Sunday, 21 August 2016

Robot Wars 2016 Review, Episode 4

So time for a very belated review of the latest episode of robot wars!

Good to remember TR2's increbile driving getting them through the 3rd episode.

Group battle 1: Apollo looking very much like a shuttle. Unofficially a "launcher", not a flipper! Sweeney Todd have some unique wheels, those should be interesting to see in the arena! Kan-Opener are a returning robot, who have an incredible crushing ability. PP3D have an odd design, I don't think it will do too much damage despite it's position on the robot primed for hitting wheels. It also has the biggest spinning wheel, AND 3-D parts! 12 tonnes of crushing power for Kan-Opener, surely Kan-Krusher would make more sense? How will the CO2 supply fare for Apollo? So off we go with Sir Killalot in tow. Kan-Opener opens the pit immediately! Apollo has trouble with the floor flipper but quickly get back and assault Kan Opener. PP3D are being slowly crushed by Kan Opener, eventually released after a trip to the floor flipper and Apollo's flipper! PP3D are flying all over the place, their spinner is actually generating uplift if it is sent upwards by a flipper! Kan-Opener are gone in the meantime. Sweenet Todd are now just taking a battering from PP3D and Apollo. How wrong I was about PP3D! It's more of a helicopter than a grasscutter, but what a likeable robot! It moves around so much when the spinner is on the top, not the bottom! So Apollo and PP3D are through. Thoroughly enjoyable. I was smiling when PP3D went spinning around. Kan-Opener taking damage from Apollo, and Apollo losing a wheel from PP3D. Trying to repair that is causing problems for Apollo although that said they could still move quite well after the wheel was ripped off.

Group battle 2: Terror Turtle don't look too competitive with the fibreglass, although a clusterbot might help out here. Storm 2 cost how much? £20,000!! They surely didn't cost that much when they were fighting in the grand final of the 7th series! Sabretooth has some teething problems they can't fix before getting into the .arena. I like the look of team Eruption, even though it is another flipper and I don't like flippers as a rule. Well the fact that the captain was head of Greenpeace for 6 years explains his haircut (and the robot design)! Matilda is looking lovely as ever... and away we go! Terror Turtle sends in its mini cluster bot into the carnage. Eruption is on Sabretooth and Storm 2 is pushing Terror Turtle. And now Sabretooth is flipped over by Eruption! They're not going anywhere without a schrimech. Terror Turtle now being double teamed! But the fight finishes with a bang as Terror turtle is flipped out of the arena by Eruption with an amazing flip! Does that come under animal cruelty? Someone call RSPCA! Dara was a little unfair on Storm 2 there. Sabretooth did try to get some damage to Eruption but it was too little too late.

There is a LOT of tech on Storm 2! That gets the nod of approval from Sethu the judge.

Head to head 1: Apollo v PP3D. These two did a lot to each other, relatively speaking. This could be fight of the series! And Apollo sned PP3D flying without even using the flipper! Good tactics from Apollo, stopping PP3D from getting the spinner from moving at full speed. Apollo managed to flip the wheel off PP3D and now both of the robots have trouble moving! Some retribution... finally Apollo get to flip PP3D and immobilise them completely! Poor PP3D but another great performance from them, some real damage taken. This time Apollo comes off lightly.

Head to head 2: Eruption v Storm 2. Flipper v Ram bot. Previous history shows that the Ram bots are better in this case (think Chaos 2 v Tornado). And the battle start with a lot of pushing, but actually Storm 2 doesn't have that much pushing power! Eruption is putting up a good fight but they've gone onto the floor flipper! By self righting, they've hit the pit release. Sit Killalot nearly get hold of Eruption. Storm 2 have learned how to get underneath Eruption and are now more confidently pushing Eruption, but Storm are still getting flipped by Eruption. Oh my, that's a close one! Were Storm 2 immobilised for long enough? Its definitely going to the judges. Storm 2 surprisingly happy with their performance. Good assessment by the Eruption team of the battle. Storm 2 I think got lucky there. A split decision!! That's a first. Just too little too late for Eruption, a shame really but since I'm not a big fan of flippers, I guess I have to eat my words if I say Eruption deserved it.

