- "Don't panic, and try not to die!"
- — Advice in robotics from Harry Hills
Hobgoblin was a heavyweight robot which competed in Series 9 and 10 of Robot Wars. At a cost of £1400, it was built by Harry Hills, who competed in Series 8 as part of Team Legion, although drive problems and a lack of a self-righting mechanism led to Hobgoblin falling in the first round of Series 9, while faulty batteries hindered it in both of its Series 10 losses.
- "Hobgoblin is the only 'egg beater' spinner ever to have entered the competition. It's a 20kg vertical spinner that spins at approximately 2,500rpm and has a diameter of 250mm, creating a tip speed of 80mph."
- — Robot Wars: Build Your Own Robot on Hobgoblin in Series 9
Hobgoblin's weapon is referred to as an ‘egg beater’, a popular weapon in lower weight classes, but was the first of its kind to be seen on Robot Wars, and is a rarity for heavyweight robots in general. The beater weighed 20kg with a spinning speed of 2500rpm. Shaped somewhat like the letter A, the beater had a diameter of 250mm to deliver a tip speed of 80mph in Series 9, and 90mph in Series 10. Hobgoblin was four-wheel driven, and its 5-inch wheels were custom-made from plastic billet, wrapped in bike tyre for extra traction. Hobgoblin's frame was made from HARDOX and water-cut high-grade aluminium, and both the weapon and drive system are powered by 4x 6s (22.2v) Lithium Polymer batteries. In Series 9, it ran on 500W lawnmower motors for a top speed of 9mph, but these were replaced with brushed DC motors in Series 10 for a top speed of 12mph.
- "For Series 10 Hobgoblin's unique beater weapon was upgraded to 250mm diameter and a tip speed of 90mph."
- — Robot Wars: Build Your Own Robot on Hobgoblin in Series 10
At the time of Series 9, Hobgoblin featured a front wedge, designed to lead robots into the egg beater. However, this wedge was replaced with a toothed face Series 10, allowing the beater to make contact immediately, at the expense of extra ground clearance, although this was removed for its second fight in the series. The Series 9 version was theoretically invertible, but this proved not to be the case, so castor wheels were added to the top of Hobgoblin in Series 10. These allowed the robot to run inverted, although a combination of battery failure and melted castors still stopped Hobgoblin from moving freely while inverted.
Team Hobgoblin was captained by 20-year old R&D designer Harry Hills, who was aged just 19 in Series 9. The lead designer of Hobgoblin, Harry Hills was responsible for the construction of the machine, and drove the robot in Series 9, where he was joined by 57-year old father Paul. For Series 10, Harry Hills recruited two roboteers with experience in lower weight classes on the UK live circuit, with Matt Smith and Andy Russell joining the team, with Matt Smith also becoming the driver of Hobgoblin. Harry Hills had previously designed the Series 8 version of Sabretooth, and was present at filming as part of Team Legion.
Hobgoblin applied for Series 9 through open applications, and notably was one of very few robots to qualify for Robot Wars using purely a computer-aided design, as the build process was not finished at this stage - typically most robots are not selected unless there is evidence of the build progress. Before setting on this design, Hills had also created CAD renders of an invertible Hobgoblin with an egg beater, and a version with an undercutting spinner.
Due to Series 10 reducing the number of competitors from 40 to 30, Hobgoblin narrowly missed out on the initial selection of competitors, although it was invited to attend filming as a reserve. Once Point Blank withdrew due to safety concerns, Hobgoblin became the last robot to earn its place in the series.
- "Heavyweights are stupid!"
- — Harry Hills' catchphrase
Hobgoblin competed in Episode 2, where it faced two powerful flipping weapons in Behemoth and Eruption, alongside Belgian entry Cobra. Before the fight, the team claimed that Hobgoblin could self-right in theory, but that this had not been tested. Additionally, the team encountered further worries, as changes to the robot's drive system instead made Hobgoblin incapable of turning, and its forward movement was limited - even entering the robot's starting position proved challenging.
