- "And here to keep the House Robots in line is a new addition to the pack. Here’s Refbot. He’ll be breaking up the fights, reining in the House Robots, and bringing order to the chaos of the warzone!"
- — Craig Charles introduces Refbot in Series 4
Refbot was a non-combative House Robot that was introduced in Series 4 of Robot Wars. He appeared in every series thereafter until Series 7, including international versions and both series of Robot Wars Extreme, and was intended to enforce fair play into the arena. His primary roles were to separate competitor robots if they became locked together, extinguish fires and prevent House Robots from attacking competitors outside of their CPZs. He also swept away debris from the arena at the end of each battle and pushed immobilised robots to a point where they could be collected by roboteers, taking over the roles previously assigned to Shove.
Before Refbot’s introduction, the House Robots would often interfere with battles, causing excessive damage to competitors, taking them to arena hazards as soon as they entered a CPZ, or even freeing them if they were stranded or locked together. The latter contradicted their antagonistic characterisation, with Refbot being purposefully conceived as a non-antagonistic House Robot to resolve potential concerns about confusing the show’s audience.
- "Was made redundant from my job at Dr. Martens just at the right time! Had been chatting to the Show SFX supervisor Chris Reynolds a few weeks before about how to get into the industry! So quick phone call and there I was, working on a show called Mechanoids"
- — Mike Franklin on joining the industry before becoming the driver of Refbot
- "It had been highlighted, there was a need for a robot that was seen as being unbiased, so when robots were tied together, or go stuck together … in the past the House Robots had gone in to free these robots. Now that was seen by viewers at home as being a bit confusing "Well, why is that robot being nice?", so we built Refbot."
- — Chris Reynolds on the creation of Refbot
Refbot was a humanoid-looking, two-wheeled robot designed to resemble a robotic referee. He was painted black, white and red with his centre body painted in black and white stripes to resemble a referee’s shirt, with his head featuring two white LED ‘eyes’ and a small appendage resembling a headset microphone. Although not designed for combat, Refbot featured several pieces of equipment which were essential to his role, including a front bulldozer plough and a pair of rear scoops on the rear, as well as a CO2 fire extinguisher on his right arm. The front plough was used to separate robots that had become stuck together, or stuck on part of the arena. The two rear scoops were designed to look like the soles of his feet, making Refbot look as if he is kneeling down, as wrestling referees do, and were intended for pushing robots out of the arena between battles. The fire extinguisher was intended to put fires out, or at least keep it under control until the whole fire crew arrived. Series 4 was the first series where the arena was in an enclosed box, so a mobile fire extinguisher was needed in the arena. For Series 4, his left arm also featured a pincer grip which was intended to help separate robots which had become stuck together in tandem with the front plough.
From Series 5/Extreme 1 onwards, an electronic countdown board was added to Refbot’s chest, which enabled him to count out defeated robots after they had become immobilised for thirty seconds. He would count the final ten seconds, starting from zero and counting up until it reached 10, with a buzzer sounding in the last few seconds of the countdown. First introduced in Extreme 1, the countdown would be slowed for Series 5 and some Extreme 1 battles onwards, and would remain that way for the rest of the original series’ run. In some battles, such as the Extreme Vengeance fight between Tornado and Stinger, the countdown board was also used to signal the end of battles themselves, which usually lead to judges’ decisions.
Sometimes, Refbot’s counter did not function properly when he was about to count out competitors, leading to glitches which attracted humorous responses from Jonathan Pearce from time to time. When Refbot was left unable to count out a defeated robot – either through his counter not working, being immobilised by competitors or being incapacitated by arena hazards – the judges were usually called to evaluate and confirm the robot’s elimination in his place.
Also in Series 5/Extreme 1, Refbot’s pincer grip on his left arm was replaced with a set of three lights in the shape of the Robot Wars logo. Each light varied in purpose – green (top), would light up to signal the start of battles, while yellow (right) was used to warn a House Robot to return to a CPZ if he or she ‘misbehaved’ and attacked a competitor while outside a CPZ. A red light (left) was shown if the House Robot ignored this warning – forcing it to remain in its CPZ for the remainder of the match – and at the end of the 10-second countdown when a competitor was counted out. In Series 7, Refbot’s red light was also used to signal the elimination of robots that had failed to enter the arena, which happened to Thunderpants in Heat E and Flippa in the second round of the Annihilator.
Refbot first appeared in Series 4, with his debut heralded by a small introduction from Craig Charles. His first major role came in Heat B, where he extinguished Reptirron after it had its hydraulic cables severed by Pussycat’s blade and caught fire. He also extinguished Diotoir’s fur after it was flipped over and set alight by Sergeant Bash in Heat C, and helped force Killertron and Maverick apart in Heat H when Killertron’s axe became stuck in Maverick’s top panel.
