- "Once, Hypno-Disc spun supreme, but with TWO spinning discs, 13 Black is now the one to fear!"
- — Craig Charles in Series 7
Despite losing in the first round of Series 5 to Corkscrew and in the second round of Series 7 to Gravity, 13 Black enjoyed a reasonable amount of success. It reached the Series Semi-Finals of The Sixth Wars, defeating Stinger in the Heat Final before losing to Firestorm 4 and Dantomkia. It also performed well in the All-Stars tournament of Extreme 2, where it defeated Chaos 2, Dominator 2 and caused serious damage to Razer, though it ultimately lost to the latter in the Heat Final.
13 Black was long and narrow in shape, with the base of the robot appearing canoe-shaped. The core design of 13 Black was to arm both sides of the robot with equally weighted horizontal flywheels. 13 Black was armed with two 650mm chrome poly-carbon spinning discs in Series 5, which were upgraded to 750mm steel blades in Series 6, and 850mm chrome poly-carbon composite discs in Extreme 2. One of the discs was black, with the number 13 on it, while the other was painted to look like a roulette wheel, and both originally spun at 800rpm.
This was raised to 900rpm for Extreme 2 and following an upgrade to 36v for Series 7, 1200rpm was attained. Both discs could be controlled independently, and could be rotated in either direction. It can also act as a full body spinner, spinning the whole robot at deadly speeds. In Series 7, the number 13 was no longer present on the black disc. The team added a self-righting mechanism to the robot for Series 7, but it failed to work in two separate battles.
In Series 5, 13 Black had a carbon-fibre and Kevlar composite body. In Series 6, 13 Black had a polycarbonate coated body with a metallic green material underneath, and a steel body painted green in Series 7. The robot was quite fast at 20mph, and was capable of causing large amounts of damage using the flywheels. Although it did not appear to be so, 13 Black was somewhat able to move while inverted, using its flywheels to "crab-walk" around the arena. However, it was susceptible to being flipped due to its high ground clearance and inability to self-right. 13 Black's radio reception was also unreliable in Series 5.
13 Black's name is a reference to roulette, where the number 13 space is coloured black on a roulette wheel, hence the colour scheme on one of its discs. It is also a reference to Triskaidekaphobia, a fear or avoidance of number 13 being the unlucky number according to superstition. Although the name 13 Black was used on television, featuring a space, the team consistently referred to their own robot as 13Black or 13BLACK.
Initially called for the Series 5 qualifiers at Sheffield Arena, 13 Black was 20kg overweight, the custom electronics were unfinished, so 13 Black could not compete as a functioning robot. However, the producers were impressed with 13 Black's design, and offered it an automatic place on the TV show without needing to compete in a qualifier battle, on the condition that the team met the weight limit and finished the control system. Team 13 complied, and 13 Black qualified for Series 5.
- "This robot looked like trouble, a set of big blue hydraulic pincers with a crushing force of four tons would do some serious damage if they got into our bodywork. We would have to act fast if we were to get anywhere near to winning this fight."
- — John Denny on Kan-Opener before 13 Black's Series 6 qualifier
In its Series 6 qualifier battle, 13 Black fought Kan-Opener, horizontal spinner Retribution and wedge Boudicca. After spinning up its discs, 13 Black immediately targeted Boudicca, as John Denny surmised that it would be the easiest to defeat. It ripped away one of Boudicca's horse heads, and then damaged its wheels. Reversing, 13 Black then delivered a direct blow to the side of Retribution, the exact area the team wanted to hit. 13 Black continued to damage Retribution, punching holes in its armour, and with assistance from Kan-Opener, Retribution became immobilised. 13 Black delivered one last blow to it, cutting through Retribution's rear 5mm steel armour. When Boudicca returned to the combat, 13 Black removed its other head, and it became immobile after an attack from Kan-Opener. This left 13 Black to battle Kan-Opener alone, and it delivered a hit so powerful that part of Kan-Opener's titanium armour burnt on the surface of 13 Black's flywheel, causing the disc to glow white. At this stage, both robots started to suffer from radio interference, and could not properly engage, with Kan-Opener eventually gripping 13 Black in its pincers. Although 13 Black suddenly regained full control at the end of the battle, the fight was adjudicated by Mat Irvine. The Judge declared 13 Black to be the winner of the battle, and an automatic qualifier to Series 6, with Kan-Opener also being awarded a place in the Sixth Wars.
