hushed whispers to this day. Gary
Cline — an active member of the
community — proposed an interim
solution: an invite-only event known
as Robotica, held on the same date as
the previously intended Robot Wars
tournament. For caring about the
builders, Cline was served a court
order by Profile Records, forcing him
to not hold the event.
In the meantime, Profile had
partnered with British TV giant
Mentorn, producing a Robot Wars
television series in late 1997. The
show's layout of 'gauntlet, challenge,
fight' would prove a great hit with UK
audiences, sparking the fire in the
British roboteering community to
begin evolving and creating robots
along a myriad of different design
Focus in Great Britain differed
from their counterparts in America.
The heavyweight class was what most
builders designed and fought in — a
contrast to the three weight classes all
well represented in the United States.
The climax of the Golden Age
resulted in a lasting degree of enmity
towards Plotnicki. Former competitors,
Greg Munson and Trey Roski of Team
La Ma Motors (noted for their
Heavyweight robot, La Machine)
created BattleBots as a response to
the situation — a new competition to
fill the void that Robot Wars' American
legal troubles had left in the
A robot 'street fight' held at an
underpass in 1998 had indicated there
was still plenty of need for a
competition. Both of the childhood
friends were more than willing to pick
up the torch. The result was a lawsuit
by the Profile Records-controlled Robot
Wars, claiming 'enormous economic
harm' could be caused to their 1999
event due to a supposed nonexistent
date conflict. The resulting legal battle
ended in the lawsuit being tossed out.
The BattleBots' Long Beach event
became the first step in a
The Silver Age of combat
robotics came in the television
era. By the end of 1999, Robot
Wars had held a full season of a
combat-based tournament in the
United Kingdom, while BattleBots
swiftly shot up from a webcasted
event, to a pay-per-view, to a good
time slot on Comedy Central. By
now, the divide between nations
had been clearly laid out.
BattleBots focused on a myriad of
weight classes, including the then-new
Superheavyweight class. Robot Wars
focused almost exclusively on a
Heavyweight competition, with
occasional side events showcasing
robots in the other weight classes. In
several instances, British robots such
as Killerhurtz and Bigger Brother came
over to compete in BattleBots, while
some American machines (Mauler and
FrenZy among them) traveled the
other way, competing in Robot Wars'
World Championship events.
As time proceeded onward, a
shift in television would spell the end
to both of the major robot combat
shows. BattleBots was cut from
Comedy Central due to Viacom's
refocusing of the channel to more
comedy-based programming, while
Robot Wars suffered constant slot
changes that soon left its viewer base
in the gutter, unable to save the show
from being axed by Channel 5.
Prior to its cancellation, Robot
Wars had expanded tremendously as
a multinational show, with German
and Dutch variations as well as a
series shown on Nickelodeon. When
the tower of televised bot tussles fell
down, it hit the community hard.
During the Silver Age, another
show briefly popped up on the radar:
Robotica. It was a show based around
a gauntlet-labyrinth-combat precept
similar to the early seasons of Robot
Wars. While Robotica lasted for a
scant three seasons, many of the
robots would also compete on a Mick
Foley-hosted American version of the
Robot Wars show, known as Robot
Wars: Extreme Warriors.
Despite the focus on television,
some bot builders had foreseen that
the future of the sport was in live
events. One of these was Bob Pitzer
of Team Raptor, noted for the
performance of their Lightweights in
the Comedy Central series. He was
22 SERVO 03.2016
House robot Sir Killalot (left) tries to flip over Cassius
(right) in Robot Wars Series 2.
Image from the Robot Wars Wiki.
Nightmare (left) devastates SlamJob in a
televised match during Season 2.0 of
BattleBots. Image from the Battlebots Wiki.
Revenge (right) grips
Buzzbomb in the
Season 3 of Robotica.
Image by Mark Joerger.