- "In an attempt to turn up/off the current limiting on the ESC to give the drive more grunt and must have turned it the wrong damn way. Bruh. Bruhhhhhhh. This turned it all the way down so the robot really struggled to move forwards and just noped at any attempt at turning. I found this out in the arena."
- — Harry Hills
When the battle started, Hobgoblin quickly brought its weapon up to full speed, but its lack of speed meant that Hobgoblin could only meander around the arena. It was charged by Behemoth, although Hobgoblin survived this attack. However, Eruption then drove under it and flipped Hobgoblin over. Carried by the force of its egg beater, Hobgoblin came to rest beside the arena side wall and could not self-right, where it was counted out. After a full three-minute fight, Behemoth and Eruption were declared the victors, and Hobgoblin fell alongside Cobra.
- "It seemed to love being on its back so much it spent the majority of its television career in the same position. DAMNIT GOB I BELIEVED IN YOU."
- — Harry Hills
- "It clicked when I was about fourteen, 'oh, I know how to take things apart!' Then the heavenly gates opened, and I was like... 'well, I can make stuff!'"
- — Harry Hills on his gateway to robotics
Hobgoblin competed in Heat 5, replacing Point Blank to become the last addition to the series. In its Group Battle, it faced the new drum spinner from Team Ranglebots, Magnetar, and Team S.Tek's returning front-hinged flipper, Push to Exit. Hobgoblin entered the battle with its toothed front as protection against Magnetar's drum, despite knowing it would pose a disadvantage against Push to Exit.
- Dara Ó Briain: "That thing at the front that spins, that's good, they're calling it the egg-beater, am I right?"
- Harry Hills: "Oh yes, because if you chuck an egg into it, it'll get beaten!"
- Dara Ó Briain: "Well yes, if you chuck an egg into most of our metal robots, the egg'll come off badly!"
- Harry Hills: "...Let's not think about that!"
- — Dara Ó Briain and Harry Hills on Hobgoblin's weapon
Hobgoblin drove forwards in the opening stages, quickly spinning up its egg-beater, but Push to Exit quickly drove under the toothed face of Hobgoblin, as the team had feared, and threw it straight over, causing Hobgoblin to skid over the flame pit. One of Hobgoblin's castor wheels had become damaged by fire, so Hobgoblin lacked the drive power to leave the area in which it had been flipped. Hobgoblin managed to edge nearer to the flame pit, but could only slowly turn in circles on the robot's one functional castor wheel, and an immobilisation clock begun, rendering Hobgoblin immobile, having lost the battle to Magnetar despite never making contact with the drum spinner.
- "Hobgoblin, trying to turn through its own circumference, which means it would be just about mobile, are they?"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Hobgoblin struggled to drive
In the Robot Redemption Knockouts, Hobgoblin faced the runner-up of the Group Battle won by Thor, and the team's close friends, Coyote. Team Hobgoblin mockingly wrote "Bite Me, Coyote" onto their robot, surrounded by love hearts. However, one of Hobgoblin's batteries had shorted in-between battles, causing the power of the robot to drop from 16V to 4V, affecting Hobgoblin's other batteries in the process, which the team had not realised until entering the arena.
- "A lot of my friendship groups are now robot-centred, and there were kind of a few of us who were the same age. We've almost kind of grew into it together."
- — Harry Hills on the friendships between roboteers
After an opening collision between both robots, Hobgoblin was left reeling, and Coyote drove under the side of it to manoeuvre Hobgoblin towards the arena spikes. However, Hobgoblin was still struggling to gain control due to a slipped drive belt, and driver Matt Smith could not easily move his robot away from the raised pit.
- "Probably a bad place to be..."
- — Harry Hills
Hobgoblin eventually reversed off, and hit Coyote's jaw with its egg beater moments before Coyote's minibot Roadrunner opened the pit. Seemingly unable to drive directly forwards, Hobgoblin backed into Coyote, and was pushed into various sections of the arena, wedged by Coyote's lifter.
