- "Roadblock was an A level Technology project for Hender...Hender is a very able technology student who has been presented to HRH the Prince of Wales with his technology project."
- — Peter Kinsey
Roadblock (also spelled Road Block) was a robot that competed in the British television game show Robot Wars.
One of the most successful robots in the early years of the show, Roadblock won the first ever broadcast episode of the show and then went on to become the inaugural UK Champion by winning The First Wars. Roadblock notched up a seven-straight battle winning streak, including a dominant performance in the six-way title fight of Series 1. Roadblock sought to defend its title in the Second Wars and placed third after being defeated by Cassius in the Grand Final.
Built as a school project for students at Bodmin Community College, Roadblock was a large wedge covered in road signs that inspired the robot's name. It typically used this wedge to control and overturn opponents, as seen in fights against Recyclopse, Robot the Bruce and Killertron on two occasions.
After two wars, Roadblock was retired and a similarly designed successor, Beast of Bodmin, entered The Third Wars.
- "Initially, the team had problems coming up with a body design. By chance, Hender saw a road sign that exactly fitted the dimensions of the chassis, and which he could see would make an excellent bonnet. Fortunately, the team knew someone who worked at the local council, and this contact took them to a huge skip, from where they chose the "Road Ahead Closed" sign that became the robot's most distinctive feature."
- — The Robot Wars Technical Manual on the construction of Roadblock
Hender Blewett and Peter Kinsey designed Roadblock after studying robots from American robot combat events. With money being a major issue, a number of local companies donated materials for the robot's construction, including the second-hand wheelchair that formed the basis for its chassis. Roadblock ultimately took the form of a large wedge-shaped robot with two wheels and road signs that formed its front panel and scoop. The signs were originally planned to be painted over, but when Bodmin Community College ran out of time to do so, they entered Roadblock with them unpainted. Ultimately, the BBC liked the appearance of the road signs, and the team deliberately kept the signs unpainted for both series. However, the robot had yellow and black hazard stripes painted on the rear, as well as black markings on the sides for Series 2.
A electric grass trimmer engine powered Roadblock's rear weapon, a tungsten-tipped circular saw driven by a petrol engine. The team also had a square-shaped saw blade which was interchangeable with the circular saw, but never used it.
Roadblock's steel armour was substituted for lighter aluminium in Series 2, while the robot itself underwent a complete internal rebuilt for that series. This saw its wheelchair motors and other electronics moved to the front, and a new chassis being made from a more up-to-date wheelchair. A distinctive two-tone police siren was also fitted, which sounded whenever Roadblock attacked its opponents during the course of Series 2.
- "Roadblock looked the same as last year on the outside, but all the internal electronics had been changed. The motors had apparently been changed to some industrial ones, but they kept the speed controller from last year. The chassis this year was welded aluminium instead of steel. The weapon was a cutting disk attached to a strimmer motor, but the problem was that strimmer shafts aren't up to much and it kept snapping which caused them problems. If you look at the inside of the lid of roadblock there is a black square. This is where they had to cover up their sponsorship"
- — Oliver Steeples on the changes to Roadblock for Series 2
In both series it competed in, Roadblock weighed slightly over the original Heavyweight limit; at 82.5kg in Series 1, and 80.9kg in Series 2.
- Main article: Bodmin Community College
Roadblock was entered into Series 1 and 2 by a team representing Bodmin Community College, in Cornwall. The team captain and driver of Roadblock was Hender Blewett, with teammate Chris Kinsey helping to construct the machine. Both were Systems & Control students at the college. Their teacher Peter Kinsey also completed the team. Members of the Tor team also made a number of contributions towards the machine's drive system.
Despite being seeded first and being reigning champion, Roadblock took part in the Series 2 rehearsals. It appeared more or less complete during rehearsals, although it lacked its named being painted across the sides. The Roadblock that appeared at rehearsals was a completely new machine with a new chassis and circular saw. It is unknown if it would have automatically qualified as it was reigning champions but needless to say it was successful.
- "Weighing in at 82 and a half kilograms, and over 1.45 metres long, all the signs suggest that this is a robot to be reckoned with, carrying a deadly circular saw."
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces Roadblock for the very first time
Competing in Heat A, Roadblock was the very first competitor to be introduced in Robot Wars, and the first robot in the show's history to attempt the Gauntlet. In its run, it initially hesitated over the turntable, before driving off and heading straight for the right-hand route. Roadblock drove past Sergeant Bash and dodged Matilda without difficulty, but briefly got itself wedged against Dead Metal and one of the spiked pyramids. However, it escaped quickly, and reached the end zone without any more interruptions. Following this run, Bodmin Community College explained to Jeremy Clarkson that they initially attempted to take the centre route, but abandoned their run, and demonstrated Roadblock’s circular saw to Clarkson. Roadblock’s run was enough for it to secure third place in the results table, and a place in the Trial stage.