Refbot would later separate MouseTrap and Tiberius in Heat K after both robots got stuck together during their first round battle, carrying MouseTrap across the arena floor for some time after Tiberius was freed.
- "MouseTrap, in the clutches of the Refbot! What is going on there? Referee’s not supposed to do that!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Refbot drags MouseTrap around the arena with his plough
Also in Heat K, he separated Tiberius and Little Fly after the former got stuck in forward drive pushing Little Fly against the arena wall.
In Heat L, Refbot pulled Spawn of Scutter and Vercingetorix apart during their second round battle as the latter got its axe stuck in Spawn of Scutter’s top armour, and nudged Vercingetorix away from the wall when it became immobilised on one side later on in that battle. Later on in the same heat, he also separated Knightmare and Plunderbird 4 when both of them became wedged together during their second-round battle.
In the first Semi-Final, Refbot attempted to nudge Dominator 2 away from the wall when it was flipped against it by Firestorm 2, allowing it to drive away from it on its side before Firestorm 2 flipped it a second time in the closing seconds.
Refbot’s new counter and lights were immediately put to use, sending numerous countdowns and House Robot warnings throughout the course of the series. One particularly notable incident occurred in the All-Stars battle between Hypno-Disc and Behemoth, where he gave Dead Metal a yellow card after he came out of his CPZ to attack Behemoth without provocation. When Dead Metal ignored this warning and attacked Behemoth again as it pushed Hypno-Disc into an empty CPZ, Refbot showed him a red card, confining him to that particular CPZ for the rest of the battle.
- "…and Refbot does come in and I think… yes indeed, he has! He’s sent Dead Metal, back into the CPZ! You cannot come out and play anymore, you naughty boy! Home boy, and do not come out again!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Dead Metal is red-carded for his unprovoked attacks on Behemoth
Refbot was also nearly flipped onto his back by Chaos 2 during the Flipper Frenzy, but escaped as Chaos 2 threw itself over in the process, and attempted to extinguish Sir Killalot after he caught fire during the All-Stars Quarter-Final between Tornado and Pussycat. However, Sir Killalot’s fire spread again immediately afterwards, and he was not fully extinguished until after driving over a CO2 jet.
- "…and a yellow card from the Refbot! So, he’s saying to Shunt, “I don’t care if you’re bored, you can’t break the rules and come out!” Refbot, get out of it! Get out of it! Well done, Shunt, you’re okay by me, mate! Get involved…with those…Mega Morg boys!"
- — Jonathan Pearce sympathises with Shunt as he is yellow-carded for his attack on Mega Morg
A controversial moment came during the All-Stars Semi-Final between Chaos 2 and Tornado, where Refbot freed Tornado from the wall after it was flipped against it by Chaos 2, much to the audience’s disappointment. He later attempted to protect Beef-Cake from Sir Killalot and Shunt after both House Robots attacked it during the Featherweight Championship battle, although without success.
In Heat F, Refbot came to separate X-Terminator and Immortalis during their first round battle, after X-Terminator threw itself forwards trying to remove its axe from Immortalis’ top armour. He subsequently counted Immortalis out after it became immobilised not long afterwards, and extinguished Corkscrew’s kilt after it caught fire during its Heat Final defeat to Dominator 2 later on in the same heat.
In Heat G, Refbot gave Sir Killalot and Sergeant Bash yellow cards after they attacked Evolution without provocation during its battle against Sabretooth, before once again extinguishing Diotoir after Sergeant Bash set fire to it in the Heat Final against Spawn Again. In Heat H, he pushed the flaming Granny's Revenge into the pit during its battle against Axe-Awe, only to be shoved in himself by Axe-Awe after getting stuck on the edge.
- "The Refbot’s gone in! Granny’s got hold of the Refbot, what a dreadful thought!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Axe-Awe shoves Refbot into the pit with Granny’s Revenge
Twice in Heat I, Refbot counted both robots out of two separate first round battles after they became immobilised at the same time. The first occurrence happened with Tetanus and Onslaught, after the latter was flipped over and unable to self-right, and Tetanus was immobilised by a CO2 jet. The second happened between 3 Stegs 2 Heaven and Eleven, after 3 Stegs 2 Heaven got entangled in one of Eleven’s hydraulic cables while attacking it with its cutting disc. Refbot would later separate 3 Stegs 2 Heaven and Tetanus in their subsequent second round battle, before counting Tetanus out when it became apparent that it was immobilised.
