Fortunately, Steel Conflict 4 was taking place over the weekend.
I drove down to Petersen Automotive Museum on that Saturday morning. On my 8.5-mile drive there, I saw no fewer than three billboards advertising the new season of "The Man Show" (its original hosts had decided to stop doing the show, but that's not going to stop anyone from making more episodes, gosh darn it!). Which reminded me that while I am sad that BattleBots doesn't have a TV contract right now, it's probably just as well that they're no longer on Comedy Central.
After placing my car in Petersen's parking garage, I went to the main entrance of the museum and stopped. In my eagerness to see every single second of robot action, I arrived about thirty minutes before the museum even opened. But there were several other people also standing around, waiting to get in, so I didn't feel like I was maybe going overboard just a little bit with this obsession.
After running out of things to look at in the parking garage, I looked through the glass doors into the museum. I'm not into cars at all, so I didn't expect to find anything too interesting in there. There's an old car... there's another old car... there's OverKill... there's... what?
Cool, they had placed some non-competing robots over by the wall to advertise that Steel Conflict was coming up. From outside the museum, I could see OverKill, Zack Bieber's portable TV robot, and what appeared to be Ronin hiding around the corner. I spent the rest of the time before 10:00 staring at the robots, doing my best to not press my face directly against the glass.
Finally, they opened the doors. Instead of doing something logical, like heading toward the ticket booth to purchase tickets so that I might be able to view Steel Conflict, I immediately went to closely look at those robots that wouldn't be competing that day (except for Spinzone, which was sitting on the floor and would be competing). El Diablo was also on the table.
After spending a good few minutes practically drooling on the robots, I finally bought my ticket, received my wristband, and went in. There were a lot of vintage cars in the museum that I could look at. I walked as fast as I could past them, my mind focused on the single goal of finding the Steel Conflict arena.
After what was too long of a search in my mind (two minutes, tops), I discovered that the event was outdoors, on the third level of the parking garage. As I approached, I saw many people hurriedly placing a roof on the arena and finishing a couple of the wall panels. Next to the arena, under the shade of the fourth floor of the parking garage, were many more people in the pits, preparing their robots for battle. Kitty-corner to the pits was the Sozbots arena, ready for the antweight tournament, to take place during the main Steel Conflict event. Kitty-corner to the Sozbots area was the concessions area, stocked with plenty of snacks, drinks, and, most importantly, beer.
Since the arena was not technically complete, the event's starting time was postponed. I bided my time standing in the area where spectators were allowed to stand, as close as possible as I could get to the pits. Occasionally, I'd wander a few steps over and look at the Sozbots arena, especially when builders were testing their antweights in it. At one point, I got to gush like an annoying fan to Jim Smentowski, who was there with Botcast and also his antweights.
They announced another postponement, so I decided that I might as well check out the museum, too. There was a Hot Wheels exhibit on the same floor, so I looked at that. Huh. There was also an exhibit of celebrities' cars. I was more interested in the sign for the exhibit, with its flashing lights, than the cars themselves. Guess I might as well go back outside and wait for the event to begin.
While we wait for me to get around to actually describing one of the many fights that took place, let's take a look at the rules of Steel Conflict 4. Each fight was your standard one-on-one affair, lasting for three minutes or until knockout, whichever was sooner. To knock out a multibot, a driver had to incapacitate all of its sections, not just the majority of the weight. Three weight classes were competing at this event -- middleweights (120 pounds), heavyweights (220 pounds), and super heavyweights (340 pounds). It turns out that the heavier the robots, the more interesting even the most boring wedge fight can be, because every time a robot hits the wall, it makes a very loud sound and usually causes the walls to shake.
The Steel Conflict arena was a big square. No hazards on the floors or in the walls or anything -- this was pure robot-on-robot action (which, granted, isn't always a good thing, though I'd say it's preferable to the heavily-hazard-laden floors of BattleBots and BotBash). The robots fought within a square perimeter of fairly tall I-beams attached to the floor. There was some more floor space between the I-beams and the Lexan walls. If a robot managed to flip its opponent over the I-beam and into that space (dubbed the "death zone"), it was an instant knockout. Any robot that touched the Lexan was immediately declared knocked out, even if it fell back into the arena.
If no robot died within the three minutes, then the decision went to three ringside judges. The judging system was similar to BattleBots', but with different totals. Each judge split five points between the robots in the category of Aggression and six points in the category of Damage, for a total of 33 points to be awarded overall. So damage was weighted more heavily at this tournament, but if both robots caused the same amount of damage (or no damage), then aggression became important.
