KILLER ROBOTS / RoboGames 2011 Commentary

A long time ago on an RFSHQ.com far far away we had this thing we did where we’d release an archived episode of the old Comedy Central show BattleBots and on the following day post an article that made fun of the robots, drivers, and content of the show. The column, inspired by Driving The Death Car, was called BattleBots Update and it was the very last column I routinely managed on RFSHQ until my departure in 2008. BattleBots Update ended the day I resigned from RFSHQ, though in recent years there was talk of a special three-episode 6th season of the show set to premiere on CBS College Sports; in the end, however, the show did not air apparently because nobody wanted to buy advertising slots on a channel nobody ever watches during a show that had been cancelled for almost a decade prior. It seemed that robot combat was thoroughly dead and that BattleBots Update would remain where it was, an abandoned and unmanaged column on a website that no longer had a writing staff.

Until recently.

robogames_killerrobots3

The first spin-off after LITERALLY a decade of cancellation.

RoboGames is an annual robot combat event, the last of its kind, that occasionally gets coverage ranging from “a quick spot on the local news” to “had a couple of DVDs released“ and this past Memorial Day Weekend the fine folks at Science Channel (a.k.a. Discovery Channel Pre-Reality TV Era) put together a one-episode special event called Killer Robots. When it came to finding a host for their show they looked no further than Mythbusters‘ Grant Imahara, a TV personality whose previous broadcast credits included being a former competitor in the late BattleBots series of competitions. Fans of Mythbusters will remember his robot Deadblow as the nimble 4-wheeled machine that dragged raw chickens around hungry alligators, and fans of BattleBots will remember it as the robot that was the butt of endless penis jokes. Seems like a winning combination if you ask me, you get exposure on a dying sport hosted by a guy who has graduated into bigger and better things than having his creations be the punchline to kindergarten humor.

Normally we here at GatorAIDS don’t condone the whole “piracy” thing but the whole point of our column is to make fun of something people have already seen so if you missed out on this televised special, well, we won’t tell you where you can get a copy of it but clicking these underlined words might be a good start.

robogames_killerrobots2

ASFGASKSAJK ROBOGAAAAAAAEMZ!!

From the start of the show, after the weird opening montage of people screaming at robots and cowering in fear and shock, Grant Imahara introduces us all to the sport in an incredibly brief run-down that demonstrates that virtually nothing has changed in the sport since the days of BattleBots. Well, except for the addition of flamethrowers. And Grant’s teeth. Okay, maybe that was rude of me but seriously if you Google “grant imahara” one of the suggested searches is “grant imahara’s teeth”. Don’t blame me for being a racist douchebag, blame Google.

 

The Arena

Grant doesn’t take too long introducing the arena mostly because there is nothing to introduce. Perhaps the biggest letdown of this whole event is the fact that the difference between this arena and a Wal-Mart parking lot is the placement of the lines painted on the floor and the lack of dirty diapers in the arena. What happened to the Pulverizers? What happened to the Spike Strip? Hell, there’s not even the famed Killsaws! And really “Killsaw” probably has a trademark on it but I mean the RoboGames people couldn’t come up with a second-best knock-off like “Discs of Inconvenience” or something? Hell I’ll even be content with the shitty Piston hazards from BattleBots season three, but seriously there is a grand total of zero arena hazards present at this event. Hazards not only made wedge-on-wedge fights watchable, they were just damn fun, especially when a turtled robot was shoved underneath the Pulverizer hammer while Bill Nye creamed his pants about the physics of a giant goddamn hammer breaking everything that gets placed under it. The RoboGames arena is so non-threatening that old people use it for bingo night when it’s not in use. The Westminster Dog Show has been held in this place more times than someone has taken hazard damage in this arena.

