Roboteers, stand by. Praise the metallic Lord in the sky, for the greatest television series of all time is returning to our screens. In anticipation of the best thing to have happened in this country since we won the World Cup, we ranked 10 of the most iconic robots from the seminal programme.
Shit though she may have been, Granny’s Revenge – who was, it’s worth remembering, a blanketed pensioner in a wheelchair, top-heavy and begging to be obliterated – provided us with one of the finest moments in Robot Wars history when she faced Axe Awe in the Series 5 Heat H eliminators. Axe Awe, a pedestrian robot who you will notice does not feature on this list, circled the lanky granny, bewildered, until nudging her toward Sergeant Bash. The good sergeant, merciless to a fault, ignited Granny’s Revenge with his flamethrower as soon as he set eyes on her. She was engulfed in flames, of course, made as she was of materials one would use if designing something intended to burn rapidly and totally. Before long she was only fire, a nightmarish ball of flames doomed to be tipped into the dreaded pit (along with the Refbot in this instance).
Never to be forgotten, Granny’s Revenge is the kind of berserk construction whose like we may never see again. Fingers crossed some maverick will build something equally preposterous in the new series.
Oh could this baby spin. By Series 7, the twin discs either side of the robot’s frame – fatal to many an opponent – rotated at 1200RPM. 13 Black could reach speeds of 20mph, making it one of the fastest challengers in the programme’s history. It reached the semi-final of Series 6 and brought cheeky zip and energy to the battlefield. The inventive makers of 13 Black have begun work on a robot named Heavy Metal that reportedly will not feature in time for the 2016 reboot, but may rear its head in future series.
Speaking of robots that spin you right round, Baby, right round, like a record, Baby… Those who mocked Hypno-Disc’s quirky design did so at their peril. The rapidly spinning painted disc was the first of its kind and was strong enough to rip the armour off opponents, earning him the title of “Robot Wars’ most destructive robot”. This bad boy won the Most Original Entry in Series 3 and is widely considered to be perhaps the best robot never to have won the UK title. It took Chaos 2, a true legend in his own right, to prevent Hypno-Disc from clinching the title in his debut series. Spinners, incidentally, are now banned from the heavyweight circuit.
People forget about Dead Metal, don’t they. Wherever you go these days, it’s “Sir Killalot this, Sergeant Bash that…” But this fella was one of the original quartet of House Robots, let’s not forget. And to call this guy formidable is like calling a whale quite large. He was an absolute beast. Gigantic claws like a scorpion, circular saw on his head – he had it all. He didn’t play by the rules either: he provoked boos from the studio audience when, having dropped Wizard into the pit in Series 2, he continued inflicting horrible damage. A maverick at heart, Dead Metal was the real deal and looks almost certain to return for the 2016 series.
Sure, Firestom wasn’t necessarily the most attractive of the contestants in Robot Wars history. But this guy sure was one of the most successful, with a total of eight semi-finals and grand finals under his belt. He was the Germany of the Robot Wars universe, in other words. Every universe needs a Germany. Every Robot Wars needs a Firestorm. Locked in a grudge with Panic Attack, an obviously inferior robot, Firestorm won on every occasion because that’s the kind of robot he was. He was also the kind of robot who managed to flip Mr Psycho, whom you are about to meet.
Imagine meeting this guy in a dark alleyway after a night out. The heaviest robot in the programme’s history (750kg), Mr Psycho wielded a massive hammer that crashed down on opponents at 60mph. He was based on Bill Sykes and there is no disputing the claim that he was just as much of a merciless dickhead. Craig Charles said when introducing Psycho for the first time that he had evil “running through his veins” (Psycho, not Craig Charles). You took on Mr Psycho at your peril. His head fell off in Series 7 but none of us are perfect.
Everyone perked up when Stinger rolled into the room. This wacky prick was a refreshing change from the general uniformity of the robots otherwise seen on the programme. Basically two wheels and a spear, Stinger had one look – quite a phallic look, in retrospect – and he rocked it like a star. Victory may not have been his primary achievement but history remembers the eccentrics as well as the kings. This guy was an eccentric. But in his own way, was he a king? Yes, he was a king.
The only UK champion to successfully defend his title, Chaos 2 is arguably the most successful robot in the TV show’s history. He looked like a printer but the only thing this guy printed was carnage. Really it was Chaos 2 whose powerful flipping mechanism inspired all those that came in its wake. He was the first robot to flip Shunt, for God’s sake. And this aluminium and polycarbonate bastard made Robot Wars history when he flipped Firestorm out of the entire arena in the Series 3 Grand Final.
When introducing Chaos 2 to the subsequent Robot Wars Extreme series, its designer George Francis said, “If you know anything about Robot Wars, you’ll already know who we are.” That just about sums it up. This is a robot without whom the Robot Wars landscape would simply not be the same.
We, all of us, hold in our heart a soft spot for Sir Killalot, the robot perhaps most synonymous with this most cherished of series. We’ve all dreamt of him. This hulking bastard weighed 520kg and you’d better believe it was all muscle. Made in a mere ten days, Killalot could lift 100kg and slice with a force of 15 tons. No one ever flipped the king of the House Robots, of course. They could only fantasise about tipping over this sturdy beast.
Will the knight return for the robot reboot? There isn’t a sane person alive who hopes otherwise. The Beeb would be fools to deny us a Killalot resurrection. A boycott is the only reasonable reaction to his non-inclusion.
One of the Razer team was called Vincent Blood. Vincent Blood. The man’s name was Vincent Blood, for God’s sake. Razer had someone working for them called Vincent Blood. It is almost his name alone that lifts Razer into first position.
Almost. But not quite. Razer’s place in the history books rests heavily on its pioneering and incredibly violent design: as the name suggests, it had a crushing and piercing arm weapon that exerted three tons of pressure per square inch. The arm dug into opponents and was able to drag them all over the shop, inflicting massive internal damage all the while. This legend won the first two Robot Wars World Championships and provided copious amounts of entertainment for Robot Wars fanatics. The point of Razer is this: it’s fun to watch robots flipping and spinning about the place, sure, but everyone knows it’s about the blood. It’s about the carnage. It’s about the violence. Razer, unashamedly pointy and lethal, was the first and most iconic embodiment of this bloodlust.