After arriving back at the fairgrounds, I went to check in on the Sozbots display again. But, to my surprise, they were gone! I guess they only rented space for the one day. Which left me confused -- they didn't seem to be doing much in the way of business the two times I was there. So they either got people to rent antweights while BotBash was going on, during the breaks, or after BotBash was over for the day (after I left). Now I wonder if I missed all sorts of other great action.
As he left the arena, I knew that this was my chance. I had smuggled the white Doctor-shaped portion of my Dr. Inferno Jr. toy into the fair in my pants pocket. (Actually, "smuggled" might be too strong of a word. I'm sure if I had simply carried it in, the security people would have had no problem with it. But I didn't feel like explaining why I was carrying around an unusual-shaped piece of plastic, so it was just easier to hide it in my pocket. This is what prevented me from also bringing in the Diesector RC toy that was sitting on the floor of my car.) I politely asked if he would sign it, and he politely agreed. I had also smuggled in a permanent marker for just such an occurrence. So now my Dr. Inferno Jr. toy carries the signature of Jason Bardis. All of my other toys keep forfeiting in fear of its new power.
By the way, all of the builders at the event were extremely polite and happy to talk about robots with anyone that asked. I'm sure they must get sick of explaining basics like the weight classes over and over, but they were all really nice to everybody that I saw. Props to the builders. Um, yo.
It was like an entirely different event this day. They had unblocked the staircase leading to the seats closest to the arena to make it easier for the audience to get up there. The band didn't play deafeningly loud. And the event started on time. Plus, magically, there were considerably larger crowds this time. I'm not sure what made the difference, but on Saturday, I don't think there was ever a crowd of more than a hundred people. And this was a big fair. But on Sunday, security frequently had to break the standing audience up so the builders could wheel their robots to and from the pits. I didn't dare leave my "seat" during the breaks for fear somebody would take it. It made things a lot more fun when there were louder reactions to machines being flipped and damaged.
The day began with the lightweights -- Alien Raptor and ReticBot versus Rambite and SOL. At the beginning, Alien Raptor takes on SOL while ReticBot guards the goal. Rambite gets up to full speed and gains possession of the ball in its pipe device. Rambite heads over to the goal. ReticBot gets knocked out of the way, and Rambite cleanly puts the ball in the goal. Rambite has a useful advantage here, as it can keep control of the ball while the other robots are afraid to get damaged by its spinning shell.
Then the final featherweight KillBall match -- Anorexia and The Jug versus Little Rat and Vienna Sausage. At the start, Anorexia and The Jug fight for possession of the ball. Little Rat goes into the pit. The Jug then clobbers Vienna Sausage in some way, according to my notes. Then Anorexia takes the ball and scores. At that point, I assumed that meant that Anorexia and The Jug were the winners of the KillBall tournament. I later turned out to be wrong.
The last KillBall match consisted of SOL and Rambite versus Pig Sticker and Pro-Pain. This was a good match. Pig Sticker tries to shove the thin SOL under the rail. Over the course of the match, all four robots have a hold of the ball at some point. Rambite tosses the ball by hitting it with its spinning shell. Pig Sticker retrieves it and passes it to Pro-Pain. Pro-Pain endures Rambite's attacks, clamps onto the ball, and puts it in the goal. Victory for Pig Sticker and Pro-Pain.
After a break to get rid of the fences, it was time for the Annihilator event. The Annihilator is good, old-fashioned robot-on-robot action. The kind the audience wanted to see. Each match is two minutes long. For the first minute, the pits do their "ten seconds down, five seconds up" routine. But for the second minute, the pits stay down. Fall in them at that point, and you're supposedly dead. If a robot doesn't want to rely on the pits, it is welcome to simply toss any opponents over the fairly low perimeter pipes.
The action got kicked off with Breaker and Vienna Sausage versus Dung Beetle and Squnkey. At the beginning of the fight, Vienna Sausage and Squnkey charge one another. Squnkey flies up Vienna Sausage's wedge, flies through the air, and goes completely out of the arena. That looked cool. Breaker is then pushed into a pit by Dung Beetle. But Vienna Sausage immobilizes Dung Beetle on the rail. Breaker and Vienna Sausage get the win.