Head to head 3: Apollo v Storm 2. Apollo now running on full power! I think Storm should've gone for the spinning disc really. Storm 2 is finding it easy to get underneath Apollo but WOW that floor flipper is really powerful! Now we can see Storm 2's schrimech in action. Apollo seem to be without some drive but WHO CARES THEY'VE JUST FLIPPED DEAD METAL!! The hairs are standing on their ends on my back and arms (and pretty much everywhere)! Apollo clearly still working well, they've flipped Storm 2. AND NOW APOLLO HAVE RIPPED THE ARMOUR OFF MATLIDA WHILE SHE'S TRYING TO SELF RIGHT DEAD METAL AND FLIPPED HER OVER!! This is the battle of the series, even without considering that Storm almost had Apollo in the pit at the end but were just about ok! It goes the judges, while the technical team inspect Matilda. Will she fight again?? The winner is Apollo!! Well deserved. Even the judges approve of flipping the house robots!!

Head to head 4: Eruption v PP3D. A hard act to follow then. Both teams know this. Eruption trying to go in hard. JP making a subtle pun about tyres there. Huge hits from PP3D! Bits flying off everywhere! The side plates are shattered on Eruption!! And a wheel is broken inside Eruption. But so it one wheel on PP3D! Now they're both circling around themselves like broken hooverbots. A shame really but that fight demonstrates how powerful these robots can be. JP got a bit bored at the end. Definitely one for the judges. Control to Eruption, damage to PP3D, aggression...??? The winner is PP3D! Sounds like a lot of work for Eruption. Meanwhile less work and more a need for a need for a new motor!! Nice to see the roboteers sharing parts on the sly...

Dr Lucy Rogers almost interrupted by the sounds of hammers on metal!!! She discusses about the usefulness of internet interactions to crowdsharing, including the use of Raspberry Pi and sensors.

Head to head 5: Apollo v Eruption. The 2 flippers here and Eruption need the points. Eruption is struggling to get underneath until Apollo hit the floor flipper and Eruption hits them hard with several hits! And they've been immobilised here by Eruption. Surely they've got all 3 points. A lot of dancing from Eruption, shame they can't qualify, Angela leading the tributes after that lovely pirouette. Apollo now need some repairs.

Head to head 6: Storm 2 v PP3D. Can PP3D overcome the technical prowess and ramming speed of Storm 2?  Who dares wins... Good plan by Storm but every hit from Storm 2 is sending PP3D into the and allowing them to power up! Even Shunt's scoop is damaged! from the hit! I think PP3D are unable to move off the pit and Storm 2 hit the pit release, good tactics there. They nearly flew out of the pit! Storm 2 not being too nice to the opposition there, I'm not liking that.

Heat final: Apollo v Storm 2. Can Apollo follow up from their incredible run against the house robots? Storm 2 using their front to stop Apollo from flipping the and now shunt has Apollo.... BUT OH WAIT, THERE GOES SHUNT!!! Storm 2 has the pit released and are getting underneath Storm 2 but WHAT a flip! Storm 2 are unable to self right but can keep going. Apollo flip them over while Matilda selfs right Shunt. Oh my goodness, Storm 2 are flipped OUT of the arena! Poor positioning from Storm 2, they can only blame themselve there. A few more inches backwards and they could hav hit the side wall, not the thin air they went through. These guys, the "boy band" of the pits, have a real chance of winning the final with flipping power like that... Dara is taking apart Storm 2 here (verbally), maybe going a bit too aggressive on the captain but possibly deserved?

Easily the best fight of the series goes to Apollo and Storm 2's first fight, with both Dead Metal and Matilda being flipped over! Very enjoyable episode, although PP3D will never be forgotten. Maybe next series for them? That is one heck of a spinning disc!!

