Robot Wars Inc
Nickelodeon Robot Wars was a short-lived children's version of Robot Wars filmed alongside the second season of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors. Six episodes were produced and aired on Nickelodeon between August and September 2002 as part of their Nickelodeon SLAM! programming block, with later re-runs on Nickelodeon GAS (Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids).
Dave Aizer and Vivianne Collins served as host and pit reporter respectively, with commentary provided by Stefan Frank, who also provided commentary for Extreme Warriors and Robot Wars: Grand Champions.
As with Extreme Warriors, the series featured competitors building fighting robots weighing up to 220lbs and being pitted against each other in a variety of elimination-based competitions. Many of these, such as Rosie the Riveter and The Revolutionist, had also competed in Extreme Warriors; the key difference between the two shows was that the operators ("roboteers") in the Nickelodeon series were all children associated with their respective teams. Battles took place in a purpose-built arena also used in Extreme Warriors and other versions of the original Robot Wars.
As well as each other, competitors would face a variety of hazards in the arena, including the Pit of Oblivion and a roster of five House Robots (Shunt, Matilda, Dead Metal, Sgt. Bash and Sir K) which could attack competitors entering their Corner Patrol Zones (CPZs). A non-combative House Robot, Refbot, was also used primarily to start battles, count out defeated competitors and enforce fair play. Competitor robots typically won their battles by immobilizing opponents or pushing them down the Pit of Oblivion.
In the event that more than one robot survived the full battle duration or if there was a rules infraction (e.g. excessive attacks from a House Robot), a panel of Judges would decide the winner of the battle based on a set of four criteria: "style", "control", "damage" and "aggression".
The series featured a total of eight events, with a variety of single-episode tournaments ("US Championship", "International Tag Team", "Annihilator") as well as smaller competitions ("Mayhem", "Vengeance", "Challenge Belt") spread out across multiple episodes. Two one-off fights, "Battle of the Spinners" and the "House Robot Rebellion", also featured, the latter involving two competitors facing a group of "House Robots" which had free reign of the arena. The format was conceptually similar to Robot Wars Extreme, a spin-off of the UK series featuring a variety of similar events which were shorter than the main "UK Championship".
Filming took place at Shepperton Studios in the United Kingdom alongside Extreme Warriors Season 2, using the same arena, pit area and House Robots as in the original UK version. The "International Tag Team" event (Episode 2) also featured a small number of competitor robots from the original UK series.
Changes over Extreme Warriors
To suit younger audiences, the Nickelodeon series adopted a less intense and frantic atmosphere than other versions of the show, with teams actively being discouraged from using rougher language. This also extended to a number of one-off changes made to the arena and House Robots:
- Disabling of fire-based hazards, including the Flame Pit, flame jets and Sgt. Bash's flamethrower; the former was converted to spout jets of CO2 instead.
- The renaming of Sir Killalot to Sir K, this being a nickname used frequently in video games and the original UK Robot Wars Magazine.
- Use of less serious items for the Drop Zone hazard, including sports equipment and scrap metal.
The eight events broadcast as part of the series were as follows:
- US Championship - A heavily-condensed version of the similarly-titled domestic championship from Extreme Warriors. Four robots fought in head-to-head battles, with the winners fighting again to determine the main Nickelodeon Robot Wars champion. A "Bonus Battle" was also staged to determine third and fourth places.
- International Tag Team - A hybrid of the Tag Team Terror and War of Independence/International Championship events found in other versions. Teams of two robots each represented the US and UK, fighting each other in their respective "Qualifiers" before the winners met in the final round. A "Play-off" was also held to determine third and fourth place finishes. Only one robot from each team was allowed to fight in the arena at a time, with teams being able to switch robots by 'tagging' them in their corners.
- Mayhem - Three-way melee battles from which only one robot would emerge victorious, as previously featured in Robot Wars Extreme. At least one of these battles was featured in Episodes 3, 4 and 5 respectively, along with an Ultimate Mayhem (the main event of Episode 5) between the winners of each respective fight.
- Vengeance - Much like the similarly-named event from the UK version, one-on-one battles held to settle grudges or present open challenges to participating competitors.
- Battle of the Spinners - A Vengeance-type battle between two spinner-wielding robots: Ninjitsu and Destructive Criticism.
- Challenge Belt - One robot (Tyranabot) was initially awarded the belt, which it had to defend by winning against three potential challengers in a winner-stays-on-competition. First introduced in Robot Wars Extreme, the format also required successful challengers to fulfil the same requirement in order to win the belt for themselves. The opening battle was billed as the main event of Episode 3, in which Tyranabot lost to eventual champion Tut Tut.
- House Robot Rebellion - The main event of Episode 4, which saw two competitors (Humdrum and Squirmin Vermin) face a team of House Robots which had free reign of the arena. Based on the similarly-titled events from the UK version and Extreme Warriors (the latter as the Robot Rebellion).
- Annihilator - A variation of the Extreme Warriors and UK Series side event, with five robots instead of the usual six. Robots were eliminated one by one from each round until two remained, the winner of the final round being declared the Annihilator champion.
