Robot Wars Wiki

"Pitbull; a Rottweiler's jaws, a Bulldog's bravery, a Jack Russell's tenacity! Throw this dog a bone, and it'll chew you up!"
— Jonathan Pearce at the start of Semi-Final 1 of Series 3

Pitbull was a robot that competed in Series 3 of Robot Wars. It defeated Behemoth in its Heat Final to reach the Semi-Final stage, before it was flipped over by a spike in its fight against Fire Storm and eliminated.


"Snapping jaws are the main weapons of this "growler", the shell is stainless steel and fibreglass, powered by two electric motors, lighter than its opponent, its bark could be more dangerous than its bite."
Jonathan Pearce introduces Pitbull

Pitbull in the arena

Official photo of Pitbull

Pitbull was a barrel-shaped robot painted white, black and red to resemble a large dog (hence its name), with 'PTO' written on its underside. It was shaped as such that it could roll back onto its wheels whenever it was flipped, with the initials standing for 'Please Turn Over'. Pitbull was equipped with a pair of clamping jaws as its weapon, capable of grabbing hold of other robots and crushing at a force of 750kg. However, only the the lower jaw moved. The robot had a top speed of 15mph, and was armoured in stainless steel and fibreglass, with a welded 25mm square box section, 5mm Aluminium floor pan chassis.[1] Pitbull took 2 months to build[2] and cost £1,100 altogether.[3]


Craig Charles: "You're called Pitbull, why does it look like a Dalmatian?"
Phil Botting: "Uh, before it had the paint on it, it looked like an armadillo, so we're headed in the right direction!"
— Post-round 2 interview

Pitbull is named after the pit bull breed of dog. This is in spite of the robot visually resembling other dog breeds such as the Dalmatian, which Craig Charles joked about in its heat.

The Team[]

"A couple of years ago, Robot Wars came onto our TV screens, promising a bloodsport for the future and the excitement of machines fighting to the death. Over the first two series there were flashes of that excitement and a promise of greater things to come. I wanted to take part, to challenge myself, to entertain millions and to join a select few pushing the boundaries for nothing more than that. I needed help. Ivar Bundulis caught the excitement, and he has been with me right through the project. Many friends, colleagues and contacts in industry have helped us along the way, and I would like to thank them now. ... Greatest thanks must go to Debbie and Jacob, my wife and my son, and to Marie Buckley, Ivar's fiance, who supported us, even when we worked into the night and were away filming, day after day."
— The Pitbull website on entering Robot Wars and the building of Pitbull

The team with Pitbull

Ivar Bundulis and Phil Botting, were originally the only members of the Pitbull team when Pitbull competed in its Heat. However, Charles Binns from Team Thermonuclear Warfare joined Ivar in the Semi-Finals as team captain Phil could not attend filming for the Semi-Finals. The Suicidal Tendencies team had been amongst the many people who helped the Pitbull team during the robot's construction.[4]

"Early on, we decided that what was most important to us was to have fun and put on a good show, rather than desperately trying to win. We knew that whatever it was, it had to look good, and cause damage. The first ideas were for a four-wheel-drive robot with an axe, and we chose the name Pitbull."
— The Pitbull website

The team disbanded after selling Pitbull online.


"The news came through that we were invited to take Pitbull to the auditions for Robot Wars Series III, but there was precious little time to finish the design, let alone build it. I pressed on with the design, keeping it as simple as I could. Trent Sheet Metal welded a strong steel frame, and with the help of my work colleagues, and with parts bought and donated, we at last got Pitbull running. The first test was on the morning of the audition, a nervous moment, more so because we had no fail-safes. This meant if the radio control failed, the robot would career dangerously out of control. It came alive... alive and dangerous. But we had run out of time and hadn't finished the weapon or the armour. Would they still take Pitbull seriously; would we be allowed to compete?"
— The Pitbull website

Pitbull attended the Series 3 auditions in an unfinished state, with no armour, weapons or failsafes, but was still chosen to compete.