The competition was double elimination, rather than single elimination. In a double elimination tournament, you have to lose two times before you're eliminated from play. There's a special way of making a tournament ladder for these types of events, with lots of extra lines suddenly appearing on the losers bracket side to allow the robots that lost in the winners bracket to continue to compete through the losers bracket based on the position in the winner's bracket at which they received their first loss so that they have to complete a proportionately lower number of fights than robots that received their first loss earlier in the bracket until all of the losing robots have competed all the way through the losers bracket and the last robot standing in that bracket is allowed to face the winner of the winners bracket in a fight that determines which robot the actual winner of the tournament is, unless in that final fight the winner of the winners bracket loses, resulting in both robots having to compete again in a final final fight to determine who the real winner of the tournament is once and for all. As you can see, it's a completely intuitive system. As for me, I just copied the ladders that Steel Conflict had posted for all three weight classes.
Though they had planned to start at noon after that second postponement, the fighting didn't take place until after 12:30. To keep the audience interested during one of the postponements, the builders of Shin Splitter and Shank brought their robots into the unrestricted area and agreed to answer any questions. Any questions about fighting robots, that is. I doubt that they would have enjoyed it if someone had started grilling them on Central American capital cities or something.
Finally, the emcee informed us that there would be an event taking place that day. I liked this emcee better than the emcee at BotBash, as he announced more information actually related to the robots. However, he did make a couple mistakes in reading the ladders and identifying the purpose of the weapons of a few of the robots. It's a strange feeling to attend an event where you're more well-informed than the emcee.
So let's quit wasting space and kick off the fight summaries portion of this event report, especially since the majority of fights took place in the first day. I'll be going over a good number of different robots in these summaries. And since my written descriptions of robots are never more intelligible than "I think it's a box with a weapon of some kind attached to it," I have received permission from Don Shiver to use the pictures he took at the event in this summary. All but one of the pictures on these pages come from him, and I'm very grateful. The other picture has been supplied by Ray Billings. I've got nothing against him, either.
Let the fight summaries commence! We'll make an awkward shift to present tense and start things off in the middleweight class.
From the VD family of robots comes VD5. It moves about on treads and has a couple of large blades that are connected to one another and spin in tandem to clobber opponents. Its opponent is The Bouncer. When I made up my reference list describing each robot that would attend Steel Conflict 4, I described The Bouncer as "spinner food." It's a simple box with two exposed wheels and a hinged wedge, and I fully expected to see a horizontal spinner rip it to pieces. Of course, VD5 is a vertical spinner, but I knew which robot to bet on in this fight.
The fight begins. VD5 has a kind of a wedge leading up to its blades, since they're mounted somewhat high in relation to opponents. And The Bouncer takes the initial advantage, kind of getting underneath VD5 and not getting hit by its blades. But soon enough, VD5 connects with The Bouncer, flipping it over in one hit. After the next hit, we see that The Bouncer's wedge is only attached to the corner of its body. Plus, the robot isn't moving. The Bouncer taps out.
Sweet is an interesting robot design. You can't see it in the picture, but in the middle of its long body, there's a large blade that spins around. Mr. Pink gets its name from the fact that its wheels are pink, I presume. As you can infer, underneath the safety cover, there's a spinning horizontal bar.
Fight. Mr. Pink heads over while Sweet tries to spin up. Mr. Pink gets some hits in with its spinning bar, but then the bar breaks down. So Mr. Pink uses its rear end to ram Sweet against the wall (note: any references to "the wall" actually refer to the I-beams surrounding the competitors). Suddenly, Mr. Pink loses drive in one of its wheels. Sweet appears to be having some kind of radio issues, as it's having trouble moving. Sweet's spinning blade slows down. In the last few seconds of the fight, Sweet gets some decent hits in on Mr. Pink. The decision goes to the judges, who score the fight 22-11 in favor of Mr. Pink.
Moloch is your standard thwackbot. Spinzone is another new member of the ever-expanding robotic army of Christian Carlberg. It's an invertible spinner. The outer rim of Spinzone's body spins around with a pair of bludgeoning extrusions while the body of the robot stays in place. It looks very sleek.
Fight. It takes Spinzone a couple of seconds to spin up. Moloch decides to come over. Spinzone spins and hits Moloch, flipping it (flipping Moloch, that is). Time out! Somebody outside of the arena stepped on the cord used in Moloch's transmitting system. Okay, start the fight again. Spinzone spins back up. But then it runs itself into the wall, which stops the rim from spinning for the rest of the fight. Moloch gets some thwacky hits in. Spinzone is able to push Moloch around a couple of times, but Moloch is able to hit Spinzone several times. Time runs out, and the judges give Moloch the victory, 22-11.
Deb Bot's weapon is a lifting arm, though I question how well it'll work, since the foot barely sticks out of the robot's body. Who's Your Daddy is a robot with wedged sides and a horizontal drum located in the front wedge. That solves the problem of wedges always being able to get under robots with drum weapons. For this fight, Deb Bot has attached two pieces of ablative wood to its front wedge.