- "We discussed the interference problem with the others and found that Kan Opener had damaged the power circuits on Retribution, the resultant arcing might have caused the interference as there weren`t any other good explanations."
- — 13 Black website
As the 7th seed for the series, 13 Black did not need to compete in the qualifiers for the Seventh Wars, gaining automatic entry into the show.
- "Can get up to 20 miles an hour - this really will be Rushing Roulette!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
13 Black debuted in Heat F of Series 5, where its first fight was against another spinner, Corkscrew.
The first battle between the two was called off as both robots broke down, 13 Black due to radio problems. In the second battle - the one shown on TV - 13 Black was quicker off the line, and circled Corkscrew as both machines allowed their weapons to spin up. 13 Black nudged into Corkscrew and bounced away, with no damage caused to either machine. 13 Black twisted away and drove into Shunt, before Corkscrew rammed into their side. 13 Black escaped and rammed into Corkscrew with one of its discs, before crashing into an angle grinder. It came at Corkscrew again, just missing Shunt's axe blow and colliding with Refbot. 13 Black came in for another attack, but only glanced off of Corkscrew. Another attack on Corkscrew ended up with the same result. They then drove alongside the arena wall, bumping into another angle grinder, before lining up for an attack on the full body spinner.
- "The roulette wheel has stopped spinning, the other blade is still moving furiously."
- — Jonathan Pearce as 13 Black and Corkscrew end up locked together
As the spinners collided, one of 13 Black's 'roulette' disc stopped spinning, as one of the blades had bent down with the force of the impact and jammed the wheel against 13 Black's body. Corkscrew came in for an attack of its own, and its lower blade ended up caught in 13 Black's Kevlar body. 13 Black was still mobile but couldn't pull away from Corkscrew, only managing to drag itself around in circles, bumping into Shunt as the House Robot attempted to separate the machines, until cease was called.
- "Now for me, while 13 Black has looked, on the surface, the more aggressive, I think Corkscrew has been the more controlled here."
- — Jonathan Pearce assesses both machines as the battle reaches its climax
The judges ruled that although 13 Black had been more stylish and aggressive, and although 13 Black appeared to be mobile at the end and Corkscrew wasn't, the damage Corkscrew had inflicted, as well as its control, carried more weight on the decision and 13 Black was eliminated. It was later found that Corkscrew's weapon system had been disabled by 13 Black.
It immediately began by attacking Chompalot, causing some minor damage. 13 Black span around, before driving into an angle grinder and bouncing off, while Stinger immobilised Thermidor 2's wheel. 13 Black quickly activated the pit release button, and tried to knock Stinger into the pit while the axlebot was spinning around on the edge of the pit, but failed twice, knocking Stinger away from the pit on the second attempt. 13 Black then grappled with Chompalot, which grabbed onto the roulette disc, briefly stopping it in its tracks, and dragged 13 Black over the Flame Pit. Shortly after Chompalot broke free to attack Stinger, 13 Black delivered a hit to the rear, which immobilised Chompalot.
- "Unlucky for some, well 13 Black has proved that for Chompalot."
- — Jonathan Pearce
Nevertheless, 13 Black and Stinger continued to attack Chompalot, and 13 Black smashed into Chompalot's hydraulic jaw, buckling. 13 Black then slammed into Chompalot several times, bending one of Chompalot's self-righting wings and tearing the armour. As Chompalot was counted out, Dead Metal drove into one of 13 Black's discs, before 13 Black drove straight into Refbot. While the House Robots were placing Chompalot on the floor flipper, 13 Black then delivered a direct blow to Stinger's wheel and immobilised it, although both 13 Black and Stinger had already qualified, and 'cease' was called to confirm the outcome.
There it fought Double Trouble, another double-spinner, for a place in the Heat Final.
13 Black started off faster, slamming into Double Trouble's side, before Double Trouble backed away. 13 Black clipped Double Trouble's side again, without causing any great damage. A third hit ricocheted off Double Trouble, spinning 13 Black 180 degrees. Then 13 Black finally tore a long gash into the side of Double Trouble, as well as the front panel of the smaller machine. 13 Black instantly followed up with a second attack, which tore off one of Double Trouble's discs, sending it sailing through the air. 13 Black grew more confident in its attacks, slashing at the now exposed front of Double Trouble.