- "Maybe try and gyro with the beater a bit? Can you do, like, hard turns on the diagonals?"
- — Harry Hills suggests ways for Matt Smith to regain control
Coyote dragged Hobgoblin near to the centre of the arena, where Hobgoblin managed to rip some pipework from Coyote, but it could not leave its own circumference before Coyote drove it into the reach of Sir Killalot, although Hobgoblin was able to buckle and damage the claw of Sir Killalot. Coyote held Hobgoblin over the flame pit, and pulled away a drive belt from Hobgoblin, while Hobgoblin failed to move away from its position, eventually shearing a keyway in the robot's drive. Coyote edged Hobgoblin into the CPZ, and the damaged Sir Killalot left in order for Shunt to barge in, driving Hobgoblin into the corner of the arena and repeatedly strike it with axe blows, striking both the robot and the egg beater itself.
- "That's us spent, pretty much."
- — Matt Smith
Although Hobgoblin was immobile, and Shunt landed further axe blows, Hobgoblin managed to earn some vengeance, as when Shunt landed a direct blow on Hobgoblin's spinning weapon, the egg beater ripped the entire titanium tip from Shunt's axe, shattering it across the arena. While Hobgoblin was being counted out, Shunt flipped Hobgoblin over using its scoop, and left it in the corner of the arena until 'cease' was called. Hobgoblin was eliminated at this stage, but left the competition on a high note.
- "And Hobgoblin comes away with a little minor moral victory there!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
|HOBGOBLIN - RESULTS|
|Series 9 - UK Championship|
Heat, Round 1
|Episode 2, Group Battle||vs. Behemoth, Cobra, Eruption||Eliminated|
|Series 10 - UK Championship|
Robot Redemption Knockouts
|Heat 5, Group Battle||vs. Magnetar, Push to Exit||Lost|
|Heat 5, Robot Redemption||vs. Coyote||Lost|
- Wins: 0
- Losses: 3
|Series||Hobgoblin Series Record|
|Series 1-7||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Entered with Sabretooth|
|Series 9||Heat, Round 1|
|Series 10||Heat, Round 1|
NOTE: Team member Matt Smith attempted to enter Series 8-9 with Phantom, and Series 10 with Crowd Control, but was never selected to compete.
Outside Robot Wars
Hobgoblin did not make a combat appearance again after its time on Robot Wars, and has remained with teammate Matt Smith since this time. Hobgoblin was among various former Robot Wars competitors which appeared at Robonerd as a static display in September 2018.
Before involving himself with heavyweight robots to compete on Robot Wars, Harry Hills mostly participated in featherweight competitions prior to the show's reboot. Featherweight robots built by Harry Hills include two versions of Flatpack, a four-bar lifter, and Massacre, an overhead bar spinner built in 2014-15.
Harry Hills has also built a number of antweight robots, including a 150g replica of Hypno-Disc, and also started to build a raptorweight robot armed with a drum spinner. Due to a lack of raptorweight competitions, Harry Hills sold the drum spinner to Thomas Long for use in Halcyon, and instead used the raptorweight as a prototype for his third featherweight, Thinking with Portals. This was a 13.6kg clusterbot made up of identical, near-invertible robots armed with egg beater spinners. Harry Hills also built the featherweight robot GERTY for Rachel Gibson.
Harry Hills later helped Simon Harrison to build King Buxton 20, and competed as part of the team at RoboGames in 2018, where it was defeated by the experienced Touro Maximus and Megalodon. Harry Hills also collaborated with Simon Harrison to design a new heavyweight for the team, which the team applied for King of Bots II with, although the machine was ultimately never completed or publicly revealed. Aside from combat robots, Harry Hills has also worked on a number of RC car projects.
Matt Smith is a former owner of Eric from the original series, with success in the beetleweight category. Matt Smith has also been in possession of Hobgoblin since Series 10 was filmed, although Harry Hills still owns the machine. For more information on Matt Smith's excursions outside of Robot Wars, see Phantom.