 

Sewer Snake vs. Gruff

In the infantile days of robot combat the heavyweight class was ruled by a robot by the name of Vlad the Impaler, a heavily armored forklift that could manhandle and flip its opponents onto their heads or slam them into the wall. Whichever was more convenient. Sewer Snake, the reigning champion, can best be described as… a heavily armored forklift that we get to see slam some unnamed robots into the walls. But! Sewer Snake has something Vlad the Impaler didn’t; Sewer Snake comes equipped with… wait for it… a flamethrower. Sewer Snake is proof of concept that you just can’t beat old technology, especially when it’s armed with a flamethrower. Grant makes sure to point out that the husband/wife team that built Sewer Snake frequently incorporates usage of their robot during sex.

Gruff is a robot that boasts a lifting arm of dubious ability and copious amounts of stickers from TheRobotMarketplace. It also looks like it was built from the side of a tool shed (but it’s rumored to be as durable as an armored truck). We don’t get to learn much about the Gruff drivers or their robot mostly because they are not the champions in this pairing and we aren’t supposed to care about them because of it.

At the start of the fight Gruff appears to not be intimidated by the Sewer Snake’s bullshit and cutesy blue snake mascot graphics. Gruff tosses Sewer Snake straight into the wall which is Sewer Snake’s cue to repeatedly do the same in return. While molesting and slamming Gruff around we are treated to cutaways of both a row of 100% straight & Christian boy scouts and a shot of Gruff’s driver who appears to be trying to land a plane in Microsoft Flight Simulator. A few more “make me a sandwich” slams into the wall leaves Gruff belching out more smoke than Dan Aykroyd talking about UFOs and to celebrate its victory Sewer Snake is seen have a flaming orgy with itself in the center of the arena because showboating is always classy when you beat up on the equivalent of a furniture mover.

 

Preda Raptor vs. Mini Fridge

Before we are introduced to Mini Fridge (the robot) we are introduced to Mini Fridge (the driver of Mini Fridge, whose real nickname happens to be the even less flattering “Chewy”) who is seen riding around on his own machine screaming like a maniac and wielding a battle axe against a much smaller robot that appears to be held together with tape. Team Tiki are classic robot combat trolls, they build things just to piss people off and they don’t give a shit about a single thing. Before they strapped a broken mini fridge onto a stripped-down obesity scooter with tank tracks Team Tiki’s creations also included a dog house (with obligatory flamethrower), a living television set, and other mobile versions of the Zonks from Let’s Make A Deal. Their present incarnation of Mini Fridge answers the aforementioned question of “what happened to the Pulverizer hazards”; Team Tiki straight up stole the pneumatics of the beloved BattleBots hazard and stuffed it inside of a refrigerator… probably because people won’t look for stolen goods inside of a broken appliance.

robogames_killerrobots4

Team Tiki may or may not use recreational drugs.

Preda Raptor will look familiar to fans of the original BattleBots series. That’s because Preda Raptor happens to be a distant offspring of the super heavyweight competitor Tripulta Raptor. Over the past decade it appears that these robotic dinosaurs have evolved some semblance of coherent names but still aren’t quite there. Seriously, does anybody know what the fuck “tripulta” means? Preda Raptor’s species seems to have selected against having tank tracks that fall off after one hit from a Pulverizer which is good because the Pulverizer just so happens to be exactly what its opponent stole from BattleBots. Team Raptor’s fixation with pseudo-robotic saurian vore is back in full swing with Preda Raptor who, like its ancestors, is armed with a gripping claw of “holy shit” proportions. According to Grant it can destroy your car with its massive raptor shlong.

Upon starting the battle Mini Fridge’s first order of business is to use its hammer to self destruct and promptly tears itself open to expose its delicious innards to the maw of Preda Raptor. I’m not a BattleBots expert (actually yes I am) but this seems counterproductive. Then again Team Tiki are robo-trolls so they may have filled their top-heavy robot with Harry Potter jelly beans to lure Preda Raptor into taking a bite only to fool him with poop and vomit flavored candies. Mini Fridge begins making steady use of its pneumatic hammer while Grant begins not getting the joke and points out how ineffective a pneumatic hammer is against the machined metal of Preda Raptor who by now has torn the door off of Mini Fridge and has proceeded to dismantle the renegade chill locker’s tank treads and top half in search of delicious treats. Mini Fridge’s ace in the hole, though, is a potent dose of spoiled beer which incapacitates Preda Raptor after it snags a swig of the frothy beverage. Mini Fridge, falling apart more than Joan Rivers’ face, shoves its reptilian opponent straight into the Nerf-lined arena wall where the sedated and dazed dinosaur does nothing but open its mouth in awe at being beaten by what amounted to a Sears twist on Night At The Museum.

