Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Beat! Last time out, Tombstone clipped Lock-Jaw, HyperShock blazed by Valkyrie, and Cobalt made SubZero’s team rage and regret swapping the fight. This time we’ve got the return of HUGE and a robot even bigger than it, a new Brazilian bot, the first Chinese bot, and Minotaur and Whiplash. And the Brooklyn squad is in action, which is why this is also a Bots on the Ground! The lovely Senorita Weaselo and I headed off to Fort Greene to check out a watch party with Mary Chimenti and captain Adam Wrigley of Bots FC, the team behind Shatter!
We get there and the first thing we see to know we’re at the place is this.
This is a hammer arm. So if you were wondering just how big these robots are, there you go. We’re not at Lil’ Bits eating tiny food with tiny people. Actual-size adults and actual-size table for comparison. I believe Adam said with this AR-500 hammer (named Old Rusty) head this arm weigh about 37 lbs.. I lifted it up. It is indeed weighty.
What makes Shatter! (yes, the exclamation point is part of the name, like DUCK!) unique among this year’s robots is not the hammer, since Blacksith and Nelly the Ellybot are hammers, with Breaker Box apparently having a configuration (and maybe Bombshell, not sure about its configs this year, probably). It’s the drive. It’s the only robot this year, and the first in rebooted BattleBots, to have Mecanum omni wheels. These wheels give the ability to drive in any direction. The Navy bought the patent and uses it to transport items around ships. But in robot combat, this means that the robot can essentially keep its nose pointed at the opponent and could essentially strafe it. Here’s the first combat robot to have this hardware, Alcoholic Stepfather, beating (the superheavyweight version of) Tombstone, waaaay back in 2004.
Yes, Ray’s concept of “two-wheeled robot with giant spinning bar” goes back a while.
Back to the Mecanum wheels, they brought a little test robot to drive. And drive I did. Let’s see if this works!
I don’t have much experience driving RC cars, or RC robots, or anything like that (I had the Blendo and Dr. Inferno Jr. toys), but driving this was a bit… weird. Maybe due to my own execution because I’ve never driven this (and Adam showing how he does it versus how I was doing it is an example), but driving sideways was unexpected, and turning seemed a bit floaty. Adam Wrigley compared driving it to a hovercraft on ice though, so I think that wasn’t entirely my imagination.
Then there was sitting to watch the actual episode, food, drink (I found a place that has Almdudler, which I am quite pleased about), and I had some interesting discussions with some of the other people seated at the table about the state of robot combat today, or fights in the past (hot take: Razer should have won the Sixth Wars and repeated as champion because Tornado had all four wheels in the pit when Razer let go and that is still a controversial topic today, as opposed to the Seventh Wars which was the producers meddled with the decision and pulled the wool over the judges’ eyes). There were some discussions about King of Bots and other things, and all in all I found it informative in terms of me getting to dig deeper. Senorita Weaselo is an absolute trooper for putting up with my hobbies and trying to follow along with me, and I love her immensely.
And with that, onto the fights!
Son of Whyachi vs. HUGE
If there was a bot that stole the show last year, it was HUGE. It’s big, it has angry eyes, it’s made of plastic. Its season derailed after getting torn apart by Icewave, and the repairs failed on them against Bite Force (and they were up on that fight), but the unorthodox vertical spinner became a fan favorite. On the other hand, Son of Whyachi is the elder statesman of the bunch, as its original “shufflebot” version debuted in Season 3 of the Comedy Central show in 2001, winning the heavyweight title before the walker bonus for that shuffling propulsion got reduced and it got kicked upstairs to the super heavyweights.
Basically, they said “HUGE has new solid wheels designed to take on spinners.” Inspired by Gabirel in its fight against Carbide.
And then they gave it one of the biggest spinners to take on in Son of Whyachi. Did it work? Well, it held up from the first few hits, as the wheels could bend, but they weren’t breaking, so so far so good. But damage or something was being done to the treads which looked like they were coming off. Then what looked like nicks and nibbles. And then a full damn bite as someone on one of the groups noted that Son of Whyachi hit HUGE fairly close to the middle of that wheel where it couldn’t flext as much. Which is why like a third of the wheel got lopped off. And then one more for good measure taking off another piece.
As huge as HUGE is, it actually wasn’t huge enough to get the bar doing anything to hit Son of Whyachi; the wheels got hit first. So Son of Whyachi wins by KO in 1:36.
