An interesting return to blogging I know. I am a huge fan of the TV-cult game show Robot Wars, which just got rebooted this year after a 13 year hiatus. The first episode of the revived series just aired last Sunday, actually. Looks completely new, with new presenters and a smattering of new and old faces. It was overall quite enjoyable, though no Craig Charles is very noticeable, and editing saw a few problems. Even so, I think they’ll get ironed out overall, and hope it gets set for more series afterwards. But that’s not what this article is about, oh no. This is about the original series.
What will I be doing during this journey?
This blog will take you in a journey across the original series, which started way back in 1998, ending in the rather disappointing 2003/4 season (More on that later). I have seen every episode, every special and every series multiple times, and managed to rank them pretty fairly from top to bottom, from best to worst. Of course, this is all subjective, but I think people will agree heavily on the worst series, for multiple reasons (While an incredible show, the original Robot Wars and Mentorn suffered from a multitude of problems plaguing it, culminating in it’s first 13 year demise back in 2004). Bear in mind I will only be covering the original championship series, not side events nor Extreme.
Number 1: The Fourth Wars
Welcome to the very best series of all. Starting off with a bang, this aired 2000-2001, and showed the full strength of the show from start to finish. The opening of the first round melees, the incredible fights (There were few poor heats, and the semi-final and Grand Final episodes were some of the very best ever). A large number of the best fights ever on Robot Wars took place in this series:
- The excellently driven Wild Thing, fighting so bravely against the dreaded No.2 Seed Hypnodisc, surviving huge hits without breaking down and holding them to a fairly close judges decision. Hypnodisc was possibly the most powerful machine of Series 4, and had it not lost an unlucky strike against Pussycat in the final, could well have won the whole series.
- Every single fight from the first Semi Final, possibly the most action-packed and drama-free episode of all time.
- Splinter getting absolutely destroyed by Hypnodisc!
- The Grand Final had three brilliant fights, with Series 3’s defending champion Chaos 2 holding off two dangerous opponents in Stinger and Pussycat to hold onto its crown, the only robot to do so.
- Some great sportsmanship (Raizer Blade in it’s Heat Final against Hypnodisc was virtually dead, but let it go into the Arena anyway to give the crowd a good show) amongst other things.
- Impressive side events.
- Phillipa may have gone, but Julia Reed was a brilliant pit reporter.
- Debut of two brilliant returning competitors; Tornado and Dominator 2!
Of course, Series 4 through my rose-tinted glasses wasn’t perfect. There were too many seeds for my liking, many of which were weak, and the wars were not free of controversy (Stinger fought two highly controversial matches against Panic Attack and Chaos 2; were probably lucky to defeat Panic, and unlucky to lose to Chaos). The Firestorm vs Morgue and Wheely Big Cheese vs Suicidal Tendencies matches were also very controversial. Many pro-Phillipa fans also hated on Julia, something I found a bit uncalled for. But in terms of overall quality, it was an excellent series, and showed a giant leap in power machines, possibly the largest jump then any other.
Number 2: The Third Wars
In all honesty, this was virtually a draw, between Series 3 and Series 5. The main reason I give the Third Wars the nod is the fact it started the massive change from an obstacle course necessity (From wars 1-2) to all out destruction and battle. While I loved the Trial stages as it got roboteers to build their machines to keep them in mind, robot combat is all about well…combat. Series 3 began that, and did a very good job. Even better, it was huge, with 16 heats, 128 robots in total. The leap in strength from Season 2-3 was exceptional, with robots which could seriously do damage, while at the same time, a reasonably strong box with decent armour could still do well in this series.
- Powerful machines really took off here, with the unbeatable Chaos 2 emerging; not a single one of its opponents had much chance, with only the Big Cheese (probably the third best robot in Series 3, only behind Chaos 2 and Razer) putting up a serious challenge.