Fight. Who's Your Daddy spins up and quickly tears a piece of wood off of Deb Bot. Deb Bot charges, runs into Who's Your Daddy's drum, and loses the front chunk of its lifting arm! Who's Your Daddy breaks the other piece of Deb Bot's wood. Deb Bot is unafraid in trying to attack Who's Your Daddy, but Who's Your Daddy's skirts are lower to the ground on all sides. On the other hand, Who's Your Daddy isn't moving all that much. It looks like Deb Bot can no longer retract its lifting arm fully into its body. Who's Your Daddy is making some sparks on the floor with the drum. Is some of Deb Bot's front metal wedge loose? Deb Bot high-centers itself on Who's Your Daddy several times. The fight lasts all three minutes, and the judges score it 18-15 in favor of Who's Your Daddy.
Bit Schlapp (Don't get it? Say it out loud, but not if your mother's in the room) is a full-body shell spinner. Ding Bot X is a multibot consisting of lightweights Ramma Lamma Ding Bot (the box with wedge) and Robot X (the drag racing-looking robot that's kind of a wedge or a thwack, but not exactly either).
Fight. Bit Schlapp spins up to scary speeds. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot and Robot X take turns running themselves into Bit Schlapp. Finally, Robot X gives Bit Schlapp a hit that stops it from spinning. With its large tires, Robot X flips its invertible self over Bit Schlapp's body. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot wedges underneath Bit Schlapp and pushes it into the wall a couple of times. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot's wedge gets bent, making it difficult to wedge underneath anything. Robot X pins Bit Schlapp. Then Ramma Lamma Ding Bot pins Bit Schlapp. A time out is called to separate Bit Schlapp. When the fight resumes, Bit Schlapp spins back up, but Ramma Lamma Ding Bot stops it. Time ends. The judges give it, 24-9, to Ding Bot X.
Jimmy is a big triangular wedge. Simple as that. Back Stabber's got that horizontal spinning bar going for it.
Fight. Jimmy is a very solid wedge. Whenever Back Stabber spins up, Jimmy absorbs the hit and frequently pushes it around. But no matter how many times Jimmy slams it into the wall, Back Stabber keeps spinning up. It's three minutes of Jimmy absorbing big his and Back Stabber spinning back up. When all is said and done, the judges award Jimmy the victory, 18-15.
Armadillo is a simple ramming box with a flat front. Rambyte-Agsma is another multibot consisting of two independent lightweight competitors. Agsma (see inset) is a box with two metal prongs sticking out of it. Rambyte has been given another complete makeover. This time, its spinning shell is curved, like Ziggo's.
Fight. Armadillo is perfectly willing to attack either of the lightweights. It hits Rambyte, but Rambyte spins back up. In one of the collisions, Rambyte is flipped around. It lands on its side, but uses the bar sticking out of its top to self-right. Armadillo charges into a spinning Rambyte, throwing Rambyte into Agsma, which kills Agsma. The rest of the fight is Armadillo staying all over Rambyte. At the end of the fight, Rambyte isn't spinning. The judges score the fight 28-5 for Armadillo.
We're going to take a quick break from the middleweights for this heavyweight bout. Vicious Circle has a curved wedged back and that spinning disk in the front. Bull-It is a rammer with a small wedge scraping the ground and some bull horns serving as kind of a reverse wedge above. For this fight, Bull-It has added two extensions made of tire rubber that stick out in a fork shape to absorb some of Vicious Circle's blows.
Fight. While Vicious Circle gets its disk up to speed, it attacks with its wedged rear so as not to lose out on any Aggression points. Its weapon gets up to speed, and it gives Bull-It several blows. Over the course of the fight, Bull-It's tire extensions get bent away. Bull-It then pushes Vicious Circle into the wall. Vicious Circle gets some more hits in. Bull-It stops moving. It's broken, so it taps out. Victory for Vicious Circle.
Back to the middleweights. Psychoballistic is yet another robot with a spinning horizontal bar weapon (horizontal spinning bars were clearly the most popular active weapon at this event). Hypersonic's weapon is a round cutting device that spins vertically parallel to the front of the robot's body. Its primary function appears to be to scratch the armor of its opponent.
Fight. Psychoballistic hits Hypersonic with its weapon. Hypersonic puts some scratches in Psychoballistic's rear armor. Psychoballistic hits Hypersonic two more times, at which point Hypersonic stops moving. 37 seconds into the fight, Hypersonic taps out.
Now we're getting into the heavyweight bracket for a while. You may have seen JuggerBot on "Robotica" or its alter-ego TriceraBot on "Robot Wars." It's a rammer. CycloneBot is a very high-tech spinner. For years, builders have been devising various ways to make a full-body spinner that employs the entire weight of the robot in spinning, instead of devoting some weight to the drive and less weight to a spinning shell. The problem, of course, is that in order to win, your robot must show aggression, which it can't do if it's spinning in place. So the trick has always been to figure out how to alter the speeds of the wheels by tiny bits to make the robot move in desired directions while the wheels are also spinning fast enough to have the robot's body damage the opponent. Attempts to accomplish this have been called "melty brain" (coined for Blade Runner, though never successfully implemented) and "tornado drive" (coined for Herr GepoŁnden, and successfully implemented).
