a lot. Bite Force would be representing Brutality, which was BioHazard’s opponent after Megabyte, which it officially forfeited to due to the damage but they did fight later on.

Yes, there’d be a dozen or more I could add but I’ve written enough for now. See you next week once the floor gets fixed!

Yes, that’s the crew fixing the floor post-Tombstone–Minotaur tilt. Image via BattleBots co-founder Greg Munson’s Facebook.
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo
Senor Weaselo plays the violin. He tucks it right under his chin. When he isn't doing that, he enjoys watching his teams (Yankees, Jets, Knicks, and Rangers), trying to ingest enough capsaicin to make himself breathe fire (it hasn't happened yet), and scheming to acquire the Bryant Park zamboni.
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ballsofsteelandfury

So, the regular season includes threesomes?

This is a sport I can get behind!

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly

Minotaur is by far my favorite bot.

BrettFavresColonoscopy

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Game Time Decision

Unsurprised
Unsurprised

Ugh. FINALLY!

Low Commander of the Super Soldiers

I did the banner and yet totally forgot it started last week! And on the day I finally cut the cable cord no less… Thankfully, YouTube seems to have us covered. Looking forward to catching up and watching robots maim each other for our amusement.