"A quick radio check in a motorway service station car park, and we were ready. After weight and safety checks came our first chance to show what Pitbull could do. Not tuned very well, it was twitchy, so Jon drove it slowly until we got to the breezeblocks. Without armour, there were lots of exposed parts that could get broken or jammed by debris, but we had agreed we should 'go for it'. Full throttle, the breezeblocks went slamming into the barrier. In a celebratory spin, it looked great, leaving lots of black rubber on the floor. Not a bad debut, but there was still a long way to go. ... Pitbull looked very small, and there were lots of axes... we now had time to rethink the weapon and armour, whilst we waited for news of the filming. Months passed, and without knowing if we'd be in the competition, work stopped."
— The Pitbull website

Pitbull, ready for Series 3

However, due to delays in filming, the team were not told that they would be competing until months after the auditions, and did not work on Pitbull in between as they did not know if they were going to compete. Fortunately, with help from Team Thermonuclear Warfare, who lived near them, the team managed to complete Pitbull just two days before filming, although with very little time to practice.[5]

"Then the news came... we were on. With little time, and having lost our workshop, we needed more help than ever, but it came. First, we made contact with Suicidal Tendencies, a team not far from us, who had a workshop and offered to help. Next, power for the weapon, a linear actuator from PMS. Powerful and easy to use, it was perfect. The final piece of the jigsaw came in the shape of a laser. I took a job designing laser profiling machines, and so had access to a machine which could cut almost all of the parts we needed for both the jaws and the armour. Having come so far, and with a route to the goal mapped out, there could be no surrender. There was a lot of work still needed; parts needed to be strengthened, systems to be tuned, the weapon to be built and armour to be formed. Nothing could be left half done or flung together. We knew that to stay in the game it all had to be right. Simple, tough and neat, anything less is preparing for failure. This was tough. Too late, and too stubborn to back out, we pressed on, and with the help of the Suicidals we finished barely two days before going to Elstree for the filming. With little time to practise, we certainly didn't know what to expect, and so we waited for..."
— The Pitbull website

Robot History[]

Series 3[]

"We've taught it a few tricks; we taught it how to fetch, and we taught it how to bite!"
— Ivar Bundulis in Pitbull's introduction

Pitbull avoids Sumpthing's attack

Pitbull made its first appearance in Heat B of Series 3, where it was drawn against fellow newcomer Sump Thing in the first round.

Pitbull, having pushed Sump Thing to the flame jets

"After a tense wait, the time had come for Pitbull's first battle. We had examined Sumpthing and didn't think we could damage it with the jaws. The wheels were made from thick gas bottles, the electronics box thick steel. Their spike looked like it could do some real damage to Pitbull. The doors to the Arena opened and we nervously pushed Pitbull in, turned it on and took our places in the cherry picker. At last came the command 'Activate', and we were off. Ivar veered to one side, hoping to miss that spike, but they just caught us a good hit smack on top at the back. After that, we were desperate as we could barely move."
— Pitbull website[6]

Sump Thing immediately charged at Pitbull, striking it with its axe, but immobilised itself instantly as a result of its first attack.

"It was some time before we realised that Sumpthing wasn't moving at all. It was clear that we had severe problems with the radio control, but we managed to push Sumpthing toward Bash. From that point on, the housebots took over and lifted and bashed and toasted our opponent. We wanted to do more ourselves, but had to be grateful given the problems we had. Still, when Ivar regained some control he did get Pitbull snapping at Killalot's heels. We had won. The editing for TV made it look better for us than it really was, but we were through for another round."
— Pitbull website[7]

Pitbull pushed Sump Thing near the flame jets, where Sgt. Bash and Sir Killalot attacked it, with Sir Killalot dumping Sump Thing into the pit.

"Well, he looks like a Dalmatian, he fights like a Terrier, his name is Pitbull, and he's through to the next round!"
Craig Charles after the battle

In the second round, Pitbull faced Technophobic. Both machines met each other in the centre of the arena, before Pitbull clamped Technophobic and shoved it into the arena wall.

