Robot Wars Wiki
Robot Wars Wiki

"It looks like a stealth bomber with the black carbon fibre cladding, and aircraft-grade materials have been used. The weapon is a solid titanium, articulated, accelerating motion axe. Now you know!"
Jonathan Pearce introduces Obsidian

Obsidian was a heavyweight robot which competed in Series 5 of Robot Wars, losing its only battle to the 24th seed S.M.I.D.S.Y. in the first round, despite an impressive performance in the qualifiers.


"During the course of the 'Wars' it seemed to me that an effective axe weapon had merit, and while 'Shunt' was capable, no one else had managed to produce an axe that seemed to work. ... For an axe weapon to be effective it must deliver large amounts of kinetic energy, To do this you need high tip velocities, and materials capable of withstanding high 'g' forces on acceleration and deceleration. Not too bad! From this background I set about designing 'Obsidian'.(Late 1999) First the axe, after prototyping an accelerating motion linkage, the mechanism was produced with the main beam and links machined from solid Titanium."
— Phil Upton on the Obsidian website[1]

Obsidian in the arena

Obsidian before the Fifth Wars

Obsidian was a large box-shaped robot with a slight wedge at the front, resembling a stealth bomber and clad in carbon fibre and aircraft-grade materials. Its weapon was an axe described by Jonathan Pearce as a "solid titanium, articulated, accelerated motion axe". A large framework was also found behind the axe, preventing the tip of the axe from dulling if the robot was flipped over, and potentially assisting with self-righting, although this was not seen in practice. Obsidian exceeded most others in size, although its armour proved to be lacking, with its tall and broad sides proving to be a big target.


Obsidian was named after the volcanic glass of the same name, which is also black in colour and commonly found near the team's home town in Derbyshire.

The Team[]

Jake Orton, Phil Upton and Steve Coley (left-to-right)

"The Obsidian Alliance is a group of friends and work colleagues drawn together around a project to produce a robot for the T.V. show. For my part, having been captivated by the program since the first series, with a desire to produce a robot capable of serious damage (that is the basis of the show) and surviving to fight again."
— Phil Upton on the Obsidian website[2]

Obsidian was entered into Series 5 by The Obsidian Alliance, a team from Mickleover in Derby. The team was captained by Phil Upton, the builder and driver of the robot, and he was joined by teammates Steve Coley and the young Jake Orton.


At the Series 5 qualifiers, Obsidian attended the Sheffield leg of the tour, where Obsidian was drawn against Hammer & Tong. Obsidian suffered from response issues with its axe, which seemed to fire outside of the team's control, but nevertheless a stray hit still penetrated the armour of Hammer & Tong. Although Obsidian received an attack in response, one more axe blow from Obsidian pierced the armour of Hammer & Tong, and Obsidian then drove it into the pit, winning the battle outright.

"Very nervous as we waited backstage for Obsidian's first ever fight. We were pretty confident we had a machine that could do a lot of damage, but until you fight for real you never really know. We'd had some electrical interference problems for weeks and were still not sure how the robot would perform!!! As we drove Obsidian into the arena the axe went a bit crazy and started to fire at will....Oh no, we thought, the electronics have gone haywire. 3...2...1...ACTIVATE No problems with the maneuverability, Phil appeared to be doing a grand job with the controls. The controls I had for the axe were a different story.......the axe seemed to have a mind of it's own. It would occasionally fire & retract if I asked it to, preferring instead to do it's own thing!!! This random firing of our axe may have had an effect on our opponents, who were already a little worried about their plastic bodywork and our titanium axe. Hammer & Tong started cautiously, keeping their distance from us ( which we were quite pleased about, as we were very wary of their machine). Eventually we met.....we had one hit with our axe ( nothing to do with me !!! ) and split a section of their bodywork.....Hammer & Tong gave us a hefty whack on our side, which bent a piece of our framework. Then a strange thing happened, I pushed the fire button and the axe actually fired !!! was a direct hit, the axe was firmly embedded into Hammer & Tong. With the axe still embedded Phil drove Hammer & Tong towards the pit and dropped them in. Obsidian had won it's first fight and we were very relieved."
— Summary of the battle from the Obsidian website[3]

After winning that battle, it fought Storm Force. Obsidian had greater control of its axe after installing a new aerial, and landed several blows on Storm Force, which backed into Shunt's CPZ. When Storm Force was released, Obsidian landed a few more blows on Storm Force, which had no working axe of its own, and managed to push it onto the flame pit. After a full five-minute fight, the Judges awarded the victory to Obsidian. As a result of these victories, Obsidian qualified for Series 5.