Next, Black 57 and Omega Sword versus Kilobite and Helios. To begin, Black 57 drives itself into the pit. So does Omega Sword. Technically, the fight should have ended right here, because the announcer previously said that if at any point both robots go into the pits, even if the pits are on their first-minute cycle, they lose. But the announcer lets the fight continue. The pits pop up and the team drives out. Kilobite spins into Black 57, immobilizing it. But Kilobite may have immobilized itself in the process. So Helios and Omega Sword go at it. The spinning drum of Helios flips Omega Sword many times. Omega Sword quickly rights itself many times. But eventually, Omega Sword drives itself into the pit. Now the pits are permanently down, and Helios and Kilobite win.
More 30-pounders: Twibill Trouble and Anorexia versus VD3 and Sunflower. Anorexia has its wedge back on. Since it can slide under the pipes, it has added two small pieces of metal sticking up from the back that are tall enough to stop it against the pipe. If it drives under the pipes head-first, though, it's still stuck. At the beginning of the fight, VD3 instantly kills a charging Anorexia. Twibill Trouble drives into the pit. The pit pops up. Twibill Trouble and Sunflower go at it while VD3 looks more or less immobile (though its weapons still work). Near the end of the fight, Twibill Trouble spins in place, then just stops moving. The announcer calls the fight, and VD3 and Sunflower win.
Moving to the 60-pound class, it's Thinferno and Terror versus SOL and Pig Sticker. Before the fight begins, Jason Bardis stomps on the pipes to make sure they're at maximum lowness for Thinferno. Pig Sticker appears to be having some kind of technical problem, so the fight is postponed.
Instead, we'll have Y-chromosome and Rambite versus Alien Raptor and Pro-Pain. At the beginning, both Rambite and Y-chromosome spin up their weapons. Pro-Pain drives diagonally across the arena to Y-chromosome. It rams into the spinning bar, seemingly breaking it, then lifts the robot body and pushes it over and out of the ring. With Y-chromosome gone, Alien Raptor and Pro-Pain take on Rambite. They both absorb a lot of hits. Alien Raptor has one of its lower claws loosened. Pro-Pain attacks with its rear. Rambite is over in the corner, still spinning at deadly speeds. Pro-Pain wedges under Rambite, Rambite bounces up the wedge, and Rambite flies out of the arena, still spinning. Pro-Pain and Alien Raptor are the only bots left standing.
Here's ReticBot and Ramma Lamma Ding Bot versus Troublemaker and Buttercup. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot repeatedly wedges underneath Troublemaker. ReticBot stops moving for some unknown reason. Buttercup uses its drum to grind on Ramma Lamma Ding Bot. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot stops moving, too. The end.
Well, I guess Terror was the one having trouble, because now it's Pig Sticker and SOL versus Thinferno and First Abe Lincoln on the Moon. Early in the fight, SOL gets its thin body stuck under the rail. At the announcer's suggestion, Pig Sticker frees it. Then Thinferno jams SOL back underneath the rail, getting both of them stuck. First Abe Lincoln drives into the pit (after the first minute, so it's gone). Pig Sticker could've simply stayed put to be declared the winner, but instead, it accidentally frees Thinferno while leaving SOL stuck. Pig Sticker drives halfway into the other pit. The announcer declares Thinferno, sitting near the edge of the pit, to be the winner. But then Pig Sticker gets itself out of the pit, leaving Thinferno immobile. Despite Pig Sticker being the last bot standing, Thinferno and First Abe Lincoln get the victory. Controversy! It would've helped if there were some kind of rules governing how and when to declare a robot immobile.
Moving back down to the 30-pounders, it's Breaker and Squnkey versus Kilobite and Helios. Before the fight begins, the opposing team announces, "Helios must die!" At the start, Helios and Breaker meet drum-to-drum. Breaker is immobilized from the hit while Helios continues to live. Squnkey crashes into Kilobite, which causes Kilobite to fly out of the ring. Helios attacks Squnkey, pushing and bouncing it. Helios uses the drum to push Squnkey out of the ring. Helios is the only robot left.
Next, The Jug and Dozer versus Sunflower and Little Rat. The Jug pushes Sunflower under the rail. Both robots are stuck. Little Rat and Dozer do some maneuvering. Dozer bumps into the two stuck bots, freeing them. Sunflower goes into the pit. Little Rat spins up its weapon, then drives itself into the pit.