"Immediately growling and prowling against Technophobic. Who let Pitbull off its leash? Look at those teeth! Hope they've got a license for him, slightly more than the seven and six it used to cost for a dog license, £750 to build Pitbull!"
— Jonathan Pearce early in the battle

Technophobic lifts Pitbull

Pitbull impales itself onto the arena wall

The two robots bumped and circled around each other a few times, with Pitbull pushing Technophobic around the arena again. However, Technophobic eventually got underneath Pitbull with its lifting arm, and lifted it up, but not being able to turn it over. More pushing and shoving ensued, before Pitbull turned and drove straight into Dead Metal's CPZ, getting its jaws stuck in the arena wall in the process.

"No, no, no, you don't bite the furniture. You're not a puppy any more Pitbull, what are you doing in there? It's not your kennel either, it belongs to Dead Metal."
— Jonathan Pearce as Pitbull pins itself

Pitbull pushes Technophobic onto the flames

Technophobic and Dead Metal attacked the stranded Pitbull, the latter cutting into Pitbull's armour with his saw, before Sergeant Bash came in and tried to free Pitbull. At last, Pitbull broke free, and pushed Technophobic around in circles and onto the Flame Pit. Technophobic was immobilised at this point, with flames rising through its internals and eventually setting its petrol engine alight as cease was called, much to the audience's delight.

"On reflection, setting fire to them was a bit much, as they hadn't moved for some time, but in heat of battle and thinking that they might at any time come to life again, we used every means of attack. Afterwards, their petrol tank was all but gone, and other plastic parts a bit melted at the edges. What I wanted to see were the teethmarks. The teeth did seem to have gone through, but the fibreglass seemed to close the wounds up so they didn't show up on TV. "
— The Pitbull website on the round 2 battle

Pitbull is rolled into the CPZ

With this win, Pitbull progressed to the Heat Final, where it met Series 2 Semi-Finalist Behemoth. Pitbull started by dodging Behemoth, before the two robots circled each other and Pitbull jammed itself against the wall once again. Behemoth took advantage, flipping Pitbull over the Flame Pit and into Dead Metal's CPZ, where the House Robot re-righted Pitbull. Pitbull darted away, before ramming into Behemoth's scoop and trying to clamp down on it as it was hoisted away. It rammed into Behemoth again, this time grabbing hold of Behemoth's scoop then its rear as it pushed it into the angle grinders and Sir Killalot.

"Well, we didn't think it was a Sheepdog, but he certainly got Behemoth into the pen of Killalot there. And this is a tremendous performance here, from Ivar and Phil of the Pitbull team, because Behemoth went into this very much as the favourite for the Heat Final."
— Jonathan Pearce as Pitbull pins Behemoth against the wall

Pitbull bites down hard onto Behemoth

Behemoth is flipped by the spike

Behemoth after it was flipped by the arena spike

Pitbull prepares to watch Behemoth get thrown by the floor flipper

Pitbull let go of Behemoth, who was suddenly flipped onto its side by an arena spike as it drove away from the wall. This controversially eliminated Behemoth, as it was unable to self-right, and Pitbull tried to push it further, only to be launched itself twice by the spike. Pitbull advanced to the Semi-Finals as Sir Killalot and Dead Metal attacked Behemoth's scoop and underside, before the defeated machine was flipped over by the Floor Flipper.

"I would like to think that we were winning on points, given Dead Metal's part in our being flipped, and our strong biting and pushing, but we'll never know. We found out also that Behemoth had suffered problems with their controls, which is a shame, and we'll also never know what they'd have done without the problems. At the end of the day, frankly to our amazement, we'd won our heat"
— Pitbull website[8]

In the Semi-Finals, Pitbull met Fire Storm. Ivar Bundulis stated that the team felt confident going into this fight, although Jonathan Pearce favoured Fire Storm to win. Both machines came together near the arena wall, with Fire Storm slamming into its jaws and Pitbull pushing it around with the Durham machine in place.