"After coming through our first battle relatively unscathed we were quietly confident of beating Storm Force. Their axe didn't look as though it could do us much damage. However we were a little concerned about their flipper, as Obsidian's self-righting ability was as yet untested. Decided to do a last minute aerial change to hopefully eliminate the interference problem......Fingers crossed. Phil drove Obsidian into the arena and the axe seemed to be behaving itself......So far so good. 3...2...1...ACTIVATE Lots of bumping and pushing to start with. A few early hits with our axe ( which was behaving very well ), but no noticeable damage caused. No sign yet of Storm's axe and we had managed to avoid it's flipper. Storm Force strayed into a C.P.Z, allowing Shunt to come out and play. We managed to get a few more hits onto Storm but decided to keep our distance as Shunt was involved. Shunt eventually retreated back to it's C.P.Z leaving Storm Force looking remarkably healthy. More bumping and pushing, and more hits with our axe, still no sign of Storm's axe. We pushed Storm over the flame pit and after seeing all the smoke coming from their machine, thought we had them immobilized. It was later revealed that Storm Force had smoke canisters in their machine ( very crafty ). Craig Charles came into our booth to watch the fight. He was very impressed with the battle and our axe. .....CEASE It went to the judges and they gave the decision to.......OBSIDIAN So we'd won our second fight and apart from a few scratches we were pretty much OK. Storm Force had also survived the fight relatively OK....although all the blows by our axe did bend their framework."
— Summary of the battle from the Obsidian website[4]

Obsidian was repaired and improved for the Series 6 qualifiers, but the team ultimately did not attend the qualifiers because they felt that their robot was not ready for battle. The team did apply to enter the second series of Extreme after being contacted by Mentorn, but were ultimately not asked to compete in any of the tournaments.

"Having reluctantly decided to give series 6 a miss...Obsidian just wasn't ready...we had thought we could finish our machine at a nice leisurely pace, without the usual, mad last-minute rushing about.....We have since been asked whether we would like to compete in the next series of 'Extreme', to be filmed at the end of October...We're waiting to hear whether our application has been accepted and are now doing mad last-minute rushing about to get Obsidian ready!!!...we should be OK this time. ... And after all that....we didn't get asked to compete!!! So it appears that we really have got some time on our hands to tweak & fine tune Obsidian. It is very frustrating though to have a nice new toy & nowhere to play with it!!!"
— Steve Coley on the Obsidian website[5]

The team intended to enter Series 7, but it is unknown if they attended the qualifiers[6].

Robot History[]

Series 5[]

Obsidian's only appearance came in Heat A of Series 5, where it faced the 24th seed S.M.I.D.S.Y. in a first round battle.

S.M.I.D.S.Y. pins Obsidian beneath the angle grinder

Obsidian made an aggressive first move as it charged towards S.M.I.D.S.Y., although it failed to make any meaningful contact with a use of its axe. With its weapon still in a fired position, Obsidian moved into space until its weapon retracted. Obsidian's axe was activated again while retreating from S.M.I.D.S.Y., but once again the weapon caused no problems for the seed.

"There's the big axe, coming down, of Obsidian, and on full impact that axe, they say, travels at 100 mph. Doesn't look like it to me, it looks a wee bit flimsy."
— Jonathan Pearce as Obsidian fires its axe

Obsidian was then met with a side on slam by S.M.I.D.S.Y. which forced Obsidian backwards, over a CO2 jet on the arena floor. Another rally of reverse drives from S.M.I.D.S.Y. left Obsidian inside a CPZ and only capable of turning in circles. With its armour beginning to show visible signs of damage and the House Robots closing in to inflict further further punishment, Obsidian desperately fired its axe in self defence.