- Some excellent fights, Big Cheese vs Chaos 2, Steg-O-Saw-Us vs Hypnodisc and X-Terminator vs Panic Attack being extremely notable. Not quite as many as Series 4, but for the quality at the time, was still fairly good overall, and made for a good contest.
- Defending champion Panic Attack making a great run.
- The debut and awesome power of Hypnodisc. While it admittedly didn’t dish out as much damage as its evolutions, it was still by far the most destructive robot in the series.
- The side events which were allowed went well, the only International Championship and World along with Pinball, walker battles and Soccer.
- The Grand Final showed the true power of robots, with all four finalists a deadly machine.
- Series 3 began the run of most of the top Robot Wars teams. Wild Thing, Spawn Again, Hypnodisc, Bigger Brother and Firestorm in particular. Every team made the Semi-Finals this war, and continued to dominate for a long time afterwards. Notable mention to Big Cheese and X-Terminator too.
- The first Out of the Arena!
Now, while the Third Wars had some incredible good points, it had some bad ones too:
- No seeding due to the change in structure led to some very….lopsided heats, and a lot of amazing machines had to go against each other, while weak machines excelled in lesser heats.
- That arena fucking spike….
- Lapse of judgement and safety led to many planned side events get cancelled, like the Super-heavyweight, Tag Team Terror (!) and Middleweight Championships. It was a huge shame, and led to the beloved Rex Garrod of Cassius to permanently leave Robot Wars.
- A lot of series 2’s big hitters did extremely poorly in this event.
- Some bullshit controversy and judges decisions. . .T2 vs Darke Destroyer especially, but Henry (an awful machine) going through when Haardvark broke down 9 seconds before the end of the fight. WTF were they smoking? Not too much, but enough to be highly irritating. The Pussycat disqualification hurt too, especially as Scutter’s Revenge broke down in the battle.
Despite it’s faults, I still give Series 3 the deserved No.2 spot, mainly for the impact it had on the show. It was a massive evolution, and did the job fairly well.
Number 3: The Fifth Wars
No surprise the top three series were back to back with each other were they? I rate this virtually equal with Series 3. It had some great moments, and carried one of the largest changes with the weight limit going up from 80ish-100kg, putting it with the rest of the world. Many machines saw their great leap in power through this, most notable Razer and Tornado. Furthermore, there were just 12 heats this time. First-time Semi-final losers went into a Loser’s Melee, where the winner could have a chance to fight on. Here are some main highlights of Series 5:
- Razer finally fixed most of its unreliability problems, turning it into the monster it was from 5-7. The new killer wedge with the claw made it an almost unbeatable machine, it’s only losses coming at the hands of Pussycat in an Extreme battle and Tornado during some…modifications, and a lot of fanboys crying to this day. (More on this later!) Razer was statistically the best robot in the original run, and it’s true stardom began here, winning Series 5.
- Some brilliant fights! Hypnodisc vs Bigger Brother, Razer vs Firestorm, Wild Thing vs Chaos 2 were just a few. Firestorm had an amazing run, coming back from the Loser’s Melee to reach the Grand Final, pushing Razer to its absolute limit and probably losing only on one point, during damage.
- Diotoir pulling off the upset, dumping hot favourites Tornado in the pit.
- This flip:
Wheely Big Cheese performed the biggest flip in all seven series, hurling Axe-Awe halfway across the arena and out. Incredible moment.
- Bigger Brother’s giant leap in power showed, powering through the opposition to the final 2.
- S3 made it’s mark, it’s formidable spinner carrying it to last eight in Series 5 and 6.
- Relative lack of controversy.
It had a couple of issues. It seemed a bit less…active then previous wars, the atmosphere just seemed a little flat. Phillipa also seemed a bit disinterested in this war, though as she came back from having a child, that was to be expected. While it overall lacked controversy, it had a couple of moments, mainly with Wild Thing’s heat final vs Prizephita. Very good series overall though, few complaints.
That’s all we have on part one. Check it out very soon, for the final four. Still some decent wars to come, but two series in particular begin to seriously show cracks in the original.