So here we were, a
Saturday afternoon in August in Nottingham, England and about to
take part in the Grand Finals of Robot Wars Series 7. We were
in an elite few with robots like Tornado and Typhoon 2 all ready to
roll. We were worried by the previous days experience in which
it seemed that the producers of the show were trying to find a way
to avoid Storm II winning against Firestorm -
what would happen on Grand Final day ?
Grand Finals -
Storm II vs Tornado- Filming Date Saturday 30th August 2003
For our first fight in
the Grand Finals we were to fight Tornado, our
old friends, colleagues and mentors. Tornado had been the
inspiration for Storm II and the team had provided an enormous
about of support to us over the years we had been building robots
helping us through the steep learning curve of robots.
Suddenly we were up against a household name, past champions, Robot
Wars Extreme Challenge Belt holders , Winners of Series 6 - Storm II was going to take on
It was strange chatting
to the Tornado Team before the fight, they'd gone from being our
friends to our competitors, we weren't really sure how to deal with
this. They didn't seem confident in taking us on, and we
weren't really very confident in taking them on
Bryan, Andy and Dave - Team Tornado
It was Ed driving again
for this fight as we made our way up to our control booths, knowing
that whoever won this fight had a very good change of going on to
become the Robot Wars Grand Champions of Series 7
The voice of god counted
down and before we knew it we were off. Tornado started off
well, getting their 'scoop of doom' underneath the from of Storm II
and driving us back against the arena wall. There was nothing
Ed could do to get off them so we just let them drive us back,
knowing that at some point they would have to back off and we could
use our superior acceleration and speed (10mph vs 25mph) to get away
from them. As the backed away Storm II pulled away and we used
our speed to turn inside them getting alongside them before they
could get their scoop pointing back at us again.
We drove Tornado hard
into the arena sidewall sending them flying through the air (the TV
footage of this doesn't do it justice) and they actually bounced
back over the front of Refbot.
Time and time again we
rammed Tornado into the side wall of the arena and/or the house
robots desperate to score points in the judges eyes - and when
Tornado did threaten, we used our superior speed to get away from
them and re-group.
The decisive moment came
in the fight when we got our lifter in under Tornado and turned them
over. With their scoop now the wrong way up they were
powerless to do anything, every time the drove at Storm II they just
rode up our scoop
At the far end of the
arena Refbot went to press the pit release button and we drove Storm
II down the length of the arena at full speed with Tornado on the
front and threw them off the front of the robot, sending them
skimming into the pit. Tornado sank down out of our view, the
crown cheered and we celebrated in the control booth.... but NO,
controversy was to come and hit us again.
Tornado had sunk out of
view of us in the control booth, meaning that the pit must have been
at least 1ft below the level of the arena, and as we celebrated and
the crown cheered, a little red box started to rise up again into
Mentorn were raising the pit again to put Tornado
back into the fight. When this was cut for TV what you
actually saw was Tornado exiting the pit as the pit was coming UP,
not descending. The commentary suggests Tornado had a
'lucky' escape - trust us, it was far more than luck that got
Tornado back out of the pit.
Anyway, with a shrug
of our shoulders we decided the only option was to dish out more of
what we'd been delivering to Tornado and decided to just carry on
knowing that Tornado was still inverted and therefore didn't pose us
any sort of a threat.
We were both extatic and
disappointed in the booth when Craig announced our win. Of
course we were glad to win, but there was also a part of me that
wanted Tornado to go through and prove that they could win the
trophy twice on the trot.
couldn't believe that we'd beaten them, but again we were worried
that after the Firestorm incident where it appeared that the producers had tried to
manipulate the rules. We found ourselves again looking at going into
another fight with another example of the producers using what
control they had of the arena/rules to try to remove Storm II from
the competition. That's twice now.... what next ?