 

Toro Maximus vs. Vera

There’s a special place in my heart for international robot teams. I don’t know if it’s because they’re an underdog for traveling several thousand miles or if it’s because I think broken English is cute but for whatever reason Toro Maximus, no relation to BattleBots legend and pneumatic funhouse Toro, makes me smile. Toro Maximus is basically a metal brick with a spinning drum covered with carved tool steel. It is described as having acceleration “as fast as a race car” and a weapon that spins “as fast as a chainsaw” which leads me to have a mental picture of a formula one racer absolutely covered in chainsaws and that’s a pretty goddamn awesome representation. Toro Maximus is a race car armed with a chainsaw, it should win every fight just for showing up. After seeing the collective insanity of Team Riobots it’s pretty obvious that these people are probably breaking some sort of probation violation involving staying away from sharp objects.

Vera is a domestic robot that is, in keeping with the comparisons to vehicles, armed with a weapon that spins as fast as a helicopter blade. The weapon? A 70-pound chunk of metal shamelessly stuck on the front of what appears to be half of Vera’s last opponent. The metaphors don’t end there, though. Grant goes on to describe Vera’s weapon as both “like getting hit by a car going 40MPH”, “like a blender on steroids”, and “like having your innards liquefied by a spider bite and sucked out of your ass”. I might have added in one of those comparisons.

It’s made quite obvious early on that Toro Maximus’ entire strategy is based on simply not giving a fuck about anything and the team drives their robot straight into the spinning bar of Vera like it’s not even there. A weapon belt flies off of Toro Maximus but the robot is completely unfazed because there are three other ones attached to the robot’s spinning drum. Why? Because the Brazilian team is insane. Apparently when they aren’t making fart fetish videos Brazil is hard at work confining excessive amounts of insanity into little metal boxes that end up getting described as the greatest race car you’ll never see. Vera’s drivers don’t even know what the hell is going on because by the time they realize they probably shouldn’t just sit in the middle of the arena doing nothing they’ve been hit another five times and are thrown completely over in the air while Team Riobots shouts incoherent Portuguese phrases at them. When Vera finally manages to land a solid hit on their opponent their weapon actually explodes into two pieces out of sheer awesomeness and pants-shitting terror. After emasculating its opponent Toro Maximus follows up its parade of Brazilian insanity by managing to wedge Vera behind the arena barrier while simultaneously blowing apart the rest of the ‘roid raging blender’s weapon.

robogames_killerrobots5

The arena walls prevent Toro Maximum from attacking the audience.

Grant doesn’t even know what the hell happens by the end of the fight but he most definitely has a roboner.

 

Avalanche vs. Great Pumpkin

Michael “Fuzzy” Mauldin has been involved with robot combat for over a decade. His television debut in the second season of BattleBots was with a four-wheeled bright orange snowplow. His returning appearance here at RoboGames is… with a four-wheeled bright orange snowplow. If there was ever an award for taking one idea and just running with it indefinitely Fuzzy would win it hands down. Technically I suppose Avalanche has eight wheels, but when each wheel is just two of them stuck together that’s kind of cheating. That’s like saying you only drank one beer if you dumped an entire six pack into one novelty-sized gas station soda cup.

