Spoilers let’s just get that out of the way now because I have to talk about this in detail.
Since Robot Wars has been rebooted in the UK it has been an incredible return to form. The bots are bigger, more destructive, and at times not even the once indomitable House Robots could escape the competitors wholly unscathed. But as a fan for nearly three decades (oh gods that’s a daunting thing to consider) I can say that this season’s final was as memorable from beginning to end as such infamous moments as Hypno-Disc’s first fight where the devastating power of a spinning blade was first made apparent, Chaos 2’s soaring flight from upside-down, or every burning moment of Diotoir’s career on the show.
Hype was on since episode one of this season when the very idea of a ten-robot-redemption melee was introduced, in which the second and third place competitors from each heat would be given one final, slender chance at the trophy. The reboot has been awash with harrowing spinners, mighty flippers, and only a smattering of other weapons proving viable, and money proving to be as potent a weapon as skill. The melee on the other hand was a blend of spinners, flippers, axes, hammers and jaws, and above all madness, complete and incomprehensible madness. At times it was impossible to decipher the action, making Eruption’s strategy of avoidance more prudent. By sitting off to the side Michael Oates kept Eruption free and clear of the worst of the damage that brought an end to favourites like Thor, Apollo, and Terrahurtz.
The rogue entrant Nuts 2 caused incredible (and hilarious) upset by toppling two of the series giants, veterans Behemoth and former winner Carbide. Nuts is a pair of wheels with flails that are only effective when at full spin and mostly stationary, along with a pair of diminutive companion bots that serve as wedges to hold bigger bots still. Sounds insane, because it’s completely Nu- mad. And yet one well timed button press from one of the wedges saw Behemoth plummeting into the pit like it needed to get to the Batcave in a hurry, leaving the terrible force of Carbide’s spinning bar to devour the flimsy flail. But both of Nuts’ whirling hammers came colliding with the fragile drive chain of that devastating weapon, leaving Carbide little more than an armoured box on wheels, wheels that proved similarly vulnerable.
Eruption goes on to join Magnetar and Rapid, Rapid being the “rich kid’s” robot and therefor immediately the bad guy according to 80’s film logic. At this point I’m conflicted, while Eruption are the plucky underdog, Magnetar’s team are from Shropshire meaning geographic loyalty pitches me against the one ‘bot I’ve been quietly rooting for since the first season. Rapid foolishly picked on the underdog Eruption, and Magnetar made them regret it immediately, eventually leaving the rich kids face down and immobile, after that I didn’t care who won. It was Eruption.
Fast tracking through the intervening rounds then. Carbide set Rapid on fire, that was pretty. Behemoth just about clawed a victory from Magnetar which was disappointing but it was a very even fight between the two. Eruption then battered Behemoth into a corner, trying hard to get them out of the arena altogether but Behemoth is aptly named and can’t be launched quite so far as the smaller machines. Rapid donated a chunk of their corpse to Carbide after being turned to debris by that horrible bar weapon, said chunk was fashioned into a shield to protect from Nuts’ whirling hammers and that eventually led to the dark horse’s downfall, allowing Carbide to close on the fragile machine behind the Nuts’ circle of pain.
Leaving Carbide, with the most feared weapon in the game, versus Eruption, who must have some kind of record for most machines removed from the arena.
That fight I will not spoil because it was brutal, and beautiful. Even more intense to recall that Carbide was the robot that took Eruption out in the heats, forced them to fight for survival in the Grand Melee, from which they had to struggle every moment to get that opportunity for a rematch.
I’ve been talking about Robot Wars like other people talk about football, and I suppose I can empathise more with football fans now that the series is back with such a vengeance. It’s the show I can’t wait to talk about at work, I want to watch replays, go through blow-by-blow, and learn about the teams and the tech behind the carnage in the arena. I appreciate that the judges are more heavily involved in commentary and the insights into their adjudication that the rebooted Robot Wars has brought, and the growing enthusiasm of Dara O’Briain and Angela Scanlon to match that of commentator Jonathan Pearce.
And after this Sunday, never have I meant it more: long live Robot Wars, and come back Nuts.