After an episode last week that was more stacked than a Jenga warehouse, Episode 3 of the latest Robot Wars tournament sees a greater number of unknown quantities enter the fray, as well as a pair of returning monster heels. Let’s get into it!
First Round: Bucky the Robot vs. Rapid vs. Track-tion
The voiceover announcing Bucky the Robot seems a little subdued and less like a singer who was thrown out of Mayhem for being too metal. A dump truck of Strepsils needed. “It’s about putting on a show,” says the captain. He gets it. And to that effect, he’s come armed with a gigantic red fluffy mascot that looks like a bug from Three Stooges Syndrome. Expect this robot to get over in Scotland, as they love a bit of Bucky.
“RAPID; FLIPPPPPAAAAHHHHHHH!” Okay, he’s back. You might remember Rapid as the team from last series who spent the GDP of Malaysia on their robot, then had to withdraw because it was so precisely engineered they couldn’t repair it without specialist equipment, then got replaced by a robot made of pipecleaners and hope. It was hilarious. Team captain Josh is referred to as a “modern-day entrepreneur”, or an entrepreneur as they’re often called. He’s flanked by his mute sidekicks, who seem to be the people who actually built the robot. Millionaire Josh says if anyone can beat his robot, he’ll give them a job. That’s quite the incentive. I wish Alan Sugar offered a job to any Apprentice contestant able to beat him. And by that I mean with a baseball bat studded with nails.
Team Track-tion is that old staple of Robot Wars harking back to Season One; SOME UNSUPERVISED PRIMARY SCHOOL KIDS. It’s not mentioned on the episode, but their teacher/mentor is Will from Team Aftershock, which is cool. The quartet are members of their school’s Robot Wars Club, which sounds amazing and I am incredibly jealous my school’s extracurricular activities stretched only to rugby union and institutional homophobia. Their machine closely resembles Suicidal Tendencies, one of my favourite midcard bots of all time, but which never achieved much success in the competition. Sometimes it tried to do things, and it just didn’t work out the way it wanted to, and it got real frustrated, it was like, “I try hard to do it”.
The mascot has a flag. Extra points.
Fog of War™ is triggered early, and the kids panic like they’ve accidentally wiped their Pokemon save files. In the cold light of the arena, it turns out Bucky the Robot is literally a giant bear trap painted to look like false teeth. Track-tion drives onto the spikes and gets flipped early on. “Oh no, we’re done!” cries one of the kids, astutely. It then gets carked out the arena by Rapid.
For such an expensive and clearly well-engineered competitor, Rapid takes a while to finish off Bucky. It looks like curtains for Bucky as it gets flipped and its teeth get caught on the side of the arena, but after omnomnomming on the metal for a bit, it gets itself free. Rapid is very mobile and is almost impossible to get purchase on, on account of its ground clearance being lower than Joey Styles’ opinion of climate science, but the driving’s a bit shonky and its flipper is nowhere near as powerful as your Apollos and Eruptions. It doesn’t even manage to win via KO; Bucky gets upended by the arena spikes in the end, but time expires before it can be counted out. The Bucky Boys can be proud of that. For a flipperbot like Rapid to have to go to the judges in a bout with two robots who don’t have srimechs (in 2017!) doesn’t bode well. ***1/2
Backstage, the mascot no-sells Dara like he’s Riki Choshu fighting some scrawny UWFI tyros. Angela is interviewing Head Child Dan, and refers to Rapid as “Rich Rapid”, which I think is her answer to “Crooked Hillary” or “Handsome Rusev”. That kid’s going to be a Marxist by the time he’s eighteen, mark my words.
The Million Dollar Man says he’s given the kids “experience of what real engineering looks like”. The stocks are too good for him.
First Round: Apex vs. Vulture vs. Terrorhurtz
Oh God, it’s Craig from Foxic, back with a new robot and the same old attitude. I’m assured by friends of this website that Craig’s a nice guy who just puts on a pantomime heel act for the cameras, but he does throw a wobbly and start chucking gaffer tape around after this fight, so jury’s still out. He’s built a new robot which comes armed with a 39kg bar spinner. This is an accident waiting to happen. Bring it on.