CycloneBot takes a new approach to this dilemma. As you can see, it has an octagon-shaped body which is designed to spin around quickly and inflict damage. To tell the robot which way to go, the driver uses some kind of global positioning system that informs the robot which direction is magnetic north. Once the robot knows that, it can be told to move south, west, et cetera, and the high-tech electronics aboard the robot alter the wheel speeds ever so slightly to cause this 220-pound spinning thing to move around the arena floor. And some people dare to say there's no science in this sport.
Fight. JuggerBot rams CycloneBot, which is already spinning quickly. From where I'm sitting, it looks like CycloneBot isn't successfully moving around the arena floor. Of course, this may be because JuggerBot keeps ramming it, causing it to bounce around, but never stop spinning. After about three rams, JuggerBot stops moving. CycloneBot is still spinning very rapidly, but isn't translating. So CycloneBot stops spinning so it can drive around. JuggerBot is knocked out.
Megabyte is a heavyweight version of Rambyte. To be exact, right now this Megabyte is the heavyweight version of the previous incarnation of Rambyte (a flat, disk-shaped full-body spinner). Megabyte is also the robot that won the heavyweight division at Steel Conflict 3.
Shank has a plow on one side and a vertical spinning disk on the other. For this fight, it will be focusing on using its plow to stop Megabyte. Shank's builders are new to robotic combat -- in fact, this is their first fight ever. Nothing like drawing the incredibly violent defending heavyweight champion for your first fight.
The fight begins. Megabyte quickly gets up to speed. Shank soon has its plow horribly disfigured by Megabyte. Megabyte destroys some piping on the side of Shank. Megabyte hits Shank again and again. Shank dies. Megabyte aims for the vertical disk on the back of Shank (which I don't think Shank's team ever bothered to spin up). It gets one hit on that before Shank's team taps out. Megabyte wins, and even though this is double elimination, that's the last we see of Shank for the rest of the weekend.
Drum of Disaster has a drum for a weapon (no, really?) and moves itself on big rubber treads that might not fit as snugly as they should. The current version of Particle Accelerator uses four wheels, a big wedge in the back, and two side-by-side gear/drum things for its primary weapon.
Fight. Particle Accelerator spins up, comes over, and tears one of the treads off of Drum of Disaster. Particle Accelerator then pushes Drum of Disaster into the wall. Drum of Disaster's other tread simply falls off. With no way to move itself, Drum of Disaster taps out.
Hey, another horizontal spinning bar! That's Shin Splitter. Final Verdict has an undercut spinning blade weapon attached to a gasoline-powered motor. In the audience, I predict that Shin Splitter is about to lose one of its exposed wheels.
Fight. The robots spin up their weapons, then approach. There's a hit between them. And I'm not sure how, but one of Final Verdict's wheels pops off and bounces away (I thought Shin Splitter was on the other side of the wheel that came off, but I could be wrong). Final Verdict taps out.
HellFire 666 bears an amazing resemblance to Mauler 51-50. So amazing of a resemblance that upon its entrance into the arena, several people in the audience (myself included) shout "Mauler!" instead of its given name. Evelyn a Modified Dawg is from Team K.I.S.S., which has also been participating in robotic combat longer than most people have even known about it. Its weapon is simply that plow.
Fight. No matter how much HellFire spins, Evelyn just shoves it around. After a little while, HellFire stops spinning. Evelyn shoves HellFire into the wall. HellFire stops moving entirely and taps out.
Compressor's weapon is that fork, which I don't think is articulated. That big box on the front of Tillah acts as a spinning drum. I appreciate that because I've never been a big fan of all of these drum weapons, so the change in shape is nice.
Fight. Compressor is very mobile, pushing Tillah around. Tillah is nowhere near as mobile as Compressor. Compressor slams Tillah against the wall a couple of times. Suddenly, neither robot is moving. A time out is called so the robots can be separated. But by this point in the fight, there's not enough time left on the clock for anything else to happen. The judges award a 19-14 victory to Compressor.
We're jumping back down to the middleweights (apparently they're saving the super heavyweights for later). Eight of the middleweights received byes into the winners bracket, so it's time to start seeing the rest of them in action. I'm guessing that you remember Bad Attitude from BattleBots. It looks exactly as you remember it, assuming you're remembering the correct robot. Earlier in the day, while I was waiting for one of the first fights to begin, Thomas Petruccelli saw that I had the middleweight ladder on a piece of paper and asked if he could see it. I helped a builder! Yay!