Robot Wars 2016 Review, Episode 5

Time for the penultimate show! How time flies...

So we start off with a quick statement about how varied the robots are. Fair enough... I thought I wouldn't like the variety of the intros but it is actually getting me hyped for the next episode!! Especially after the last episode (the best so far). I wonder if Dara did that "This is Robot Wars" intro every time, or did they just use one good take? Angela doing the NOT Phillipa Forrester routine with the brevity that gets us to the fighting quicker. Lovely!

Team Pulsar look like they are in pieces in the pits but sounds like it will make some serious noise! Chompalot looks nice but how much power is in that crusher? Oh, *only* a ton. Team Ironside is going for the massive arm, but no testing? Sounds like the sort of amateur team we need more of! Finally, Team Thermidor, the only golden oldie in the first heat. The team captain has an incredible set of teeth! 

Group battle 1: Turns out Ironside 3 (Nottingham) and Chompalot (Derby) are recreating the Clough derby! Shunt is in the arena... and we are off! Chompalot goes after Ironside but Thermidor and Shunt double team Chompalot! You can hear Pulsar, but not doing too much here... they hit Ironside but now they're spinning on one wheel! Thermidor is OUT in the melee! Massive hit from Ironside meanwhile, on Chompalot, rips the side panel off!!! Incredible robot. Chompalot is all over the place here, almost in the pit but mostly on the front of the immobile goes to the judges while Chompalot tries to push Pulsar into the pit. And those through are Ironside and Chompalot (the most deserving fighters)! The Clough derby continues, but for how long? Bits are falling off left right and centre, will they be able to fix it in time (2 hours is surely too long)?

Group battle 2: So now we have Crazy Coupe 88, a fairly chrome-y looking fellow, but not looking too dangerous. Proper old-school, even getting the fiancee involved! good old Dara. Gabriel looks like a giant cousin to the old Stinger, very tall. I forget what the height restrictions is. Not easy to explain how Gabriel works. Beast is your conventional flipper bot but with a roll-cage on top. All the weight is in the flipper? Interesting... Infernal Contraption another returnee from the old series (I think, it looks very similar to the old Infernal Contraption). There are quite a few teams from Norwich. Oh dear, JP can't pronounce coupe... And away we go! A lot of hits, it turns into a complete melee! Beast flips Crazy Coupe, but its invertible! Dead Metal gets Crazy Coupe and they aren't moving! Gabriel just spinning around. Infernal Contraption and Beast dance around each other but Infernal Contraption pirouette their way into the pit! Gabriel and Beast are through. Meanwhile Dead Metal leaves Crazy Coupe on the flame pit.

Head to Head 1: Gabriel v Chompalot. Gabriel's huge blade has flipped Chompalot but eventually Chompalot have their crusher on Gabriel. The flipper gets Chompalot and launches them on their side and across the arena! They can't self-right! And now while Angela is talking to the team it has caught on fire... Poor Chompalot. They stood up so well in the group battle too. That is a lot of smoke, they've even had to take it outside. I think Pulsar will get in over Thermidor, and the judges select Pulsar! 

Head to Head 2: Ironside 3 v Beast. Beast and Ironside are dancing around each other and the first hits are ripping chunks out of Beast! Very manoeuvrable and after a slight malfunction they hit the exposed tyres on Beast and almost completely immobilise Beast! Eventually it is unable to move completely. Will it go to the judges? No! It's been given as a straight victory.

A quick break to talk to Dr. Sethu Vijayakuma  about prosthetic arms, which is actually quite cool! T-1000 style hand holding the flask. A cheeky reference to the old techno games?

Head to Head 3: Gabriel v Ironside 3. A change of weaponry for Gabriel but how much damage can it do with that axe? Too late, Ironside is way too quick and is hitting Gabriel's wheels and Sir Killalot gets a hold.But it's still going... the wheels are doing very well considering how many hits are going in from Ironside and Killalot! The flamepit is getting a lot of use today and Gabriel is in trouble here. They eventually escape and it goes to the judges. That might be closer than we think.... but the decision goes Ironside's way.