Newcastle-based Vulture are very much a homebrew outfit. Team captain Adam is a self-taught amateur and former butcher (not this one) whose main involvement in Robot Wars in the past has been to make other competitors look more aesthetically pleasing. He quotes Drake – “started from the bottom, now I’m here” – and thankfully doesn’t say the next few lines. Sadly there’s no Jim Smallman to cut a promo.
Robot Wars veterans Terrorhurtz are back, with their Jeremy Corbyn-looking captain. Yes, Jezza. Destroy those melts.
Apex gets one big hit off to start the match, but it’s superficial damage. Terrorhurtz nails the bar spinner with that rarest of Robot Wars weapons – a genuinely effective axe – and Apex’s massive tool stops working. It presents such a huge target it has to be such a liability. This is the problem with literally being a walking weapon, as Andrew Pierce can attest. Terrorhurtz gouges Vulture so hard the axe gets stuck in its armour, pushes Vulture over to the flame pit and Apex, now literally a big useless hunk of metal, piles on. That’s the end of Vulture. In keeping with Adam’s previous experience, the weapon, a vertical saw that reaches out towards its opponents using a smooth and pleasing mechanism, looks amazing and does fuck all damage. The rubber chain keeping it working looks very exposed too.
Terrorhurtz does such a big axe strike that it sends itself flipping over like Ricochet (I actually believe I saw Terrorhurtz retweeting Will Ospreay after the fight), but Apex gets spiked by the floor, starts emitting smoke, and consummatum est.
On the replay it looks like a ring came off the Apex weapon. Remember last season, when loads of teams tooled up with insanely powerful spinners but forgot to build robots that could actually cope with the G-forces? Craig Danby doesn’t. ***
Angela and Dr Lucy Rogers try to get Fog of War over. Stop trying to make “fetch” happen.
Quarter Final: Track-tion vs. Apex
Craig says he wants to “destroy the hopes and dreams of some children”. He says his team have spent over three thousand hours on their machine, but in case you think that means it’s automatically good, consider that Richard Littlejohn has been employed as a journalist for four decades, and then weep for the country you once loved. Dan from Track-tion says Vulture have lent them a wedge for the front of their robot. I wonder if, should Track-tion come up against Vulture, they won’t be allowed to use it contractually, like when a Premier League club prevents the player they sent out on loan from playing against them.
Track-tion starts tentatively, but manages to ram Apex gently with the new wedge. Apex goes off balance, its spinner hits against the floor and then the robot JUST FUCKING EXPLODES! The force of the spinner-ground clash splits the robot in two, with the body heading out of the arena and the spinner itself smashing THROUGH the plexiglass, and Luigi wins by doing absolutely nothing! “If that bar had come this way I’d have needed a change of trousers,” laughs Dan. Angela asks him to repeat it for the crowd and he gets all embarrassed. Awwww.
Craig says, “we will never build anything like this again.” Certainly hope so. ****1/2
Quarter Final: Vulture vs. Bucky the Robot
Vulture are clearly having problems backstage with repairs, and one of the team members asks the cameras to stop filming them as it’s stressing him out. Normally I’d say this smacks of Alex Ferguson blanking the BBC because they dared suggest his son was a crook (perish the thought!), but the geezer’s called Jarvis so I’ll allow it. Bucky the Mascot looks equally worried, but that’s because he can’t move his eyebrows.
Jonathan Pearce says he lost the best years of his life to Matilda. The best years of your life were when the UEFA Cup and England games were on Channel 5, and you know it.
Vulture runs afoul of the arena flipper early, upon which Bucky bites them and rams them into Dead Metal’s clutches. Nice strategy. Soon we see smoke coming from Vulture. The arm is deader than Kevin Spacey’s career (i.e. you think it is for now, but you know the cunt will be back). But then disaster! Bucky goes on the flipper and ends up on its side. Vulture just leave it to get counted out, which isn’t very exciting but that’s its prerogative. Matilda gives Bucky a flywheel for good measure. ***
Semi Final: Track-tion vs. Rapid
Getting serious Mortis vs. Recyclopse vibes from this; an epic heel-face dynamic, the cash-rich pros against the plucky young upstarts! Dara tells Josh that he’s in a no-win situation, as even if he wins all he did was beat some children, which reminds me of that story Chris Jericho tells about when he was told not to bury his opponents in promos, which you might sometimes hear him tell in between shilling for DDP Yoga and TrueCar.com.
