Bar spinners are a type of heavy rotating weapon. First appearing in Series 3 of Robot Wars in the form of a spinning hammer, wielded by Hammertron, they gained widespread recognition following Fluffy's appearance in Series 5.
In Robot Wars, the most successful robot to use a bar spinner was Series 9 champion Carbide. Other successful robots with this weapon type include Battle of the Stars co-champion Arena Cleaner and Series 9 third- and fourth-place finishers Ironside3 and Aftershock, whose bar spinner was interchangeable with a vertical spinning disc.
Bar spinners are heavy rotating blades, motor-driven to quickly accelerate and inflict damage. Bar spinners differ from flywheels and other spinning discs due to their shape - usually a long rectangular bar with blunt, bladed or spiked tips - which offer much more engagement with the blade as a result of their smaller but denser designs. Bar spinners can be similar in shape to lawnmower blades, but are distinguished by their generally heavier weight, and use for concussive blows over cutting.
Heavy rotating blades are very versatile weapons. Not only are their designs open to variation, but they can also be mounted horizontally or vertically, incorporated into an invertible design, and designed for either piercing or hammering other robots. Bar spinners must be equally weighted on both halves of the bar, but are not required to by symmetrical. Some are capable of operating bi-rotationally, as with the weapons of IG-88 and Tauron, while robots such as Ironside3 and Apex were designed to accommodate different types of bar spinner as interchangeable weapons.
Before bar spinners rose to prominence after first being used by Fluffy, Robot Wars previously saw competitors use spinning hammers as weapons, functioning much like a bar spinner, but with externally weighted tips. Robots such as Zorro and rejected US Series entry Son of Whyachi also used triangular-shaped bar spinners with three blades, covering the entire surface of the robot in a similar manner to a full-body spinner.
Advantages and Disadvantages
- "Bar spinners such as Carbide try to take engagement to the extreme. By compromising on the flywheel effect of having the mass on the outside of the spinner, having a rotating bar means you have literally no limits on the amount of engagement. This trade-off increases wind resistance of spinning bars, which in turn increases current draw for your motor and places more stress on your components."
- — Robot Wars: Build Your Own Robot
- As bar spinners do not require an outer ring, they can have a larger radius than a spinning disc. This is an advantage because it means a spinning bar will have a larger reach than a equivalent spinning disc.
- Because the weight of a bar spinner is distributed in a smaller but denser weapon than a disc, the attack zone can be greater whilst actually increasing damage output. Compare the weapons of IG-88 and Vader for example.
- When mounted horizontally, robots can incorporate them into invertible designs. Many successful wielders of this weapon are invertible, including Carbide, Fluffy and Arena Cleaner.
- Vertical bar spinners can also be incorporated into invertible designs, as seen with Tauron.
- Depending on the weapon's size and power, the gyroscopic forces of a horizontal bar spinner can prevent the robot from being completely flipped over when the weapon spins at full speed. Carbide demonstrated this characteristic during two of its fights against Apollo in the Series 8 Grand Final, and in its Series 9 Grand Final battle against Eruption.
- Depending on the robot's design, a vertical bar spinner can also function as a self-righting mechanism, pushing or 'kicking' the robot back onto its wheels as the weapon makes contact with the arena floor or walls. Aftershock's asymmetrical bar spinner demonstrated this capability during its Series 10 Heat Semi-Final against Carbide.
- Due to their increased wind resistance over flywheels, bar spinners require a lot of kinetic energy which draws more current into their motors and places more stress on their components. This can lead to various reliability issues, including malfunctions. Zorro was defeated in its first-round battle in Series 7 after its excessive energy consumption drained the robot's batteries of essential power to its weapon and self-righting mechanism. Fluffy and Carbide's blades were also susceptible to failure on various occasions, with the latter's defeats to TR2 and Apollo in the Series 8 Grand Final being partly blamed on a malfunctioning weapon clutch.
- As with other spinning weapons, the recoil from a bar spinner can also adversely affect the robot's reliability. Fluffy was notorious for breaking down as a result of its attacks on other competitors throughout its appearances, such as its Series 5 Heat Final battle against Pussycat.
- Furthermore, said recoil can also cause the robot to be launched in a different direction or even airborne, as shown in most of Carbide's battles during Series 8-10. This could also result in the robot somersaulting or being flipped upside down once the bar hits the floor or other robots, as shown in Ironside3's battles against Eruption and Aftershock in Series 9. The largest bar spinner in Robot Wars, Apex, lost its bar spinner entirely in a battle with Track-tion, catapulting the remaining robot across the arena, while the spinner broke through the arena's bulletproof glass.
- As one of the heaviest weapons, very few robots with this weapon have a fallback in the event that the weapon breaks. Carbide struggled to respond to TR2 and Apollo's attacks in Series 8 once its weapon failed to work, and Das Gepäck was able to recover ground once Fluffy's weapon broke.
- Given that bar spinners were prohibited from most live events, it is very expensive to create one when chances of qualification are limited. As with other spinning weapons, their dangerous nature also restricts opportunities for testing outside of Robot Wars, potentially compounding the reliability issues discussed above.
- Unlike discs, which tear through obstructing objects due to the minimal surface area to be impacted, heavy rotating blades are easier to stop if a robot is heavy enough to absorb the impact. Fluffy's weapon was halted by Das Gepack in the UK vs Germany final, and was unable to start spinning again.
- The gyroscopic forces of a vertical bar spinner can adversely affect the robot's control as it turns round, often resulting in the robot lifting onto one side as with vertical flywheels and drums. This characteristic was noticeably demonstrated by Tauron during its Series 10 Group Battle, although with no significant effect on its performance in battle.