As ridiculous and seemingly low-tech as Avalanche looks, though, its simplicity is trumped by Great Pumpkin, a robot who is perpetually ready for Halloween and who literally is nothing more than a fatty scooter with the seat removed. Grant creates an extended euphemism for the team’s lack of effort by playing up its “260 pounds of pushing power with two strong motors” but in reality it’s literally like the team stole a scooter from Wal-Mart and stuck a plastic pumpkin on it where the seat used to be. Also you kind of can’t play up the pushing power of a robot when the driver of its opponent just got done describing his creation as “no matter how you come at it there’s just tires”. Michael Mauldin fucking loves tires and Great Pumpkin seems to only be toting two of them. In Mauldin’s mind this means Avalanche is four times the robot Great Pumpkin is.

Apparently all of those extra fancy tires is just one way of begging for drivetrain issues because while Great Pumpkin does nothing but pop wheelies and skid around — two things a wedge robot probably should not be doing — Avalanche begins falling apart mechanically and starts doing donuts in the center of the arena. Either Fuzzy is confusing this event with a monster truck rally or he’s just screwing with his lackluster opponent, but despite Fuzzy’s intentions Great Pumpkin is kind enough to bring the ailing robot over for Grant to take a closer look at almost as if it’s asking Grant’s opinion on the situation since the people who stripped apart a Wal-Mart fatty scooter clearly aren’t the robot geniuses here. Also, this fight was chopped down from three minutes to about 45 seconds. Clearly we aren’t missing much of anything.

robogames_killerrobots1

“My brain cannot process this level of failure.”

Despite Grant’s attempts to say nice things about Great Pumpkin the recommissioned scooter lives on to see another day.

 

Mini Fridge vs. Last Rites

From the people who brought us the fabulous Great Pumpkin comes Last Rites, a robot that is apparently incredibly feared in the sport, even causing Jim “My Robot Nightmare Is Basically Synonymous With Awesome Knock Outs” Smentowski to squirt a little in his pants. For a robot feared by all, what could it possibly be? Well it’s kinda like Vera except instead of being red, Last Rites is blue. Either Team Moon (Vera) is ripping somebody off, or Team Hardcore (Last Rites) is the one acting like Carlos Mencia here. Last Rites seriously is a blue version of Vera, the weapon is even the same weight and we just got done seeing Vera get blown to pieces by a single robot driven by about a dozen crazy Brazilians. Mini Fridge is a robot driven by a handful of insane white guys, and if the past is any indication this “spinning helicopter bar” design is very weak against “batshit insanity”.

Mini Fridge is still a mini fridge. However to combat the thought that their robot is about to be turned into a Lego version of its former self Team Tiki has decided to raid a nearby industrial dumpster and has covered their precious sentient appliance with a truck tire and parts of a blown out air tank. The axe that we previously saw Mini Fridge’s driver wielding like a maniac has also replaced the Pulverizer lookalike we saw in its first fight. Whether or not covering your robot with trash will protect you from imminent robotic rape is questionable but since we’re talking about a team whose previous projects included a doghouse armed with a flamethrower I think it’s safe to assume that they’d have covered their robot with trash regardless of who they were fighting.

Right from the start Mini Fridge deploys its front door tactic by ripping its door off and throwing it at Last Rites (seriously, who gave these people another refrigerator). This proves fruitless as the door is promptly sent into another dimension by Last Rite’s who proceeds to attack the strangely indestructible front junk plow of Mini Fridge. That’s great and all, the only issue is that the rest of Mini Fridge’s faux-armor consists entirely of a truck tire which is probably less durable than a chunk of solid metal. This law of matter is proven true because Last Rites proceeds to thoroughly disassemble its opponent like the Nintendo 64 kid after snorting a line of coke. Strangely enough this fight also suffers from “this isn’t 3 minutes long syndrome” so who knows how much implied carnage we missed. It was probably too offensive to be shown on television. After our brief lapse of time we are greeted with what I think is about 45% of Mini Fridge still in one piece. The judges seem to agree that Last Rites probably won even though it broke about 13 protocols of the Geneva Convention in the process.

robogames_killerrobots6

Mini Fridge was hit so hard that pieces of it started traveling backwards through time.

