Front-hinged flippers are one of two types of flipping weapon seen in Robot Wars, and the less common of the two. The pioneer of this weapon type was Team Cassius, who installed one on their First Wars entry Recyclopse, and later debuted the flipping arm derivative on its successor Cassius. In addition to finishing second in The Second Wars, Cassius famously became the first robot in UK Robot Wars to successfully self-right.
The most successful competitor with a front-hinged flipper was the Firestorm series of robots, which finished third in the UK Championship three times using both conventional and arm-based flippers. Along with the aforementioned Team Cassius machines, front-hinged flippers Gravedigger and Mute also reached the Semi-Finals.
Despite these successes, front-hinged flippers remain few and far between in both the original and rebooted series of Robot Wars.
Definition[edit | edit source]
- Flippers aim to propel another robot and allow gravity and torque to flip the robot over. This contrasts lifting weapons, which aim to lift, push and tip a robot over.
- A conventional flipper is defined as a flipper designed to get the entire mechanism underneath the other robot. The surface area of a flipper is much bigger than that of a flipping arm, making it easier for them to get underneath opponents before flipping them.
- A flipping arm is typically very narrow in width, but extends the same length as a conventional flipper. Unlike their rear-hinged equivalents, front-hinged flipping arms and conventional flippers function the same way.
- A robot's flipper is front-hinged if the flipper connects at the base or elsewhere on the outer edge of the robot (i.e. not the top of a wedge), opening outwards. This creates a "sit-up" motion in the weapon when it is fired.
- Despite the name, a front-hinged flipper does not technically have to be placed at the front of a robot. As long as it is hinged on its outer edge and opens outwards, a flipper placed on the robot's side is still regarded as front-hinged, such as the weapons of Lightning, Buzz and later incarnations of Kronic the Wedgehog.
Advantages and Disadvantages[edit | edit source]
- Both forms of front-hinged flipper are easy weapons to install onto a wedge, and indeed benefit from this design, as the wedge allows them to get underneath its opponents, onto the flipper. Nearly all robots with these weapons are wedge-shaped for this particular reason.
- Conventional front-hinged flippers offer considerably more protection than their rear-hinged equivalents, because the flipping plate continues to cover internals and prevent them from being damaged in front-on attacks when opened. This was best demonstrated by Spirit of Knightmare during the second Extreme 1 Annihilator, and was the logic behind Mute:
- "...we thought the front-hinged flipper gave both good attack and good defence as the bot would always be shielded."
- — Adam Emmett explains the reasoning behind Mute's weapon design
- Like their rear-hinged counterparts, front-hinged flippers can easily end a battle by throwing a robot onto its back or (less frequently) out of the arena. Firestorm 3's straightforward victory over Sir Chromalot in Series 5 demonstrates this, as does Cassius' performances in Series 2-3 with both weapon variants.
- Both conventional flippers and flipping arms can double as self-righting mechanisms. Cassius became the first robot to self-right successfully in Series 2 using its flipping arm, while Firestorm never failed to self-right using either type across five main UK series and two series of Robot Wars Extreme.
- Front-hinged flippers are easier to control than their rear-hinged counterparts, as they involve a simple pushing motion, rather than the unpredictable throwing or leaping motions of rear-hinged flippers. In tandem with its tactic to ride up and wedge opponents against the arena wall, Firestorm was capable of immobilising opponents such as The Morgue, Panic Attack, 13 Black and Ripper with controlled pushes from its flipper.
- Both variants could be incorporated into invertible designs, although it is less common than with rear-hinged flippers. Ming 2 was an example using a full-sized flipper, while Storm 2 adopted a front-hinged flipping arm for Series 8 specifically for acting as a srimech against flipper-wielding opponents.
- Because the weapon pushes, it has better prospects of flipping a heavier opponent, much like a weight-lifter. They can also push an overbalancing opponent's weak spot to guarantee a flip. This is best demonstrated by watching Firestorm 4 flip Mr. Psycho, a feat that rear-hinged flippers had no prospects of achieving.
- Unlike rear-hinged flippers, a front-hinged flipper requires the wielder to get completely underneath opponents in order to flip them. They will have no effect if the opponent is only slightly wedged. This is best shown in Gravedigger's various battles during Series 3, and in the Extreme 2 New Blood Championship final, where Mute simply pushed Storm 2 away with its flipper after failing to get completely underneath it at one point.