In the second round battle between Destruct-A-Bubble and Rick in Heat K, Refbot gave Shunt an instant red card for attacking Destruct-A-Bubble outside of his CPZ. However, Shunt refused to comply, and shoved Refbot back in response, with Rick later lifting and rolling Destruct-A-Bubble into the pit before Refbot could finish counting it out.
- "And Shunt’s having a ruck here with the Refbot! A real argument ensuing!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Shunt rams Refbot in response to receiving a red card after attacking Destruct-A-Bubble
During the first round battle between Terrorhurtz and Ming 3 in Heat L, he came in to separate both robots after Ming 3 became immobilised following an unprovoked attack from Matilda. Matilda subsequently attacked Ming 3 again just before ‘cease’ was called, and was implied to have received a red card from Refbot through Jonathan Pearce’s commentary and Craig Charles’ post-battle interviews. During the Grand Final, Refbot helped to free Razer from an angle grinder, after it became partially wedged there during its eliminator against Firestorm 3.
Refbot had an ignominious start to Series 6, being involved in two separate incidents which prevented him from counting out eliminated competitors. In Heat A, during the second round battle between Tetanus 2 and Raging Reality, he accidentally caught the edge of the pit with his rear scoops while trying to separate both robots. After being unable to free himself, he reversed in, leaving Raging Reality to flip Tetanus 2 over and out of the arena.
- "Oh Refbot, what are you doing?! REFBOT!!! That is appalling! The Ref…is in…the pit! Give the Ref a red card, someone! That is dreadful!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Refbot backs into the pit
Meanwhile, in Heat B, Firestorm 4 threw Refbot onto his side during its second round battle against Barbaric Response. Again, this left him unable to count Barbaric Response out when it was wedged against an angle grinder, with ‘cease’ immediately being called and Barbaric Response being eliminated anyway. In Heat D, Armadrillo suddenly began moving again while Refbot was counting it out, enabling it to last to a judges’ decision, while in Heat E, Refbot counted Infernal Contraption out as it attempted to pit itself after sustaining damage from 259. He and Sir Killalot also attempted to separate Wild Thing and Vader when both robots became stuck together during the same heat, but failed to do so, with Shunt eventually separating the competitors by lifting Vader.
Refbot’s camera was knocked off while he counted Inshredable out in its Heat G battle against Anarchy, while in the Heat H Final, he freed Supernova from the wall after it was flipped against it by Spawn Again. Meanwhile, in Heat L, he extinguished the internal fire burning inside Disc-O-Inferno in the closing stages of its second round battle against Killer Carrot 2, while in the Semi-Finals, he freed Firestorm 4, 13 Black and Dantomkia from the walls and angle grinders after they became stranded there at various points.
During Heat A of the New Blood Championship, Refbot was inexplicably attacked by Sergeant Bash in the second round battle between Mute and Mr Nasty, after the latter came out of his CPZ and began shooting flames at him. He eventually gave Sergeant Bash a yellow card before pushing him and nearly being chased into the pit. Finally, Refbot used his extinguisher to put out Sergeant Bash’s flamethrower, disabling it for the remainder of the battle. It is known that Mike Franklin was driving Refbot at the time.
- "…ah, ha, ha, ha, look at the Ref! He’s pushing Sergeant Bash out of it! Get away! He shouldn’t be out there anyway, Sergeant, but it’s a real old tussle between the two of them! The House Robots having an argument, I love it!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Refbot and Sergeant Bash clash
In the Grand Final of the New Blood, Refbot counted out both Mute and Cedric Slammer after both broke down. During the Lightweight Championship battle between Typhoon Thunder and Ellie's Little Pink-Bot, Refbot accidentally broke off Ellie’s Little Pink-Bot’s spinner while pushing it around the arena before it was counted out. In one of the Featherweight Championship heats, he also reversed Gladiator and himself into the pit after all of the other competitors were driven or pushed into it. Another notable incident occurred in the Commonwealth Carnage, where Refbot broke Panic Attack's srimech while trying to free it from the wall after it was flipped by Firestorm 4. Panic Attack was counted out shortly afterwards.
In Heat D, Refbot separated Lightning and Thor after both robots became locked together, while in Heat H, he pitted Metalis after the latter was flipped and immobilised by Ceros in the first round. In the second melee of Heat J, Refbot counted out both Pinser and Cobra when they both got stuck together, the last time Refbot counted out two robots together.