Fight. Mr. Pink's spinning bar isn't spinning at all. So it uses its rear against Bad Attitude. As a result, Bad Attitude wedges Mr. Pink all over the place. Eventually, Mr. Pink taps out.
Max Wedge is a box with a wedge in the front. It also has four pieces of metal sticking out of the top for decoration. VD5 is unchanged.
Fight. There are some big hits in this fight between Max Wedge's body and VD5's spinning weapon. Max Wedge loses its decorative top. VD5 loses its tread, though it can still drive around without it. Max Wedge can no longer use the right side of its drive. VD5's weapon is no longer spinning. And VD5 is on fire! Which means that this becomes a twitchy, dull fight. After a while, the fire takes its toll and VD5 stops moving. Knockout to VD5.
You know how earlier, I described how builders have been trying to devise ways to get the entire mass of their robot to spin while still being able to drive around? Tesla's Tornado is another solution to that problem. The entire box of Tesla's Tornado's body spins in place. To move around, the robot follows a laser system of some kind set up by the driver. Another very clever solution.
Fight. Tesla's Tornado spins very quickly and is very dangerous. But Jimmy is very well-armored, and I would say is the worst middleweight in this tournament for a spinner to face, because nothing appears to damage Jimmy. The fight works like this: Tesla's Tornado spins very rapidly in place. Jimmy drives over and rams it, which usually throws Tesla's Tornado into the air. Repeat this a lot of times. To Tesla's Tornado's credit, it always gets right back to spinning. But Jimmy is impervious to its attacks.
Tesla's Tornado gets stuck on one of the I-beams. Steel Conflict rules state that if a robot strands itself on the I-beam (not if the opponent puts it there), it's allowed one free release, where they'll stop the fight and free it. So Tesla's Tornado is pushed free. The fight resumes, with more hitting and no one being damaged by the hitting. But then Tesla's Tornado gets stuck on the I-beam a second time. And Steel Conflict rules also state that if you get stuck a second time, you're out of luck. So Jimmy wins.
Devil's Plunger is a box with a hinged wedge. Moloch is still a thwackbot.
Fight. And it's your basic wedge versus thwack fight. Devil's Plunger controls Moloch for most of the fight, though Moloch does get a couple of hits in. The fight lasts all three minutes. I didn't write down the judges' decision, but Devil's Plunger is the winner.
Psychotron is another robot that you may have seen on TV, so I don't even have to bother telling you that it's a long wedge with a pair of tires on each side in the back.
Fight. Who's Your Daddy has some very effective skirts, as Psychotron is having a lot of trouble getting under them. Who's Your Daddy's drum and wedges are able to flip Psychotron several times. But Who's Your Daddy is rarely aggressive -- Psychotron is doing almost all of the attacking. This is only a guess, but perhaps Who's Your Daddy's wedges are too low, impeding movement? The judges have to make a decision, and score it 20-13 in favor of Psychotron. Presumably, since Psychotron was never physically damaged by Who's Your Daddy, the Damage scores were close and Psychotron easily won on Aggression.
Weed Whacker is painted very bright neon colors and has a horizontal spinning disk weapon. Ding Bot X is just crazy.
Fight. Even though it receives a blown tire from Weed Whacker's disk, Robot X is the only one to really attack Weed Whacker, pushing it around. But then Robot X suddenly dies, so Weed Whacker goes after Ramma Lamma Ding Bot. Ramma Lamma Ding Bot isn't doing too much that's productive in this fight. It does take a few hits from Weed Whacker. The fight ends, and Weed Whacker continues with a 19-14 judges' decision.
The next four fights will take us through the first round of the heavyweight winners bracket.
Both robots spin up. CycloneBot is clearly able to move across the floor while spinning this time. Vicious Circle tries to spin in place, whipping its weapon into CycloneBot from the side. There are some hits. CycloneBot is clearly more powerful here. Vicious Circle dies and taps out.
Due to a missing heavyweight, Sewer Snake got a bye into this round. The resemblance between it and Devil's Plunger comes from the fact that they were built by the same person.
This is one of my favorite fights of the tournament. Megabyte reaches deadly speeds. And Sewer Snake absorbs some BIG hits from Megabyte. But Sewer Snake refuses to die. Sewer Snake's wedge is torn off by Megabyte. Still, Sewer Snake attacks the spinner. And now Megabyte is slowing down. Megabyte's shell stops spinning. Sewer Snake starts to push Megabyte around. And a chain falls out of Megabyte. [EDIT: I have since been informed that the dropped chain came out of Sewer Snake.] Time is up, and I can't wait to hear how the judges call this one. The score is 20-13, and the winner is... Sewer Snake! Score one for the underdog!