Pitbull is bounced by the spikes whilst holding Fire Storm

Pitbull is turned over, revealing its hidden message

"And this could be the first surprise of the Semi-Final! Firestorm regarded in the pits as a complete robots, with fine weaponry, good technical ability too!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Pitbull pushes Firestorm

Fire Storm was unable to escape Pitbull's grasp, though Pitbull was bounced by an arena spike several times as it pushed Fire Storm towards Sir Killalot. This separated both robots, with Fire Storm and Pitbull dodging Sir Killalot and coming together again near the wall.

Sir Killalot burns Pitbull

Pitbull's revenge on the House Robots

Fire Storm briefly got underneath Pitbull, before Pitbull was thrust onto its side by the arena spike (similar to when Behemoth was thrust over by the arena spike in its heat final), eventually toppling onto its back. Without the momentum needed to get back onto its wheels, Pitbull lay beached on its back, and the House Robots were free to attack it, with Sir Killalot carrying Pitbull over to the Flame Pit after 'Cease' was called. In retaliation, Pitbull rammed into Sir Killalot's right arm twice after being lowered back onto its wheels, breaking his hydraulic fuel lines. However, Pitbull was still eliminated from the competition.

"What they did was they shouted "cease" and then Sir Killalot hung us over the Flame Pit for about another thirty seconds. So I said, "fair's fair", if he can attack me after the whistle, I can attack him after the whistle!"
— Ivar Bundulis, answering Philippa Forrester's question as to why Pitbull attacked Sir Killalot after cease was called


Series 3
The Third Wars - UK Championship
Semi-Finals, Round 1
Heat B, Round 1 vs. Sumpthing Won
Heat B, Round 2 vs. Technophobic Won
Heat B, Final vs. Behemoth Won
Semi-Final 1, Round 1 vs. Fire Storm Lost


  • Wins: 3
  • Losses: 1

Series Record[]

Pitbull without its shell

Series Pitbull Series Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Semi Finals, Round 1
The Fourth Wars Did not enter
The Fifth Wars Did not enter
The Sixth Wars Did not enter
The Seventh Wars Did not enter
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter

Outside Robot Wars[]

Pitbull (second from right) amongst robots at Brighton Model World 2000

Pitbull fought at Brighton Model World in February 2000, alongside Suicidal Tendencies, Mortis, T 2 and Grim Reaper. However, as the team were unable to attend, they lent the robot to their friends, the Suicidal Tendencies team.[9]

Like fellow Series 3 Semi-Finalists Blade and Trident, Pitbull did not appear in any series outside its debut, as the team did not intend to enter Series 4. Pitbull was sold online in early 2000 to the Denbigh High School in north Wales[10], the school which entered Chip.


Pitbull before Round 2 of its heat, with its mascot

  • Jonathan Pearce often called Pitbull "a growler", an ironic foreshadowing of House Robot Growler, whose working title was Pitbull.
  • Pitbull was one of two competitor robots to be referred to as "a growler", the other being fellow Series 3 debutant Cerberus.
  • Sumpthing was the only one of Pitbull's opponents that was not coloured yellow or had yellow on it.
    • It was also the only one of Pitbull's opponents that never made a Heat Final and hadn't competed in Series 2. (Team Firestorm having previously competed with GroundHog)
  • All of Pitbull's opponents had or would appear in another series and win a battle at some point.
  • Of all the UK Series finalists, the Pitbull team was the only one to enter just one series, not even withdrawing or failing to qualify for another series.
  • During Pitbull's first battle, the team noticed they had serious problems with the radio control. However, due to the filming delay when a robot went out of control, the team was able to get help from the other teams, with the Mortis team lending them a titanium rod for an aerial.[11]
  • Team captain Phil Botting later joined the team of The Guv'nor mk 2, when they failed to qualify for Series 4.
  • In Extreme 2, Chip used the drive motors originally found in Pitbull, after Denbigh High School purchased Pitbull online.
  • In 2016, when BBC news reported the return of Robot Wars, Pitbull was included amongst pictures of classic competitors[12].
  • As there were no Semi-Finals in Series 1, Pitbull was the first robot to defeat a former Semi-Finalist.
  • Half of Pitbull's opponents (specifically its last two) were future Grand Finalists that would finish joint 3rd.


External Links[]