Here come Dung Beetle and Omega Sword versus VD3 and Vienna Sausage. VD3 hits Dung Beetle with the disk, dramatically throwing Dung Beetle out of the arena. Vienna Sausage pushes Omega Sword over the rail and out. Quick victory. VD3 performs its crazy victory dance, where, with its disk still spinning at full speed, it spins in place. The gyroscopic forces, blah blah blah, you've heard it before, and one of VD3's wheels comes off the ground as the robot rotates. Repeat several times. It's really funny to see.
Back to the heavier robots. Terror and Alien Raptor versus Rambite and Troublemaker. Terror, Rambite, and Troublemaker wait patiently in the ring. Alien Raptor never shows up. Eventually, the other three leave.
Okay, let's try SOL and Thinferno versus Pig Sticker and Y-chromosome. SOL is AWOL. Another fight postponed. The audience gets really restless at this point.
All right, Buttercup and ReticBot on the "Three-Syllable Words" team versus First Abe Lincoln on the Moon and Ramma Lamma Ding Bot on the "Good Heavens, Those are Very Long Names" team. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot pushes ReticBot out of the ring, then drives itself into the pit. Buttercup grinds on First Abe Lincoln. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot is released from the pit. It gets under Sunflower and performs a box-long charge that tosses Buttercup over the rail. Chalk one up for the Mouthful Team.
Let's try Terror and Alien Raptor versus Rambite and Troublemaker again. Rambite slowly approaches Terror while Alien Raptor and Troublemaker tussle. Troublemaker pushes Alien Raptor into the pit. Rambite hits Terror, and a piece of one of them goes flying. With somewhere around 45 seconds left on the clock, the pit comes up, lifting Alien Raptor out and back into play, which is not technically supposed to happen. Rambite hits Terror, which immobilizes Terror. Alien Raptor goes back into a pit. There, that's the end of that fight.
Here comes another substitution, as now it's Thinferno and Pro-Pain versus Pig Sticker and Y-chromosome. Donald Hutson and Jason Bardis show why they're such formidable veterans as they pair up for this fight. Their strategy is to double-team the more powerful Pig Sticker while Y-chromosome has trouble moving its omni-wheels forward, as it had been doing all weekend. The strategy is carried out flawlessly -- as Pig Sticker goes after Thinferno with its front, Pro-Pain attacks Pig Sticker from behind, lifts it, and knocks Pig Sticker out of the ring. Y-chromosome never even moved during this fight, so it's all over. After the appropriate victory spins, Thinferno nudges Pro-Pain a couple of times.
Time for more 30-pounders -- Anorexia and Twibill Trouble versus Vienna Sausage and VD3. Vienna Sausage starts by pushing Twibill Trouble around. For the second time today, Anorexia takes a big hit from VD3's disk. The hit sends Anorexia flying into the ceiling, and Anorexia is clearly dead when it hits the floor. Vienna Sausage continues to push Twibill Trouble around while VD3 watches. VD3 comes over and starts grinding on Twibill Trouble's shell. Then VD3 rides up Vienna Sausage's wedge. So now VD3 is high-centered on Vienna Sausage, and Twibill Trouble is stuck on the front of Vienna Sausage. The announcer tells Vienna Sausage to just go for the pit. So Vienna Sausage drives itself and the two other robots into the pit. Victory goes to Vienna Sausage and VD3.
Next, Dozer and Little Rat versus The Jug and Sunflower. At the start, Dozer doesn't seem to be moving. Sunflower goes into the pit, then is released. The Jug comes over and pushes Dozer out of the arena. Little Rat drives itself into the pit. That's the end of that fight.
Now it's Black 57 and Kilobite versus Breaker and Helios. Whoops, Helios isn't working. Be back later.
Back up to Rambite and Alien Raptor versus Thinferno and Ramma Lamma Ding Bot. At the word "fight," Thinferno charges Rambite and holds it against the wall to prevent the deadly spinning. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot charges Alien Raptor and throws it out of the arena. Rambite escapes from Thinferno and spins up. Thinferno attacks Rambite with its rear end. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot charges Rambite and tosses it out of the arena. Right toward the spectators standing next to the box. Nothing like having a 60-pound object spinning at great speeds flying directly toward your head.