At the start of the fight, Shin Splitter doesn't move. Particle Accelerator heads over and casually grinds on one of Shin Splitter's tires. Then it backs off. Shin Splitter still doesn't move. Particle Accelerator decides to grind on the motionless horizontal bar. Then it backs off. Hey, now Shin Splitter is moving. Shin Splitter spins its weapon. But Particle Accelerator dominates the fight by wedging under Shin Splitter. At one point, Shin Splitter's weapon is pointed into the air while Particle Accelerator is wedging under its body, so Shin Splitter spins up. When Particle Accelerator puts Shin Splitter down, the bar tears chunks out of Particle Accelerator's tires. Time is up. That was a weird fight. The score is 19-14 for Particle Accelerator.
I'd make a Frank Zappa reference, but I'm unfamiliar with his work, so if you were hoping for one, I'm sorry. The fight begins with Evelyn shoving Compressor into a wall. Then into a corner. Compressor taps out. Whew, I'm exhausted.
Back to the middleweights. VanillaBot has three lifting spikes on one side. The other side usually has motionless spikes, but those have been removed for this fight, what with that spinning weapon on Psychoballistic.
But during the fight, Psychoballistic does very little spinning (it spins maybe two times). For the entirety of the three-minute fight, VanillaBot pushes Psychoballistic around. Near the end, VanillaBot flips Psychoballistic over the long way, which looked cool. The judges score it 24-9 for VanillaBot. I think it's safe to assume that all three judges wrote a 3-3 split in Damage and gave 5-0 to VanillaBot in Aggression.
Now it's time to move to the middleweight losers bracket. Whichever robot loses this fight is unceremoniously booted from the tournament.
Fight. Bit Schlapp spins. Occasionally, Moloch swings its pickaxe into Bit Schlapp. Bit Schlapp never makes an aggressive driving maneuver. The tip of Moloch's weapon is broken off. In the last fifteen seconds of the fight, Moloch knocks Bit Schlapp across the floor and into the wall, where Bit Schlapp stops spinning. The decision is 25-8 in favor of Moloch.
In this fight, Hypersonic's weapon appears to not be working. Tesla's Tornado is able to translate while spinning. Tesla's Tornado hits Hypersonic a few times. Hypersonic has lost the drive on one of its sides. Tesla's Tornado gives Hypersonic a couple more hits, and now Hypersonic isn't moving at all. Hypersonic is knocked out of the tournament.
Spinzone never spins during this match. The majority of the fight consists of Ramma Lamma Ding Bot pushing Spinzone around while Robot X goes absolutely berserk in the arena. At the end of the fight, I note that Spinzone looked bewildered out there. But the judges turn in a split decision, 17-16. The winner, though, is Ding Bot X.
Both robots spin up. Who's Your Daddy approaches Sweet. There's a HUGE hit, and half of Sweet's blade goes flying away! Sweet continues to spin its weapon, which is incredibly off-balance now and causes the body of the robot to vibrate. Finally, Sweet taps out.
There were other memorable moments in the antweight tournament, but most of them took place while I was over at one of the Steel Conflict fights. I'd be watching a wedge-on-wedge battle, and suddenly I'd hear a scream of "OH!" from the folks around the Sozbots arena. I'd turn around and try to look, but there was always too dense a crowd of people in front of the box, cheering.
Also at the event, I was surprised to see some big-name BattleBots builders who hadn't entered any robots into this competition, but were still there to watch and/or judge. And let me tell you, the experience of standing at ringside, watching a fight containing Mauler, knowing that Mark Setrakian is standing two feet away from me... well, that's the kind of thing that really made this fanboy's weekend.
Back to the tournament.
It's the first round of the heavyweight losers bracket. There should have been four fights in this round, but between bots not being able to compete and other bots that couldn't be repaired in time, this is the only fight that actually takes place. Whenever the event would pause to give the competitors some time to repair themselves, I would wonder why they didn't just throw some super heavyweights in the ring.
Fight. Both robots spin up. Tillah hits HellFire with its box drum. HellFire goes into the air... and lands on its back! The crowd cheers! That's what we all wanted to see it do!
No point in giving up now... HellFire continues to spin, its rotating body rocking back and forth in its shell. But the robot can't flip itself back over, and eventually powers down. Farewell, HellFire 666.
It's round two of the middleweight winners bracket.
While Jimmy is very impressive at not being damaged by high-speed spinners, it does have a problem in that its wedge doesn't quite reach the ground. Max Wedge, which does scrape the floor, repeatedly gets underneath Jimmy and pushes it around. After about a minute and a half, Jimmy taps out.
We'll get back to the winners bracket in a moment, but first, let's finish off round two of the losers bracket (in case you're wondering why there have been so few fights in the losers bracket so far, round one of the losers bracket gave all of the robots a bye and three of the fights in round two never took place).
