Robot Wars 2016 – Thoughts & Opinions
Growing up, Robot Wars was one of my favourite TV shows. It ran for 7 full series, as well as 2 “Extreme” series too, from 1998 to 2004. The early seasons didn’t see too much DESTRUCTION, but as time went on, the robots got better and more destructive, giving everyone great pleasure in seeing one robot absolutely trash another. Some of my favourite robots from the time were Chaos 2, Razor, Behemoth, Storm 2, Cassius, Hypno-Disc, S3 and Typhoon 2. A nice selection of Flippers and Spinners! Sadly though, S7 would be the last we’d see of Robot Wars on TV, and I never thought I’d see it again. BUT WAIT! The BBC announced they were bringing it back, and so we got a rebooted series of Robot Wars! It has already finished airing, and I even bought the Bluray (which came out only days after it finished airing, nice and fast!), and decided I wanted to talk about it. So here I am. Talking about it!!!
The first show was finally about to air, and of course I was HYPED for it. I sat downstairs to witness it on the big TV rather than watching it online on my much smaller PC monitor. Not often I do that for any show! The first episode included some BIG names from the old Robot Wars show, mainly Razor (a former champion and multiple time world champion) and Behemoth (one of the longest running robots to compete). The formatting of the show has changed dramatically, though tbf the old series of Robot Wars changed up its format on multiple occasions. That being said, I’m not the biggest fan of how it works. Here, we start with 8 robots, and they are split into groups of 4. We get 2 4 way battles, and the 2 survivors from each go on to a round-robin style tournament where they all have 1 on 1 battles with each other. Outright winning gets them 3 points, winning on a judges decision gets them 2 points, and losing obviously gets them 0 points. The top 2 after all the battles have been fought go into 1 final head to head, and the winner advances to the grand final. Honestly I MUCH prefer the old way of all 8 robots simply competing in 1 on 1 matches in a quarter final style tournament, then the 4 winners going to the semi-finals and then the 2 winners there going to the final. It feels like this new format actually encourages BAD robots, who may have survived the initial 4 way, a chance to luck their way through ahead of genuinely good robots, and that kinda sucks.
Anyway, the first show. The very first 4 way featured RAZOR and… oh, Razor went in the pit when putting another robot in. And its gone. Yey. Meanwhile Nuts, a completely useless robot, goes through by sheer luck. Yey. Second 4 way featured BEHEMOTH, and a new robot that got everyone’s attention; CARBIDE. They advanced to the round robin with Nuts and another old robot in Terrorhurtz. Here we saw some IMPRESSIVE action with Carbide absolutely destroying Nuts. Tearing it to PIECES. It was awesome. But, despite being ripped to shreds, Nuts still got to compete in another 2 battles, instead of being eliminated like it would have in the old format. In the end, Carbide and Behemoth went into the final, and Carbide got the win again thanks to its impressive weapon.
The first show was very good, even if one of my all time favs Razor went out and Nuts continued on for another 3 battles. Lots of action, some familiar robots, and pure destruction at the hands of Carbide and its immense spinning blade weapon.
I won’t go through each show like that, because honestly I’d much rather you went away and WATCHED the show yourself! Overall it has been a very successful reboot and I can only hope the BBC notice that and greenlight another series. Plenty of positives, but also some negatives that could be fixed in a second series…
The hosts. Dara Ó Briain and Angela Scanlon were great in this. Dara might be best known as a comedian, but he also has a great interest in science and technology, giving him the perfect combination to host the show imo. Angela was great backstage at interviewing the teams and also providing her own comedy. Together they easily rival the old team of Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester!
Jonathan Pearce. Yup, they got him back! While not bringing back Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester wasn’t too big a deal, especially when we got 2 great hosts in their place, I cannot think of ANYONE who could have possibly replaced Jonathan. An incredible commentator in sports, and he brings every ounce of enthusiasm from there to Robot Wars, giving it genuine credibility.
The House Robots. I was worried originally that we’d get all new ones for the show, but thankfully BBC did the right thing and brought back the old favourites (except for Sgt Bash, who is nowhere to be seen and never mentioned…). Matilda, Shunt, Dead Metal and Sir Killalot! None of this Growler or Mr Psycho crap with terrible designs and even worse weapons. The originals did receive a bit of a makeover, with slight design alterations for the better, improved weaponry and upgraded mechanics, as well as being HEAVIER. So glad they went that way.
The arena. Sadly, the new arena for the robots to battle in just… doesn’t look right to me. Its far too shiny and bright and modern, while the original was dark and dirty and looked like something from a derelict earth in the future. The pit only seems to lower about a foot down and doesn’t seem as imposing before. The floor flipper goes off any time someone drives over it, which can be a real annoyance. The worst part for me though, are the side walls. There is only ONE SMALL AREA on each wall for flippers to potentially flip an opponent out of the arena, which puts them at a HUGE disadvantage imo. A couple of robots did manage to be flipped out during the series, but some of the time it seemed out of pure luck, as often times when a robot actively tried to flip someone out, it wasn’t happening.
Technology segment. In the middle of the show, Dara and one of the judges will randomly talk about bits of technology being developed at the time, and it all comes across as forced into the show, and ruins the flow for me. I don’t care, I just want to see robots battle each other!