 

The History of Robot Combat

For a motorsport as comprehensive as robot combat Grant Imahara manages to summarize it in about two minutes using footage of old Robot Wars competitions (before the event turned into the WWF of the sport). The reason why we have race cars armed with chainsaws today is because about 20 years ago an inventor named Mark Thorpe wanted to live the lazy American dream by inventing a remote controlled vacuum and said “you know what screw it I’ll just put a chainsaw on there”, and with that robot combat was born. If you’re like me you’re probably not paying attention and are instead nostalgia’ing hard over seeing archaic and simpler versions of old favorites such as Biohazard, but narrating the sideshow of wonders is Greg Munson and Mark Setrakian, two guys who are a little more than qualified to give commentary on the sport mostly because both of them are literally insane. Greg Munson co-constructed Ginsu with BattleBots founder Trey Roski. Ginsu is literally a box covered in saw blades. There were no wheels on Ginsu. Just saw blades. If you flipped the robot over it could still drive not because the robot was designed to drive upside down but because Munson designed it to have another completely independent set of freaking saw blades on its top.

robogames_ginsu

Subtlety was lost on these people.

Mark Setrakian took the concept of “fighting robot” and applied it in a literal sense. BattleBots was a sport filled with wedges and rammers and boxes until this guy showed up. Setrakian didn’t just think outside of the box, he stomped the box into the ground and drew his robot plans on it with his own blood. Setrakian’s most famous robot, Mechadon, was a giant six-legged spider. Yes, I said “six-legged” and I also said “spider”. “Blender” and “racecar” might be used to describe 99% of the robots that exist out there but the only term that comes close to describing Setrakian’s work is “nightmare fuel”. Mechadon is the creature you will see when it drags you down into Hell after murdering your family and dissecting your dog while it was still alive.

robogames_Mechadon

By the time you see this it’s already too late.

 

Sewer Snake vs. Live Free Or Die

Sewer Snake hasn’t changed much since the last time we saw it. Its drivers still use it to facilitate intercourse in their relationship, we get it. Also it still has a blue snake on it’s top that’s just begging me to draw Rule 34 of it. Live Free Or Die,on the other hand is a robot who is one word away from pissing off Bruce Willis. Live Free Or Die is equipped with a flipping arm which is nice and all but the placement of the robot’s tires shows that its builders don’t really know much about how leverage and weight distribution can affect driving and maneuverability. How it managed to win its last fight against Pump I have no idea but with a name like “Pump” I’m willing to bet it wasn’t televised because that robot’s weapon cost too much to censor.

I don’t understand how Sewer Snake keeps winning fights. I mean, I guess it’s because the driver is just good at pushing things around but the moment Live Free Or Die gets a good flip in with its pneumatic arm Sewer Snake just goes crazy and parts start moving and convulsing in places that I didn’t think were supposed to move like that on a robot. It’s like the driver just pressed every button on his remote at once because Sewer Snake breaks into an interpretive fire dance.

robogames_killerrobots7

Write your own caption for this.

Perhaps what’s even more distressing is the fact that this seizure causes Sewer Snake to win the fight. Somewhere in the midst of looking like a perpetual plane crash Sewer Snake manages to throw Live Free Or Die completely out of the arena. Don’t ask because I don’t even know what the hell either.

 

Great Pumpkin vs. Ragin’ Scotsman

Team Hardcore is back with their dollar store Halloween decoration robot Great Pumpkin after a boring victory over Avalanche. You know your opponent is a worthless piece of crap when the only repairs you have to do to your robot involves popping the front of your plastic pumpkin back out from being punched in by a monster truck tire. Ragin’ Scotsman is yet another robot described with the adjective “racecar” but rather than being equipped with a chainsaw for medieval drive-bys this robot totes a flamethrower. I guess when RoboGames relaxed the rule on flame-based weapons people just went hog wild over it. Seriously, when you’re dealing with robots that are completely encased in metal what’s the purpose of a flamethrower? To burn off all of their endorsement stickers or something? Did nobody get the memo that the flame pit from Robot Wars was just a gimmick? For a Scotland-themed robot Ragin’ Scotsman sure does have a distinct lack of Scot going on; the robot is solid purple. It’s not just the chassis either, the team painted the tires too; why they did this is a mystery to me, but at least they’re wearing dresses kilts. It’s also worth nothing that the drivers of Pumpkin Fucker 4000 are somehow taking this fight hilariously serious when they’re the ones who were uninspired enough to build a boring wedge and decorate it with discount party supplies.

robogames_killerrobots8

That spaced out look suits him well.