"And you can see already, look, damage to the black carbon-fibre cladding of Obsidian."
— Jonathan Pearce

Obsidian axes Sgt. Bash

Obsidian then penetrated the shell of Sgt. Bash, and kept its purchase on the House Robot as S.M.I.D.S.Y. attempted to push it around once more. After sustaining damaging from Matilda, Obsidian and Sgt. Bash separated, with Obsidian then coming under further pressure from S.M.I.D.S.Y., which pressed it up against the arena wall before lifting it slightly. After S.M.I.D.S.Y. backed away, it became evident that Obsidian was now completely immobilised, which prompted Refbot to come in and count Obsidian out.

"Custom designed, is Obsidian, but all the design work in the world will not save you from the Refbot's count."
— Jonathan Pearce

Matilda carves into Obsidian

Obsidian still found time in its remaining moments in the arena to axe Sgt. Bash's flamethrower, but this only brought about further damage for it, as Matilda came in with two damaging blows with her flywheel. Obsidian was then placed onto the Floor Flipper where it was thrown and sent tumbling towards the Flame Pit, before cease was finally called, confirming Obsidian's elimination from the competition.

Obsidian is counted out

"So the big day had arrived. We'd spent all night discussing our tactics...avoid their spinning disc and hit them as hard as we could with our axe !!!...Pretty sound tactics I thought. Our axe had been designed not to reach the floor if we missed our target, so as Smidsy was so low to the ground we were a little concerned as to the amount of damage we could cause them. Smidsy's disc was an obvious worry but we were still pretty confident we would do well. 3...2...1...ACTIVATE Managed to get a couple of early hits with the apparent damage. Lots of pushing and chasing each other around the arena. Then... BANG... Smidsy hit us on the side with their disc. The impact had bent a piece of framework which was now wedged against a wheel. Obsidian runs on two wheels, so having one out of action, meant we could only rotate forward & back. Smidsy came at us again and we managed to give them a good whack with the axe, which was still working fine. When Smidsy realized that we only had one functioning wheel they backed off. Refbot came in and started to count us out. From our position in the gantry we couldn't actually see what Refbot was doing as it had it's back to us. So when Sgt. Bash came into range we hit it...and we hit it hard. Then Matilda came backing in with her new vertical cutting disc and took a nasty slice through our bodywork. Unfortunately Matilda never got herself in range of our axe, Sgt. Bash did so we hit him again. Matilda continued to rip through our bodywork until the electronics were completely dead. At one point she even tried to slice through our titanium axe arm...titanium is pretty hard stuff and we still have one of the teeth off your disc to prove it Matilda !!! We were eventually thrown into the air by the arena flipper. ...CEASE So Smidsy had won and we were out. One of the hits had actually split one of Smidsy's wheels, but to be fair they had beaten us fair and square and we wished them well for the rest of the competition. If only our contest had been stopped when Smidsy had immobilized us, we would then still have a machine, albeit with a few bumps and bruises. As it is we now have a machine that will need major repair work...and robots don't come cheap !!! Try picking on someone your own size Matilda...or at least someone who is capable of fighting back."
— Summary of the battle from the Obsidian website[7]


Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat A, Round 1 vs. S.M.I.D.S.Y. (24) Lost


  • Wins: 0
  • Losses: 1

Series Record[]

Main Series Obsidian Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Did not enter
The Fourth Wars Did not enter
The Fifth Wars Heat, Round 1
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Unknown
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Did not enter
Series 2 Not selected

Outside Robot Wars[]

Obsidian under Team RCC, which has been retired

In 2007, Obsidian was sold to Team RCC (a Dutch/Belgian team that entered RCC and Blackdevil Warzone in Dutch Robot Wars) who had brought it out of retirement and fought with it in Live Events. It was rebuilt in 2008 to a smaller size and continued fighting until 2009 where it took heavy damage from Kan-Opener at a Dutch Robot Games event in the Netherlands. Team RCC have retired Obsidian since that event.


  • The team were on holiday in France when they received the phone call from Mentorn that they had qualified for the televised show.[8]
  • Alongside M2, Obsidian is one of only two robots known to have applied to compete in Series 2 of Extreme, and not be selected to compete.

External Links[]