Texas Twister vs. Black Dragon
Well, Michael “Fuzzy” Mauldin has a new robot, and one that can actually do damage in this new primary weapon-centric edition of BattleBots. Hypothermia probably would have been better in the old days where the plows ruled more of the roost, even though they never won the Nut. This one’s got a horizontal disk and more surprisingly is not in Team Toad orange. Meanwhile, Black Dragon is the debut of Ua!rrior, or however it’s spelled. They’ve won a whole bunch of RoboGames championships in lighter weights with their lightweight, Federal M.T., and middleweight, General. They have an “egg-beater” vertical spinner, kind of a cross between vertical disk/bar and drum spinner. Also they have fire.
As for the fight, both robots took a while to spin up and confront each other. When they finally did, it looked like something sheared off Texas Twister, but Black Dragon started to smoke and it lost its weapon function. And then it caught on fire, and not the using flamethrower kind. To the point where fire from wherever was leaking on the ground, as it looked like the flamethrower got cut off or something? I don’t actually know. But then Texas Twister smoked its weapon. So there was fire everywhere, until it went out on both bots. It became a pushing match. As a pushing match, Black Dragon had the advantage as it’s the wedge of the pair, and in the closing seconds was able to push Texas Twister to the wall by the screws, with diminished mobility.
This must have been a difficult fight to judge, and it went to a split decision, where Derek Young and Lisa Winter went for Texas Twister. Personally, I have it 2-1 Twister on damage, 1-1 on aggression (the weapon aggression for Texas Twister, the shunting point for Black Dragon), and 2-0 Black Dragon in control. So I have it with Jason Bardis (and Kenny Florian), 4-3 Black Dragon. Well, they don’t pay me. But I did have a lengthy brainstorm on Facebook with the page about future point systems, so, uh, hey, Greg and Trey? I’m that guy.
DUCK! vs. Bombshell
Yes, the revenge match we were all wondering about, the first taped fight of the year! Beforehand they interviewed several of the builders from last year’s Last Chance Rumble, and they were all pretty sure DUCK! had won that Last Chance Rumble. Then Bombshell came back to life and all that. And then trolled us all some more and beat Tombstone. It is going with its signature vertical spinner against DUCK!’s lifter—this season it has the horizontal and vertical spinners only. DUCK!’s lifter has a fuller range of motion, able to go a full 180 and work like a hammer if necessary.
Bombshell hit a bit of a seam but it looked like everything was working, so that’s a big improvement from last year. Except then DUCK! pushed Bombshell to the wall and toppled Bombshell. Who claimed they drove better with this configuration, but couldn’t self-right. Okay seriously you guys, it’s still not fixed? Well, fool me twice. Well, DUCK! gets revenge with a KO in 52 seconds.
Shatter! vs. Witch Doctor
Cue cheering in Brooklyn! To finish talking about Shatter! it’s got a whole bunch of ablative armor (UMHW polyurethane, the stuff on HUGE) all over the robot as well, and Jenny Taft got to fire the hammer. I did not get to do that obviously. They also got themselves a pool noodle to use it as a measurement to line up the hammer.
The last time we saw Witch Doctor was in the future! Well, our past, but its future. In its future, Witch Doctor will win the BattleBots Challenge Giant Bolt by knocking off Tombstone, winning the vote as one of the top two most popular, then beating Bronco. But for now, the upgrades are untested and we’ll find out how they work! They do go with the more solid top armor to combat the hammer, so the ribs are slightly less cool. Slightly. They’re still pretty cool.
Witch Doctor got to spin up as neither robot went for it, as the mecanum wheels meant that Shatter! could try to strafe and get around to the side, and they were able to do for and swung. And missed. And paid for it with some dings to the plastic shell. But that’s its job, even if it’s a pretty decent chunk. The problem was the second and third shots took some more chunks, and more importantly the weapon’s speed controller, where Witch Doctor could take a run and hit the arm. The arm was fine, as was the “Stolen Item” tag that remains on the arm (I have one), but the hammer head was, according to Adam, attached with a bolt that was too short, so it couldn’t take the hit from Witch Doctor and it came off the arm. He noted that that had never happened before, but that’s BattleBots Suzyn. Witch Doctor went and it was Shatter! getting hammered by the pulverizer.
So Witch Doctor had the upper hand to try and push Shatter! around and rip up that plastic some more, even as the headless hammer arm attacked Witch Doctor. And then it caught on fire. You could tell because though Witch Doctor has a flamethrower, that comes out as green flame, and this was yellow. It looked like a little bit of everything as Witch Doctor lost some of its mobility and weapon power, but it still tried to chase down Shatter!. Until it got high-centered on… something. Honestly, I’m not sure what. Maybe some of the armor, or the weapon head. But it was stuck, and it was about ready to be counted out. And according to Adam the count actually did start, but that got edited out. But I’d think they would have left that in for drama, but either way Witch Doctor managed to escape and the fight went to the judges. To everyone on Fulton Street’s disappointment, Witch Doctor wins by unanimous decision, and sorry Adam, even if Shatter! wins damage 2-1 because fire, the control and aggression combination went to Witch Doctor, so figure still 4-3, 5-2.