- The mounting for bar spinners often results in a robot's weapon chain or belt being exposed, which once allowed Nuts 2 to disable Carbide's weapon during the Series 10 Grand Final.
List of robots with Bar spinners
Robots are listed alphabetically. Robots which are not heavyweight entries are listed with a green background.
|Robot||Series Appearances with Bar Spinner||Notes||Image|
|Aftershock||Series 9-10||Uses a 14kg vertical spinning bar, interchangeable with 24kg (Series 9-10) and 30kg (Series 10 only) vertical flywheels. Bar spinner rotating at 3,000rpm. An 18kg asymmetric bar spinner was also created for Series 10, with self-righting capabilities. Finished fourth in Series 9.|
|Ansgar 3||Series 7||Competed exclusively in The Third World Championship. Blade weighed 10kg.|
|Apex||Series 9-10||39.75kg (originally 37kg) horizontal bar which covers the robot's whole surface area, the heaviest bar spinner in Robot Wars. Can spin at 1,750rpm. Interchangeable with a 38.45kg asymmetrial bar spinner in Series 10. The symmetrical bar famously broke from the robot in battle.|
|Arena Cleaner||Series 9||Competed exclusively in Battle of the Stars. A 20kg spinning bar with two spiked blades. Joint Battle of the Stars champion along with Kadeena Machina. Later repurposed to compete as Cathadh.|
|Axe-C-Dent||Series 5-6||Featured only one hammer on its vertical spinning blade, with the reverse serving as a counterweight.|
|Carbide||Series 8-10||Weapon weighed 25kg and spun up to 2,300rpm. Series 9 champion and runner-up of Series 8 and 10. Featured three interchangeable bar spinners for Series 10 - the original bar, a second 25kg bar with green tips and a heavier red bar with curved tips. The curve-tipped bar necessitated a lighter weapon shaft, and went unused after seizing up during a safety test, amongst various issues.|
|Cathadh||Series 10||Represented the United States of America in Robot Wars: World Series. Previously competed as Arena Cleaner.|
|Crank-E||Series 9||A 'vertical asymmetric spinner', weighing 22kg and rotating at 6,000rpm.|
|Crazy Coupe 88||Series 8||Bar spinner is at the front, a vertical disc is at the rear.|
|Chopper||Extreme 2||Overhead horizontal blade.|
|Donald Thump||Series 10||Vertical bar spinner, weighing 16kg and spinning at up to 5,000rpm.|
|Fluffy||Series 5-7, Extreme 1-2||A double-headed 'spinning axe' weighing 20kg. Series 5 Heat Finalist and joint winner of the UK vs Germany Special, along with Das Gepäck.|
|Frostbite||Series 9||Weapon spins at 2,000rpm, and is small compared to most other bar spinners.|
|Hammerhead||Dutch Series 1||Angled, double-ended 'spinning hammer'.|
|Hammertron||Series 3||A double-ended 'spinning hammer', mounted on a panel which lifted up to 90 degrees and was said to double as a self-righting mechanism.|
|I Bot One Beta||Series 7||Two small horizontal blades, referred to as 'discs' on its statistics board.|
|IG-88||Series 7||A double-headed 'bi-rotational axe', capable of spinning in both forward and reverse directions.|
|Ironside3||Series 8-9||Weapon weighed 18kg, spun at 1,500rpm and was one metre in diameter. Finished third in Series 9, equipped with interchangeable flat- and 'cutting-edge' bladed bars.|
|Killerkat||Series 7||Horizontal bar spinner.|
|Mobot||Series 7||Located underneath the robot's body, weighing 20kg and spinning at up to 45mph.|
|Paul Bunyan||US Season 2||A four-bladed 'spinning cross'. Spun at only 230rpm.|
|Propeller-Head||US Season 2, Nickelodeon||US Season 2 Grand Finalist and Nickelodeon Mayhem Champion.|
|Shockwave||Extreme 1||Vertical spinning blade.|
|Tauron||Series 9-10||Weapon weighed 13kg and spun at approximately 3,100rpm in Series 9; later upgraded to an 18kg bar in Series 10 with a rotational speed of 3,600rpm and a tip speed of 244mph. The spinner was bi-rotational and mounted on a pivoting assembly, enabling it to maintain an upright position even when the robot was inverted.|
|Terror Turtle||10, Extreme 2||An overhead spinning bar in Extreme 2. After using a spinning disc in Series 7-8, Terror Turtle was equipped with a horizontal bar spinner in Robot Wars: World Series.|
|The Alien||Series 5-7||Weighed in between 7-12kg and spun at between 1,000-1,300rpm. A 'spinning hammer' incorporating two 1.5kg lump hammers at the tips. Capable of flipping opponents over.|
|The Executioner||Series 7||Replaced the robot's spinning disc prior to competing in order to keep it within the weight limit.|
|The Kegs||Series 10||Twin clusterbots with horizontal bar spinners, each claimed to be capable of tearing a hole through a car.|
|The Swarm||Series 10||Bar spinner belonged to Blenda, one of the five clusterbots forming part of The Swarm.|
|Tornado||Series 6-7, Extreme 2||Horizontal bar spinner attached to a metal frame surrounding the robot's chassis. Formed part of an 'anti-crusher weapon' specifically designed for use against Razer. Converted into a vertical bar spinner for Series 7, but was never used in this form.|
|Vulture||Series 10||Two-toothed 'spinning bar head' mounted on an overhead arm which also functioned as an axe and a self-righting mechanism. Weapon was capable of spinning at 6,000rpm and delivering 8kJ of energy with every hit.|
|Zorro||Series 7||Three interconnected bars with double-headed blades.|