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"...I wanted everybody to have a phobia going up against our robot - the fear of the Probes!"
— Jeff Banks, explaining the etymology behind Probophobia's name to Vivianne Collins

Probophobia was a robot from California which competed in Season 2 of Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors and Nickelodeon Robot Wars. It reached the Heat Final in Season 2 and was the runner-up of the Nickelodeon US Championship, losing out to Panzer Mk 4 and Tyranabot respectively. Probophobia also took part in the Nickelodeon Vengeance and Challenge Belt competitions, beating Spin Doctor and losing to Tut Tut in those respective tournaments.

Design[]

Probophobia in The Pits

Probophobia was a silver, four-wheel drive robot with a low profile and a wedged box shape. Its main weapon was a set of electric lifting forks, referred to by the team as 'probes', which could rotate a full 360 degrees, similarly to the lifting scoop later employed by UK Series 8 competitor Shockwave. The forks acted as the robot's self-righting mechanism, even allowing Probophobia to turn itself over from right-side up. The 'probes' were particularly effective at getting underneath and lifting robots, with Probophobia's length providing good balance. However, the robot itself was thinly armored and was considerably underweight at nearly 50lbs under the maximum heavyweight limit.

Etymology[]

'Probophobia' was a portmanteau combining the words "Probe" (as in the surgical instrument) and "phobia". The medical connotations of the former were heavily emphasized in both series; not only through the robot's lifting forks, but also the personalities adopted by the Banks family throughout their appearances (see below).

The Team[]

The Probophobia team, referred to on-screen as The Control Freaks, consisted of the Banks family from Napa, California - Jeff, his wife Jan and their daughter Jeana. All were dressed in doctor and nurse outfits in keeping with the robot's medical theme, along with comedic identities including Dr Probe and Nurse Stick It To Ya which directly referenced its weaponry.

In both Extreme Warriors and the Nickelodeon series, this lead to a light-hearted rivalry with the Spin Doctor team, who entered a similarly-themed robot and faced Probophobia in two seperate battles across both versions.

Robot History[]

Season 2[]

"We are The Control Freaks... this is our robot, Probophobia, and its time to operate! And I don't operate to heal - I operate to kill!"
— Jeff Banks introduces the Probophobia team in Extreme Warriors Season 2

Probophobia debuted in Season 2 of Extreme Warriors, appearing in the first heat of the main US Championship. In its first-round battle, it faced Season 1 competitors Cyclone and fellow newcomers Spin Doctor, the latter being one of two entries for the season from Team LOGICOM. The medical themes adopted by both Probophobia and Spin Doctor were briefly addressed by Carol Grow during the team's initial pre-battle interview.

Probophobia flips Cyclone

Probophobia causes Spin Doctor to break down

Probophobia began by charging straight into Cyclone, using its forks to deflect the latter's disk as it spun up to speed. This charge dislodged Cyclone's removable link, which fell out completely as Probophobia lifted the immobilized machine onto its back. Probophobia and Spin Doctor then fought each other, and after Probophobia launched a small lift, Spin Doctor broke down after attacking Probophobia's side. Both went through as Refbot counted Cyclone out, before Dead Metal put Cyclone on the Floor Flipper and into the pit. During post-battle interviews, Mick Foley again noted the similar themes of both surviving competitors while alluding to Team LOGICOM member Thomas Beaver's profession as a Chief Medical Examiner. The Control Freaks and Team LOGICOM remained on good terms as Beaver, Jeff Banks and Chris Harriman all shook hands in the central booth.

Mick Foley: "...it looks like you guys put [Cyclone] in some trouble as you flipped them right over on their back."
Jeff Banks: "That's right, we stuck it to 'em and put the hurt on 'em!"
— Post-Round 1 interview

Probophobia skewers Snake Bite

In Round 2, Probophobia was drawn up against Snake Bite. Prior to entering the arena, Bob Allen of Team Viper joked that Probophobia's forks resembled 'a set of goalposts', which led to an argument and a staged shoving match between the two teams. Nevertheless, Probophobia started the battle aggressively, charging straight into Snake Bite and attempting to lift it up. Snake Bite escaped, only to charge straight into Probophobia's forks again and be hoisted up onto its side, falling off sideways. Probophobia lifted itself, allowing Snake Bite to shove it from the side, before retreating into Sir Killalot's CPZ as its opponent gave chase. However, as Snake Bite ran up Probophobia's forks a third time, Probophobia lifted it onto its side, skewering through one of the green machine's wheel wells in the process.

Probophobia dispatches of Snake Bite

"Probophobia knows how to work it... as they put those skewers right into Snake Bite, for a little snake kebab!"
— Stefan Frank as Snake Bite is impaled

With Snake Bite held aloft, Probophobia carried its helpless opponent over to the pit trigger, then lowered Snake Bite into the pit, being careful not to follow it down.