- "13 Black the quicker, the more manoeuvrable, and they [Double Trouble] know it too."
- — Jonathan Pearce
However, at this point, the roulette disc stopped working. To counter this, 13 Black went into a full body spin. After several seconds, Double Trouble drove straight into it, taking severe damage but still remaining mobile. 13 Black was then able to slice into Double Trouble's rear twice, before cutting into the front of Double Trouble's innards again, sending bits and pieces across the arena floor. 13 Black bashed into Double Trouble for a final time, causing their second disc to stop too, allowing Double Trouble to push 13 Black for several seconds until cease was called. The Judges, unsurprisingly, gave the fight to 13 Black due to the amount of damage inflicted.
In the Heat Final, 13 Black fought Stinger once again, and went in with good odds of defeating the 11th seed.
13 Black started by getting its discs up to speed, but Stinger was nimble enough to get away from the discs. 13 Black's first attack was only able to flick Stinger's mace up into the air. Their next attack hit Stinger's tyre, but not hard enough to cause mobility issues. At the same time, Stinger attempted to hammer 13 Black's discs with the mace in an attempt to stop the discs, as they had been in the previous round. 13 Black drove over a flame jet to avoid Stinger, and sparks flew as Stinger's mace came in contact with one of 13 Black's discs. Stinger reigned more blows down on 13 Black's discs and body, but there was little impact on 13 Black. At first, 13 Black was only able to reply by nudging Stinger's wheels, and then drove into Dead Metal's CPZ, before quickly escaping. However, in its next attack, 13 Black tore off one of Stinger's tyre plates.
- "13 Black very much on track here, and on their way, if it stays like this, to a very famous heat victory."
- — Jonathan Pearce
Stinger was flicked over as 13 Black launched another attack, before pushing the axlebot into the Disc of Doom button. 13 Black backed away onto the disc, and was gently moved across the arena. They attacked Stinger head-on again, before Stinger tried to attack 13 Black by spinning on the spot. 13 Black was unfazed, and came in to attack Stinger's large wheels again. Stinger span desperately on the spot again, hitting one of 13 Black's discs in doing so, but 13 Black replied by tearing more rubber off of Stinger's wheels.
- "Both weapons are still working. Could well go to the Judges this, on style, control, damage and aggression, they have to vote - well that's not good driving, 13 Black."
- — Jonathan Pearce as 13 Black crashes into the arena wall and drives over the Flame Pit
13 Black collided with the side wall and drove over the Flame Pit before shoving Stinger into the CPZ, where it was grabbed by Sir Killalot. Stinger were nearly carried of the arena, but time ran out and it went to the judges. After a tense wait, the judges announced that 13 Black had won on all four criteria and moved into the Semi-Finals.
Having reached the Semi-Finals, 13 Black faced an experienced opponent in Firestorm 4, the third seed.
- "Our first fight was against Firestorm, we had hoped we wouldn't go in against a flipper early on so we had been lucky, unfortunately two of the best flippers were still in the competition so we knew it was only a matter of time and this was it."
- — Pre-semi-final talk from John Denny and Richard Morris 
13 Black went on the offensive, driving up Firestorm 4's wedge and sliding off again quickly, meaning Firestorm 4 were only able to flick 13 Black across the arena. Firestorm 4 then slid straight under 13 Black and hurled it against an angle grinder. 13 Black attempted to crab-walk across the arena, but Firestorm 4 came in for another attack, flipping 13 Black up onto another angle grinder by one of its discs, while also accidently wedging itself onto the arena wall.
- "They tell me it can technically run upside-down. Run? Waddle."
- — Jonathan Pearce
Refbot came in and nudged 13 Black off the angle grinder, before pushing Firestorm 4 off the wall too. 13 Black continued its crab-walk, but Firestorm 4 flipped them again, propping them up against the very same angle grinder that they had just been released from. Despite moving the discs up to full speed, 13 Black could not shake free and was counted out this time, though the spinning discs prevented 13 Black from being thrown out of the arena. After cease was called, 13 Black were put back on their wheels by Firestorm 4.
