The House Robots were a set of robots on Robot Wars, that acted as additional hazards for competitor robots in the arena. They would usually occupy one or more corner patrol zones (CPZs) and either attack competitors if they entered the CPZs or became immobilised, after which they were free to roam the arena. Four House Robots debuted in Series 1 - Dead Metal, Matilda, Sergeant Bash and Shunt - with more joining them as the original series progressed. These additions were Sir Killalot (Series 2), Mr. Psycho (Series 6), Growler (Series 6) and Cassius Chrome, (Series 7).
For Series 8-10, new versions of Sir Killalot, Matilda, Shunt and Dead Metal were built with several improvements to keep them up-to-date with modern robot combat standards. Sergeant Bash, Growler, Mr, Psycho and Cassius Chrome were announced not to return for the rebooted series. In Series 9, a new feature was added where pressing the Arena Tyre could activate 'Rogue House Robot' mode, allowing the House Robots to leave their CPZs and attack competitor robots anywhere in the arena for ten seconds.
In addition to the main House Robots, two more were also seen, each with different roles from the standard ones. The Sentinel appeared exclusively in Series 2 as an obstacle in the Gauntlet stage, while Refbot was introduced in Series 4 to ensure fair play in the arena. The Sentinel was retired immediately following the end of Series 2, and Refbot was announced not to return for Series 8. Another two House Robots, Shove and Dozer, were also used to push defeated competitors out of the arena at the end of battles, although they were never seen on television, with Dozer in particular being used to clean up Drop Zone debris.
Unlike the majority of contestant robots, the House Robots were often referred to by a gender. For most series, Matilda was referred to as "she", whilst the others were often called "he"; however, Dead Metal has also been referred to as a female House Robot in publications coinciding with the broadcast of Series 10.
History[edit | edit source]
|House Robot||Series 1||Series 2||Series 3||Series 4||Series 5/Extreme 1||Series 6/Extreme 2||Series 7||Series 8-10|
The House Robots featured heavily in Robot Wars promotional material, and were instrumental to the show's success. They were designed to act as recurring characters for the audience to follow, ensuring that they would be familiar robots in every episode even if popular competitor robots were defeated at some stage in televised competitions. The House Robots also enabled Robot Wars merchandise to be produced without having to negotiate royalties with the competitor teams.
The original House Robots were constructed and maintained by the BBC's Visual Effects Department, led by Chris Reynolds. The department eventually closed in 2003, with Reynolds and his team instead being employed by Robot Wars itself for Series 7. For Series 8-10, the new House Robots were constructed by creative engineering company Robo Challenge, who have been involved with numerous other television programmes such as The Gadget Show and have hosted live robot combat events in the UK. The four new House Robots took around 7-8 weeks to build.
After the original series of Robot Wars ended, the House Robots were given to Chris Reynolds, but were later reclaimed from him by the BBC and eventually put into storage. Robot Wars judge Mat Irvine doubted that they remained in perfect working condition, because the effects department often cannibalised electronics from old projects to save money. 
As part of an agreement that involved using the Robot Wars brand for live events, Roaming Robots acquired the rights to the House Robots in early 2013. Soon after this, they began using a replica Matilda in their live events, particularly in featherweight battles, and continued to do so until the end of the Robot Wars live tours in 2016.
In late September 2014, some of the moulds for the original House Robots were put up for sale on the auction site eBay. In early October of the same year, they were purchased by Roaming Robots and Robot Wars LCC. It is believed that their intentions are to use them for making replicas of the House Robots for future events.
In February 2015, Tech Reporter Lucy Hedges posted an image to Twitter appearing to show her with Matilda and Sgt. Bash at the Robo Challenge facility, with the robots looking in good condition despite their age. Almost a year later, just days before the announcement of the new series of Robot Wars in 2016, Team Storm shared this same image, also confirming that the rest of the House Robots were also in the storage facility. Ed Hoppitt later commented to dispel the various rumours as to their whereabouts that had circulated over the years.