It takes about 20 seconds of solid roasting for the battle announcer to mention the inevitable roasted pumpkin joke. Had this been BattleBots Bil Dwyer would have said that within nanoseconds and then taken his shirt off and started screaming at his co-hosts. When it comes to fire Great Pumpkin just takes it like a bitch because when you’re built from a Hoverround and your opponent is an actual combat robot that’s just what happens, you get your shit ruined. Due to time constraints this fight was cut short but I can only imagine the 2:30 we missed out on involved the purple Ragin’ Scotsman fisting its Thanksgiving-themed opponent with its flamethrower. After the fight the Scotsman team matter-of-factly stated “we burned up all of our fuel in one big shot”. The manner in which they said “we just ignited a molotov cocktail inside the arena” is alarming to say the least, it’s like they did it and don’t exactly understand that they just lit up enough energy to start a universe and shoved it up the ass of a plastic pumpkin.

 

The Non-Violent Side of RoboGames

As a break from the carnage Grant shows up to speak a little about the other fun things people do with robots that doesn’t involve a mixture of demolition derby and murder. RoboGames is the home to tons of other demo events and contests among them including Mexican wrestling, robo-stilts, break dancing, Japanese sex robots, Japanese sex mecha robots, miniature Mechadons, and possessed monkeys. The segment had the potential to be both informative and entertaining, but for a show titled “KILLER ROBOTS” I guess showing a strip dancing anime girl just doesn’t fit with the theme but I’m sure Grant spent a full hour (and all of his singles) watching it act cute and giggle while flashing its panties.

robogames_killerrobots10

Grant built all of his ex-girlfriends. Just because.

 

Toro Maximus vs. Original Sin

Moments before their next fight we get to see a shot of Team Riobots huddled around their robot tweaking and fixing all sorts of things on it. The team captain speaks briefly saying that they’ve been working “since the 3 in the PM fight” rebuilding and repairing their creation. In case you forgot Toro Maximus showed up the Bizarro version of Last Rites (Vera) in a previous bout where their entire strategy revolved around using their face to stop a helicopter blade-speed weapon. Needless to say they have a lot of repairs to make because of it. Toro Maximus is wheeled into the arena completely repaired using a mixture of both actual tools and tamarind fruits. Original Sin is a giant wedge with a bulldozer-armored ramp on its front and that’s it. Apparently Original Sin has been around for a very long time, long enough to get destroyed by Toro Maximus and also to beat it as well. Normally I’d rap about this new robot for a while but seriously, it’s just a goddamn wedge. At least Great Pumpkin had some kind of decoration to make fun of.

Taking a page from the Toro Maximus style of fighting, Original Sin flies out of its square and immediately starts shoving its face into Toro’s spinning drum. At first the tactic seems stupid and Grant demonstrates this by sharing with us the fathomless wisdom of “if you touch that drum (loud crashing sound) you’ll be taking damage”. Thanks Grant, we totally missed Toro Maximus’ last fight. In the middle of sweeping the floor with its opponent Original Sin’s wedge starts to deform and shoot sparks everywhere Toro’s weapon touches it though it does somehow manage to throw the Brazilian box of insanity onto its backside. Original Sin shoves its opponent into the corner where the Pulverizers are and Toro performs a hand stand while being counted out.

Like I said, they’re insane.

