Worldwide Warriors: A historical look at 6 of the International Teams Competing in Battlebots 2016
With BattleBots on ABC unleashing their two-hour premiere last week, we saw 32 bots fight it out en route to the Round of 32. In this batch of robots we would witness a hammer bot, lifters, flippers, horizontal and vertical spinning weaponry, and even a Real Steel style humanoid. Though with this new cast of machines in the BattleBox, it also sports an array of different teams from around the world laying a claim in the quest for BattleBots glory en route to the Giant Nut.
Here are 3 of this week’s winners, 2 wildcard contenders, and a robot that will appear next week from around the world.
Minotaur – Brazil
When talking about potential first seeds from the season premiere, no newcomer has had as much buzz as much as the neurotic Brazilian team, RioBotz and their newest member to their robotic family: Minotaur.
RioBotz has long been one of the most dominant teams of the Non-Televised era of Robot Combat. Making their debut in 2003 at a small Brazilian event, the team has gone on to dominate the Robot Combat scene around the world, consistently placing at major “Big Bot” events and turning a lot of heads with it’s destructive power and lineage the team has produced for itself.
Team RioBotz have built exclusively drumbots (bots that use a powerful spinning drum in front as a weapon) for their events recently, and many have said that the team has perfected the drumbot design with the Touro line of robots, winning championships and RoboGames medals from the Fleaweight to the 220lb Heavyweight class. And now they’re looking to extend that reign to the BattleBots sanctioned 250lb Heavyweight class.
Their team captain Marco Antonio Meggiolaro has also written the book on Robot Combat, literally.
With the RioBotz Combat Robot Tutorial being a highly praised way to learn how to start and build your own combat robot within the community.
You might recognize the rambunctious team from the 2011 Science Channel special: Killer Robots hosted by Grant Imahara. The event showcased Touro Maximus, Minotaur’s 30 pound lighter brother, dominate Vera by knockout on the show and gave Original Sin a run for it’s money. Touro, since the show, has held firm control on the 220lb scene from 2014-2015, winning the largest 220lb event in the US, the STEM Tech Olympiad, in 2014 and the 2015 Robogames. Touro Maximus would also get the Bronze Medal in the 2016 Robogames event this year.
Lucky – Canada
Many will recognize Lucky as the wildcard contender from last week’s episode, with their loud mouthed Canadian patriot (who’s actually from New Hampshire). Few know this robot’s older brother’s legacy as perhaps the most dominant Super HeavyWeight in Robot Combat history.
Lucky Canucky (shortened to Lucky for TV) was a robot that actually came very close to not making it on to our screens this year. They were an alternate that was to only be called in if another team dropped out.
The Lucky team spans across both the United States and Canada, going coast to coast both ways with their Captain being from New Hampshire, a number of designers being from Canada, and their driver being from California. Despite being far apart, the close-knit team brought to fans Lucky, who has a flipper that can rival the BattleBots superstar BRONCO in flipping power. Don’t believe that? Go take a look at Lucky’s 340lb Super HeavyWeight father, Ziggy:
Lucky was 100% designed to be a 250lb version of Ziggy, with hopes to replicate the success that robot brought throughout it’s career all the way to when the Super HeavyWeight class was retired in 2010. What success you may ask? Well, Ziggy would go from 2006-2010 with a 11-0 undefeated record, absolutely dominating the weight class with big wins over The Judge, Vladiator, Blue Engine, and even a young Sewer Snake during this impressive and dominant run.
The robot had thrown other Super Heavyweights into the roof of the arena at past events and never showed signs of slowing down until it was practically the last Super HeavyWeight standing, as it was the only one to show up to the 2011 RoboGames. Ziggy even went one-on-one with then San Francisco 49ers placekicker Joe Nedney in a field goal competition in 2010 to promote Robogames.
Warhead – England
No matter which part of the world you’re from, you know the legacy of Team Razer, and you know their bot Warhead and their shaky route of being one of the best to being an underdog in this year’s event.
Warhead is made by the duo of Simon Scott and Ian Lewis, the same minds that have brought you Razer, the posterboy of Robot Wars UK. They’ve shown their own reign of terror in numerous BattleBots events in the late 90’s to early 2000s. When outside of Robot Wars, Razer would make appearances in the late 90’s Battlebots events, right when the competition started up with the 1999 Long Beach and Las Vegas tournaments. Razer would pick up wins vs Voltarc, Agrippa, and Kill O Amp in these events, and lose to Tazbot, Rhino, and Voltarc.
Along with these tournaments, Razer would also win the Long Beach 1999 GigaBot (Heavyweight) Rumble. After this, Team Razer would go quiet and not appear in the US Robot Combat scene until May 2002 during Comedy Central Season 5.0, where Team Razer would make their triumphant return to the Battle Box with their first new Heavyweight since Razer: Warhead. Warhead was at the time one of the competition’s most destructive robots, being considered then how we look at robots like Tombstone and IceWave today. Team Razer’s new robot would go 5-1 with 4 KO’s en route to the Quarterfinals.
When Warhead came back in 2015 for the ABC Reboot, the robot was practically the same aside from some electronic upgrades on the inside.
Many fans new and old expected the hyped up British robot to absolutely dominate and destroy the competition, starting with the eventual champion Bite Force in Round 1. But when the match came along Warhead’s age showed and Bite Force would dominate Warhead for a whole 3 minutes to move on to the next round. Warhead would fortunately get a Wildcard slot, but then be embarrassed again by Stinger: The Killer Bee. Now in 2016, Warhead has made its robot a bit more animalistic and went further with what the team’s known for: absolutely crushing weaponry. Last week they used their upgraded weapon to pick up a win over Obwalden Overlord.