The Grand Final-
Storm II vs
Typhoon 2- Filming Date Sunday 31st August 2003
So here we were, about to
take part in the Grand Final of Robot Wars, knowing that if we won
that we'd also be in the World Championships (being filmed the same
day). A total of 4 full combat fights in one day - no mean
feat for any robot. But before we could contemplate any of
this, we had to get past Typhoon 2
What you're about to read
is a recollection of what is probably the most controversial fight
ever on Robot Wars
Typhoon 2 was a robot
built by engineers at BAE Systems for the Edinburgh Air Cadets, it's
a bit like taking on the RAF at Robot Wars - the engineering
resource balanced is somewhat stacked in their favour ! Even
so, we were all confident that Storm II could last the distance, and
so long as we remained the aggressor and didn't take anything other
than superficial damage we were confident of a win.
We were actually
looking forward to fighting Typhoon 2 far more than we would have
been looking forward to fighting Exterminator as their spinning
up-cutting disk could have easily turned Storm II over which could
have given us some serious problems.
Typhoon 2 was not a well
robot before our fight having taken some internal damage after it's
previous fight. We were on pit tables next to them and as
Storm II sat quietly, it's batteries being topped up, the Typhoon 2
team were busy as the engineers worked on their robot.
Inside Typhoon 2 (Taken whilst in the US competing)
We were up in the control
booth waiting for the fight to start, Ed was driving and we were
ready to go. Our tactic was simple, keep the pressure on
Typhoon 2 and choose when we hit them, as opposed to letting them
come after us. Activate was called and Storm II started
stalking Typhoon 2 around the arena. They quickly spun their
disk up to speed, but didn't seem to know how to deal with Storm II.
Whereas other competitors that they had taken on had tended to dance
around them, Storm II was relentlessly chasing them down with them
'running away' (apparently strategically) all the time.
Eventually Storm II got close enough and rammed into the side of
Typhoon. Storm II was knocked away and Typhoon 2 bounced
off.... all eyes were on Storm II which we simply turned back to
face Typhoon 2, and continued the relentless pursuit of them.
Storm II was like the terminator, it simply shrugged off the impact
turned back and continued it's pursuit.
The game of cat and mouse
went on for some time. Typhoon 2 always running and Storm II
always pursuing. Typhoon 2 had never had to last thins long
with it's disk at full speed and it's motors driving it around the
arena, in previous fights it's opponent had always been quickly
immobilised and the wear was starting to show on Typhoon 2.
Their disk stopped spinning up, and for almost 2 mins of the fight
Storm II was under Typhoon 2 using it's lifting arm.
them into the CPZ expecting the house robots to dispose of what was
now a dead duck, but the House Robots weren't interested as we
paraded Typhoon 2 from CPZ to CPZ. With the house Robots not
doing what they should do (attacking a robot in the CPZ) we decided
to see if we could repeat our Steel Avenger trick and bounce them
out of the arena. Storm II blasted Typhoon 2 at full speed the
full length of the arena, but just meters from the side wall,
Typhoon 2 caught the edge of the pit and spun away off the front of
Storm II - this was also enough for them to get their disk spinning
Typhoon 2 were back in
the game now, although well down on points. They disk was
spinning again and Storm II went back to chasing them around the
arena. Suddenly Typhoon to dived to one side and smashed the
arena side wall sending bits of Polycarbonate flying. Typhoon
2's disk stopped immediately and they were sent ricocheting across
the arena. Cease was called straight away and both teams were
told to drive their robots back to the bull pens.
We had to wait whilst the
arena was repaired and then both teams drove back out to the arena
to carry on the fight. Storm II was ready to go but Typhoon 2
couldn't get their weapon to spin up (again).... nothing new there
in this fight !!
However, AGAIN something very very strange took place.
Typhoon 2 were allowed to
FIX their weapon system so
that they could spin up. At this point Team Storm decided this
was all too much and lodged a protest with Mentorn. Typhoon's disk wasn't spinning up properly long before
they hit the wall - so why should they be allowed to repair damage
answer that Mentorn gave was that they would have to 'Edit out' the
arena being smashed as it wouldn't be appropriate to show that on TV
and thus they had to 'maintain continuity'. We were assured
that this wasn't being done to be unfair, but was being done to
maintain consistency in the show. We pointed out again that
Typhoon had been having problems long before they hit the wall, but
it was clear Mentorn didn't care.
