Robot Wars Wiki

"The only thing that can stop Magnetar is itself."
— Ellis Ware

Magnetar was a heavyweight robot which competed in Series 10 of Robot Wars. Built and entered by Team Ranglebots, it was the successor to their former Grand Finalist Pulsar, which competed in Series 8-9. It lived up to this reputation by reaching the Grand Final off the back of three consecutive knockouts, but fell to issues with its self-righting mechanism.


"Magnetar is the highest kinetic energy drum spinner in Robot Wars, and we're going to send the competition flying."
— Ellis Ware

Magnetar's official photo for Series 10

Although an entirely new machine, Magnetar was essentially an improved version of Pulsar, featuring a largely similar design to the latter. It ran on two pairs of wheels located either side of the chassis, powered by brushless skateboard motors and a 50V lithium polymer battery, the highest voltage seen on the show. This drive system made Magnetar invertible, although it could use its self-righting mechanism to ensure that its steep wedge - which featured the robot's name on each corner - was always on the arena floor.

"From the team that brought Pulsar to Robot Wars, Magnetar is a drum spinner whose weapon generates enough gyroscopic power to flip the machine clean over."
Robot Wars: Build Your Own Robot

Magnetar's golden drum, with central pulley

Magnetar at filming before its first battle

This wedge led into Magnetar's two-stage spinning ‘drisc’, which uses two large copper-coloured teeth on each side of the thin drum spinner to make maximum contact with opponents. The weapon weighed 21kg and was estimated to spin at 8,500rpm, with a tip speed of 250mph[1]. Magnetar itself was heavily armoured, using 8mm HARDOX 600 with areas in 6mm and 3.2mm thick HARDOX 450, and 3D-printed parts. The armour was finished in grey with grey and copper welds, with the robot also featuring dark grey wheels and orange LED lights on the self-righting arm.

Magnetar outside of the arena with its srimech raised

Magnetar in the arena demonstrating its self righting arm

Magnetar differed from Pulsar through featuring reworked internals and a reduced top speed of 13mph; the latter to make the robot more controllable. This was a result of replacing Pulsar's two Rotomax motors for four Racerstar 5065 200kv motors on modified VESC's. Its front wedge also featured an extra blade, bolted onto the surface for a lower ground clearance. According to Robot Wars: The Official Handbook, Magnetar could flip itself over; the gyroscopic forces of its drum, however, could be countered through the use of four neodymium magnets attached to its baseplate. These magnets offered up to 200kg of downforce, enabling Magnetar to remain upright while turning with the weapon spinning, as well as providing it with extra traction on the arena floor.

"Pulsar's biggest weakness by far was its unreliable drive motor/ESC combo. The plan was to remedy this by switching to dual smaller (sensored) outrunners running on VESCs. We made some mods to otherwise stock Maytech 4.12hw VESCs."
— Ellis Ware on improving Magnetar's reliability from Pulsar

The key weakness of Magnetar was its self-righting mechanism, which was typically capable of righting the robot at least once per fight, but the mechanism would usually jam open after this, pinning the robot on its own srimech when flipped over again. Aside from a temperamental speed controller, the P80 gearbox used within Magnetar's self-righting mechanism was deemed the main cause of this, which failed on several occasions throughout the course of the series, according to Ellis Ware.[2]


The impact between Pulsar and Supernova which 'formed' Magnetar

In astrophysics, magnetars are a type of pulsar that are newly created in supernova explosions, and boast the strongest magnetic fields in the universe. The name Magnetar is a deliberate reference to the Series 9 battle between Pulsar and Supernova, where an explosive weapon-on-weapon collision caused damage that hindered the performances of both robots for the rest of the competition, and Magnetar was built in order to replace Pulsar. The name is also a nod to Magnetar's downforce magnets, a feature that the original Pulsar did not have.