Ignoring the old Robot Wars. Yup, they completely ignore the fact that Robot Wars happened before. No mention of old robots, old champions or anything like that. They sorta mention here and there that certain people have been around for a while in the world of robot battling, but no outright mention of the old series whatsoever, which was just disappointing to me.
I’ve already talked about the format so I won’t go through it again, but I did want to mention it.
If we do get a second series, I really hope they look into switching up the formatting, removing that technology segment, and hopefully upgrading the arena a little.
While only 6 episodes long, the new series of Robot Wars introduced us to some great new robots, featured some awesome battles, and gave us some super fun moments too! For someone like me, who hasn’t seen any robot wars since it went off the air in 2004, most of these robots were all new to me. The ones that really impressed me the most were:
The winner of the first show, Carbide was super powerful and very destructive. I haven’t seen a new robot come in and cause such damage since Hypno-Disc arrived on the scene in S3 of the original show. The way it ripped apart Nuts was, well, NUTS! It continued to rip and tear at robots all the way to the grand final before being bested by…
The winner of the new series of Robot Wars! Apollo is a classic wedge shaped flipper robot, only its flipper seems to be far more powerful than just about any other robot I’ve seen! It certainly puts the original series robots to shame, and looked better than the other flippers competing in this series! Some of the flips produced by Apollo were crazy in terms of sheer height. While Carbide looked to be the odds on favourite to win, Apollo proved that just like the days of Chaos 2, FLIPPERS ARE KING!
Another flipper! While not as powerful as Apollo, what helped TR2 go as far as the final was some of the best driving in the entire series! And after a little research I also discovered that TR2 was the 2015 UK Champion! So it already had experience going into the show, and it almost went all the way! If they could maybe increase the power to match Apollo, I don’t see any robot beating it again without being extremely lucky!
As far as memorable matches go, these are the ones I’d recommend above all else:
Carbide Vs Nuts – Episode 1
Remember the first time we saw Hypno-Disc and it ripped that other robot to shreds and everyone was instantly impressed? Well this was Carbide’s version of THAT fight. Nuts got utterly demolished and it was incredible to watch!
Thor Vs Shockwave – Episode 2
Shockwave was without a doubt the weakest robot to make it to the finals, especially ahead of Thor (who would get in from the wildcard). However, this battle of Hammer Vs Lifting… thing was a great watch. They went at each other full force, with Thor’s Hammer smashing the specially designed scoop they added onto the robot with the intention of protecting itself from Thor.
TR2 Vs Dantomkia x 2 – Episode 3
Yes, these two robots battled twice in episode 3; once in the round robin, and then again in the finals. 2 flippers; one from a veteran machine (with a different team), and the other in a newer machine but who just so happened to be the 2015 UK champions! Plenty of flipping action in both fights, and its really something to see two robots flip and self right over and over lol.
Apollo Vs Storm 2 x 2 – Episode 4
Same again here with Apollo and Storm meeting twice and both matches being great to watch. Storm 2 wasn’t quite the robot we remembered from S7 of the original series, but looking into it afterwards it seems that they were busy building a new robot and entered Storm 2 into this competition so they could actually make it in time, but Storm 2 wasn’t quite up to scratch having been put away while they make a new bot. Anyway, it still had plenty of pushing power and a very low ground clearance to give Apollo a good run for its money in 2 separate fights. Great action all round!
TR2 Vs Thor Vs Pulsar – Episode 6
The grand final show was packed full of awesome fights, starting with this 3 way. Pulsar has a unique spinning drum, Thor has the impressive Hammer, and TR2 has the awesome flipper. Put them all together and you get mayhem!
Carbide Vs Thor – Episode 6
Yet another great showing for Carbide as they took apart the Mighty Thor with its impressive spinning weapon. Thor tried to last as long as possible, but in the end there wasn’t much left!
TR2 Vs Apollo – Episode 6
Flipper meets Flipper, and this time it was even better than the TR2/Dantomkia battles! This would also be the ONLY time TR2 lost a fight in the entire series!
TR2 Vs Thor – Episode 6
Flipper Vs Hammer! Thor was still dealing with being demolished by Carbide, and TR2 was recovering from their first and only loss, yet both managed to put on a great showing!
TR2 Vs Carbide – Episode 6
TR2 was unable to make it to the final, but could still go out on top if it could beat Carbide who had already guaranteed its place in the final. And well, the favourite Carbide was unable to put a stop to the mighty TR2 who definitely showed why they were the 2015 UK champions! Such a shame this win didn’t put them through as they definitely deserved it!
Carbide Vs Apollo – Episode 6
This was the final match! Earlier in the show, during the round robin, Carbide knocked out Apollo with ease, but this time Apollo kept going, resulting in a battle worthy of the grand final! In the end it was Apollo who got the win and became the first champions of the new series of Robot Wars!!!
Of course, we also got a bunch of great moments within matches, and these are my favourites:
Carbide destroys Nuts
Eruption flips the first robot out of the arena
Apollo flips 3 House Robots
Chompalot bursts into flames
Apollo flips Storm 2 out of the arena
And there we have it. The first series of the rebooted Robot Wars! Well worth a watch for old fans and new, with plenty of great action, tons of fun moments and all round pure entertainment! Please BBC, give us one more series at the very least!!!