A long time ago (2015 does feel like an eternity), the most-recognized American robot fighting tournament came back to TV. Yes, BattleBots came back, and there was much rejoicing. I covered the second season of it for this very website! And by covered it, I mean recapped the already taped episodes in case you didn’t watch them and maybe give my take on questionable decisions or things that happened in the fight if I did some intrepid asking on the social medias (like what happened to Bronco during the Bronco–Minotaur fight).
Since then, things have happened. Robot Wars (the British robot fighting show) came back on the air! (Yaaay.) Robot Wars finished three seasons and left the air! (Boooo.) The Chinese have their own show and invited a bunch of American and British teams! (It’s called King of Bots, and I definitely did not find full episodes of the first season on YouTube, what are you talking about.) But BattleBots wasn’t renewed on ABC in 2017 for some reasons. So now they’re on Discovery Channel. You know, a channel that actually does science/building things.
As for us, that means I get to re-activate the BattleBots Recaps! But hell with it, I shied away from this last time but I’ll take the alliteration and it falls in line with all our other sports recaps. So I’m renaming it the BattleBots Beat, on the authority of “because I can.”
Unlike last preview, I don’t need to talk about every single robot listed. We know Tombstone fucks shit up, and Minotaur fucks shit up, and Bronco flips things really far unless a vacuum breaks and/or it loses all its wheels, and HyperShock will find a way to bring a goddamn rake into the arena and make it work somehow.
Here’s a trailer. Let’s go over some things:
What fight did we expect/want/hope to see last year? Minotaur and Tombstone. Freeze frame, 20 seconds in! One of those robots (the one spinning on the left) is definitely the defending champ, Tombstone. The other’s harder to make out, but it’s a small black boxy robot with a golden spinning drum and white designs on the side. Yeah, that’s Minotaur. Hey, is that a finals preview that they’re showing off immediately? Spoilers?
Nope! Things have changed up this year. It’s not the clear-cut tournament from the Comedy Central and ABC days.
First things first, it’s back to a good-sized season. This year is 20 episodes (oh fuck yes), which means I’ll have some work to do this summer! The first 18 (yep) episodes are a “fight card” format where there are a whole bunch of pre-selected fights, including those dream matchups we’ve wanted to see but not gotten a chance to. Like Tombstone–Minotaur. In the season premiere.
There’s also Bite Force and Blacksmith, (we remember them, especially Bite Force…)
There’s also Tombstone fighting a large circular full-body spinner at some point, which is Gigabyte, a larger version of Megabyte (though basically a re-skin of last season’s Invader). Which is the robot that helped retire the legendary BioHazard by tearing it a new one. There’s also Blacksmith and Warhead, which should make for a fiery battle (sorry). Every robot will get 3 to 5 fights and then they’ll do some sort of RPI shit to get a top 16, and that will lead to the tourney for the Giant Nut. I look forward to me bitching about the committee in 3 1/2 months.
Greg Munson (one of the co-founders) said there were zero forfeits throughout the two weeks of filming, although occasionally they’d have to postpone and work around and Chris Rose and Kenny Florian would have to re-suit change for continuity’s sake.
And there will also be rumbles. And there will also be tag team battles. And potentially other things. We’ll see what the other things are.
Um, active weapon rule?
Okay, this is going from the site. But the rule in the first two seasons was that every robot needed an active weapon. As in, a weapon that moved. No ram-bots. So correct me if I’m wrong, but does Bale Spear not have a giant fucking spike? I assume it’s pneumatic, But even so, these aren’t the days of Rhino where the spike could punch through the thin armor of the time. And Double Jeopardy is listed as a shooter but Brutus showed they can’t actually do anything with that because you need to be able to not break the Lexan (and those were for pyrotechnic effect). Brutus also had a decent enough vertical disc, and I’m not sure what else Double Jeopardy has.
Other ramblings and notes
Battle Royale with Cheese wins the pun/joke award—and their smaller bot is called Shorter Pounder. Free Shipping comes in second and looks dumb because of the forklift, but it’s basically driver Gary Gin’s robot Original Sin (the most decorated Robogames and Combots Cup robot ever) with the aforementioned forklift. So it will not suck.
According to Ian Watts, The Four Horsemen are War, Famine, Pestilence, and… Buttercup? “Sounds about right,” said Asgore, King of the Underground, as all the younger Commentists glare at me for making an Undertale joke 2 1/2 years after the game came out. Also, The Four Horsemen are just a re-skin of The Grubs, their entry from King of Bots, but with a better name.
HyperShock is now neon yellow. They apparently have a new rake in addition to the old rake. No idea if it’s in the same color scheme. But they do have the rake again. It’s their thing now.
Witch Doctor (no Shaman) has a sweet new self-righting mechanism that looks like a ribcage. Gotta say, that’s pretty fucking sweet.
Team Nightmare had other obligations (the second season of King of Bots, called This Is Fighting Robots) and will not be competing this season. (Somehow there are zero images of that robot, named Wrecker.) This is noteworthy because Nightmare was the only robot to appear in every televised season of BattleBots. Plus the pay-per-view ones. Neither is Team Hertz and BETA (they went to China with Tánshé, which looks like TerrorHertz except in flipper form). Interestingly enough Megabyte was also in China but Gigabyte is competing.
And lastly, they revealed all the robots, and we know them all. EXCEPT ONE.
That would be the bot at bottom-right. Which looks like La Machine, built by Greg Munson and Trey Roski for the original pre-TV Robot Wars IN 1995 (before they founded BattleBots), and the pioneer of the wedge bot. It couldn’t possibly be La Machine (right?), so it’s believed to be a cover-up for a notable robot from the past. Some say BioHazard, which was teased at last season. Someone else said Blendo, made by one Jamie Hyneman, though that was also 20 years ago. Someone said it could be Greg and Trey’s other “exhibition” robot, Ginsu. And some people have seen it and are legally not allowed to say it due to NDAs about spoilers.
Anyway… I think that covers everything, and if not, or if I’m wrong, I’ll mention it next time. The premiere’s Friday at 8, so as they say, let the wars begin!
Sorry, I mean… it’s robot fightin’ time!
Banner image from The Young Folks. Roster image courtesy of BattleBots’ Twitter. Robot Wars image from Trusted Reviews. Source of most of the info is from either BattleBots’ Twitter or Facebook, or r/battlebots on Reddit, or from this interview with Greg Munson.