Refbot himself came under attack from DisConstructor and Iron-Awe 2.1 early into their Heat O melee, which saw a side slash from DisConstructor result in Refbot losing mobility, then being pushed into the CPZ by Iron-Awe 2.1. In Heat P, during the second-round battle between Ripper and Daisy-Cutter, Refbot was flipped onto his back by Ripper and Shunt before having his camera dislodged by Sir Killalot, which resulted in the latter receiving a red card. Later in the same heat, during the Final between Ripper and Firestorm 5, Refbot’s counter glitched, counting from 20 to 29 before abruptly counting back down to 10 as Ripper was eliminated.
- "What’s happened to the count? What on earth’s ha- Refbot? What’ve you gone, Euro? I dunno! 28, 29, 10?! He’s gone daft!"
- — Jonathan Pearce notices the glitch on Refbot’s counter as Ripper is eliminated
During the battle between Typhoon 2 and Thermidor 2 in Semi-Final 2, Refbot pushed the immobilised Thermidor 2 onto the Drop Zone after it was eliminated. On various occasions, he even pressed the pit release button during the middle of battles when none of the competitors or the other House Robots did so. Notably, he opened the pit just as Storm 2 pushed Tornado over it during their Grand Final eliminator, causing Tornado to become wedged and briefly descend with the pit. However, the hazard was immediately raised back up to let the defending champion rejoin the battle, thus avoiding an unexpected - and potentially illegal - pitting at the hands of the House Robot.
- "The Refbot hits the pit release. Haven't seen that thus far in this series, maybe he was getting tired of it?"
- — Jonathan Pearce comments on Refbot pressing the pit release button during the Axe Attack
Refbot also pressed the pit release button during a number of Special Events broadcast throughout the series. He did so in the Axe Attack, eliminating Hydra as it drove over the pit panel shortly after, in the Middleweight Championship final, although with no immediate effect on the battle’s outcome, and at the start of the House Robot Rebellion, accidentally causing Cassius Chrome to get stuck over the pit while driving over the descending panel.
- "The Refbot's DOWN! The Refbot descends! 'Bring that pit back up' says the Refbot 'You don't get rid of me that easily!'"
- — Jonathan Pearce commenting on Refbot reversing into the pit.
In the All-Stars, Refbot backed into the descending pit again as Bigger Brother escaped to attack Cassius Chrome, only to drive away as the pit was raised to let him out. In his last televised appearance, the Third World Championship final between Storm 2 and Supernova, his counter failed to work at all, leaving him unable to count Supernova out after it became immobilised against an arena entry gate. Amidst confusion behind-the-scenes as to how the battle should conclude, Refbot eventually freed Supernova from the wall, allowing it to survive to a Judges' decision. However, the Judges later ruled that Supernova should have been counted out in the first place.
US Season 1
In the Robot Rebellion, Rosie the Riveter accidentally drove up Refbot’s front plough during its battle against Rot Box, although it would still go on to win the battle. Refbot would also extinguish the immobilised Conquering Clown after it burned over the Flame Pit during the Annihilator, and during the Civil War, he partially extinguished Tiger Cat after its WD-40-coated body was set alight during its battle with Manta, and gave Sergeant Bash a yellow card after he attacked Sobek during its battle against The Revolutionist.
- "Refbot holds down the unenviable task of trying to maintain order. Good luck Refbot, because this showdown is going to be beyond control!"
- — Mick Foley introduces the first Extreme Warriors Tag Team Terror tournament
In the first round of the Tag Team Terror, Refbot gave Sir Killalot a red card after he left his CPZ to grab Rosie the Riveter after the latter left its corner to help Tricerabot attack Drillzilla and Tut Tut. Even so, Sir Killalot proceeded to leave his CPZ again to assist Matilda after she was overturned by Tricerabot, with Stefan Frank commenting that Refbot had ‘lost total control’ of the battle. Refbot also pushed Spawn Again into the pit following its defeat to Joker in the War of Independence. In Heat 3 of the US Championship, Refbot yellow carded Dead Metal for attacking Rippa Raptor outside the CPZ, and stopped Panzer Mk 2 from rolling over after the latter drove up Manta's side and into him during its US Championship Semi-Final. He also gave Matilda a yellow card during the same battle after she left her CPZ and nudged Manta.
US Season 2
In Heat B of the US Championship, Refbot counted out The Bat in Round 1, when in actuality it was Medusa Oblongotta who was immobilized first. Sending The Bat through to the next round. In Heat G, General Chompsalot 2 rammed into the side of Refbot before getting stuck behind his plough, eventually being freed after Refbot spun it around. He then separated General Chompsalot 2 and G-Force immediately after counting the latter out, and before G-Force was thrown by the Floor Flipper. Also in Heat G, Refbot pushed Dead Metal away from Marauder after the House Robot left his CPZ to attack it and Destructive Criticism in the middle of the arena. In the Heat H Final, he separated Falcon Mark 2 and Tyranabot after both robots got stuck together and were attacked by Dead Metal.