Head to Head 4: Beast v Pulsar. A bit unfair on Pulsar to only have 2 fights but such is the way of Robot Wars! That said both robots need the win.. Pulsar seem to be in trouble with their drive. Both of them are in trouble... but what a hit on Beast!! And that seems to have immobilised them! Well done Pulsar, although the cameras seem to have missed out most of the rest of the battle, which might have been really good, but I suspect it was a bore-fest.

Head to Head 5: Beast v Gabriel. Would Beast have had time to see Gabriel's problems on the flame pit? Back to the arm for Gabriel. Beast having some technical problems. On that same wheel that was ripped apart before... Gabriel's arm sounds good on hitting the floor. A strange ending there with Gabriel not wanting to do any more damage after immobilising Beast. A mercy killing? If you're not going to, Dead Metal will... the judges still have to decide, that is one less point if they do decide and that would be crucial. But they've been given the full points as Beast was immobilised for longer than 10 seconds.

Head to Head 6: Ironside v Pulsar. Spinners fight each other, they didn't do much against each other in the group stage except for the one hit that has given Pulsar so many drive problems. Now we will see their true powers... OH MY WORD THAT WAS INCREDIBLE!! Ironside flipped by the sheer power of Pulsar's vertical spinner when the horizontal spinner collided on it!!  Sir Killalot controversially self righting Ironside after a very long time!!  Ironside have suffered heavily here, only chance is to pit them. But wait, Pulsar aren't moving!! They've both gone into the pit... judges are looking for more than control, damage and aggression! They've gone for Pulsar!! Fantastic! Ironside were immobilised for more than 10 seconds. In just 2 fights they've gone through to the final against Gabriel! Of course that is a controversial decision, perhaps cease should have been called after the 10 seconds?

Heat final: Gabriel v Pulsar. Wow, I thought Ironside would walk through this heat, but here we are. Gabriel are so big that Pulsar are going straight under them! Pulsar are hitting the wheels, but Gabriel is still moving around, those wheels are almost indestructible. Pulsar are more manoeuvrable, Pulsar are having issues and almost stop in front of Killalot! Pulsar continue to hit the wheels of Gabriel, causing it to flip around. Again Pulsar are in trouble, right next to Killalot!! And again Pulsar is  immobile! And again they start again!! They seem to be starting again within ten seconds so it will go to the judges... even the flipper can't get a hold of Gabriel!! Who would want to be a judge! Very enjoyable final, Pulsar did more damage but that drive will count against Pulsar. Aggression to decide? Gabriel are surprisingly robust, I will agree with the team on that one. Pulsar get the win!!! I think Gabriel ran them very close, although on criteria alone, Pulsar had 2 categories going for them.

Overall, an episode that will go down as controversial for Pulsar's inclusion (maybe it should have been left blank?) and for Pulsar getting a win over Ironside when they maybe should have lost. Yes it has happened in the old series but something just doesn't seem right about it. At least this time there are no bad losers! Plus we've had our first robot so completely destroyed they've had to retire! No Matilda I see in hindsight...too much damage maybe from the 3rd episode??

The grand final is next week, let's see how it goes down...

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Robot Wars 2016 Review, Episode 3

So far, we've had action. We've had shocks. We've had controversy (Foxic, you will not be forgotten)! But more importantly, we've had a new Robot Wars which is fresh and exciting without relying too much on the nostalgia of the old show. So will this episode live up to the standards set by the previous episodes???