Apparently the event took another break here, as I drew a mysterious line on my notes. The break probably occurred to give the robots some much-needed repair time. During the wait, I moved up to the front row in the stands. This way, I could look down and see The Jug and a broken Anorexia in the pits. Oh yeah, and the fights as I looked forward.
Once again, Black 57 and Kilobite versus Breaker and Helios. Man, it's hard to tell Breaker and Helios apart. At the start of the fight, Helios quickly kills Black 57. Helios then puts its spinning drum to a spinning Kilobite. The drum momentarily stops, but Kilobite is not phased. Breaker and Helios take turns hitting Kilobite with their drums, but are having no effect on the robot. Breaker breaks down. Kilobite is dangerously close to the pit. Kilobite drives into the pit. Its spinning shell smashes into the side of the pit, bouncing Kilobite out of the pit and back onto the floor. But that hit causes the shell to slow down. And now Kilobite isn't moving. Helios wins.
Here come Sunflower and VD3 versus Dozer and The Jug. Near the beginning, The Jug puts Sunflower in the pit. Dozer is hesitant about attacking VD3, for obvious reasons. Sunflower is released from the pit. It returns the favor by pushing The Jug into the pit, but goes in, also. Dozer and VD3 go over near the rail. VD3 turns, and those impish gyroscopic forces lift one of its tires over the pipe. VD3 topples over the rail and out of the arena. As I so succinctly put it in my notes, "Yow!" Dozer and The Jug are the winners. This would have been a good time to break out that "Underdog" theme song remix the band had been playing periodically throughout the day.
Adding more weight, it's Ramma Lamma Ding Bot and First Abe Lincoln on the Moon, making up the "You'd Better Take a Really Big Breath Before Announcing Us" team versus Pro-Pain and Thinferno on the "Best Team in the Entire Competition" team. Pro-Pain drives over and quickly lifts Ramma Lamma Ding Bot out of the arena. Meanwhile, Thinferno has First Abe Lincoln high-centered on its thin body. Pro-Pain tries to clamp First Abe Lincoln's hammer arm, but can't. First Abe Lincoln escapes. Pro-Pain and Thinferno spend a lot of time chasing the wily First Abe Lincoln. But eventually, Pro-Pain wedges under First Abe Lincoln, lifts, and pushes the thwackbot out of bounds.
Now it's time for Vienna Sausage and The Jug versus VD3 and Dozer. But there are technical difficulties, so that fight doesn't take place.
Here come Helios and Vienna Sausage versus VD3 and Breaker. And there go the four robots, carried out of the arena. The announcer says there's a frequency conflict.
Fine, if none of the 30-pound robots can fight, we'll move back up to the 60-pound class. SOL and Troublemaker versus... dum dum dum... Thinferno and Pro-Pain. Thinferno and SOL meet one another. Thinferno pushes SOL under the rail to get it out of the way. Pro-Pain comes over to try to lift the wedged SOL out of the arena, but only succeeds in freeing it. So Pro-Pain shoves SOL under the rail again. Elsewhere, Thinferno is dominating Troublemaker. Pro-Pain comes over and lifts Troublemaker out of the arena. With the fight over, Pro-Pain then crams Thinferno under the rail. Pro-Pain's not one to listen to any so-called "officiators" about when it can and can't move around.
All right, let's try Helios and Vienna Sausage versus VD3 and Breaker again. Helios, Vienna Sausage, and VD3 wait a very long time for Breaker to get ready for the fight. While everybody waits, the builder of ReticBot announces that she wants to take on Rambite. Many minutes, and several fewer audience members, later, Breaker enters the ring. Okay, let's fight. A hit between Helios and VD3 sends VD3 flying, toppling, and over the rail and out of the fight. Vienna Sausage pushes Breaker a little bit. Breaker's drum keeps hitting the floor, even when Breaker is stable on all of its wheels. Vienna Sausage charges Breaker. But Vienna Sausage rides up Breaker's drum, over the robot, and falls out of the arena. Helios pushes Breaker into the pit. Again, this should have ended the fight, but the pit pops up and the announcer lets it continue. Some drum-to-drum hits take place. Breaker goes back into the pit. Okay, now it's over.