Back Stabber gets the first hit in, but then its weapon breaks. Psychoballistic hits Back Stabber a few times, sending small chunks of it flying. Then Psychoballistic's weapon stops spinning. However, Back Stabber can only slowly spin in place, so the judges rule that Back Stabber has been knocked out.
It's a wedge fight. Devil's Plunger is the one to get under Bad Attitude the majority of times, including flipping Bad Attitude twice and giving it some nice slams into the wall. There are a couple of instances where it looks like Devil's Plunger might be able to toss Bad Attitude over the I-beams by slamming it, but it doesn't quite happen. The judges are told to decide who won, and they give it to Devil's Plunger, 20-13.
During the fight, Weed Whacker is able to attack and puncture two of Psychotron's tires, which splash out some kind of liquid as Psychotron drives around. With a disk mounted off the ground in its front, Weed Whacker has no defense against the sturdy wedge of Psychotron, which pushes Weed Whacker around the arena many times. At the end of three minutes, Psychotron has some sad-looking tires and Weed Whacker is sitting on top of it. The judges rule 21-12 in favor of Weed Whacker. Say what? I argue that that decision couldn't be right, though I eventually concede that if I had been scoring the fight, I would have given Weed Whacker the victory, too. It should have been closer, but yeah, I guess Weed Whacker won it.
Rambyte-Agsma was supposed to first face VD5.0 in the losers bracket, but apparently that fire did a real number on VD5, as it had to forfeit.
Fight. Since Tesla's Tornado is such a dangerous spinner, Agsma chooses to hang back while Rambyte does all of the attacking. Rambyte initiates the collisions between the two robots, and despite all of the attacks, neither of the spinners will stop spinning. When the emcee mentions Agsma's lack of aggression, Agsma rams itself into Tesla's Tornado a couple of times. Agsma loses a tire. After one of many hits, Rambyte's directional pole falls off. Now Rambyte is having trouble determining which way to steer, so Agsma has to attack some more. Tesla is able to translate a little bit. Time is up. The judges give a 18-15 victory to Tesla's Tornado.
There's some driving. One of Drum of Disaster's treads gets blocked up. Vicious Circle comes over, swings its spinning disk into Drum of Disaster, and both of Drum of Disaster's treads come off. That's a knockout.
Both Ramma Lamma Ding Bot and Robot X go after Who's Your Daddy (it almost looks like they're fighting over which one gets to fight it). While Who's Your Daddy can spin its drum, it can't move around. So Who's Your Daddy is counted out. Watching Ramma Lamma Ding Bot and Robot X crash around the arena in semi-random directions (especially Robot X), I write in my notes, "What a bizarre multibot."
Hey, look, it's a middleweight we haven't seen in action yet. The Devastator got a bye for its first fight. For its second fight, Armadillo forfeited for some reason. Now it'll actually have to fight to advance through the tournament. That wedge on The Devastator is a pneumatic-powered flipper. As the only pneumatic flipper at Steel Conflict, The Devastator becomes the robot I root for by default.
Fight. The Devastator flips VanillaBot around a lot. VanillaBot gets its spikes to puncture the wedge of The Devastator, which causes The Devastator to lift its own body into the air when it fires its weapon. VanillaBot frees itself. There are a few close calls where The Devastator almost flips VanillaBot out of the arena. VanillaBot's lifting spikes land on the I-beam. It struggles and eventually frees itself from being stuck. But then The Devastator flips it, putting the entire body of VanillaBot on the I-beam. That's enough to declare that VanillaBot is out of the arena. Technically.
Armadillo may have forfeited its previous fight, but it's still in the losers bracket. And now it's in working order again. It should have faced The Bouncer in round two of the losers bracket, but The Bouncer forfeited.
Fight. Armadillo rushes Psychoballistic. Psychoballistic gets a hit in with that spinning bar, but then its weapon chain comes off. Armadillo pushes Psychoballistic around. Psychoballistic is immobilized and out of the competition.
Finally! It's super heavyweight time! There are only seven functioning super heavyweights in attendance, so the ladder is much smaller, which is why they've been postponing the super heavyweight fights. Maybe they wanted to reward the spectators that bothered to stick around this late. Anyway, I'm sure you all remember Dreadnought from BattleBots. It looks just like you'd expect. Tomb of Death has those pyramid sides with skirts on the bottom. Its weapon is listed as saw blades. During the fight, I can hear some kind of saw blade spinning, but I never actually see where these saw blades are located. Before the fight, Christian Carlberg jokingly jogs up Dreadnought's wedge to demonstrate what Tomb of Death should do during the fight. Dreadnought is noted for the fact that it's not really all that fast.