The Obwalden Overlord – France
While this robot might not be in contention for a wildcard, the team that designed it and what it is it too good not to write about.
As their Captain said, “They brought the Obwalden Overlord to a Tank Fight, and they knew they were either going to turn a lot of heads, or crash and burn in the most spectacular fashion.”
Said captain might be someone you would recognize as well. Rob Knight was one of many veterans of notable Robot Wars teams competing in the event this year, as he was the captain of a robot that was an engineering marvel in it’s own right when it debuted way back in 1997: Mortis.
Mortis would go on to boast a 13-5 record in Robot Wars, winning its respective heat in Series 2, and winning the Series 4 War of Independance. Mortis would also compete in BattleBots during the 1999 Las Vegas event and Comedy Central 2.0, holding a 3-2 record in the US and winning the Season 2.0’s Most Aggressive Robot award.
After Robot Wars, Rob Knight had begun working on humanoid robots and now has been designing them for 15 years. He teamed up with numerous talented engineers in both France and England to construct The Obwalden Overlord.
The Obwalden Overlord has a weapon system like nobody else, something you would see out of the movie Real Steel, where the robot has a human-like body structure that can be operated by real human arm movements wearing a mechanical suit that copies and mimics said movements. This was something never done before by anyone in the Robot Combat community, and stands out as what the hosts of BattleBots called “A mix between art and combat” and can be looked at as what might be the future of the sport. The Obwalden Overlord may not have been destructive or will be winning a wildcard, but it will hands down end up being the one of the more memorable Newcomers and overall robots in BattleBots history.
BETA – England
To round off our list, we have two of the most feared British robots in the tournament, with the first one here being one of the greatest stories of BattleBots 2016.
John Reid favorite weapons are hammers and axes, weapons that many would write off today and consider obsolete to complete success in this sport. This goes back to John’s first robot, Killerhurtz debut in 1998 during Robot Wars Series 2. Killerhurtz would compete in Robot Wars series 2-4, and compete in the First World Championship, representing the Czech Republic.
Killerhurtz never saw too much success in the UK though, riding a 4-6 record in its career mostly due to numerous driving errors. Though KillerHurtz sequel Terrorhurtz held a 9-5 record, winning a Challenge Belt tournament and placing 4th in Robot Wars Series 6. Despite this, Team Hurtz was a true All Star in the US, competing in 6 BattleBots tournament from Long Beach 1999 to Comedy Central 4.0 with Killerhurtz, placing a 12-7 record and never made it shorter than the Round of 16. It made it to the Semi Finals once and even the Long Beach 1999 Finals, making them only international team to place in the Heavyweight top 2 of any BattleBots tournament.
In 2002 for Comedy Central 5.0, John Reid and Team Hurtz would upgrade the same way they upgraded KillerHurtz in Robot Wars, and made BETA. BETA was touted as the most powerful hammer bot of all time, being rapid fast with weaponry, self righting, and holding the power of some of the deadliest spinners in the game with a hammer. This power though would end up being the beast’s downfall as BETA would tear out the BattleBox’s floor panels which were held in at the time only by gravity.
This meant the team could not compete in the competition and would start the “BETA Curse”.
For 13 years BETA never had a chance to show its true power and compete inside any arena until the 2015 reboot was announced. With a new reinforced arena this was the team’s time to shine. At least, until the BETA Curse would strike again. There would be a mishap with BETA’s flight to the US from the UK losing important parts. This kept the team from competing once again, forcing the mighty hammer to once again be shelved as Counter Revolution was subbed in to replace BETA. Finally, after over a decade (and a botched lift into the BattleBox), the curse was broken.
BETA fought Lucky in its first match after a decade of misfortune, and how fitting it was for the first hammer blow to destroy Lucky’s shock absorber en route to BETA’s first BattleBots win. BETA now is in the Round of 32 as we wait to see whom it may face next.
Cobalt – England
Not many robots can say they’re as destructive as BattleBot’s star Tombstone, but one can be said to have the moniker “The British Tombstone”. Cobalt was called just that during the pre-taping Periscope stream of BattleBots Co-Founder, Greg Munson, when he looked at the deadly machine.
Team Cobalt has a large history with British robot combat, as the team with their captain Dave Moulds has a lot of success with heavyweight combat before. Turbulence was the team’s first 100kg robot, and was a powerful flipper that would dominate the mid 2000’s UK Touring scene. In 2006, Turbulence would win the first major UK Heavyweight competition since Robot Wars had shut down: the 2006 UK Championships. They would be a Quarter-Finalist on the Winter Tour of the same year. Then the robot would make it to the Quarters of the next two year’s UK Championships of 2007 and 2008.
Along with this, Team Cobalt’s members have done their own impressive ventures, such as founding the largest Featherweight tour in the UK: RoboChallenge. The team holds two of the most destructive Featherweight builders in the UK right now, which you can easily see when looking at their BattleBots entry. Dave Moulds would make very powerful drumbots in the 30lb class such as 720 and 722, and even made a Featherweight Hypno Disc replica known as 360, which has had much success itself. His teammate, Sam Smith, made NST, a 30lb bar spinner, which is likely where a lot of the inspiration for Cobalt came from. Their team fights on this week’s BattleBots episode vs the powerful MIT Team: Equals Zero Robotics with Overhaul.
Will the UK bot live up to its moniker? Or will it be sent home across the pond?