In the Sumo Trial, Roadblock was the third of the remaining competitors to face Shunt. It resisted Shunt's initial push and axe blows before driving away from him as he pushed it sideways. Half-way through the allotted time, Roadblock backed into Shunt, and again drove away as he pushed it back. Eventually, it got underneath Shunt's rear plough and shoved him off the ring, although not without driving itself off in doing so. This resulted in Roadblock again finishing third overall in the results table, and qualifying for the Arena stage.
- "Oh look at this! Shunt’s gone... and death by glory! They've gone too!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Roadblock sends Shunt and itself off the Sumo ring
In its Heat Semi-Final, Roadblock faced Irish entry Nemesis. The two robots approached each other in the opening seconds, before Roadblock turned round and backed into Nemesis. Its saw caused sparks to fly and caused damage to Nemesis' polka-dot fur as it pushed the latter round in circles, although not without receiving holes in one of its sides from Nemesis' retracting spike.
- "And Roadblock could choke on a furball!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Roadblock's saw tears pieces of Nemesis' fur to shreds
Roadblock proceeded to drive away from Nemesis into Matilda's CPZ, where it was lifted by the arena spikes and attacked by both Matilda and Nemesis. Eventually, it escaped, backing away from the spikes and pushing Nemesis towards the side bars. As Roadblock scooped Nemesis up a second time with its wedge, Sergeant Bash came in and rammed Nemesis against the side bars, setting fire to the latter's fur in the process. Roadblock drove away from Nemesis as it locked together with Matilda, and was declared the winner as Nemesis' fire spread and was extinguished after 'cease' had been called.
- Philippa Forrester: "Just a few seconds until you go on. How's it going?"
- Hender Blewett: "Well, everything seems to be working fine, and we're looking forward to getting it out of there."
- Philippa Forrester: "Tactics?"
- Hender Blewett: "Straight in... straight out!"
- — Hender Blewett before the Heat Final
In the Heat Final, Roadblock faced Killertron. In the opening seconds, it lunged straight for Killertron, withstanding a blow from the latter’s pickaxe as it turned round and attempted to line up an attack. Roadblock briefly got underneath Killertron, but Killertron escaped, only for Roadblock to scoop it up with the wedge and drive it against the side bars. It backed away from Sergeant Bash’s CPZ as Killertron struggled to escape, before turning to face Killertron head-on. In its last attack, Roadblock scooped Killertron up again, carried and spun it around the arena, and with assistance from Dead Metal, turned it over onto its back.
- "And Killertron's on the run – its piggyback time! They're in underneath Killertron! It's only a question of time, they know it! Killertron, will be in for the big, big flip! They're gonna flip him – noooooo, it's all over! Roadblock the winners!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Roadblock scoops and turns Killertron over
With Killertron unable to self-right, Roadblock emerged victorious, and advanced to the Grand Final, which was broadcast at the end of Heat F.
- "And into the final, from Heat 1: Roadblock, diverting all opponents to take the glory road!"
- — Jonathan Pearce summarises Roadblock’s performance in his run-down of the Series 1 Grand Finalists
The Grand Final saw Roadblock fight Recyclopse, Robot The Bruce, Cunning Plan, Bodyhammer and T.R.A.C.I.E., in a six-way melee to determine the first-ever UK series champion. It slowly drove towards the centre of the arena as the other robots scattered, getting underneath Recyclopse as the latter was speared by T.R.A.C.I.E.. Roadblock turned round in an attempt to use its saw, but was blocked from all sides by Bodyhammer, T.R.A.C.I.E. and Robot The Bruce. Eventually, Roadblock escaped, blocking Cunning Plan as T.R.A.C.I.E. drove up the latter's wedge, with both robots instantly becoming immobilised together as a result. It then pushed Recyclopse into a corner and around the arena – although not without interventions from Bodyhammer and Robot The Bruce – causing one of Recyclopse's drive chains to come loose.
With Recyclopse now immobilised, Roadblock proceeded to turn Robot The Bruce onto its side and chase Bodyhammer across the arena, eventually getting underneath and pushing Bodyhammer around until 'cease' was called. The battle went to a judges' decision, which unanimously went in favour of Roadblock, making it the Grand Champion of the First Wars.
- Jeremy Clarkson: "What was that like?"
- Chris Kinsley: "Best time of my life, absolutely loved it!"
- — Chris Kinsley's reaction as Roadblock is declared the inaugural UK Robot Wars champion
- "Returning meaner and tougher, completely rebuilt in aluminium rather than steel, the circular sawblade teeth tipped with tungsten. You'll hear a police two-tone siren when it attacks; what you see are road signs on the outer shell."
