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As you know if you've read the pages of this site that don't exhaustively focus on real fighting robots, I've amassed a nice little collection of officially licensed, radio-controlled BattleBots toys. And sure, I've had lots of fun driving them around as they sport the features given to them by the fine folks at Tiger Electronics, but sometimes, I like a change of pace. I like to shake things up. I like to exploit the strengths and weaknesses of each individual toy. I like to take long walks on the beach, listening to... oh, sorry, wrong page.

My point is, sometimes I get the urge to try something new with the toys, so I go and create a minor adjustment to the toy's usual state of being that I like to call a "modification." And here, digitally documented for all the world to see -- in place of something that could conceivably be beneficial to mankind, like a page about growing a healthier fern -- are those modifications.

Please note that when I talk about modifying the toys, I am not talking about doing anything that requires any amount of skill to duplicate. For example, you will not see the word "solder" being used in the descriptions of any of my modifications. All of these changes could easily be performed by a ten-year-old child with a minimum of adult supervision. The only adhesive I ever use is tape of varying degrees of tackiness.

So here are my own personal mods. Some were great ideas; others were terrible flops. They're all here for you to sneer at. Enjoy.


Say hello to BioCarnage.

BioCarnage is my own little modification of the BioHazard Pro Series RC toy. It came about when I noticed that the lifting arm is more or less useless, and that the toy drives like a two-wheeled robot. It spins in place very very fast -- just like a thwackbot can. So I removed the lifting arm (it snaps off with little trouble) and stuck a very cheap thwack-like arm in its place. Specifically, the arm is a wooden dowel 5/8" in diameter with a T-shaped piece of pipe connector on the end. Then I taped everything down with masking tape. Total cost of materials (not including tape): a whopping $1.43.

BioCarnage brings all sorts of new fun to the Pro Series fights. I've probably got mine all off-balance, but it still spins at a very nice speed. Plus, if your BioHazard toy is like mine, the speeds of the wheels on each side are different, resulting in its own slight melty brain/tornado drive. It was so sweet seeing BioCarnage rip the tail off of Diesector. Plus, the modification keeps the back wedge of the toy, so you can still push opponents around if you wish. I've discovered that the masking tape isn't strong enough to keep the dowel on the toy for the entire fight, though -- duct tape usually, though not always, does the trick.

Anyway, it's a fun project for a rainy day and it lets you have that thwackbot toy you've always wanted. Truth be told, I think I like the toy better as BioCarnage than as the way it originally came.


Look! It's Warhead! Minus the wings! And no tail! And a differently-shaped body! Okay, so it's not really Warhead at all. But it was inspired by Warhead.

Using a fair amount of duct tape, I attached my Blendo Custom Series toy to the rear of my BioHazard Pro Series toy in such a way so that its wheels wouldn't come into contact with anything. I also removed BioHazard's lifting arm.

The idea for "Warhead" came to me as I noticed that the BioHazard and Blendo toys both operated on the 27 MHz frequency. If I set both toys to the same channel, I could control both with one transmitter. As the wheels of BioHazard moved this creation across the floor, the wheels of Blendo would spin harmlessly in the air.

But the unusually-clever-for-me part lay in making the weapon work. For the Custom Series toys, the button on the top left of the transmitter caused both wheels to quickly drive forward, making the weapon move in the process. But for the Pro Series toys, that same button controlled the weapon movement. So with Blendo's wheels off the ground, I could hold the button down, causing the shell to spin while the toy remained in one place. And since BioHazard's arm was no longer attached, all its body would do is repeatedly raise and lower the small piece of plastic in the middle of the shell. It was noisy, but I could drive around in controlled directions while the dome was spinning.

I knew going into this that my version of Warhead wouldn't work well in toy-to-toy combat. Blendo spins much too slowly to damage anything. It couldn't even do anything to Diesector's vulnerable chisel arms. And after ramming the toy into Diesector a few times, the duct tape began to loosen and Blendo dragged along the floor. But this was just done because it could be done. And it is kind of cool, isn't it?

Dr. Inferno/LaMachine
& Flailing Blendo

I've been taping objects to two of my Custom Series toys in an effort to make them more fun. One of the additions worked and one of them didn't. Let's start with the one that didn't.

