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Robotic Combat Fan Site

I am a fan of robotic combat. You know what I'm talking about -- a group of builders get together with remote-controlled machines sporting deadly weapons. They put the machines into some kind of enclosure, power them up, and do battle to see whose robot is the best fighter.

Now, most people who enjoy robotic combat also have built or are in the process of building a robot. But me, I'm just a fan. Always have been and always will be. I barely have enough mechanical skill to fill the gasoline tank when my car's running low. But I do enjoy writing about the sport. And over the past couple of years, I've written more than any sane person should about it, placing it all on this site. As you read the "articles," though, you'll have to put up with my opinionated ramblings and my complete lack of knowledge of anything mechanical. Which one's the ratchet again...?

Latest additions

July 19, 2016
I was right about not being sure whether I felt it this year. I tried writing a more abbreviated recap of the second episode. 45 minutes into the episode, it was time for bed. Then I kept putting off finishing the recap. When I finally went back and looked at what I had written, it felt disjointed and unentertaining.

So I'm sitting out this season. I think it's because I found a different creative outlet this summer, so I feel no need to stretch my writing muscles. And since the audience of this site is somewhere between minuscule and nonexistent, it's no great loss.

May 17, 2016
I'm not sure whether I'm feeling it this year. But in case I am, here's the first episode of ABC's second season of "BattleBots."

I'm aware that it is no fun to view a solid waterfall of plain text, so I made an uneducated attempt to include some images within the recap. I think it shows.

August 28, 2015
Remember how I said that my employment might affect how quickly I wrote these recaps? That's what happened. In any event, the sixth and final episode is finally complete. Now I can go back to my natural hermit-like state of living.

July 25, 2015
Episode five, comin' atcha.

July 18, 2015
Episode four is ready. Honestly, I'm much more amiable in real life.

July 11, 2015
And here's episode three. For about 24 hours, I am completely up-to-date. Wow!

July 7, 2015
My recap of episode two is complete. This kind of productivity will not last.

July 6, 2015
My recap of the first episode of the new "BattleBots" is up. I really thought I'd be briefer this time around. Episode two will arrive in one or two days.

I'm writing each of these before the following episode airs, so even though I know what happens in episodes two and three, I've left in a couple of descriptions/predictions that turn out to be inaccurate. I want these recaps to reflect the feeling of not knowing what's ahead in the coming weeks.

June 30, 2015
Watching "BattleBots" on ABC has made me all nostalgic. I feel like I should do recaps, similar to the old days. I likely will, although the speed in which I accomplish this will be dependent on how employed I am.

Of course, I also said I would do a writeup of the 2011 "Killer Robots" special. The majority of it has been sitting on my computer for years, just waiting for me to get off my lazy butt and complete it. If I want to revisit my youth by recapping "BattleBots" episodes, then I should really finish the prior recap I promised to complete. So I did.

Due to a scheduling conflict, I wasn't able to announce the most recent RoboGames event, though I look forward to watching the official videos once they're edited and distributed to the Kickstarter donors. My hunch is that I won't find the time to recap those. I can hear your disappointment. Wait, no -- that was just the A/C unit turning off.


BattleBots -- The heart of this web site (and the thing that was the reason for its creation) is my collection of written summaries of "BattleBots" episodes. Starting with season three, after each episode aired, I wrote a disturbingly long review of each battle (and the stuff that filled time in between). They're all here for you to read, though I'm a bit embarrassed by the early ones.

BotBash by the Sea (Day One) (Day Two) -- In June 2003, BotBash held a competition at the San Diego County Fair. It was my first chance to see live robotic combat, and I took plenty of notes.

Steel Conflict 4 (Day One) (Day Two) -- In August 2003, Steel Conflict held its fourth tournament at the Petersen Automotive Museum. This is my write-up of that event, with summaries of all 79 fights that took place.

Southwest Division Championships (Preface) (Day One) (Day Two) -- In April 2004, Steel Conflict, BotBash, and SozBots joined forces to bring the country one huge robotic combat event. Here's a write-up of the things that went down inside the Steel Conflict arena, along with special observations from one of the volunteers at the event (me!).

West Coast Robotics Last Chance -- September 18, 2004: Some robots attempt to qualify for the 2004 RFL Nationals at the last possible moment. And I was there.

RFL Nationals/ComBots Cup (Preface) (Day One) (Day Two) -- In November, ComBots hosted the 2005 RFL Nationals at Fort Mason in San Francisco. Additionally, they introduced the ComBots Cup, which included a heavyweight tournament with a $10,000 grand prize. Six weight classes, seven tournaments, and 96 fights from that weekend are all summarized here.

BattleBots 2015 (episodes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) -- Reviews of ABC's "BattleBots." Thirteen years have passed and I've gotten three years wiser.

Other miscellaneous robotic combat-related things I've written

Killer Robots -- not really a recap; I examine the 2011 "Killer Robots" special and explain some aspects of the tournament that weren't reflected on-air

Reflections on robotic combat announcing (page two) -- In 2007, I was honored to be the announcer at the second ComBots Cup and the fourth RoboGames. These are my recollections of what it's like to announce robotic combat and the stuff in between fights.

A Handful of Questions... -- I interview actual builders to get their opinions about their involvement in the first ComBots Cup

The Fans Judge -- a collaborative effort dissecting each non-knockout fight in "BattleBots" season five

Reviews of selected BattleBots toys

List of robot appearances from "BattleBots" season three

My pretend report from the spring 2002 BattleBots tournament

Homemade modifications to the BattleBots RC toys

About the author

Some robotic combat web sites more important than this one -- The Robot Fighting League (RFL for short) is an association of more than 20 robotic combat organizations across the country. If there's a robotic combat organization near you, chances are that it's a member of the RFL. -- The official BattleBots competition web site. Read the rules, learn about the combatants, buy merchandise, find out the latest news. -- Jim Smentowski, the creator of Backlash and Nightmare (among others), has assembled the biggest, best builder web site there is. And look at the sections on BattleBots! Tons of photos from the pits, fight histories for each and every competitor, and more.

Your author can be reached at this e-mail address.