- Front-hinged flippers are less suited to throwing opponents out of the arena, although the conventional variety is still capable of doing so depending on the flipper's power and the robot's design. Later versions of Firestorm were able to do so in later series through the use of an adjustable castor, which enabled the robot to 'rear-up' against the wall and 'push' its opponents over with its flipper.
- When opened, the flipper's mechanisms can be left vulnerable to being damaged by overhead weapons or vertical crushers. Notably, Razer was able to bend one of Firestorm 3's pneumatic rams after its flipper opened during their Series 5 Grand Final eliminator, rendering Firestorm 3's flipper inoperable for this and its subsequent playoff against Hypno-Disc.
- As with all other types of pneumatic weapons, CO2-powered front-hinged flippers only have a limited supply of flips, which can eventually render them unable to attack or self-right when the gas supply becomes fully depleted.
- Flippers rarely offered damage potential. Unlike rear-hinged flippers, which can possibly damage opponents once they land on the arena floor after getting flipped, front-hinged flippers can only damage opponents by flipping them completely over or into House Robots or arena hazards.
- As with other lifting and flipping weapons, the effectiveness of front-hinged flippers was decreased when self-righting mechanisms and invertible robots became more popular. In tandem with its two-wheel drive and exploitable rear ground clearance, this factor resulted in Firestorm's losses to Tornado and Storm 2 in Series 6 and 7 respectively. Trax also lost to Storm 2 in Series 7 after failing to use its flipping arm to any great effect in their heat Semi-Final battle.
List of Robots with Front-Hinged Flippers[edit | edit source]
Robots are listed alphabetically. Robots which were equipped with flipping arms at some point are listed in bold.
|Robot||Series Appearances with Front-Hinged Flippers||Notes||Image|
|Buzz||US Season 2||A 'side' flipper.|
|Cassius||Series 2-3||First robot to use a front-hinged flipping arm, and the first UK robot to self-right successfully. Series 2 runner-up. Cassius 2's full-sized flipper was referred to as a 'flip-up paddle' on its statistics board.|
|Firestorm||Series 3-7, Extreme 1-2||Most notable and statistically successful robot with a front-hinged flipper - an arm in Series 3, and a conventional flipper from Series 4 onwards. Only front-hinged flipper to perform an out of the arena flip in the show's history. Third place in Series 3, 5 and 6; Series 4 and 7 Semi-Finalist and Extreme 2 Commonwealth Carnage champion.|
|Flepser||Dutch Series 2|
|GBH 2||Series 6||Width closer to that of a front-hinged flipping arm, mainly used for self-righting.|
|Gravedigger||Series 3-4||Series 3 Semi-Finalist.|
|Interstellar: MML||Series 9||Competed exclusively in Battle of the Stars, built by Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock.|
|Knightmare||Series 4, Extreme 1||Finished runner-up in the second Extreme 1 Annihilator as Spirit of Knightmare.|
|Kronic the Wedgehog||Series 6-7||Top flipper was a 'side' flipper, used in tandem with a rear-hinged flipper at the base of Kronic's wedge.|
|Lightning||Series 7, Extreme 2||A 'side' flipper. Two flippers in Extreme 2, replaced with a larger single flipper for Series 7.|
|Mega Hurts LT||Series 7||Top flipper was designed to resemble a laptop screen.|
|Ming 2||Series 4|
|Mute||Series 7, Extreme 2||Only larger of two lifting weapons was a front-hinged flipper. Series 7 Semi-Finalist and Extreme 2 New Blood Championship runner-up.|
|Purple Predator||Series 3|
|Push to Exit||Series 9-10||Built as a successor to Team S.Tek's successful live events competitor Envy. Low-pressure.|
|Recyclopse||Series 1||First robot to feature a flipping weapon of any kind, with its front-hinged flipper mounted on a retractable 'tongue'. First competitor to flip a House Robot over. Series 1 Grand Finalist.|
|Storm 2||Series 8||Electrically-powered flipping arm, interchangeable with a four-bar lifting arm and a vertical flywheel. Primarily used for self-righting.|
|UFO||Series 7||Flipper was disabled in its first-round battle after breaking before the fight began.|
|V-Max||Series 4||Originally a reserve robot, brought in to replace Onslaught at the last minute.|
|Weld-Dor 2||Series 4||Paired with a pneumatic axe.|
|Xylon||US Season 2, Nickelodeon|