 

Sewer Snake vs. Ragin’ Scotsman

We’re out of new robots to introduce so I guess I can spare you the trouble of describing new competitors and just remind you of the following: Sewer Snake, robot sex & Ragin’ Scotsman, kilts. Sewer Snake for the uninitiated is a wedge with a flamethrower. Ragin’ Scotsman is also a wedge with a flamethrower. Team Scotbots’ captain describes their weapon as a “whooosh” and their opponent’s as “a blowtorch”. I’m not sure if he knows what a noun is.

At the start of the battle both robots begin locking heads and shooting flames at each other completely unaware that grilling the side of your opponent that shoots fire is probably fireproof. In what amounts to essentially a battle of wedges (one of which is capable of contortions) somehow Ragin’ Scotsman loses a tire. Either they forgot to put the screws in or the wheel itself is fed up with Sewer Snake’s overrated bullshit and decides it wants to leave and check out the exotic anime robo-dancers. Either way Ragin’ Scotsman doesn’t seem to be affected by losing a wheel as it still continues to haul ass around the arena and perform sweet jumps off of the front of Sewer Snake. However, thanks to having lost a tire Ragin’ Scotsman loses the battle to Sewer Snake since in the sport of robot combat taking your opponent’s wheel off is basically a guaranteed victory unless you manage to really screw something up.

robogames_killerrobots11

Ragin’ Scotsman: “I wonder if I left the oven on…”

 

Last Rites vs. Original Sin

What we have here is a battle that amounts to two apparently tired designs going head to head. Out of 16 robots at RoboGames two of them (that we know of) were Last Rites and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a Mythbuster to figure out that wedge designs are pretty commonplace too. Last Rites comes to us from Team Hardcore, a bunch of tryhards whose other robot was literally a mobile Halloween decoration that they took as seriously as their “real” competitor Last Rites. Original Sin comes to us from a racing aficionado and features a design and mechanical structure based upon an overpowered go kart. For the sake of the fight it would be nice to see Original Sin win only because I’d like to see if Last Rites is capable of cleaning the crap out of the pants of its driver. Additionally Gary Gin, builder of Original Sin, is no stranger to taking out overrated opponents. In the fourth season of BattleBots, Team Late Night Racing showed up with a little known rookie wedge robot called The Big B. Big B proceeded to stomp out five BattleBots favorites (Fang, Gamma Raptor, Carnage Raptor, Slam Em Silly, Das Bot) before losing to Ziggo in the lightweight finals in what was almost a split decision.

If you believe in miracles then Original Sin is the robot for you.

Last Rites happens to be about as stable as me after a night of drinking over being laid off from work. It’s simple physics to know that a wedge plus a spinning weapon equals some kind of crazy aerial stunts, and thanks to the high power of Last Rites’ weapon it doesn’t take long before it looks like the robot is mid-transformation into becoming a full blown flying war machine. Instead it just Michael J. Fox’s all over the arena while its Jeffrey Tambor lookalike driver tries to regain control over their new flying contraption.

robogames_jeffrey-tambor

Seriously the resemblance is uncanny.

During their exploration of space Last Rites somehow manages to teleport its weapon directly behind Original Sin and wastes no time popping a wheel right off of the robot. This wheel is then followed by Original Sin’s wedge and three more tires. The damage is incredible but perhaps what’s more amazing is how maneuverable Original Sin was with only one wheel. For a robot that should only be capable of moving in a tight circle Original Sin was channeling the power of the dark lord to power slide all over the place but even pausing the battle to make a goat sacrifice can’t put a magical barrier around your last remaining wheel and that gets promptly torn off. Once Last Rites realizes there are literally no more parts to rip off of its opponent it then decides to play hockey with itself using Original Sin’s tires as makeshift pucks (and then decides to go check out the anime strippers).

robogames_killerrobots12

Maybe they can combine Original Sin and Mini Fridge and make “Original Fridge”.