It seemed like a great idea... since Blendo's spinning shell had no way to do anything that resembled damage, why not add some flails? I don't know much about physics, but I do know that if the shell spins at the same speed as before, the farther out the flails, the faster they move, and the more likely they might actually do some perceived damage. Right?

So I took a string of broken Christmas lights and cut it into three short lengths of wires. I taped together the ends and duct taped them to the protrusions on Blendo's shell. I spun the toy in place... ooh, those cut through the air nicely. They made a neat smacking sound against the other bots, but that was about it. I wanted more.

I took the leftover dowel that I used to make BioCarnage and cut three small pieces from it. I duct taped those pieces to the ends of the wires. Now I've got me a smacking weapon.

I've got to admit, they look pretty intimidating when spinning (I tried to take a picture, but they were spinning so fast, it didn't really show up). And they kind of hurt when they hit the bones in your foot (this is why it's a good thing that I NEVER build a real robot -- I'm stupid enough to stick my bare foot right in the path of the weapon to see how strong it is).

But they just don't do anything in combat. Blendo takes a couple seconds to spin up (okay, I guess that's true of any spinner), and when it comes into contact with another toy... it stops. It's not that satisfying of a smacking noise. It can't even tear off those little pieces of plastic that are designed to be broken off. And the flails get in the way when I try to drive forward or backward. It just doesn't work. Oh well.

But this, this is a good thing to do. Remembering LaMachine's early success, I decided that Dr. Inferno Jr. needed to have its front wedge extended. I was able to push the other toys around with the original wedge, but I wanted to really control them.

So I took some ordinary corrugated cardboard and cut it into a rectangle. I rested it against the robot body, taped it down, and voila... it's LaMachine. Sort of. I had to cut a hole in the cardboard to allow Dr. Inferno Jr.'s spike to poke through, because it was getting caught against the cardboard and producing a grinding noise that the toy probably shouldn't be making any more than necessary.

But the wedge extension works wonderfully in fights. When I fight against DooAll, DooAll nearly always gets flipped onto its back. (Which raises the question of why the DooAll toy isn't invertible, but I don't care. I just flipped a robot over!) Blendo and Son of Whyachi are too wide to be flipped (or maybe it's the lack of treads or something), but it certainly doesn't hurt anything to have the cardboard on. Hooray!

Dr. Inferno's Tomb

This isn't a new idea so much as it's an extension of my Dr. Inferno/LaMachine idea up above.

So I've established that the Dr. Inferno Jr. toy is more effective when its front wedge extends further upward and at a steeper angle. But the trick to employing that wedge extension is to wedge under the opponent in the first place. As I've stated elsewhere, the RC toys all have the characteristic of having wedges that don't come close to reaching the ground. Toys with adjustable forks (such as Diesector and Vlad the Impaler) can get under those wedges and take advantage. And I can't have that (unless, of course, I'm the one driving Diesector or Vlad).

So I got a whole bunch of colored posterboard-like material and cut it into various trapezoids. I then taped those trapezoids to the non-stickered portions of the Dr. Inferno Jr. toy (as I've discovered, Scotch tape will tear the decals). Ta-da, wedged skirts that scrape the ground on all sides. And wedge extensions on all four sides of the robot. I had to create holes so that the original weapon pieces could still rotate and thrust, but otherwise, it's a big pyramid-like wedge.

I did not do any careful measuring in the cutting and attachment of these trapezoids. I cut the red wedge pieces larger than necessary so they could reach the floor. I taped them to the toy, allowing the posterboard to curve gently. I tried to drive the toy, but the wheels couldn't reach the ground since the posterboard was too stiff. So I let the toy sit for a couple of days, allowing gravity to do its thing. When I test-drove it again, the posterboard had become flush with the floor while allowing the wheels to propel the toy around as designed. Vlad ain't getting under here without a struggle.

Will the posterboard get bent once it's in a fight? Of course. So I'll make more. It hasn't been battle-tested, but I'm guessing that the wedge extensions will serve their purpose. If I wasn't sure that the plastic toy weighed more than a pound and if I didn't care about having it cracked, I could conceivably enter this into an antweight competition. I'd love to see how it'd fare against another wedge, at any rate.

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