Axe Backwards vs. Mammoth
Axe Backwards, the full body drum spinner, didn’t have a great 2018, but has a whole bunch of improvements internally. And more importantly, the axes freakin’ work this time! Meanwhile the fun story in this one is Mammoth, the bot that’s huger than HUGE. It’s very tall, and doesn’t totally fit in the starting square. It’s a spinner, lifter, thing.
Axe Backwards came for the box rush to see what it could do against the giant robot. And it was a good idea, because Mammoth looked very top heavy, rocking a little like an SUV trying to corner a tight turn. The weapon also seemed a bit stilted, and a wheel came off. But it was corralling Axe Backwards with its lifter, especially with the full body drum not working, and pushing it towards the side. It got a lift and put it on the screws using one of Axe Backwards’s axes, and then pushed it over the screws. It was a real weird fight where nothing really made sense. But hey, Mammoth wins by KO in 1:36.
Wan Hoo vs. Captain Shrederator
The fight we weren’t supposed to have! It was supposed to be Wan Hoo vs. SubZero, but we went over this last week. Brian Nave talked full-body spinner strategy with Jenny Taft about which way the robot spins, depending on who they’re fighting, or about strategy with which shell, the sloped vs. the boxier shell. For this fight they went with the boxy shell. Meanwhile, it still makes sense because Shrederator Tiger Claw has had pretty good success in China, and Wan Hoo marks the first Chinese robot in BattleBots. So this works better! It is a vertical spinner.
And the rookie had traction issues to start, so Captain Shrederator could fight from the center of the arena where it couldn’t pinball around. And it could get its shots in. A few shots in and Wan Hoo was starting to smoke and the front plow was pretty much shot. So Captain Shrederator was doing its thing. Y’know, the one where it’s hitting the opponent and spinning, but not moving? Yeah, that thing. It was doing that thing again. So it was in the better shape, sure, but moving is kinda important. So it was Captain Shrederator getting counted out. And it was Wan Hoo with the win by KO in 1:49.
Science Channel Exclusive: Chronos vs. Gigabyte
The spinner fight, ring (Chronos) vs. full-body (Gigabyte). This fight will not last three minutes. Apparently Robotic Death Company haven’t had a fight go to the judges in a decade. They also claim that this time the shell will stay on the robot this year, as opposed to last season’s metallurgy issues. Someone inevitably cues up the Beyblade music.
Both bots spun up, but they were wobbly, especially Gigabyte. But it was the aggressor for the first two hits as Chronos was sent backwards, and while the third was more neutral, the fourth had Chronos near a corner and grinding to a halt. Gigabyte thought about a final shot, but so close to a corner would be dangerous for them if it was unwarranted, and Chronos wasn’t moving. So they lurked nearby as the count went. Gigabyte continues to not need the judges as it wins by KO in 1:24.
Main Event: Minotaur vs. Whiplash
Both these bots got wrecked by Bite Force (and also Tombstone earlier in the season), but really this is a battle between two of the best drivers around today, Daniel Freitas and Matthew Vasquez. Whiplash and Touro Maximus squared off at RoboGames 2017, and Whiplash won. As for advancements, Minotaur’s got all new stuff, with new armor, new side panels, and a new drum, which is heavier. Meanwhile, it looks like most of the Whiplash changes are internal, and a new paint job.
Whiplash came out quick and got under Minotaur, trying to get a lift, and having a little bit of success getting under if not getting flips, until it went, either it jammed or something, but a minute and change in it stopped working. Speaking of not working, Minotaur’s new drum didn’t have the same familiar death hum as the old one, which meant it wasn’t up to its lethal speed. Which meant that this became the kind of pushing match Whiplash would want, especially because it was getting leverage. So a pushing match it was as they locked and went back and forth, spinning around. Minotaur got the best push, getting Whiplash to the pulverizer and briefly pinning the bot under the hammer. And one of Whiplash’s motors actually started to get hot and smoke, but I think it was the weapon motor? Either way it kept strong until the buzzer sounded. It went to the judges, who went for Whiplash via unanimous decision. That’s a close one, but I think the right one.
That does it for tonight, and good thing too, it’s late. Once again, thanks to Adam Wrigley and Mary Chimenti of Bots FC for having us, thanks to Senorita Weaselo for putting up with my nerdy interests (and also with me), and for everyone else, see you next week!