Robot Wars: Grand Champions was one of three US versions of the British robot combat show Robot Wars, shown on The New TNN between March and June 2002 alongside Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors. It was a re-edited and redubbed version of the fourth UK series, Robot Wars: The Fourth Wars, with new continuity links presented by Joanie Laurer and commentary by Stefan Frank.
The show featured competitors building fighting robots (mostly weighing up to 175lbs (79.4kg)) and pitting them against each other in the knockout-based "UK Championship". As well as each other, they would face a variety of hazards in the purpose-built Robot Wars Arena, including the Pit of Oblivion, Flame Pit and a roster of five House Robots (Shunt, Matilda, Dead Metal, Sgt. Bash and Sir Killalot) which could attack any competitor which strayed into their Corner Patrol Zones (CPZs). A sixth House Robot, Refbot, was also present to separate competitors, extinguish fires as well as enforce fair play in the arena.
Competitor robots won their battles by immobilizing opponents, pushing them down the Pit of Oblivion or, in very rare cases, throwing them over the surrounding side wall and out of the arena. In the event that more than one robot survived the full battle duration or became immobilized at the same time, a panel of Judges would decide the winner based on a set of four criteria: "style", "control", "damage" and "aggression".
As a redub of UK Series 4, Grand Champions was filmed at Park Street Studios, St Albans, Hertfordshire, in the United Kingdom, with the original team introductions and arena announcements by director Stuart McDonald left intact. The majority of competitor teams originated from the UK or Republic of Ireland, with a select few robots from the US also competing in the "War of Independence" special.
The main competition of Grand Champions (the Series 4 "UK Championship") consisted of sixteen "Heats" featuring six robots each. These began with two three-way melee battles ("Eliminators") where two robots from each would progress to the second round (also known as the "Heat Semi-Finals"). The second round featured a pair of one-on-one battles, the winners of which would face each other in the "Heat Final". The winner of the Heat Final would then progress to one of two "Semi-Finals".
The Semi-Finals consisted of two rounds of one-on-one battles between the heat winners; two winning robots from each would advance to the "Grand Final". Grand Finalists were initially paired off for two one-on-one "Eliminator" battles, the winners of each facing each other in a final battle to determine the new UK champion.
A number of special side competitions were also filmed alongside the "UK Championship" and aired directly after the Grand Final:
- Northern and Southern Annihilators - Two episodes involving six robots from the northern and southern-most regions of the United Kingdom respectively. These took the form of an elimination-style competition where one robot would be eliminated from each round until two remained. The winner of the final round would be declared the Annihilator champion.
- War of Independence - A one-on-one knockout competition between four robots from the United Kingdom and four from the United States, including two competitors (Rammstein and frenZy) which also fought in the original BattleBots.
- Tag Team Terror - Teams of two robots each fought each other in a short knockout competition; only one robot from each team could be "tagged" to fight in the arena at any time.
Thirty-two robots were awarded "seeds" based on their pedigree and popularity from previous series of the original UK Robot Wars. For example, the first, second and third seeds comprised of Third Wars champion and runner-up Chaos 2 and Hypno-Disc, as well as the then-recent World and International League champions Razer.
1. Chaos 2
17. King B3
All battles took place in the purpose-built Robot Wars Arena, which at the time of UK Series 4 consisted of a rectangular-shaped area with a plywood floor, bulletproof glass walls and outer enclosure, and a backdrop with control booths, a central balcony and entry gates resembling the interior of a military submarine. 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 this series included:
- The Pit of Oblivion - a rectangular panel in the floor located at the bottom-left, which descended part-way through battles after a certain amount of time had lapsed. Competitors which drove into or were pushed into this 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.
- Fire hazards including the Flame Pit (a large grille on the right-hand side with multiple flame jets spouting out from beneath), along with smaller flame jets and flamethrowers mounted within the arena floor and upper walls/entry gates. Robots passing over or alongside these would sustain damage to their internal components and circuitry, as well as have any flammable armor, fuels or fluids set on fire.
- Static and retractable spikes lined along the arena walls, along with small circular saws referred to in the original UK version as grinders.
- 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. Four would be stationed in CPZs in regular battles, where they would attack competitors which strayed too close to those areas. They would also deal further damage to defeated competitors and take them to other hazards once they had been considered eliminated after thirty seconds had passed.
- 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 3,000rpm chainsaw.
- 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, hydraulic crushing pincers and a turret-mounted flamethrower used to set flammable robots alight.
- Sir Killalot - The largest, heaviest and deadliest House Robot, equipped with hydraulic arms fitted with crushing claws and a rotating drill lance. Modelled on an alien knight; his name is a pun on 'Sir Lancelot' from Arthurian legend.
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, extinguish fires with an arm-mounted CO2 fire extinguisher and to prevent the other House Robots from attacking active competitors outside of their CPZs.
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, where team/robot introductions would also take place.
- Noel Sharkey
- Martin Smith
- Myra Wilson
|1||Heat A||March 24, 2002||Chaos 2|
|2||Heat B||March 31, 2002||Pussycat|
|3||Heat C||March 31, 2002||Firestorm 2|
|4||Heat D||April 7, 2002||Steg 2|
|5||Heat E||April 7, 2002||Dominator 2|
|6||Heat F||April 14, 2002||Tornado|
|7||Heat G||April 14, 2002||Thermidor 2|
|8||Heat H||April 21, 2002||Wheely Big Cheese|
|9||Heat I||April 21, 2002||Splinter|
|10||Heat J||April 28, 2002||Stinger|
|11||Heat K||April 28, 2002||MouseTrap|
|12||Heat L||May 5, 2002||Spawn of Scutter|
|13||Heat M||May 5, 2002||Wild Thing|
|14||Heat N||May 12, 2002||X-Terminator 2|
|15||Heat O||May 12, 2002||Panic Attack|
|16||Heat P||May 19, 2002||Hypno-Disc|
|17||Semi-Final 1||May 19, 2002||Chaos 2, Pussycat|
|18||Semi-Final 2||May 26, 2002||Stinger, Hypno-Disc|
|19||Grand Final||May 26, 2002||Chaos 2 (Champion)|
|20||Northern Annihilator||June 2, 2002||Spikasaurus|
|21||Southern Annihilator||June 2, 2002||Razer|
|22||War of Independence||June 4, 2002||Mortis (UK)|
|23||Tag Team Terror||June 9, 2002||King B3 & 101|
Marc Thorpe (based on the British show and 1994-1997 US live competitions of the same name); Tom Gutteridge and Steve Carsey (executive producers); Stuart McDonald (director).
- Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors - Main US version for The New TNN, broadcast in two seasons between August 2001 and July 2002.
- Nickelodeon Robot Wars - Children's version of Extreme Warriors, filmed alongside Season 2 and aired in August-September 2002 on Nickelodeon.
- runamok.tech, 'ROBOT WARS Series 4 Rules'