After almost 10 mins
of the Typhoon team having the lid off the robot and working on
their engine starting and disk drive system they put the lid back on
the robot and were ready to compete again. I think this must
have been the first time that a team have been allowed to repair a
fault with their robot mid-battle.
The rest of the fight
was must the same, Typhoon 2 running away and Storm II chasing.
Typhoon 2 again started to show signs of battle damage, it's driving
became erratic and we could see that they had lost some drive chains
from the inner workings of their robot in the arena. In the
final seconds of the fight one of the front armour panels of Storm
II was dislodged by Typhoon to along with it's support, and the
fight was over.
Neither team knew who had
won. Both teams had taken damage during the fight.
Typhoon's weapon system kept stopping repeatedly and they had to fix
it mid-fight. They'd also lost drive chains from the robot
which Chris Reynolds picked up from the arena after their fight and
offered to throw them up to the balcony where we were all standing
Knowing that their
robot had a damaged weapon system, knowing that they had lost drive
to some of their wheels (we all saw Chris Reynolds who looks
after the house robots pick up the chains from
the floor and tell the Typhoon team they'd put them with the robot)
in the interview the Typhoon team claimed that their robot was
totally 'undamaged' and that it was 'like new' - not something that
we expected, we'd at least expected honesty.
Tim, Meral and Ed
couldn't believe it. An organisation such as the RAF were
standing there and at worst lying, at best being very very
econimical with the truth about the state of their robot. Mentorn decided to bring the lost armour panel of Storm II up to the
interview booth and hand it to us - but there were no sign of the
chains that Typhoon had lost previously in the arena. There
was no mention of the fact that Typhoon 2 were given time to repair
their robot in the fight.
In the end, the fight was
given to Typhoon 2. We were gutted, the audience booed - save
the small group of supporters the Typhoon team had with them.
On the TV footage Mentorn had to add 'canned applause' as the booing
was so loud from the audience.
Mentorn the producers
of the show had at last managed to stop Storm II from winning,
they'd apparently tried to throw us out for not using our active weapon against
Firestorm. They'd brought the pit back up to let Tornado get
back into the fight against us, and they'd finally resorted to
allowing a robot be repaired mid-fight in the name of 'continuity'
and totally ignoring all the damage that had been done to Typhoon 2,
to concentrate on an armour panel and it's supports
Afterwards when the
judges found out that Typhoon had lost drive chains, and the extent
of the repairs they had made behind the scenes Team Storm got apologies from all of
them - one in writing.
The way the system works is after a fight Mentorn hand
the judges a piece of paper detailing the damage to each robot.
On the sheet for Typhoon 2, Mentorn had listed 'no damage'.
Mentorn showed footage of the judges inspecting the damage from the
robots, and you saw part of the front scoop of Storm II being given
to the judges, but no-one told them that Typhoon had lost drive
chains from inside the robot. It was sad day for Team
Storm, but it did get us automatic qualification into the World
Typhoon 2 should have entered the World
Championships too, but it mysteriously retired - apparently so that
it's batteries could be used for a sideshow 'middleweight' final.
A strange mix of priorities when you have a robot that's apparently
'fighting fit' and the World Championships to film that day.
Typhoon 2 was never seen again at filming, and dropped out of the
World Championships with 'technical difficulties' according to the
show as opposed to never entering the competition as was the story
on the day from the team.
...... suspicion is
that it was in such as state internally after the fight with Storm
II, it couldn't compete any longer. Strange for a robot with
'no damage' Storm II needed 2 mins with a welder, and we were
fighting fit and ready to go.
Still to this day we meet
people who tell us 'we were robbed' - but we realised we were going to
be robbed one way or another from the semi-finals onwards.
It's a shame, and it's not that we're sore losers - we'd just have
liked to have a fair fight !
Storm II however now had
the big one in front of it.......... The Robot Wars World
Championships, and for that you'll have to check back soon !