During the US Championship final, Refbot counted Probophobia out after it lost drive, despite it attempting to use its lifting forks to move across the arena floor. He was also rammed into by The Revolutionist during the Ultimate Mayhem, which immobilised The Revolutionist as it tried to chase Propeller-Head around the arena.
Dutch Series 1
In Heat A, Refbot attempted to separate Rat and Bamm Bamm after both robots became locked together over the Flame Pit during their first round battle. After initially failing to do so with his plough, he eventually pushed Rat away with his rear scoops, but was still unable to separate the two robots as Rat pushed the smouldering Bamm Bamm into the pit release button. Rat and Bamm Bamm eventually caught fire, before Refbot finally freed them by shoving Bamm Bamm as its club burned away. Later in the same heat, during the second round battle between Arena Killer and Lizzard, Matilda flipped Lizzard into Refbot, although neither she nor Shunt received yellow or red cards for their attacks on both competitors throughout the battle.
In Heat B, he gave Sergeant Bash a yellow card after he grabbed hold of Alien Destructor’s tail during its battle with Scraptosaur, before freeing Scraptosaur from an angle grinder after it was wedged there by Alien Destructor. Meanwhile, he inexplicably drove into Sergeant Bash following Scraptosaur’s defeat to Pullverizer in the second round, before having Scraptosaur thrown onto him by Matilda’s flywheel. In Heat C, he counted both Pika 2 and Hammerhead out after they became wedged together during their first round battle, but they were immediately separated by Sir Killalot after the count-out, and Pika 2 was deemed to have been immobilised. Refbot would later push Pika 2 off the Flame Pit during its Heat Final against Botwork, allowing it to survive to a Jury’s decision.
In the Heat D first-round battle between Slicer and Enderbot, Refbot counted both robots out after they became wedged together and unable to move, with Slicer being declared the winner. Later in the same heat, he gave Shunt a yellow card for leaving his CPZ to attack Flextreme during its battle against El-Mower, while in Heat E, he nudged NEAT Machine across the arena while it attacked Shapeshifter during the Losers’ Melee. During the Grand Final battle between Slicer and Botwork, Refbot gave Sir Killalot a yellow card for attacking Botwork outside of his CPZ, before separating Slicer and Lizzard after they became stuck together during the Final.
Dutch Series 2
In Heat A, Refbot pressed the pit release button after Hard was counted out during its battle against Neater. During the Heat B first-round fight between Impact and Beaverbot, Impact pushed Beaverbot into the pit while it was being counted out, preventing Refbot from fully eliminating it. Meanwhile, in Heat E, he and Sir Killalot attempted to nudge Scarab and Vortex Inducer towards each other in an attempt to get the two sluggish-moving machines to fight in their first round battle. He subsequently counted Vortex Inducer out due to it being less mobile, and allowed the House Robots to destroy it. In the Grand Final, he nudged Krab-Bot off an angle grinder after it was flipped onto it during its first round battle against Philipper 2.
In the first round battle between Junkyard Queen, Ansgar’s Revenge and Golem in Heat A, Refbot freed Golem from the top of Junkyard Queen after the latter got underneath Golem and got itself stuck on the arena wall. In the Losers Melee, shown as part of the Grand Final, he also pushed Junkyard Queen onto the Drop Zone following its defeat to Not Perfect, where Golem was dropped onto it.
Appearances in Merchandise
- Because of his role in later series, Refbot was the only House Robot to feature in every battle of the series he appeared in.
- Unbeknownst to many, there were in fact two Refbots built, as a result of the producers requiring him to be present for every battle. This was revealed by producer Steve Carsey to the audience during a recording for the Seventh Wars. If one looks closely, a small number (1 or 2) can also be seen on Refbot's back, identifying which Refbot was being used in certain battles.
- Refbot was referenced during Heat 1 of Series 10, where Angela Scanlon jokingly claimed that the Daedalus Mk 1 hovering equipment invented by Richard Browning would be the 'perfect outfit for a new Refbot'.
- Refbot's name was spelt as Ref Bot on his Battle Card, sold as part of the third pack of Robot Wars Battle Cards.
- In some battles, such as Plunderbird 4 vs Knightmare (Series 4, Heat L), Refbot's head was mounted backwards.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4ROkpYYQD8 Mike Franklin on Youtube, 2007