The Team[]

Main article: Team Ranglebots

Ellis Ware with Magnetar in Series 10

Team Ranglebots with Magnetar in Series 10

Magnetar was entered into Series 10 by Team Ranglebots, named after the team captain's online business, Ranglebox. The captain was 21-year old engineer for RPD International, Ellis Ware, the lead builder, designer and driver of the robot. He was joined on the team by his 59-year old father Peter, who was partially responsible for the electronics maintenance of the machine, and his mother Tara, aged 55.

The team had previously entered Series 8 and 9 with Magnetar's predecessor, Pulsar. Ellis Ware had also mentored the victorious Kadeena Machina team during Robot Wars: Battle of the Stars.


The CAD of Magnetar used to qualify for Series 10

After Pulsar reached the Grand Final in Series 8, and the Heat Final in Series 9, Ellis Ware initially intended to compete in Series 10 with Pulsar for a third time. However, Pulsar's application for the series was unexpectedly rejected[3], initially meaning that Team Ranglebots would not compete in the series. In response, Ellis Ware conceptualised Magnetar, and sent a detailed CAD of his new design to the BBC. This version of Magnetar featured slight differences, including spoked wheels, an altered drum design, and a code "S1021R3" atop the robot, meaning "Series 10, 21 years old, Revision 3"[4]. Magnetar was accepted into Series 10, and Team Ranglebots constructed the robot within a limited time-frame of only four weeks, and competed in the series.

Robot History[]

Series 10[]

"In it’s previous iteration as Pulsar, this incredibly well engineered machine startled us all with the power of its drum and that scary siren sound it makes when getting up to speed. It didn’t do as well as I thought it would last series and was let down by a couple technical problems. Now, as Magnetar, it has had a major upgrade and I think that Team Captain Ellis could be onto a winner."
Professor Noel Sharkey

Magnetar competed in Heat 5 of Series 10, where it drew Push to Exit and Hobgoblin in its Group Battle.

Magnetar throws Push to Exit over

Magnetar disables Push to Exit's flipper

With Hobgoblin eliminated by Push to Exit early on, Magnetar made a decisive attack on Push to Exit, throwing it over onto the Floor Flipper. The Floor Flipper threw Push to Exit up onto Magnetar's drum, damaging the former's flipper and entanglement devices, with Magnetar proceeding to pushed the inverted Push to Exit into Shunt. With Push to Exit unable to self-right and Hobgoblin suffering mobility issues, Magnetar spun its weapon up to full speed and gyro-danced while both of its opponents were counted out.

"Magnetar didn't even have to do anything!"
— Angela Scanlon

Magnetar's second fight - its Heat Semi-Final against Expulsion - was equally brisk.

Under the cover of fog, Magnetar spins up its drum

Magnetar smashes into Expulsion at top speed

Expulsion immediately pressed the Arena Tyre, triggering the Fog of War and allowing Magnetar to get its drum up to speed within the CO2 jets. Hidden in the clouds, Magnetar reached full speed unchallenged and charged into Expulsion, sending the 70kg machine flying into the air and onto the Floor Flipper. Expulsion was thrown even higher by the Flipper, and crashed to the arena floor, ending up stranded on its tool spinner. With this, Magnetar secured its second-consecutive knock-out victory.

"What am I hearing - I'm hearing Magnetar's death drum whirring up! Oh what a powerful onslaught! Ellis used that Fog of War brilliantly to get his weapon up to speed, his lethal drum catapulting Expulsion right onto that flipper..."
— Jonathan Pearce

In the Heat Final, Magnetar drew a fellow Series 8 finalist in Thor, which had previously encountered - and won against - Pulsar in the Series 8 Grand Final. Thor was armed with a halo of steel cables to entangle Magnetar's drum and snap its weapon belt, while Team Ranglebots made minor adjustments to its drive systems before the battle.