- "They were never 'lost' someone was paying for their storage - it's just some people didn't know who."
- — Ed Hoppitt of Team Storm
- "...they have never been lost, just some people didn't know where they were ;-) !"
- — Another reply from Ed Hoppitt concerning the original House Robots' whereabouts prior to Series 8
Following the announcement of Series 8, Dead Metal, Shunt, Matilda and Sir Killalot were confirmed to return for the rebooted series. New versions of each were built by Robo Challenge featuring significant redesigns and improvements, being officially billed as 'descendants' of the original versions. To this day, Robo Challenge still own the original versions of the House Robots as well.
In June 2016 when quizzed about Sgt. Bash's absence, the Official Robot Wars Facebook page responded, suggesting the possibility of further House Robots in potential future series. However, no more House Robots were added for the entirety of the rebooted series' run, with the BBC deciding not to renew Robot Wars in 2018.
- "Sgt Bash isn't joining us for this series, as we only needed four for this series. However next time..."
- — Official Robot Wars Facebook Page
Main House Robots[edit | edit source]
Shunt[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Shunt
One of the original four House Robots, Shunt is the lightest of all the House Robots, albeit still over the contestant weight limit of 100 kg. Shunt is able to pull a fully-loaded Land Rover, and with its snowplough and scoop weapons he excelled at pushing contestant robots around the arena, and featured heavily in the Sumo Basho Trials event thanks to its incredible power. He also featuring a diamond-edged axe, delivering a blow of 500kg per square cm. However, Shunt was easily flipped and with no way of self-righting, would be left stricken. Shunt formed a rivalry with Series 2 champion Panic Attack, who Shunt attacked during its Gauntlet run, piercing its shell. Panic Attack got even during the later Sumo Trial, Shunt driving off the plinth after several seconds of pushing each other around. For series 3, Shunt's axe was redesigned, making it capable of puncturing all but the strongest of armour. When the weight limit was increased to 100 kg for Extreme 1 onwards, Shunt began to struggle as some Robots were only 5 kg lighter than him, although he did put up some worthy performances. There was also a somewhat comical moment during one of the heats of Series 6, when Sir Chromalot drove into the arena and hit Shunt. Shunt seemed to take offense to this and chased Sir Chromalot to its starting spotlight. By Series 7, Shunt bore the brunt of the most competitor attacks out of all the House Robots, being flipped over by robots such as Gravity, Hydra and Ceros over the course of the series, and was immediately targeted by the competitors in the first round of the All Stars.
Shunt was rebuilt in 2016 with huge improvements - the former lightest House Robot now weighs 327kg, further improving its pushing power, and its titanium axe now strikes in a quarter of a second.
Matilda[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Matilda
Matilda was one of the original four House Robots. Based on a mutant alien boar, she is equipped with pneumatic flipping tusks and interchangeable weapons for the rear that can take either a chainsaw or a flywheel weapon. Early footage of Matilda implies that she was originally designed to be black, before being changed to purple. In the earlier days, Matilda was the House Robot most picked on by the contestants, and was often flipped or attacked by robots for fun. After the flywheel was added, she became one of the most dangerous of the House Robots, her flywheel having the capability of throwing a contestant robot clear out of the arena. Weighing in at 116 kg, Matilda wasn't the heaviest of the House Robots, but her armament was no weaker. From series 1-4, Matilda utilised a pair of front tusks to lift and flip robots, and a chainsaw running at 3000rpm, before the chainsaw was scrapped in favour of a huge 27 kg spinning disc. Matilda's most famous moment was at the end of the Southern Annihilator, when Razer, having just won the final, set on her, attacking her, mutilating her chainsaw and rear panels. Afterwards, Matilda was seen driving into the arena, heavily bandaged. Jonathan Pearce sometimes jokingly implied there may be a relationship going on between Matilda and Sir Killalot, and to lesser extents Shunt and Sergeant Bash, but this was never expanded on.
