"Once, Hypno-Disc spun supreme, but with TWO spinning discs, 13 Black is now the one to fear!"
Craig Charles in Series 7

13 Black (alternatively 13Black) was a rectangular-shaped robot with two 650mm polycarbonate spinning discs (which was upgraded to 750mm steel blades in Series 6 and 850mm chrome poly-carbon composite discs in Extreme 2) that competed in Series 5-7 of Robot Wars. One of the discs was black with the number 13 on it, the other was painted to look like a roulette wheel, and both originally spun at 400RPM but both spun counter-clockwise at 1200RPM in Series 7. 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 20 mph, and was capable of causing large amounts of damage using the flywheels. Although it did not appear to be so, 13 Black was capable of running inverted, using its flywheels to "crab-walk" around the arena. However, it was susceptible to being flipped and the radio reception was not too reliable. The team added a self-righting mechanism to the robot for Series 7, but it failed to work in two separate battles. 13 Black's best performance was in Series 6 where it reached the semi-final, before the robot was rebuilt for Series 7.

Team 13 Black had previously fought in Series 2 with Limpet, but had nowhere near as much success as 13 Black.

Robot History

Series 5

13 Black5

Series 5 appearance

After a brief disappointment involving a banned weapon system and an overweight robot, 13 Black was allowed into the Fifth Wars because it had so impressed the producers. It was drawn against another spinner, Corkscrew. The first battle between the two was called off as both robots broke down. In the second battle - the one shown on TV - 13 Black managed to land a few blows on Corkscrew. However, then the '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. It took a few hits from Corkscrew which put some holes in the armour and into its chassis, narrowly missing one of 13 Black's batteries. The robots went straight for each other and Corkscrew got stuck fast in 13 Black's Kevlar body. 13 Black was still mobile but couldn't pull away from Corkscrew, just drag itself around in circles with the black disc spinning. 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 carried more weight on the decision and 13 Black was eliminated.

Series 6

After a strong qualifier, defeating Boudicca and Retribution with only minimal aid from Kan-Opener, 13 Black started promisingly in Series 6.

It got straight into an attack on Chompalot, who took a fair amount of damage without giving back. 13 Black tried to knock Stinger into the pit in between taking pot shots at Chompalot but failed. Chompalot fought back, biting into the rear disc and stopping it. However, soon after, Chompalot broke down and 13 Black smashed it a few more times in order to ensure its defeat. Meanwhile, Stinger had defeated Thermidor 2, allowing 13 Black to move through. Fighting Double Trouble, another double-spinner, 13 Black hit it when on the run, inflicting damage to Double Trouble's bodywork and even managing a double hit taking a body panel out with its front disc and the back disc. Then 13 Black struck Double Trouble again, sending one of the discs sailing through the air. The rest of the round went well with 13 Black taking more pieces off Double Trouble, although the front disc stopped working about halfway through the fight. To counter this, 13 Black went into a full body spin and Double Trouble drove straight into it, taking severe damage but still remaining mobile. Soon after this the fight ended and it went to the judges, who unsurprisingly gave the fight to 13 Black due to the amount of damage inflicted. 13 Black then fought Stinger once again, and after a slow start, both robots pounded each other relentlessly. 13 Black tore off one of Stinger's tyre plates and cornered it in the CPZ. Stinger was caught by Sir Killalot and thrown into the centre of the arena. After a tense wait, the judges announced that 13 Black had won on all four criteria and moved into the semi-finals.

"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 [1]
Firestorm vs 13 Black

Firestorm 4 flips 13 Black

Firestorm 4 slid straight under 13 Black and hurled it against the arena wall. Despite moving the discs up to full speed, 13 Black could not shake free and was counted immobilised, though the spinning discs prevented 13 Black from being thrown out of the arena. 13 Black then moved into the Losers' Melee, against Dantomkia and Wild Thing 2. Dantomkia flipped Wild Thing into a corner then swiftly got under 13 Black and flipped 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

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. Dantomkia flipped 13 Black onto its wheels, before getting stuck in an angle grinder. Despite this, 13 Black lost the judges decision and fell from the competition.