The show begins with the usual montage, with a slight change to the video preview to show the last episodes highlights. A quick montage to Sir Killalot there... this week's combatants are a real throwback- DanTom(ni)Kia (DTK) and King B Remix (old King B Powerworks in the same heat! For that DTK reference, see series 6 of the old Robot Wars, the announcer struggled to pronounce it... Glitter bomb going for the WOW factor of all pink coat (similar to Thor, maybe a sisterbot?)! Overdozer's got a couple of holes in it, is that a petrol engine and it's made of wood?? More dangerous to use in the arena but potentially more reliable over a longer fight... King B's had a paint job too. This seems to be a recurring theme! Dantomkia is not the same team as the old series, it was sold to the new team last year and has been modified with more power.

Heat 1: JP making some interesting comments about the teams before the bout. Turns into 2 1v1's with Glitterbomb and DTK going into each other, and Overdozer out in 30 seconds! And soon Glitterbomb's in trouble now! Flipped by DTK!! Overdozer is in serious trouble here, with DTK taking control now. So much damage on Overdozer by DTK, taking on all the robots here!! Worthy winners there, but King B did very little really other than leave Overdozer on its side. Nice reference to the 3 little pigs by Dara. Angela trying to entice the little girl to betray her dad!! That's something that Craig Charles might do. Overall a good analysis of the fight by the judge, showing just why you don't build a tank out of wood!

Heat 2: Supernova!!!!!!! One of my favourite older competitor and one of the underdogs of the old series!! Should have done so much better but reliability was always their achilles heel. Other teams (team TR2) include members related to George Stephenson, I am so behind them (even if the youngest member gets to drive)!!! Team Orte might not even be in the arena with mechanical problems... Finally Big Nipper given the usual pre-match treatment. Now to the battle itself. Orte looks like Bigger Brother. Sir Killalot patrolling this one. And a three way hit has sparks flying! Orte loses bits to Supernova straight away! TR2 pushes supernova around. And now Big Nipper and Supernova clash weapons!!! Big Nipper almost skids into the pit soon afterwards. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Supernova are gone into the pit with their big spinner creating too much momentum to turn.  Best heat battle so far, mostly because of Supernova being involved in everything! TR2 showed some potential with pushing power. Orte lost all power after one hit from Supernova. Big Nipper through with TR2. But at what cost??? Big Nipper's spinner is damaged from the hits with Supernova. 

Head to Head 1: DTK v King B Remix. The first old school fight between 2 old series robots in the head to heads. Why is DTK smoking with the interview with Dara??? The team leader sounds utterly evil, but not Foxic evil. King B has some interesting features shown in the preview video that haven't been tested yet, like those rotating spikes! The battle itself: A tactical affair, King B hitting hard to avoid getting flipped, and even DTK gets trapped briefly on the floor spikes! But it is only a matter of time before DTK flips its opponent, and WHAT a flip, Trapping King B in that weird side wall, Matilda doing the rest and flipping the first robot out of the arena!! That was surprisingly enjoyable for the tactical battle early on, full of speed and aggression. However, you could argue that the side of the arena is unfairly designed to trap robots like that, maybe a reason for having Refbot to get a robot out of those situations? That said, that is one of the few times Matilda's tusks have done anything so maybe that is why the arena is designed as it is. 

Head to Head 2: TR2 v Big Nipper. A change here, Big Nipper living up to its name and going for its crusher instead. Big Nipper's predecessor looks like it was in the old wars too, but unconfirmed. TR2 is focused heavily on the teenage driver, and he has a good knack for interviews. He'll go far regardless... TR2 and Big Nipper try to hit each other on the side, but TR2 get a flip in! Big Nipper get away but TR2 flip them in the CPZ with Dead Metal! Lots of sparks. Round 1 to TR2. But a slight hit on TR2 by Dead Metal. The pit is down! What a mistake, almost immediately after activating the pit release, they get stuck on the edge of the pit and TR2 push them in, picking up all 3 points. Possibly not operating fully for Big Nipper. TR2 was very much on top there.  

Dr Lucy Rogers gives a nice presentation on animatronic robots in the interlude, looks like the sort of things you see at Wookey Hole. "She" looks quite cute if it wasn't so life-like (the robot, not Dr Lucy Rogers)!