Matilda was rebuilt in 2016, featuring a revised design with added spikes, a new 35kg HARDOX flywheel at the rear. Her tusks were vastly improved in terms of power, and Matilda's weight increased to 350kg.
Alan Gribble of the Cold Fusion Team built his own version of Matilda which retained the tusks, but lacked a chainsaw or flywheel at the rear, instead comically sporting a feather duster in a similar manner as The Steel Avenger. This version of Matilda became a House Robot used for featherweight battles on Roaming Robots' 2013-2016 Robot Wars Live Tour, before being replaced by another version built by John Findlay. Findlay's version re-added the signature pink flywheel to the rear of Matilda, although it was required to spin at less than 500rpm for safety reasons. The latter threw a number of featherweights out of the arena at Robot Wars live events until its retirement at the end of 2016; meanwhile, Gribble's version is now owned by Cyberigs Robotics, who have restored it to a working condition.
Dead Metal[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Dead Metal
Dead Metal was one of the four original House Robots alongside Matilda, Sergeant Bash and Shunt. Designed to resemble a scorpion, he fights by trapping robots with its pincers, and then cutting into them with the circular saw implemented on his "head". He got his name from the fact that it looked like he had been made from metal found in a scrapyard. Of the "old" House Robots, Dead Metal is the quickest at 12 mph. To fit with his lobster appearance, Dead Metal was originally intended to be painted pink, but was left grey to increase his menacing look. For series 1 and 2, Dead Metal looked more like a scorpion, with claws at the front, and a circular saw which moved forward from the back. The circular saw used in series 1 was, most of the time, unreliable and caused little damage, however in series 2, the grinding blade was replaced with a diamond edged blade, and the petrol motor with an electric alternative, but the destructive power the production crew wanted still wasn't there. In Series 3, the circular saw was replaced with a modified Stihl saw blade mounted at the front, which could move forward to attack, giving the impression of a "head". Dead Metal was only flipped once in the original run of the series, by Gravity although Cassius came close in Series 2, as did Firestorm in the Commonwealth Carnage in Extreme 2. Dead Metal did suffer however from maneuverability issues, causing him to end up in the pit four times.
Dead Metal, rebuilt in 2016, now weighs 343kg, with added LEDs, improved speed, and much larger claws. His/her saw has also received several improvements, including a rotational speed of 4000rpm and a stronger head assembly.
Sergeant Bash[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Sergeant Bash
One of the original four House Robots, Sergeant Bash was designed to look like a military tank with its green army colours and flamethrower turret weapon. It carried a circular saw at the rear, and a sharp battering ram at the front during Series 1 and 2 before being replaced with pincers similar to Sir Killalot's for Series 3. Bash wielded one of the two flamethrowers used in Robot Wars, the other being Growler, as the weapon was banned under regular circumstances. The circular saw was eventually removed after series 3, after it came off multiple times during the first two series. Sergeant Bash is particularly famous for an incident during Heat A of the New Blood Tournament, where Bash started to attack Refbot for unknown reasons, chasing Refbot around the arena spurting fire. When Refbot gave Bash a yellow card, Bash ignored the warning using his flamethrower again, but Refbot countered this with his fire extinguisher. Bash was vulnerable to flippers, being flipped by Griffon, Bigger Brother, Chaos 2, Thermidor 2 and Firestorm.