Extreme 2


Extreme 2 appearance

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!".

Difficulties aside, it made its mark, as it sheared off one of Razer's self-righting wings after being attacked by Razer several times. 13 Black also tore shreds off Chaos 2's flipper, reducing its effectiveness. 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, but the small machine was already immobile, and it was counted out soon afterwards.

This put 13 Black through to fight Dominator 2, who had already defeated Hypno-Disc. 13 Black slammed its discs on Dominator 2, before luring it into Matilda's CPZ, where it was flung over by the flywheel of the house robot. 13 Black slammed Dominator 2 onto the side wall, where it perched, before managing to escape. 13 Black then shredded the pit release in an attempt to open it, but Dominator 2 axed one of the discs and attempted to push it into the pit. 13 Black's design made it very difficult for Dominator 2 to pull it in a straight line, and 13 Black ultimately escaped. 13 Black hit the remaining pit release and knocked it into the pit, before time ran out, and the judges deciding in favour of 13 Black.

This put 13 Black up against Razer again, who shrugged off a heavy blow on it before pushing 13 Black into the side wall, impaling one of the discs and causing it to stop. Razer pierced 13 Black, and Shunt axed the sole moving disc, breaking it as well. Razer punctured 13 Black and carried it towards the pit, despite both discs spinning once more and heavy resistance from the machine. Razer finally pitted 13 Black and moved through to the final.

Series 7


Series 7 appearance

7th seed 13 Black had a brief scare in Series 7 after smoke began to pour from the machine in its first round. It had weathered attacks from Lightning and The Alien when the smoke had begun to appear.

"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[2]

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, and 13 Black turned to attack Lightning in order to score more aggression points. At this point, 13 Black hit the side wall, shattering it. After this, 13 Black was flipped up by Lightning.

"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

However, 13 Black had already qualified for the next round, where it fought Gravity. For this round, a slightly different disc had to be used, but it was to prove no help. Gravity was far too quick, and overturned 13 Black. 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, and Gravity came in and hurled it over the arena wall.


Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat F, Eliminator vs. Corkscrew Lost
Series 6
The Sixth Wars - UK Championship
Semi-Finals, Round 1
Heat F, Round 1 vs. Chompalot, Thermidor 2, Stinger (11) 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. Wild Thing (9), Dantomkia Lost
Extreme Series 2
Heat Final
Heat B, Round 1 vs. Razer, Chaos 2 Qualified
Heat B, Round 2 vs. Dominator 2 Won
Heat B, Final vs. Razer Lost
Series 7
The Seventh Wars - UK Championship
7th Seed, Heat, Round 2
Heat D, Round 1 vs. Lightning, Herbinator, The Alien Qualified
Heat D, Round 2 vs. Gravity Lost


  • Wins: 6
  • Losses: 5

Series Record

  • Series 1: Did not enter
  • Series 2: Entered with Limpet
  • Series 3: Failed to qualify with Limpet Mk 2
  • Series 4: Did not enter
  • Series 5: Heat, Round 1
  • Series 6: Semi-Finals, Round 1
  • Series 7: Heat, Round 2

Outside Robot Wars

13 Black 2012

13 Black as a display at the 2011 Robots Live! UK Championships

13 Black also briefly fought in the Roaming Robots circuit, after Robot Wars finished. Like many Robot Wars competitors, 13 Black is now retired from combat but has attended several live events on static display since. However, the team has since made a new featherweight robot called Photon, which competes competitively in the Roaming Robots circuit. The team have also since built two more featherweights called Ratchet Lombax and Clank, and two antweights named Ant Ratchet and Ant Clank, based upon the popular PlayStation series Ratchet & Clank.


  • 13 Black with an entirely black paint scheme, before it was repainted for Series 5
  • 13 Black as a display, alongside Stinger
  • The fake 13 Black pullback
  • 13 Black is one of seven robots to smash the arena wall, and one of four to destroy it with a flywheel.
  • 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.
"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[3]


  3. 13 Black website

External links

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