"Was that some great driving, or was that some great driving?"
— Mick Foley comments on Probophobia's Round 2 performance

Probophobia progressed to the Heat Final, where it met reigning US Champion Panzer Mk 4.

Jeff Banks: "Well, we've faced some pretty bad bots at this competition, and Panzer's big - they're strong, but they're not going to last long. They're just going to be another patient/victim on our list!"
Carol Grow: "What about the blood pressure? Is it kinda rising, knowing that you're going up against the big Panzer?"
Jeff Banks: "Well, we're pretty excited about taking 'em out, so we're going to have a good time with 'em, and try to... throw d'heck out of 'em!"
— Interview prior to the Heat Final

Probophobia struggles to escape from the CPZ as Panzer Mk 4 drives up its wedge

Probophobia lifts Panzer Mk 4 up

It began by getting underneath Panzer Mk 4, but not lifting it, only to be pushed around and steered into Sgt. Bash, who grabbed hold of one of Probophobia's forks with his pincers. Sir Killalot also closed in as Probophobia struggled to escape, before Sgt. Bash let go and Panzer Mk 4 ran up Probophobia's wedge at full speed, almost flying out of the arena in the process. Panzer Mk 4 shoved Probophobia into Sgt. Bash and Sir Killalot again, but a mistake allowed Probophobia to momentarily lift it up.

Probophobia is suspended over the pit

Panzer Mk 4 recovered, again pushing Probophobia into Sir Killalot, then around the arena, where it became apparent that Probophobia was losing mobility. Probophobia became immobilized completely after Panzer Mk 4 shoved it onto the pit square and activated the trigger. After being left suspended over the descending hazard, it was eventually nudged down by the Season 1 champion, confirming Probophobia's elimination from the US Championship. Though his team and their machine had been defeated, Jeff Banks expressed no regrets, accepting that Panzer Mk 4 was the faster and stronger machine throughout.

"Panzer nudges Probophobia into the pit a little more... and it's the pits for the doctor!"
— Stefan Frank as Probophobia is pitted

Nickelodeon[]

Probophobia made three further appearances in the one-off series Nickelodeon Robot Wars, with Jeana Banks taking over as driver and team captain. Initially, it fought in the opening US Championship episode, where it went up against Phantasm in the first round. When informed by Vivianne Collins about Phantasm's near-weaponless state - resulting from it arriving at filming severely overweight - Banks replied that it would set her team's opponent at a 'big disadvantage'.

Probophobia lifts Phantasm up

Probophobia made a lunge at Phantasm in the opening seconds and missed, though it eventually got its forks underneath Phantasm upon reversing into its Missouri-based opponent. Having lifted itself up momentarily, Probophobia lifted Phantasm quickly, almost turning the latter over in the process before pushing Phantasm aside as it landed on top. Neither attacked each other further in the remaining moments; Probophobia shuffled, while Phantasm spun around until it began smoking and lost mobility due to a burnt out drive system. While Phantasm was counted out and attacked further by the House Robots Shunt and Dead Metal, Probophobia progressed to the final.

There, Probophobia faced Tyranabot; as both teams prepared to fight, Jeana Banks revealed to Vivianne Collins that her team had to replace its tire treads along with a number of the robot's bolts and screws.

Probophobia sustains crucial damage from Matilda following a push from Tyranabot

Probophobia started tentatively, dodging a fast side-on charge from Tyranabot before later creeping up to and lifting Ivan Loftis' machine against the side wall. Tyranabot lost part of its decorative tail as a result, but Probophobia could not capitalize on its early momentum, having reversed, stopped and lifted its forks up as Tyranabot pressed the Disc of Doom trigger. Probophobia drove past the spinning Disc and turned its forks into the front of Tyranabot, which pushed it back across the arena into Matilda's flywheel.

Probophobia tries to use its forks to move across the floor

Despite clamping down on Tyranabot in the process, Probophobia had its top panel bent upwards by the House Robot's weapon, after which it responded to Tyranabot by pushing its opponent back. Smoke began pouring from Probophobia when it next shuffled over and away from the Drop Zone target; seconds later, it lost drive completely. In a desperate attempt to show continued mobility, Probophobia lifted itself end-over-end across the arena with its forks, but to no avail as Refbot counted it out anyway. Sir K grabbed Probophobia by the lifter mechanism and dumped it into the pit, relegating it to runner-up honors in the Nickelodeon US Championship.