13 Black let its discs spin up to top speed, while Dantomkia flipped Wild Thing into a CPZ. 13 Black bashed into Dantomkia, before managing to lure the flipper into Sir Killalot's CPZ. 13 Black smashed into Wild Thing, sending them spinning away, before backing into the arena wall. Dantomkia then swiftly got under 13 Black and flipped it over, into another CPZ.
- "...it looked spectacular and it was a miracle we didn't go out of the arena, I think we went about 15 feet across the floor without touching it then slid along the arena wall before coming to rest upside down next to Wild Thing"
- — 13 Black's description of Dantomkia's flip
13 Black was left alone by Dantomkia, as was Wild Thing, with Dead Metal cutting into the chassis of 13 Black, sending sparks flying through the air. After Wild Thing drove down the pit, it left 13 Black and Dantomkia to fight it out. 13 Black "crabwalked" on its discs, continuing to move around the arena, much to the amusement of many. They spun around for several seconds upside down, with Dantomkia even joining in with the spinning briefly.
- "How can you smile when you've worked - ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha, so hard on your machine, ha-ha-ha. What are they doing out there? It's great fun."
- — Jonathan Pearce as 13 Black crab-walks across the arena
Dantomkia then flipped 13 Black onto its wheels, in an attempt to flip the spinner out of the arena, allowing 13 Black to speed away, crashing into Refbot as it did so. At this point, Dantomkia became stuck in an angle grinder, as it had done in its previous fight. 13 Black began spinning on the spot while the House Robots freed Dantomkia, before slamming into Dantomkia and causing visible damage, with a panel hanging loose from Dantomkia's rear. Dantomkia replied by flipping 13 Black over, then drove 13 Black into the arena wall as time ran out. 13 Black lost the judges' decision to Dantomkia, and was knocked out of the competition.
13 Black was an underdog going into the All-Stars, against the reigning All-Stars champion Razer, and the two-time UK Champion Chaos 2. 13 Black also received a warning, having started its discs earlier than the activate. As the team was going up against a flipper, they had written a message on the underside of 13 Black that read "Still no Srimech!".
- "Were 13 Black spinning their weaponry before activate was sounded? Did they try to get a little advantage there, I wonder? "
- — Jonathan Pearce
In typical fashion, 13 Black crashed into the side wall and drove over the Flame Pit, with Chaos 2 in hot pursuit. However, it was Razer who caught up with 13 Black first, stopping one of the discs as it crushed the spinner. Chaos 2 then came in to try and flip the combined weight of 13 Black and Razer, but failed to do so. 13 Black then tore shreds off of Chaos 2's flipper, drastically reducing its effectiveness. Razer came in and stopped one of 13 Black's discs again, gripping it while Chaos 2 attempted to drive under Razer. 13 Black retreated from Razer, hitting Chaos 2 as it did so, before it sheared off one of Razer's self-righting wings. As the trio darted around, 13 Black landed a very hard blow on Chaos 2, breaking one of its drive chains and knocking it out. Razer punctured and caused damage to Chaos 2, while 13 Black gently nudged into Razer's rear, but the small machine was already immobile, and it was counted out soon afterwards.
13 Black slammed its discs on Dominator 2, flinging itself up into the air, before being caught between Dominator 2 and an angle grinder. 13 Black drove away, luring Dominator 2 into Matilda's CPZ, where it was flung over by the flywheel of the house robot. 13 Black slammed Dominator 2 into Matilda as they tried to self-right, before both machines managed to escape from the CPZ. 13 Black then attacked Dominator 2's wheelguard, before it shredded the pit release in an attempt to open it. As it did so, Dominator 2 axed one of the discs, punching straight through it, and attempted to push it into the pit. 13 Black's design made it very difficult to push Dominator in a straight line, and 13 Black were able to circle around Dominator 2 with its disc still caught in the axe.
- "Heave-ho, to and fro, 13 Black holding on."
- — Jonathan Pearce as 13 Black and Dominator 2 continue their tug-of-war
Dominator 2 swerved 13 Black towards the pit but 13 Black had more grip, and was able to drive away from the pit. Dominator 2 swivelled 13 Black in front of them, but 13 Black went round the side of the pit instead, then nearly pushed Dominator 2 into the pit. Eventually, both machines were freed from their grip, and 13 Black hit one of Dominator 2's wheelguards heavily, damaging Dominator 2's drive. 13 Black then crashed into what remained of the pit release, knocking it into the pit. As half of its drive had been damaged, Dominator 2 was unable to drive away from the pit, and hovered over its lip. With seconds to go, 13 Black nearly reversed into the pit itself.