Fight. Dreadnought spins its weapon up. It pushes the wedge into Tomb of Death, which causes Dreadnought to tip and its spinning disks to collide with the floor. Even after Tomb of Death isn't touching Dreadnought, its disks bounce up and down on the floor a few times. Dreadnought gets under control, turns around, and attacks Tomb of Death's skirts with the disks. The disks easily twist and bend Tomb of Death's skirts upward. At least one of the skirts is torn off completely. Dreadnought's disks hit the floor a few more times. Tomb of Death is stuck in the corner, so it receives its free unsticking. In the last few seconds, nothing happens. The judges score it 30-3 for Dreadnought.
Blue Max bears an amazing resemblance to Maximus. Of all the fighting robots that don't have active weapons, Blue Max might be the only one that is considered by most everybody to be intimidatingly violent. It drives around the box at speeds of at least twenty miles per hour, crashing into whatever it can, be it the opponent or the I-beams. Apocalypse is a plain ol' ramming box. It ain't gonna out-ram Blue Max, I can tell you that for free.
Fight. Blue Max slams Apocalypse around. In the process, Blue Max damages its own wedge. But after enough slams, Apocalypse dies.
Lots of super heavyweights that have been on "BattleBots" in this tournament. Gammacide is unchanged since we last saw it on TV. Well, it's different in that its plow arm has been reattached. But the robot functions in the same way.
Crazy Susan is, without a doubt, the most-anticipated robot at this tournament. It's never fought before, and is a design that has never been attempted before. As you can see, it's a very large, round robot with a recessed center. In the center is a spinning turntable with blades on top of it. Crazy Susan gets that turntable rotating extremely fast, then tries to get its opponents to fall into it. The blades will then hopefully do some significant damage. But will it work? That's what everybody has gathered around the arena to see. I'm fairly sure the pits were emptier than usual during this fight.
The fight begins. Crazy Susan spins up. Gammacide rams its plow into Crazy Susan's skirt. The round skirt is made of many smaller pieces of metal, and some of them get bent in the first collision. Gammacide shoves Crazy Susan into the corner. Some of those pieces of metal skirt are thrown off. Gammacide continues to slam and lift Crazy Susan (it's not going to be able to flip Crazy Susan, as Crazy Susan is much too large). Crazy Susan taps out. Aw, we didn't even get to see a robot enter the turntable. Crazy Susan's next fight will be against Tomb of Death. If Tomb of Death is able to repair its skirts, Crazy Susan might not get a chance to use its weapon at all.
The fight begins, and both robots spin up. Tillah then turns around and rams its drum into the I-beam, stopping it cold. Megabyte approaches, and hits Tillah. Then Megabyte hits Tillah again. Tillah is dead. Megabyte decides to give it another smack with that spinning shell, and large chunks of Tillah go spraying across the arena! Tillah's wires are exposed! Tap out!
It's getting late (the museum has already closed), but they want to squeeze in round four of the middleweight losers bracket before they call it a day. You may have noticed that even though Deb Bot lost its first fight, it's already made it to round four of the losers bracket without any additional fighting. It received a bye in round one, followed by forfeits from both Mr. Pink and Moloch. Deb Bot is still missing the front of its lifting arm. VanillaBot's controls are backward for some reason, so the driver has to hold the transmitter upside-down for the entirety of the fight.
Fight. And it's pretty much a wedge fight. Despite its backward controls, VanillaBot is able to get underneath Deb Bot more often. But not too much really happens in this fight. When time expires, Deb Bot is on top of VanillaBot. The judges rule 22-11 in favor of Deb Bot. This time, I don't agree with the decision and can't see why the judges scored it that way.
For this fight, Armadillo has traded its flat pushing plate for a hinged wedge.
Fight. Despite the modification, Bad Attitude gets underneath Armadillo the majority of times. But in the last minute of the fight, after a hit, Bad Attitude just stops moving. Armadillo attacks the dead Bad Attitude, losing its wedge in the process. Bad Attitude is counted out of the tournament.
The fight begins, and Tesla's Tornado quickly starts spinning. Unafraid, Psychotron drives into it. Tesla's Tornado keeps spinning. Psychotron keeps attacking. About halfway through the fight, Psychotron loses the drive on its right-hand side. Tesla's Tornado continues to spin, but isn't translating. Psychotron slides itself across the floor, still trying to drive into Tesla's Tornado. It succeeds a couple of times, though it doesn't slow Tesla's Tornado down. Time is up. The judges score it 20-13 for Psychotron.
There had been a fair amount of waiting for this fight and the previous one to happen, and the audience was rapidly thinning. By the time this, the last fight of the day, took place, there were about six people sitting by the arena.
Fight. Jimmy is able to get underneath both parts of the multibot, and pushes them all over the place using both its wedge and its flat backside. Once, Ramma Lamma Ding Bot is able to push Jimmy around. And once, Jimmy is on top of Robot X. But this fight pretty much belongs to Jimmy. At the end of three minutes, Robot X appears to have lost the drive in its left side. The judges give the victory to Jimmy, 18-15. Good-bye, hyper, unpredictable multibot.