Head to Head 3: Dantomkia v TR2. A bit of a surprise top-of-the-table clash, TR2 look solid but not that powerful. 2 flippers against each other, could be a flipper frenzy!
TR2 start the better and push DTK around the arena. Maybe I was wrong about TR2, that flipper is causing DTK all sorts of problems! Mind you there was a flip on TR2 by DTK. JP wrong to say DTK was one of the first schrimechs in robot wars! TR2 have dominated and may have knocked the electronics in DTK! TR2 the surprise winners! That flipper might have been deliberately underpowered for the previous heats. TR2 are all but through now. The "bum" axe apparently being used there (I didn't see it being used!) and DTK's evil leader living up to his expectations by hitting DTK when it isn't working! Now that moment I did smile at.

Head to Head 4: King B Remix v Big Nipper. Big Nipper is giving us fighting talk by changing their weapon back to the spinning disc. King B immediately opens the pit and pushing Big Nipper around! But soon Big Nippers spinner is ripping bits out of King B! In the CPZ so this is not safe for King B, are they in even more trouble? They're not moving and cease is called! Big Nipper wins with that excellent spinning disc! Again I think more damage to electronics than the armour but the floor does indeed look a bit like dandruff from the remains of the rear plate of King B.

Head to Head 5: TR2 v King B Remix. A dud match? If TR2 win then they may get a wildcard spot regardless. Some good advice from dad to try and counter King B. King B are out but could get some pride out of this match. King B go for the charge and not the pit release and that may be a mistake! TR2 are on top here, pushing and flipping King B, are they still moving? Yes, only just! Almost out of the arena! But now the pit is open! Sir Killalot puts King B on the flame, how much damage did King B take there? They've lost power here and TR2 have another simple push into the pit. TR2 is so well designed, they deserve to go through, the first robot to win 4 battles in a row! Can they make it 5 in the heat final? No more King B Powerworks *cough* *cough* *cough* ... sorry, King B Remix. Nil point.

Head to Head 6: DTK v Big Nipper. Risks being taken from both sides, upping the power to the max. They have no choice really. Spinner v flipper. Dead Metal and Sir Killalot. DTK start the better with the flipper and Sir killalot has a play! Big Nipper is invertible, but that is only so helpful when you are hovering in the air in the clutches of Sir Killalot! NOw then, DTK seems to have more pushing power, a surprise as it only has 2 wheel drive! Nice combo of push and flip from DTK . Big Nipper is just being thrown around the arena here. But Big Nipper is still in it with a few seconds to go and the judges will decide the victor. Big Nipper did more damage but DTK had more aggression, who had the control? Or was there more damage than I thought? Mind you, being driven by Sir Killalot doesn't count and that has counted against Big Nipper! Dantomkia are through to the heat final. Those upgrades on Dantomkia showing how it has improved considerably in 10 years.

Final: Dantomkia v TR2. Here we go! A bit slower from the competitors here, but TR2 are pushing DTK but the floor flipper gets involved and TR2 is flipped! But now DTK are hit by Matilda's flywheel! DTK in trouble on the side, I think DTK are running out of steam here, they are back up but Matilda are doing well to not be hit too much by Matilda. TR2 pushes DTK onto the flipper and DTk is flipped over! they don't seem to want to flip up! TR2 have won! DTK blame Matilda and not the floor flipper for their knockout blow! Dara controlling the frustrations of the DTK team there.

Overall, not as controversial as last week, all the battles had something to them to like and another new robot goes to the final. Thor still in with a chance of wildcarding. TR2 will find it harder in the final but probably worthy winners. Would've like Big Nipper but that engineering heritage seems to be paying off! Quite a few golden oldies but only one of them lived up to their potential, showing how far these newer robots have come in just a few years (except for Overdozer).

NB it turns out that the former Bigger Brother chief engineer Ian Watts was in the Orte robot's team, so no wonder it looked so similar!