In Brief

Robot Wars 2017: Is new series winning over critics?

Little change to the 'winningly whacky format' should please fans as the battles recommence

Robot Wars 2016: Twitter battle begins after Bristol's Foxic crashes out

1 August

All is fair in love and war, they say, and if the aim of the team behind this "heavyweight" robot was to put Bristol on the map it certainly worked ‒ but for the wrong reasons.

Foxic, a robotic fox on wheels with a high-powered flipper and a neck that doubles as a guillotine, was said by its creators Craig and Chris Danby to have no weaknesses and thus be able to "deal with anything".

This claim was put to the test yesterday in the second episode of the BBC television series Robot Wars ‒ and the fox failed fantastically.

Despite a promising first round, the team from Bedminster were forced to watch in horror as their orange warrior got pummelled by three-armed robots in what is described by local newspaper the Bristol Post as a series of unforgiving head-to-head heats.

After they crashed out of the competition, it was team Foxic's turn to receive blows as viewers took to Twitter to give vent to their feelings.

Holly Wiliams wrote: "#Foxic nailing it. Driving backwards into a wall for 3 minutes clearly a winning strategy #RobotWars"

This so-called strategy was helpfully visualised in another tweet from user Ashley Willmott:

The machine's design was also called into question:

The judges were equally brutal, with one calling the performance the "worst battle ever seen in the show's history".

However, a number of viewers defended the team, noting that although the robot may not have performed to its hype, it was still a great achievement.

There was also appreciation for Foxic's surprising show of strength:

The episode is available to watch on the BBC's iPlayer service until the end of August.

Robot Wars 2016: The machines battling it out in episode two

27 July

Metal-crunching hit show Robot Wars returned to television screens last Sunday to the joy of fans across the country.

It was Team Carbide who won the first of the qualifying stages, with an unbeatable machine boasting a fearsome rotating blade.

The next finalist will be chosen this Sunday, when eight more robots go into battle.

Each episode has three stages, starting with two group battles lasting up to three minutes each. Four robots then go through to the head-to-head round and the final two fight to secure their place in the Grand Final.

Robots attack their rivals in a bid to push them into the "Trench" surrounding the arena or a "Pit of Oblivion" inside the arena, or to immobilise them for at least ten seconds through extensive damage.

If the time runs out with no clear winner, the panel of three expert judges will decide the champion, based on damage to opponents, aggression and control.

Here are the robots competing this week:

Chimera

A full-body axe robot, Chimera has tyres from a Ford Fiesta and two wheelchair motors to power it. Its armour is made from an "old gas canister", and with a budget of £1,500 it is one of the cheapest robots in the competition. Team Captain Jordan Mann, an electrical engineering student, is obsessed with Robot Wars and can name every machine that has ever competed. He even keeps a picture of House Robot Matilda on his wall.

Draven

This robot's jaw acts as a crusher and can grip with a force equivalent to the weight of an adult elephant. It is made from aerospace grade titanium and a carbon-kevlar composite, materials used in Formula 1 cars and bullet proof vests. The four-man team named it after Eric Draven from the 1994 film The Crow because of its bird-like looks.

Disconstructor

This 103kg machine has a powerful spinning disc made from stainless steel and titanium. Built by Mike Phillipson and his three children, Disconstructor runs at 2500rpm, making it one of the most powerful spinners in the competition. However, its body sits about 10cm above the ground, making it vulnerable to flippers.

Foxic

Disconstructor beware – Foxic is a highly-powered flipper with a neck that can act as a guillotine. Craig and Chris Danby, the brothers behind Foxic, took part in Robot Wars when they were 12 and 14, and have made 132 robots over the last 19 years. They are confident that their newest creation can "deal with anything" and has no real weaknesses.

M.R. Speed Squared

This robot is essentially an enormous kinetic energy disc with interchangeable weapons, including heavy weights and spikes. It is the only robot in the competition with a 360-degree full-body spinner and the three-man team claim it has enough power to slice through a car. However, they are concerned that the disk could end up destroying itself if it makes the wrong type of contact with a rival.

Shockwave

This lifter bot also has fully interchangeable weapons depending on who it will face in the arena. It can flip itself out of danger or land onto opponents, and is strong enough to pull a car with both team members sitting in it. Team captain Will Thomas is studying for a PhD in Cybernetics.

Thor

As its name suggests, Thor's weapon is a hammer-axe, which is apparently capable of causing "fatal damage to an opponent's robot with one blow". It is so powerful that it has smashed up a caravan, as well as washing machines, microwaves and other household appliances. Jason Marston, who created Thor, says it has the capacity and width to push two robots around at once.

Tough as Nails

This crusher has 1.2 tonnes of force between its pincers, can function either way up and is one of the widest robots in the competition, but the team says its biggest worry is being able to keep opponents in one place in order to crush them. Tough as Nails is the only foreign team in the competition and normally competes in amateur contests around Europe. The team's safety assistant, Maria Gliniak, is one of the few female competitors on the show.

Robot Wars 2016: Did first episode of new series live up to the past?

25 July

After a 12-year hiatus, Robot Wars reappeared on our television screens last night, leaving fans feeling like it had never gone away.

More than two million people tuned in to watch "geeks wage vicarious violence on each other via ferociously tooled-up machines", says the Daily Telegraph.

While the robots are "much more sophisticated than the armour-plated dustbins of yore", says the newspaper, the format of the show has essentially stayed the same.

Eight teams take part in two group battles, before head-to-head combat and a heat final – with upgraded house robots Dead Metal, Matilda, Shunt and Sir Killalot posing obstacles throughout.

Last night's heat winner was Carbide, designed by engineers from Cadbury's and Rolls Royce and boasting a blade with 60 times more energy than a sniper bullet.

However, it was the "muppet-fur waistcoat-wearing quartet Team Nuts" who were dubbed the "stars of episode one" by Den of Geek. "Underdogs like them are the stuff of Robot Wars, so fingers crossed there are plenty more waiting in the wings," says the site.

At £1,100, Nuts the two-wheeled robot was apparently one of the cheapest in the whole competition, showing how the costs have swelled since the £15 contraptions of the late 1990s.

Other than the bots, there was "barely a hair different", says Den of Geek: the old patterns "remain decidedly undisturbed" and the arena still has the look of a "nightclub scene in a 90s cyber-thriller".

Battle commentator Jonathan Pearce has returned, while Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester have been replaced with Dara O'Briain and Angela Scanlon, who is hoping the "male-skewed" show will become more diverse. (In last night's all-white competitor line-up, there were three women to 22 men – and their roles were described as "wellbeing", "tea-making" and "wardrobe advisor".)

"Whatever diversity issues it could do with ironing out in future, this showcase for ingenuity and good sportsmanship is a force for good in the world," says Den of Geek.

It's "just as good as you remember", says the London Evening Standard. "Wisely, the BBC haven't changed much at all – the nostalgia for the original show is all they need."

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