Magnetar sustains a few axe blows from Thor

Magnetar throws Thor over

Magnetar landed the first attack, knocking Thor in a powerful uppercut. Thor recovered and made the most of Magnetar's slowed weapon to get behind and shove it into the arena wall, landing several successive axe blows in the process. Magnetar pivoted away, and Thor lost its momentum when it drove over the Floor Flipper.

Magnetar's drum hits an inverted Thor...

...rupturing its opponent's CO2 system

Although Thor recovered by self-righting, Magnetar capitalised on its mistake by chopping off one of its steel cables and landing a heavy blow on its left wheel pod. Herding Thor towards the Floor Flipper again, Magnetar cut off more of its cables, before hitting and throwing it into a backflip. Magnetar caused more damage to Thor's wedge before the latter was thrown onto its drum by the Floor Flipper; the impact ruptured Thor's pneumatics system, disabling its axe and engulfing it in clouds of leaking CO2. With Thor being left unable to self-right, Magnetar emerged victorious, securing its place in the Grand Final.

"Magnetar, we now know it has the power, we now know it has the control, we now know it has a place in the Grand Final."
— Jonathan Pearce

In the Grand Final, Magnetar faced two flippers, a flipper entered by Ellis Ware's own employer, Rapid, and the winner of the 10 Robot Rumble, Eruption.

Magnetar throws Rapid over

Magnetar pops Eruption into the air

Magnetar had an immediate opportunity to spin up its drum, as Eruption was reservedly waiting in the corner, and Rapid targeted Eruption. Magnetar came in and battered the side of Rapid, throwing it into the air with two consecutive blows. It tried to grind into the side of Eruption, and delivered a direct blow to the wheel hubs, almost turning Eruption over. Rapid was stuck on its back end, so Magnetar pushed Eruption backwards, causing it to knock Rapid back into the battle.

"Magnetar emerging as a dark horse here!"
— Jonathan Pearce

Magnetar is flipped by Matilda

The beaten Magnetar and Rapid

However, in a head-on charge, Magnetar drove up the flipper of Eruption, and was turned over, requiring Magnetar to self-right during Rogue House Robot. Critically, Magnetar's self-righting mechanism did not retract after this, leaving the robot vulnerable to both flippers, although Eruption then immobilised Rapid. Magnetar was tossed back by Eruption once, but then a close contest ensued where Magnetar, which now lacked a working drum, pushed Eruption around while also driving onto the wedge of the flipper to be lifted lightly, as Eruption seemed to have lost significant power. Magnetar pushed Eruption into Dead Metal's CPZ, and slammed into the wedge, rebounding into the Arena Tyre to release the pit. However, after pushing Eruption into the reach of Matilda, Magnetar drove onto the tusks of the House Robot and was flipped over. As its self-righting mechanism was jammed open, Magnetar was beached, and was counted out, leaving Eruption as the winner.

"The truth is, as with all of the flipper vs kind of vertical spinner fights is it's a game of who gets underneath. So if I'm running well and the drum is spinning good, and the self-righter's working, there's not an awful lot they can do to me to hurt me. It's going to be a matter of that first hit."
— Ellis Ware ahead of the battle with Behemoth

Relegated to the Robot Redemption Knockouts, Magnetar fought the experienced Behemoth.

Magnetar is turned over early on

Magnetar fights back

Magnetar drove in quickly, but was stopped by the surface of the pit, and Behemoth flipped it over. Magnetar self-righted quickly, and landed a sequence of hits on Behemoth's scoop to throw it over, although it became clear that Magnetar could still not retract its self-righting mechanism. Magnetar landed another hit on Behemoth, but was dangerously thrown backwards by the flipping scoop, remaining on its wheels and making contact with the drum upon landing. This allowed Magnetar to trap Behemoth near the arena wall, rolling it over with the drum. At this stage, Behemoth had lost drive on one side, but Magnetar was also struggling for control.