One more 60-pound fight to see, and this time it features only two robots. During both days of the competition, the robots have been earning points for winning and losing individual matches. The final rankings are then determined by point totals. Since there's a tie for second place, a one-on-one fight needs to take place to break the tie. So it's time to put Troublemaker and Thinferno into the ring and let them bash it out. The announcer repeatedly stresses that at any point during a one-on-one fight, if a robot goes into the pit, the fight is instantly over. Of course, I don't really believe him.
With two weaponless robots fighting, there's quite a bit of driving around. The majority of the time, Thinferno gets its wedge under Troublemaker, but can't push it into a pit. At one point, Troublemaker is able to press against Thinferno's side, but can't push it into the pit. Thinferno pushes Troublemaker with its rear. Troublemaker pushes back, and Thinferno goes under a rail that had been lifted a little higher than the other rails during a previous fight. Even with the extra height added to its body, Thinferno goes under, and all but one corner of the robot hangs over the edge. Thinferno is incapacitated.
So, from sixth place (since that's where they started announcing), here are the lightweight winners:
6. Alien Raptor
And with only one loss over both days, the winner is... Pro-Pain!
Time to finish the 30-pound melees. It's Vienna Sausage and Helios versus Dozer and Kilobite. Near the beginning of the fight, Kilobite's spinning shell hits Vienna Sausage, tossing Vienna Sausage into a nearby Helios and knocking Helios into the pit. Betcha you can't do that twice. The pit pops up, and Helios is free. Vienna Sausage pushes both Kilobite and itself into the pit. They get out, but then Vienna Sausage drives back in, and since there's only a minute left, this time it's for good. I didn't see how, but somehow, Dozer goes into the other pit. This time, Helios chooses to attack the spinning Kilobite with its rear wedge (a much smarter move). Helios is able to stop Kilobite a couple of times, but can't do anything with it. The rest of the fight consists of Helios chasing Kilobite. And, for the first time that day, something goes to a judges' decision. Helios and Vienna Sausage are given the victory.
That was the last two-on-two fight, but now there are a couple of ties in the 30-pound standings. The first tie-breaking fight, for fourth place, is Dozer versus VD3. At the start, VD3 takes longer than it probably should to get its disk spinning. Dozer appears to push VD3 a little bit. VD3 gets is disk spinning at its deadliest speed. That disk hits Dozer's plow and Dozer is flipped onto its back. The reaction from Dozer's driver tells me that Dozer can't right itself. Plus, the pendulum in the arena lands on Dozer. VD3 performs its crazy victory dance.
Finally, it's time to fight for first place. The Jug versus Vienna Sausage. First, The Jug gets under Vienna Sausage. Then Vienna Sausage gets under The Jug. Vienna Sausage drives into a pit. Almost immediately after Vienna Sausage hits the pit, the pit pops up. The announcer lets the fight continue. The Jug wedges under Vienna Sausage and pushes it out of the arena. Okay, now the fight is definitely over.
So, in ascending order, the featherweight results are:
That's it for the tournament. But wait, I think we have time for... yes, we do... GRUDGE MATCHES!
It's been so long since I've seen a robot grudge match, I can't wait. And first off, it's the previously-alluded-to ReticBot versus Rambite. And just for kicks and giggles, we'll throw Road Kill into the ring, as well.
As you know, ReticBot and Rambite are lightweights. Road Kill is an antweight. One big pound. Road Kill consists of a small body and two really big plastic tires made out of the halves of a toy ball of some kind. Its only talent is spinning around in place quickly, making it difficult for its opponents to attack it, since it's so high off the ground and constantly moving. Of course, Road Kill also has no offense. It just spins in place. During breaks in the action on Sunday, Road Kill entertained the audience by spinning around the BotBash arena and falling into the pits and over the rails.
ReticBot and Rambite start in opposite corners. Road Kill starts the fight sitting on top of Rambite's shell. The announcer polls the crowd as to how quickly they think Road Kill will be thrown out of the arena. He also asks whether anybody thinks Road Kill will win. We all have a good laugh at that.
The fight begins. Instead of instantly spinning up, Rambite carries Road Kill out toward the center of the arena. ReticBot approaches. Rambite spins up, tossing Road Kill onto the floor. ReticBot pushes Rambite into the pit. ReticBot follows Rambite into the pit. The only robot left standing... is Road Kill. WHAT?!?