 

Sewer Snake vs. Last Rites

Much like Michael Jackson after a heart attack, this is it. The finals. We’ve got Sewer Snake, a robot with freaking 12 wheels, and Last Rites, a robot who has a fetish for trying to wear as many wheels as it can on its massive tool. To get here Sewer Snake literally beat three teams from various schools around the country ruining the dreams of a bunch of kids and young adults in the process. Sewer Snake beat Gruff so hard that Gruff took up smoking, afterward Sewer Snake went on to dismantle the poorly thought-out design of Live Free Or Die (Hard) by throwing it out of the arena and followed that up by ripping the wheel off of Ragin’ Scotsman and sticking it up the backside of their kilts. Last Rites on the other hand disassembled a mini fridge, guarded our country’s international borders, and sucked the magic right out of one of the sport’s true underdogs. Seems like one of them accomplished more than the other, and Sewer Snake seems to be taunting Last Rites with the promise of delicious cherry-flavored wheels.

Sewer Snake enters this fight with a new weapon that its driver seems to be proud of calling “bulldozer blade” like he’s the only one who’s ever muttered that phrase before and as the red and blue reptile is brought into the arena Grant takes a look backstage at Last Rites and explains that the team seems to be burning through weapon motors like they’re going out of style. For those of you who aren’t savvy to the cost of building a robot, the price of something like the motor that drives Last Rites weapon can cost as much as $1,000.00. Pretty obvious to see who’s well off financially and it seems like you can understand why both drivers wear shit-eating grins, because unlike what the name I just called them implies they won’t be going home to lukewarm ramen noodles and stale bread like you and I are. I don’t like it when douchebags with entitlement complexes win events like this, so frankly I don’t care who wins. Ideally it would be cool to see Sewer Snake get raped while Last Rights creates an electrical storm that sends both robots back in time so everybody loses, but I digress.

My dreams are achieved (somewhat, and for a moment) however when it appears that the people behind Last Rites forgot to plug in their fucking weapon motor and the robot refuses to become anything other than a creatively shaped doorstop.

robogames_killerrobots13

Above: The best expression of shame ever captured on TV.

Meanwhile, Grant screams “SPIN UP” at Last Rites and almost like magic (actually not almost, it is magic because Grant is secretly also a robot) their weapon comes to life and manages to make a flurry of yellow foam explode forth from Sewer Snake’s wheels. Realizing that its opponent’s tires aren’t just cherry-flavored but also have cream filling Last Rites goes into an insane rhythmic convulsion and starts reeling around the arena while Sewer Snake starts hobbling around like it was just body slammed by a fat kid. Last Rites wastes no time coming back in for seconds and throws sparks and wheel fragments of the reigning champion all over the arena, but for a robot with as many moving (and flimsy-looking) parts as Sewer Snake the robot somehow manages to not fall apart. Just because it’s holding together, though, doesn’t mean that it’s winning any championships by being a punching bag. Sewer Snake is down to little options, so while it has Last Rites pinned against the wall it does the only thing its robot brain can perceive as “reasonable”.

It lights itself on fucking FIRE.

robogames_killerrobots15

YIPPEE KI-YAY MOTHERFUCKER

Sewer Snake goes completely insane and turns into a flaming hunk of metal and proceeds to burn both itself and its opponent in the corner of the arena. Last Rites simply cannot process the fact that its opponent has transcended both reality and the universe and to become a goddamn phoenix and promptly stops working. Sewer Snake blew its opponent’s mind.

As the knockout is made official Grant loses his crap over the victory (along with the crowd) and while Sewer Snake continues to smolder and burp out flames Grant talks to Team Plumb Crazy about their victory. The fact that the credits are rolling on top of their accomplishment kind of belittles it and makes it feel cramped and rushed but regardless Sewer Snake skates away with its fourth RoboGames victory after utilizing a battle tactic that I have never before seen in the 12 years of experience I have with the sport. Seriously I don’t even know how to end this article now that I’ve just witnessed the first meta-dimensional victory in the history of robot combat.

But regardless, it was a nice opportunity to revive BattleBots Update for a special “last hurrah” column. Killer Robots seems like it was a pilot of sorts and if Science Channel plans on beefing up RoboGames to put it on the same pedestal as BattleBots for future seasons then it looks like this column won’t be so dead after all.

– Dracophile