"I've got radio issues, I think. Yeah, I've got no radio signal"
— Ellis Ware

The dominant Magnetar is turned over

Magnetar is dropped into the pit

Radio signal issues were limiting Magnetar's movement, and the drum stopped spinning, although Magnetar managed to push Behemoth near to the floor flipper. Sensing that Behemoth lacked controlled movement, Ellis Ware waited for his opponent to be counted out, but this time did not come, forcing Magnetar to approach. Although it managed to press into the side of Behemoth, it could cause no damage, and eventually exposed its back end to Behemoth's scoop. Magnetar was flipped over, and without the self-righting mechanism, Magnetar was suddenly defeated. It was counted out, and then Dead Metal dropped Magnetar into the pit, as its competition came to a close.

Angela Scanlon: "Behemoth had been immobilised, it was running on one wheel, so if you'd stayed away, you would've had it!"
Ellis Ware: "We did for a long time, and I saw that they weren't being counted out, so I decided to fight with them again. Obviously that bit me!"
— Ellis Ware on the tactics that cost him


Series 10
Series 10 - UK Championship
Grand Final, Round 1
Heat 5, Group Battle vs. Push to Exit, Hobgoblin Won
Heat 5, Semi-Final vs. Expulsion Won
Heat 5, Heat Final vs. Thor Won
Grand Final, Group Battle vs. Eruption, Rapid Lost
Grand Final, Redemption Round vs. Behemoth Lost


  • Wins: 3
  • Losses: 2

Series Record[]

Series Magnetar Series Record
Series 1-7 Did not enter
Series 8 Entered with Pulsar
Series 9 Entered with Pulsar
Series 10 Grand Final, Round 1
Not selected with Pulsar

NOTE: Ellis Ware also competed in Battle of the Stars as mentor for Episode 2 champion Kadeena Machina.

Outside Robot Wars[]

Magnetar at Extreme Robots in June 2018

Magnetar in August 2019

Magnetar competed at the Extreme Robots live event in Guildford, in June 2018. It first went up against Cyclone 360. At first Magnetar struggled to spin up its drum, and resorted to ramming Cyclone 360 around the arena until Cyclone 360 lost mobility, then Magnetar's drum got up to speed and despite the fact that the drum was spinning backwards Magnetar delivered a small hit on the immobile Cyclone 360, awarding Magnetar the victory. It also defeated TR3 with a single hit, stranding TR3 on its back end to earn a victory in seconds.

"Today Magnetar is functional sans weapon ESC (which blew) and the selfrighter gearbox is dead. It wouldn't take too much to get it back up to competition spec... ...BattleBots?"
— Ellis Ware on Magnetar's condition in May 2018[5]

Magnetar at RoboNerd 2019, alongside Ellis Ware's other robots

Magnetar at RoboNerd in September 2021

Magnetar made its next appearance in August 2019, as a static exhibit alongside Sandstorm and Ellis Ware's featherweights at RoboNerd, shortly before it attended Extreme Robots in Colchester, at the start of September. Magnetar appeared again at the 2021 RoboNerd event with its internals on display, having underwent changes over the course of a rebuild for future events.

Team Ranglebots have competed with various robots in lower weight classes, and have competed in various Chinese television shows. For more information, see Team Ranglebots.


"I like to think they were developing a toy version of my drums and had to detour at some point! No other drum has counterweights like that."
— Magnetar Pulsar Twitter on the Deadly Drum accessory[6]

The Deadly Drum accessory, likely inspired by Magnetar's drum

  • The design of Magnetar's drum was seemingly used in the Deadly Drum Accessory Pack, developed by HEXBUG for the Robot Wars line.
  • Of the five heat winners in Series 10, Magnetar was the only one not to appear in the first episode of Series 8 or 9; both Magnetar and its predecessor Pulsar have only ever appeared in the fourth or fifth heats.
  • Magnetar and its predecessor Pulsar are the only Grand Finalists across the three revived series that never battled Carbide at some point.


External Links[]