As everybody is shocked, the pit pops up and the fight continues, since that shouldn't have been. Rambite gets up to speed and starts hitting ReticBot. ReticBot stops moving. I yell at Road Kill to get in there. Road Kill's driver is having trouble getting the correct radio waves to reach Road Kill. Finally, they do, and Road Kill spins over toward Rambite. Rambite easily tears one of Road Kill's wheels from its body. Then Rambite tears off the other wheel. That's what we wanted to see! Now ReticBot is back to life. Rambite chews on ReticBot. ReticBot dies and doesn't come back to life. As the announcer counts ReticBot out, Rambite tears off the piece of something sticking out of the back of ReticBot that ReticBot might have planned to use as an offense against Rambite. And right before zero, Rambite rips the plow right off of ReticBot's body, slinging it into the corner of the arena.
Bring on another grudge match! Now it's Omega Sword versus Vienna Sausage. No real reason for the grudge match -- just an excuse to fight. And that's good enough for me. A motionless Rambite hangs out in the corner of the arena and watches the proceedings. Highlights of this fight include: Vienna nearly throws Omega Sword out of the arena, but Omega Sword stays in. Vienna Sausage backs over a pit, with both of its wheels spinning in midair. I'm still not entirely sure how, but with no wheels touching the ground, Vienna Sausage drives forward and stays in the fight. It looked like cartoon physics. Maybe Omega Sword dragged it back somehow. The fight ends when Vienna Sausage approaches Omega Sword and Omega Sword backs itself into the pit.
And now, the final fight of the event: Rambite and Particle Accelerator versus a little red wagon and a metal carrying case. And Road Kill, which has been put back together. What makes this fight special is that Particle Accelerator is a heavyweight. It had recently competed at Steel Conflict, so it was missing two of its six wheels and some of its top armor, but it easily still falls into heavyweight range. Particle Accelerator is a six-wheeled (or, in this case, four-wheeled) box with two small spinning gear-looking things in the front with deadly protrusions on them. Kind of a cross between a drum and a vertical disk.
The "fight" begins. Particle Accelerator spins its weapon up and puts it into the metal carrying case. The case explodes through the air into several parts. Man, that was pretty. It then heads over to the wagon, tearing off a wheel. In the other corner, Rambite has not yet gotten itself spinning. Road Kill, which had started the fight hiding underneath the wagon, wanders around the arena. Rambite gets itself spinning up as Particle Accelerator pushes the turned-on-its-side wagon across the arena and over the pipes. Particle Accelerator, perhaps feeling kind, spins down its weapon, then pushes Road Kill out of the arena. Rambite tosses some of the remaining metal case pieces around, then gets bored and decides to attack Particle Accelerator, which weighs at least three times as much as it does. Rambite tears off one of Particle Accelerator's wheels. Particle Accelerator bluntly shoves Rambite into the pipes, stopping it not only from spinning, but from doing anything. That's the end of the fight, and the end of BotBash.
What a fun weekend! Lots of good action in that Annihilator. And my headache even went away. As I left, I congratulated Don Shiver, builder of The Jug, on his win. He then took the time to answer my question about how transmitters can be programmed. Here's a link to his site: www.valleysolar.com
As the builders packed up, I left the area and wandered around the rest of the fair. But since I didn't see anything else related to fighting robots, there's no need to mention it here. I've got to say, attending live events is at least as much fun as watching them on TV (though, on the negative side, event organizers generally frown upon allowing spectators that sit back with a big bowl of popcorn, wearing nothing but their underwear). Heck, I saw approximately as many fights in one weekend as I'd see in an entire season of "BattleBots." That's not to say there weren't a few things that BotBash could have done to make things more interesting for the spectator, of course. It's a problem when someone like me, who is actively trying to keep track of the robots and is already sold on the idea of robotic combat, needs an entire day before he figures out which fighter is which and what they do. Let alone the casual observer walking by the fairgrounds. But hey, I got to see an entire competition that the majority of the country will never get to watch. And I've never seen so many robots get lifted over and out of an arena before. Considering that the alternative was sitting around my apartment, doing nothing, I've got to say that this was definitely a weekend well-spent. Now, when's the next Steel Conflict coming up?