- "Well they obviously don't want to go through and meet Razer, either of these two!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
Time ran out, and the judges went in favour of the fully mobile 13 Black, due to Dominator 2 only having drive to one wheel. This put 13 Black up against Razer again in the Heat Final.
On activate, 13 Black began spinning on the spot, with Razer holding back until 13 Black started to slow down. 13 Black drove away from Razer, allowing its discs to get up to full speed. They then smashed into Razer head-on, but were unable to cause any real damage. At this point, 13 Black reversed away and into the side wall, impaling one of the discs and causing it to get stuck in the wall.
- "13 Black, I think, has impaled itself on the side wall of the arena. I think the discs were spinning so quickly they've actually sliced into the arena side wall."
- — Jonathan Pearce
With 13 Black impaled on the wall unable to move, Razer pierced 13 Black, and Shunt axed the sole moving disc, breaking it as well. Razer punctured 13 Black's armour easily, and attempted to drag it to the pit. 13 Black eventually escaped their grip, and Razer activated the pit release. Razer were then able to grip 13 Black again, this time carrying it towards the pit, despite both discs spinning once more and heavy resistance from the machine, 13 Black had lost the gyro stabilising sensor and was all but finished. Razer finally pitted 13 Black and moved through to the final.
- "Whatever your number, odd or even, red or black, your number's up if you're a 13 Black fan. Down they go, very slowly."
- — Jonathan Pearce as 13 Black is pitted
13 Black were slow to get away on activate, before bashing into the back of Herbinator and deflecting away. 13 Black then drove into The Alien, with one of the discs connecting with The Alien's spinning hammer. They then came under pressure from Lightning, with the wedge-shaped machine driving under 13 Black, but didn't flip it over. As 13 Black bounced off the floor, it knocked off the Lightning mascot. 13 Black clashed with The Alien head-on again, causing 13 Black to bounce away. it then had a brief scare after smoke began to pour from the machine, but this was later found to be insulation on the wiring for the self righting mechanism.
- "Panic set in and I lost concentration on what the others were doing, there wasn't any power in the robot and it seemed like we were going out in the first round..."
- — John Denny
However, it soon cleared just as The Alien came in for another sound attack, which caused it to knock itself out. Meanwhile, Herbinator was long gone, having been flipped onto its side by Lightning, and 13 Black turned to attack Lightning in order to score more aggression points. The roulette disc on 13 Black appeared to have drastically slowed down at this point, and as Lightning activated the pit release, 13 Black nearly drove into the pit. Lightning pushed into 13 Black, but couldn't push them down.
- "Oh goodness me, 13 Black nearly went down the pit! What were they doing there, dawdling? That was poor driving from a very experienced 13 Black team."
- — Jonathan Pearce
At this point, 13 Black hit the side wall, shattering it. After this, 13 Black was flipped onto its side by Lightning, against the arena wall, where it remained for the rest of the battle, as the srimech failed to right it. Nevertheless, it qualified for the next round as The Alien and Herbinator had already been counted out.
- "I immediately used the new self righting arm to bring us back down - unfortunately it didn't do anything. God knows how many trials and hours were put into it and it just sat there!"
- — The nicer things John Denny said about his srimech
In the second round, 13 Black fought Gravity, a Dutch machine which had looked very impressive in its first round fight.
Gravity was far too quick for 13 Black, particularly as it had started the battle in the centre of the arena, and overturned 13 Black straight away. 13 Black's srimech still wasn't working, and they attempted to crab-walk across the arena as they did in the previous series, before being pushed it into the CPZ by Gravity.
- "The wheels are spinning, but I'm not too sure whether or not they'll rotate their way into the heat final."