All battles took place in the purpose-built Robot Wars Arena, which was the same iteration used during the concurrently-filmed Extreme Warriors Season 2. This consisted of a rectangular-shaped area with a plywood floor, bulletproof glass walls and outer enclosure, and a backdrop with three booths overlooking the arena from above. The two outer booths - featuring plexiglass lining as a safety measure - were reserved for competitor teams ("roboteers") to drive their machines during battles, with the center booth being used mainly for introductions, announcements and interviews by Dave Aizer. Directly beneath these booths were entry doors for competitor and House Robots to drive into the arena for battle, the centre door featuring the main Robot Wars logo.
The overall design of the arena was consistent with that introduced for Series 5-7 of the original UK series, giving the appearance of an abandoned factory setting.
Various hazards were scattered across the arena floor which every competitor had to avoid while fighting their opponents. Many of these were marked in yellow and black hazard stripes with red borders, with the main arena floor being painted gray.
Hazards featured in the Nickelodeon series included:
- The Pit of Oblivion - a rectangular panel in the floor located at the bottom-left, which could descend once competitors had pressed a button (the pit trigger) positioned near the bottom-right CPZ. The trigger, taking the form of a metal bumper, could be pressed at any time during battles. Competitors which drove into or were pushed into the opened Pit by another robot would be instantly eliminated.
- The Floor Flipper - a front-hinged, pneumatically-operated flipping panel at the top-right with a very similar appearance to the Pit. Used to throw defeated competitors across the arena once they had been attacked by the House Robots.
- The Disc of Doom - a circular rotating panel on the center-left of the arena, similar to the Spinners used in BattleBots. As well as flinging competitors across the arena, disrupting their movements and attacks, the Disc was lined out with sharp teeth to snag and damage their undersides. Identified by a spiral pattern, this hazard could be activated by a nearby button similar to that used for the Pit.
- The Drop Zone - a marked area (black rectangle with yellow cross) between the center of the Arena and the Pit, where competitors would have objects dropped on them upon being defeated. Objects dropped included sports equipment, an assortment of balls and scrap metal.
- The Steam Vents - upward-firing CO2 jets which acted more as a visual hazard. In the Nickelodeon series, their presence was expanded to include a large grille which was modified from the Flame Pit seen in other versions.
- The Angle Grinders - wall-mounted grinding disks placed in large semi-circular housings, intended to damage any competitor making contact with them. Three of these would line the left and right-hand side walls respectively.
- The Corner Patrol Zones (CPZs) - a set of four marked areas in each corner where the House Robots would be stationed during battles.
The House Robots were a set of robots serving as active hazards in the arena. Up to two would be stationed in Corner Patrol Zones (CPZs) in regular battles, where they would attack competitors which strayed too close to those areas. They would also deal further damage to and take defeated competitors to other hazards once they had been counted out after thirty seconds.
- Shunt - Influenced by bulldozers and railroad shunting engines, equipped with a snowplough and pneumatic lifting scoop at either end along with a powerful diamond-edged axe.
- Matilda - Based on a mutant alien boar or dinosaur, equipped with pneumatic flipping tusks and a set of interchangeable rear-mounted spinning weapons. The latter included a 3,000rpm chainsaw (as originally used in UK Series 1-4) or a vertical flywheel capable of severely damaging competitors.
- Dead Metal - An exoskeleton-style robot with a set of pneumatically-powered pincers and a 3,000rpm circular saw mounted on a hinged 'head' assembly.
- Sgt. Bash - Designed to resemble a futuristic military tank, with green army paintwork and hydraulic crushing pincers.
- Sir K - The largest, heaviest and deadliest House Robot, equipped with hydraulic arms fitted with crushing claws and a rotating drill lance. Originally known as Sir Killalot in Extreme Warriors and all other versions.
In addition to these, the series had a non-combative House Robot to enforce fair play in the arena:
- Refbot - A humanoid-style robot modelled on a sporting referee, featuring ramming ploughs and scoops as well as a variety of additional equipment. His primary roles were to separate competitors if they became stuck together, prevent the other House Robots from attacking active competitors outside of their CPZs, and to count out defeated competitors after they had become immobilized for more than thirty seconds.
Also part of the Robot Wars studio was The Pits, a designated area where all competitor and House Robots would be maintained and prepared in between battles. Roboteers would be allocated a workbench to store and work on their robots away from the main arena, as well as introduce themselves and their machines before battles. An entryway between the Pits area and main Arena, the tunnel, would also be used for interviews.
- Noel Sharkey
- Martin Smith
- Mat Irvine
Note: Where applicable, matches in bold highlight the main events for each episode along with their winning robots.
|1||US Championship||August 25, 2002||Tyranabot|
|2||International Tag Team||September 1, 2002||Rick & Ming 3 (UK)|
Battle of the Spinners
|September 8, 2002||Propeller-Head|
House Robot Rebellion
|September 15, 2002||Tut Tut|
Dead Metal, Shunt & Sir K (House Robots)
|September 22, 2002||The Revolutionist|
|6||Annihilator||September 29, 2002||Hannibal|
Marc Thorpe (based on the British show and 1994-1997 US live competitions of the same name); Tom Gutteridge and Steve Carsey (executive producers).
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors - Main US version for The New TNN, broadcast in two seasons between August 2001 and July 2002.
- Robot Wars: Grand Champions - US redub of the fourth UK series, broadcast by The New TNN in March-June 2002.
- Runamok.tech, 'Robot Wars Extreme Warriors - Season 2 Rules'
- Runamok.tech, 'Combat Robot Tournaments and Events - The Ask Aaron Archives'