Sir Killalot[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Sir Killalot
Sir Killalot (often known as Sir K. or Killalot) is designed to look like a medieval knight with its name being a pun on Lancelot. It took 10 solid days to build Killalot and was still being finished as it was loaded up for travel to the studio. Sir Killalot is armed with a rotating drill and a hydraulic claw, adapted from the cutting jaws that rescue services normally use to save trapped victims from car wrecks. However, Killalot was top-heavy and prone to toppling over, as demonstrated by GroundHog in Series 2, and the petrol powered engine made it susceptible to fire. In fact, Sergeant Bash once set Killalot on fire, by accident, whilst they were attacking a contestant's robot. Killalot's large mass also made it slow, reaching only 5mph, and thus was easy to outrun. As the series progressed, contestant's armor got stronger, and reduced the effectiveness of the jaws. To counter this, Killalot devised a "spin trick", which involved picking a robot up, spinning around on the spot, and letting the robot fly, smashing into anything that was in the way. Killalot was known as the "King of the House Robots" and many brave roboteers attempted to take their grievances out on him. Most notably would be Roger Plant and Wheely Big Cheese, who came closest to flipping Killalot. They failed, however, leaving Sir Killalot as the only House Robot that was never 'properly' flipped.
In Series 8, Sir Killalot featured a new revised design. Internally his top speed was doubled, his weaponry and lifting power improved, and his total weight increased by over 200kg.
Growler[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Growler
Growler was introduced as Mr. Psycho's loyal but terrifying dog, designed by Robin Englebright. The jaws of Growler are capable of creating 4 tons of force. The shell and chassis of Growler is predominantly steel with industrial digger gauge used in the jaw. Growler temporarily had a flamethrower installed for Extreme Series 2, but this was swiftly removed for lack of reliability. With a top speed of 17 mph and a weight of 300 kg, Growler was capable of damage just by ramming into a robot. Growler also utilized a skid-steering system, similar to the one used by Series 6 Grand Champion Tornado.
Mr. Psycho[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Mr. Psycho
Mr. Psycho made its debut in the sixth series, designed by Robin Englebright. Mr. Psycho was by far the heaviest of the House Robots, weighing in at 750 kg, and the largest robot ever to appear in Robot Wars history. His design was similar to that of Sir Killalot, featuring caterpillar tracks and a powerful claw weapon. The design differed from Sir Killalot in that Mr. Psycho had a swinging hammer instead of the lance of Sir Killalot; the head of the hammer alone weighed a massive 30 kg. Despite his massive weight, he was not invulnerable to being toppled, a feat Firestorm 4 achieved in Extreme Series 2. Like Sir Killalot, due to his weight, Mr. Psycho suffered from speed issues, only capable of a measly 8 mph, making him one of the slowest House Robots, second only to Killalot (5 mph). Whilst not appearing to be very effective as a weapon, the hammer could wreak havoc with a robot's innards, in some cases enough to completely immobilise a robot with one hit.
Cassius Chrome[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Cassius Chrome
Introduced in Series 7, Cassius Chrome was modeled after a heavyweight boxer, with fists and a black eye. Cassius Chrome was the fastest of the House Robots, combined with its weaponry of a shovel and two interchangeable "fists" gave it the potential for damage, although the weaponry caused mostly internal damage, causing robots to appear relatively unscathed externally.
Other House Robots[edit | edit source]
Refbot[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Refbot
Refbot was introduced to Robot Wars as the robotic referee of the show for Series 4. It was built with a humanoid form and was created with the sole purpose of ensuring fair play in the arena.
Equipment carried by Refbot initially consisted of a set of static ploughs/scoops to separate other robots as well as a left arm with a pincer grip and a CO2 fire extinguisher integrated into his right arm. From Extreme 1 until his last appearance in Series 7, a three-light indicator replaced the pincer grip, showing either a yellow card or red card to signal eliminations or House Robot infringements, and a green light at the start of battles. An electronic counter was also added to his chest to count out immobilised competitors, prior to further attacks from the other House Robots.
In general, Refbot served his intended purpose as a non-combative House Robot, though in later series there were occasions where he activated and brought defeated competitors to hazards instead of any other robots in the arena.
The Sentinel[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The Sentinel
Debuting in Heat G of Series 2, The Sentinel was a repurposed JCB excavator modelled to resemble a large robotic arm. It was used almost exclusively as an obstacle in the Gauntlet stage, though it did appear in some arena battles as shown in the Series 2 Grand Final and the accompanying Grudge Matches episode.