- — Jonathan Pearce
Sir Killalot lifted 13 Black and held it up, refusing to let it down until the 13 Black team deactivated its discs for safety reasons. When the discs stopped, Sir Killalot lowered 13 Black. 13 Black spun on the spot with its discs as Gravity came in, missing with a flip, before Sir Killalot picked it up again, this time dropping it on its wheels. 13 Black drove away from Gravity and Sir Killalot, and into the arena wall, then Gravity got underneath again and flipped 13 Black against the arena side wall and over. The revolution of 13 Black's discs carried the seeded machine over the arena wall, and out of the competition.
- "They're in the corner. They're self-righted, they're OK. Or did they self-right, or were they held? Doesn't matter, they're out! Unlucky for some, unlucky for you, John Denny, 13 Black gone!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as 13 Black are flipped out of the arena
|13 BLACK - RESULTS|
|The Fifth Wars - UK Championship|
Heat, Round 1
|Heat F, Eliminator||vs. Corkscrew||Lost|
|The Sixth Wars - UK Championship|
Semi-Finals, Round 1
|Heat F, Round 1||vs. Chompalot, Stinger (11), Thermidor 2||Qualified|
|Heat F, Round 2||vs. Double Trouble||Won|
|Heat F, Final||vs. Stinger (11)||Won|
|Semi-Final 1, Round 1||vs. Firestorm 4 (3)||Lost|
|Semi-Final 1, Losers Melee||vs. Dantomkia, Wild Thing (9)||Lost|
|Extreme Series 2|
|Heat B, Round 1||vs. Chaos 2, Razer||Qualified|
|Heat B, Round 2||vs. Dominator 2||Won|
|Heat B, Final||vs. Razer||Lost|
|The Seventh Wars - UK Championship|
7th Seed, Heat, Round 2
|Heat D, Round 1||vs. Herbinator, Lightning, The Alien||Qualified|
|Heat D, Round 2||vs. Gravity||Lost|
- Wins: 6
- Losses: 5
|Main Series||13 Black Series Record|
|The First Wars||Did not enter|
|The Second Wars||Entered with Limpet|
|The Third Wars||Not selected with Limpet Mk 2|
|The Fourth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Fifth Wars||Heat, Round 1|
|The Sixth Wars||Semi-Finals, Round 1|
|The Seventh Wars||Heat, Round 2|
|Series 8||Not selected with Heavy Metal|
|Series 9||Entered with Heavy Metal|
|Series 10||Not selected with Heavy Metal|
|Robot Wars Extreme||Appearances|
|Series 1||Did not enter|
|Series 2||All-Stars, Heat Final|
Outside Robot WarsEdit
13 Black also briefly fought in the Roaming Robots circuit after Robot Wars entered its hiatus, but due to safety reasons was not allowed to run its discs. 13 Black is now retired from combat but has attended several live events on static display. One of its original Series 5-6 flywheels was sold as part of Team Toon's charity auction, but everything else remains with its original owners to enable a rebuild/display if required.
Team 13 reported that they were building Double Zero in 2014, a featherweight version of 13 Black, although this was not completed.
The Series 6 version of 13 Black, alongside other Team 13 Black robot Limpet, was among other former competitors that appeared in the 2018 Robonerd event on display.
- For April Fools' Day in 2003, the team decided to play a practical joke on their fans. They produced an image which seemed to show a Pullback version of their robot, as if they had been manufactured. The web page received over a thousand hits during the few days it was online, and despite rumours of a prototype toy being developed, it never reached production.
- "On 1st April it is customary to play practical jokes, 2003 was no exception and we advertised the toy shown above, a few hours with Photoshop provided the graphics and a fake Ebay page was also created to add to the illusion!"
- — Team 13 Black's practical joke
- Aside from the participants in the 10 Robot Rumble, 13 Black is one of only six robots to fight at least two past or future domestic champions (Chaos 2 and Razer) in a single battle. The others to do this are Yeborobo, Tornado, Philipper, Panzer Mk 2 - who all fought in the same Heat in The Second World Championship - and Shockwave, who fought future champions Carbide and Apollo.
- In 13 Black's first two appearances, it appeared in Heat F.
- In two of 13 Black's appearances, it was in the same episode as a robot it would meet in the Extreme 2 All-Stars (Razer and Dominator 2).
- Only one of 13 Black's losses was to a robot that never reached a semi-final or a grand final.
- 13 Black website (archived)
- 13 Black live events page (archived)
- Team 13 Facebook page
- Video of 13 Black being tested prior to Series 5