According to Judge Noel Sharkey, Probophobia succeeded in using its forks to evade the House Robots for some time, lasting an alleged twenty minutes before finally being pitted by Sir K. At Sharkey's insistence, the immobilization rules were changed so that a robot would only be eliminated if it lost complete mobility through its drive and weapon systems. This would ultimately affect Probophobia and its forks later on in the series.[1]

"Spin Doctor's been operating without a license, and we're here to take care of him. There can only be one doctor in the house, and we want to save Robot Wars a lot of money with malpractice suits, so we're going to take him out!"
— Jeff Banks establishes a grudge with the similarly medical-themed Spin Doctor

Probophobia breaks Spin Doctor's disc chain

Probophobia next appeared in Episode 4, fighting a Vengeance battle against US Season 2 opponent Spin Doctor to determine which of the medically-themed machines would be superior. Despite a hesitant start for the Banks family's robot, the match was very short, as Probophobia turned and, true to Jeana's intentions, used its forks to break Spin Doctor's weapon chain. Both robots became locked together near an angle grinder, but Spin Doctor became immobilized upon clipping Probophobia's weapon a second time. Probophobia prevailed as Spin Doctor sustained further attacks from the House Robots, raising itself on its forks as a victory salute in the lead-up to Refbot's count-out.

Vivianne Collins: "You've got Probophobia, but you're going up against Tut Tut. She's had the belt for two battles... what do you think you can do?"
Jeana Banks: "I think I'm gonna try and flip her, and I hope I do."
— Jeana Banks outlines her tactics against Tut Tut, driven by Nancy Rodriquez

Probophobia's final battle in the series was a Challenge Belt match-up in Episode 5, against reigning belt holders Tut Tut. Jeana Banks immediately set out a strategy where she would use the robot's forks to try and turn over the former Extreme Warriors Tag Team Terror co-champion, noting the symmetry in its pyramid-shaped design.

Probophobia pushes Tut Tut into the wall

Probophobia smokes following an axe attack from Tut Tut

Once again, Probophobia was slow to start, repeatedly raising and lowering its forks as Tut Tut came in on the offensive. The forks briefly clamped the front of Tut Tut as its axe struck the top of Probophobia, before both robots separated and the loanerbot briefly drove partway up Probophobia's right fork. However, Probophobia only lifted Tut Tut up slightly in response, its sluggishness leaving it vulnerable to a shove and another axe attack from Tut Tut. In response, Probophobia pushed Tut Tut back across the arena into the rear wall; Tut Tut returned the favor by again axing and pushing it across the center. Smoke started pouring from the top of Probophobia once again as it continued to be pushed and dragged, until Tut Tut retracted its axe and went for the pit trigger.

Tut Tut forces Probophobia into Sir K; note the lifter holding onto the axe

As in the US Championship final, Probophobia's drive was incapacitated, and the robot sat motionless for a few moments as it continued to operate its forks beside the descending pit. Eventually, it heaved itself end-over-end towards the wall opposite the bottom-left CPZ, using the forks to demonstrate improvised mobility. Tut Tut continued axing, pushing and dragging Probophobia regardless, though Probophobia's forks succeeded in trapping Tut Tut's axe as it was being pushed back into an angle grinder. Despite being outside their CPZs, Sir K and Shunt closed in on both competitors in the final seconds, Sir K's claw briefly grabbing hold of Probophobia's forks before 'Cease' was called.

The resulting Judges' decision ruled Probophobia to have lost, enabling Tut Tut to maintain an undefeated streak and take the Challenge Belt home.

Results[]

PROBOPHOBIA - RESULTS
US Championship
Season 2
Heat Final
Heat A, Round 1 vs. Cyclone, Spin Doctor Qualified
Heat A, Round 2 vs. Snake Bite Won
Heat A, Final vs. Panzer Mk 4 Lost
Nickelodeon Robot Wars
US Championship
Runner-up
Round 1 vs. Phantasm Won
Final vs. Tyranabot Lost
Challenge Belt
Challenge Belt vs. Tut Tut Lost
Vengeance
Vengeance vs. Spin Doctor Won

Wins/Losses[]

  • Wins: 4
  • Losses: 3

Series Record[]

US Series Probophobia Series Record
Season 1 Did not enter
Season 2 Heat Final
Nickelodeon Runner-up

Outside Robot Wars[]

The team also competed in the Super Heavyweight division of BattleBots Seasons 3.0, 4.0 and 5.0 with a larger version of Probophobia known simply as The Probe, losing their first battle to Brainsters of Triskelion. In the following season, the team won three battles before losing to Diesector and their third attempt saw them beat Phere then lose to Vladiator.

Trivia[]

  • Two ligher weight replicas of Probophobia were built by fellow US Season 2 and Nickelodeon series competitors Team Chippermonkey - a middleweight named Mr. Chuckalot (painted red with a gold front panel) and a US antweight named Otis (with a black carbon-fiber style finish).

References[]

See Also[]

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