Josh is clearly bricking it, as if he loses then he’s obliged by his businessman honour code to hire the children, upon which point he’ll go to jail for breaking child labour laws. To which I say; go Track-tion!
Just before the fight Rapid notice they have a leakage, and therefore they’ll have to win quickly. To this end, they simply surge forward and flip Track-tion out of the arena in less than five seconds. Normally I’d give a fight this brief and with such an epic flip a high rating, but it’s Rapid so **
At this point I notice that despite this show airing on 5th November, nobody is wearing a poppy. No, I don’t care that it was filmed in May. WHERE ARE YOUR POPPIES, TRAITOROUS ISIS SCUM?
Semi Final: Vulture vs. Terrorhurtz
Adam the Butcher says he’s worried, as Terrorhurtz is a type they haven’t bargained for. Really? You didn’t consider the possibility you might come up against an axebot? Ever heard of Shunt, fella? Angela tells us Team Vulture are obsessed with John/Jeremy from Terrorhurtz, but clarifies it’s because they loved his robot as kids, which is good as I was having awful images of Kathy Bates and James Caan. The Vulture squad are covering the bot with bits of Velcro to try and dampen the axe. “Oh lads, that’s not good is it?” says Angela pityingly.
In the arena, Terrorhurtz hacks the Velcro away at will, and several other bits of Vulture too. Merciless. Once again the axe gets stuck in Vulture, so Matilda comes over and flips it free. After much more hacking, Terrorhurtz backs off, thinking it’s done enough, and, as we later learn, because it’s out of gas. Not knowing this, the Geordie Boys trigger the mist. Fog on the Tyne, it’s all mine all mine, fog on the Tyne it’s all mine! Sadly when the smoke clears it’s in Dead Metal’s clutches. Vulture looses the fog again, and this time emerges on the flame pit. LADS. You’re worse tacticians than Ossie Ardiles. Terrorhurtz wins an easy judges’ decision. ***1/4
Danny the Kid charmingly calls Team Vulture “kind fellows”, and seems as stoked for the end-of-series ten-way as we all are. Jarvis then takes back the wedge, the swine, but it turns out that Team Vulture snapped a motor wire while conducting repairs and don’t have time to fix it, so Track-tion are through to the melee by forfeit. Three of the team try and look sad to have gone through in such a manner, while the female member of their team whoops with delight. She’s got the right idea. Track-tion’s going to get mullered when it comes up against Eruption or Sabretooth or Big Nipper, but well done to the kids on making it to the last episode. Pocket money raises all round!
Final: Rapid vs. Terrorhurtz
This is it, for all the marbles! Old School vs. New School! Jeremy Corbyn vs. The City of London!
A terrible start for Terrorhurtz as they come a cropper on the arena flipper twice owing to some errant driving, and they have to spend precious gas righting themselves. Rapid very powerfully shoves them into Dead Metal, but loses a bit off the top in the process. Terrorhurtz bides its time to get a hit off on the exposed panel but Rapid no-sells it and pushes the veterans into Dead Metal again, then very narrowly fails to flip their opponents out of the arena. Eek.
It’s squeaky bum time for Terrorhurtz as Rapid no-sells another axe blow. Fair play to the rich bastards, it really is a durable machine. Rapid pushes Terrorhurtz onto the flipper and again it goes flying, but then Rapid gets picked up by Dead Metal and takes an axe hit! Dead Metal gets Rapid in its grasp again, but Rich Rapid wriggles free and finally gets under Terrorhurtz to flip it out. Rapid deserved the win, but a great battling performance from Terrorhurtz. Like Behemoth, they’ve impressed using a design that hasn’t changed much since the 90s. There’s life in the old dog yet. Well done to Jezza C, now he can get back to being the Prime Minister. ****1/4
All in all, another fun episode, though not quite up to the giddy heights of Episodes 1 and 2. But wait! Who’s this kicking ass and taking names in the preview for next week? It’s only bloody Nuts! David will take you through that, so it’s goodbye from me, and I’ll leave you with this:
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat,” said Scheider;
From death at a shark’s teeth he well could save us.
But seeing Matilda wreck all that defied her,
The fleeing would have numbered Richard Dreyfuss.
“I’ll hunt him down,” the tusked one might snarl; “Nae fuss!”
I’d rather plummet into Bruce’s Jaws
Than tangle with the beasts of Robot Wars.