Andy Russell is primarily a roboteer in the featherweight division. His first robot was Push and Shove, a ramming robot which reached the Top 6 of the UK Featherweight Championship. Russell's second robot was Ion a beetleweight robot armed with a spinning drum, where the weapon motor was housed. Adam Russell's next project was Pendulum, a robot armed with a 3.2kg TOOLOX 'egg beater' which spins at 6000rpm. The robot was protected by single piece billet aluminium wheelguards. At the UK featherweight championship in 2016, Pendulum won all of its round robin battles bar two (both of which were against the eventual champion Explosion) and defeated Tormenta at the UK Featherweight Championship in 2016, winning the majority of its round robin battles. Andy Russell also created Ion's successor, Ion 2, at a later stage.
Andy Russell next built Telekinesis, an invertible undercutter using watercut HARDOX armour, which competes to this day, occasionally referred to as Telekinesis 1.5. Its discs are interchangeable, including a bar spinner configuration. At the King of Bots UK Featherweight Championship, Telekinesis won its first battle against Little Devil and Nigel Barrage by knockout, but lost its second melee to Tempest, finishing second. Telekinesis lost its Judges' decision against Nelly the Ellybot, but after finishing second place again, Telekinesis qualified for the Top 20. However, it withdrew prior to its battle with Little Devil, and was replaced by Orpheus, eliminating Telekinesis at this stage.
A repainted silver Telekinesis competed at the Robodojo Autumn Featherweight Championship in November 2018. It lost its first battle after driving onto the lip of the pit, and collected a win by default over X-303, but ultimately withdrew due to a lack of spare wheels. Telekinesis returned for the January 2019 event, and lost its first two fights, driving into the pit and then losing its removable link in each fight; however, Telekinesis redeemed this by causing significant damage to Get Shrekt, forcing it to retire from the event, and also defeated P.I.P. to earn fifth place in the full combat class. At the March 2019 event, Telekinesis suffered an early loss to Plastic Fantastic, but collected three straight wins against Binky, Vega and Raving Luna-Tic to qualify for the third place play-off, losing to Graffiti there as its spinner was not working. Telekinesis had an unfortunate run at Robodojo in July 2019, suffering defeats to Sawcerer, X-303 and Get Shrekt.
For the UK Featherweight Championship in 2019, Andy Russell built a third version of Telekinesis, sporting a new yellow blade. Although it earned destructive victories over Frycook and Red Hot Tilly Pecker, it was forced to withdraw from battles against Captain Jack Spinnah and Galaga, and was resigned to fourth place in its group after losing to Venator 3. Nevertheless, Telekinesis competed in the Annihilator where it achieved third place.
Andy Russell often assisted Adam Hamilton with the creation of commission-based robots, and both competed as part of Team Immersion in the Chinese show This is Fighting Robots with the heavyweight Bonfire. Andy Russell also joined Team RC Kev to compete in King of Bots II with Switch.
To compete in the planned 2020 season of BattleBots, Andy Russell joined a German-led team to enter the show with multibot Jäger, though had to withdraw due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For the project, Andy Russell built a scaled-up version of Telekinesis with various undercutting spinners, which awaits its combat debut. Andy Russell is also confirmed to be on the team for Season 6 of Battlebots, alongside Ralf Schnieder and Ed Hodges.
- Hobgoblin and its builder contribute two key elements of the introduction to every Series 9 episode. Harry Hills spoke his "don't panic, and try not to die" motto, while Hobgoblin's beater was also dropped onto a table in video footage taken from the team's unused VT.
- Harry Makes Things blog - Hobgoblin Series 9 build log
- Harry Makes Things blog - Hobgoblin Series 10 build log
- Harry Makes Things Facebook page
- Hobgoblin (Series 9) on the Robot Wars website
- Hobgoblin (Series 10) on the Robot Wars website