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Thread: The Big Fat Robot Wars 20th Anniversary Bru-Ha-Ha Threadapalooza

  1. #1
    steven_mcg's Avatar
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    Once upon a time in a strange place called "America", special effects expert Marc Thorpe built a remote-controlled vacuum cleaner to make doing the housework less of a bore. While the resulting machine wasn't particularly effective, it was jolly good fun to drive around and it gave Marc an idea; if one RC safety hazard crashing into his radiator was fun, then two RC safety hazards crashing into each other would be awesome on toast.

    Marc soon revised and refined this idea into a unique kind of robotics competition he held in his hometown of San Francisco, a contest where amateur and professional engineers could come together and pit their own radio-controlled machines against each other for the entertainment of the locals - and themselves.

    He called it Robot Wars.



    Believe it or not, August 20th-21st 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the very first official Robot Wars competition. Over a dozen teams competed across three weight divisions in head-to-head bouts, class-wide melees and even Escort missions against the original House Robot. The competitors ranged from axlebots to forklifts to ventriloquist dummies on tricycles. The arena hazards included steel nets and waggling stripes of plastic. The victors got T-shirts, posters, plaques and copies of Sim City 2000 for an Apple Mac.

    And it's the reason we're all still hanging about here today.

    Robot Wars may have faded from the public eye this past decade, but the show still lives on in live shows across the country and I can't think of a better time to get nostalgic than now. If I hadn't watched that Blue Peter segment on the UK show just after Season 1 began, I not only wouldn't have found of my biggest obsessions as a kid, but I wouldn't have made all the wonderful friends I've met through these forums over the years.

    Let this be our unofficial anniversary knees-up to one of the weirdest and wackiest shows on telly - the highlights, the lowlights, the best bots, the best battles, the underrated, the overrated, the many many House Robot kills - and let me get the ball rolling with some more fun from the very first War in '94:

    ~ To begin, the results of Robot Wars 94 as documented by the Run Amok Combat Robotics website. You'll never lose an FRA pub quiz ever again.

    ~ Cold-hard stats not pulling you in? Maybe this first-hand account of the event by Team Minus Zero of frenZy fame will help put a face to the carnage. You'll also find a fascinating copy of the original rules in an acceptance email from Marc Thorpe himself.

    ~ While most of the earliest surviving Robot Wars footage comes from 1995 onwards, there are at least a couple of videos from the '94 event. This website has some brief guerrilla footage in the playlist linked, while the YouTube vid below takes a more official peek at the contest via a segment on the Discovery Channel:



    Can I say for the record that Andy Roid is absolutely terrifying? Shudder.

    So come on, fellow fanboys. Robot Wars. 20 years. Lots to talk about. Where do you want to start?

  2. #2
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    David Weston
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    Never seen that video before, the first lot of robots were MAD! I mean, rockets??!

  3. #3
    Niels - Team K.a.L.M.'s Avatar
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    Niels van der Berg
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    And in an arena with no sidewalls let alone a roof

    Safety really wasn't at the very top of the list at that moment although it is clear that the forces generated were still unknown at that point.

    Nice vids though, I was 10 yrs old back then and only found out about rw about 7 yrs later accidently stumbling acorss the BBC a network I never watched up till then.

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