Armed with a spiked club on the end of its arm, The Sentinel could block, pin and push competitors against walls and into a nearby pit, operating with a 180-degree and later 360-degree reach over the left and centre routes. Likely as a result of its status as a Gauntlet-specific hazard, it was retired at the end of its debut series.
Shove[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Shove
This untelevised House Robot was designed to push defeated/destroyed competitor robots to the entry gates, where its owners could collect them. Refbot later took over this role for in-house events and Shove was replaced by Dozer for future qualifiers and live shows.
Dozer[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Dozer
This successor to Shove is another untelevised House Robot which was designed to push defeated/destroyed competitor robots to the entry gates, as well as Drop Zone debris for future battles. It was used for the Series 5 qualifiers, Series 6 and 7 as well as the live tour.
Proposed House Robots[edit | edit source]
Early Concepts[edit | edit source]
A number of concepts for the House Robots were proposed over the original series' run, some of which were developed into the final machines seen on television. Many were featured in publications such as the Robot Wars Fun Fax as well as on the official Mentorn website.
The following concept sketches were present in the Fun Fax 'Primitive Prototypes' poster:
- Evildoer – A prototype for Matilda, with an oval-shaped body, several saws along its back, cog-driven wheels and a rear chainsaw. The concept looked very similar to the finalised Matilda seen in the televised series.
- Shove – The inspiration for Shunt and not to be confused with the non-televised House Robot of the same name. Featured a similar appearance to the latter two but with eight wheels, larger scoops/ploughs, side-mounted spinning weapons and a more train-inspired design. Also referred to as The Keeper on the Mentorn website.
- Phobia – A flying robot, with helicopter blades and two chainsaws suspended from underneath. The Fun Fax description perpetuates it to have crash-landed on its first test flight.
- The Sentinels – Not to be confused with the Series 2 House Robot. A large clusterbot consisting of two tall humanoid-like machines armed with hooked arms and connected by a steel net used to trap other robots. The Fun Fax poster humorously claimed that The Sentinels were destroyed when they had an argument and sliced through each other's power lines.
- Hammerhead – Designed after a shark, this robot had sharp steel teeth at the front, saw blades for wheels (similar to Saw Point) and an axe for a tail. In the Fun Fax, Hammerhead was said to have eaten itself when its tail got stuck in its own teeth. Alternatively titled Happy Eater according to the Mentorn website.
- A Taste of Kaos – By far the biggest robot designed, this was a huge tracked robot with jet propulsion, two 'bionic' side arms with saw blades attached to the ends, and a hooked front ramming blade.
A further three concepts exclusively appeared on the Mentorn website:
- RAT (Rapid Assault Tank) - Alternatively titled Ekk Eekk, a rounded robot with a menacing toothed grin, tiger stripes, tall front horns and a rear overhead arm featuring a hand-like spiked claw.
- Gauntlet - Unrelated to the Series 1-2 competition stage, a humanoid-style four-wheel drive robot with front and rear scoops along with a pair of swinging hammers resembling large fists. Also known as Power Mosh or Mosh Diver.
- Chain-Mane - Alternatively named Steel Slammer, a machine resembling a go-kart with a humanoid 'driver', large exhaust stack and an assortment of spiked maces and hooks attached to free-swinging cables or chains.
Spyder/The Bird[edit | edit source]
According to Issue 5 of Robot Wars: The Official Magazine, a further two House Robots were also conceptualised for a possible debut sometime after Series 6 and Extreme Series 2. Revealed by original series Executive Producer Steve Carsey, these were to be tentatively called Spyder, an 'observational robot', and The Bird, a second 'flying robot' concept which would have become the first of its kind to appear on the televised show. Neither Spyder nor The Bird would ultimately appear by the time of the televised Series 7, and no images or further information on these have since surfaced.
References[edit | edit source]
- 2013 Interview with Mat Irvine by Votesaxon07
- BBC website on the Series 8-10 House Robots
- Robot Wars: The Official Magazine, Issue 5, p.4