- — Jonathan Pearce introduces Roadblock in Series 2
As the reigning champion and first seed, a rebuilt Roadblock returned for the Second Wars, competing in Heat G. As in the previous series, it was the first robot in that heat to traverse the Gauntlet, and immediately headed for the left-hand route, driving around the arena spike before stopping short of The Sentinel. Roadblock attempted a run past, but got pinned against the wall by The Sentinel's spiked arm, disrupting its progress. Eventually, it drove clear of The Sentinel, and made it safely to the end zone, although not without almost driving itself into the pit at one point. Having completed the course, Roadblock finished first overall on the results table, securing its place for the Trial stage.
In the Skittles Trial, Roadblock was the first competitor to make its run. It initially started well, bulldozing through the first set of barrels and negotiating through the right-hand stacks with its wedge. After briefly hesitating, it ploughed through most of the remaining barrels before being trapped by Sir Killalot as time ran out. Roadblock attained a score of 34 skittles by the end of its run, which was soon eclipsed by Onslaught, Nemesis and Killerhurtz. This briefly put Roadblock at risk of being eliminated early, but it went through to the Arena stage regardless, as Limpet scored considerably lower during its run.
- "...and the most relieved men in the building are the Roadblock team. Champions of the last war, and only just through to the next round!"
- — Philippa Forrester after the results of the Skittles Trial are revealed
In its Heat Semi-Final, Roadblock faced series newcomer Killerhurtz. It withstood Killerhurtz's initial charge to get underneath and push it into the PPZ, where Shunt proceeded to exchange axe blows with Killerhurtz. Roadblock turned round to use its saw on Killerhurtz, pushing it further into the PPZ and damaging one of its motors. This completely immobilised Killerhurtz, allowing the House Robots to surround it and for Dead Metal to drag the defeated Killerhurtz into the pit.
Roadblock progressed to the Heat Final, where it faced Onslaught. With Onslaught failing to move at all after 'activate' was called, it simply drove around Onslaught and pushed it over the arena spike, getting lifted itself several times before backing into Sergeant Bash. Roadblock left Dead Metal and Shunt to attack the smoking Onslaught, before ramming Sergeant Bash again and being lifted against the railings as the other House Robots ganged up on it.
- "… and all the Roadblock has to do now is to avoid trouble - oh look, but they’re showboating now! They're taking on the House Robots, they know they’re victorious! Pronged by Dead Metal... pierced by Dead Metal, but surely the winners again?"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Roadblock attacks – and is attacked by – the House Robots
Dead Metal speared through Roadblock's rear saw mount with one of his pincers just before 'cease' was called, breaking the chain for the saw's strimmer motor. Nevertheless, Roadblock emerged victorious anyway, and advanced to the Semi-Finals.
- Chris Kinsey: "The only option we can fit actually down is the Sentinel route, because every other route's got some sort of width restriction. The Sentinel is... under instruction that he can do whatever he wants in there today, so..."
- Hender Blewett: "Hopefully, the bucket will just be doing the old gradient sweep, but if it's going up and down, it could punch the bonnet and go through it."
- — Chris Kinsey and Hender Blewett discuss the updated Gauntlet course and Sentinel
In the second Semi-Final, Roadblock was the first Semi-Finalist to attempt the revised Gauntlet course. As in its heat, it turned round to take the left-hand route, but was immediately blocked by The Sentinel, before turning round and damaging The Sentinel's arm with its saw. Roadblock attempted to get under The Sentinel, only to be pinned under its arm and causing more sparks to fly with the saw as 'cease' was called. It covered a distance of only 5.45m during its run, although this was still enough for it to finish third overall in the results table, and to qualify for the Pinball Trial.
- "This should be good fun. This game is probably the best game I've ever seen. It's gonna be a good laugh."
- — Hender Blewett before Roadblock's Pinball run
In Pinball, Roadblock was the first competitor to compete, and started its run by driving past the see-saw and demolishing the right-hand walls of bricks and barrels. It then pushed the sphere across the arena and brought down the left-hand bricks, scoring more points as the sphere rolled into one of the pits. Roadblock swept past Matilda to hit the 50-point target, with Matilda reversing into another pit while attempting to stop it. It then knocked down more sets of barrels and bricks, before getting blocked by Dead Metal and lifted by Sir Killalot. Roadblock escaped, knocking down more bricks and barrels as Shunt rammed it against the wall. 'Cease' was called, with Roadblock having scored a total of 355 points, enough for it to finish first overall in the Pinball Trial by a comfortable margin.
This performance was enough for Roadblock to advance to the Arena stage, where it fought newcomer King Buxton for a place in the Grand Final. It chased King Buxton and got underneath it as the latter attempted to dodge, with King Buxton driving over Roadblock's wedge a couple of times before ramming it side-on. Roadblock responded by pushing King Buxton and blocking it as it drove into and attempted to escape from Dead Metal, before slicing into one of King Buxton's wheels with its saw. The two robots drove alongside and bumped into each other again, with Roadblock being pushed into the PPZ by King Buxton, where it was attacked by Shunt and Dead Metal. Roadblock escaped, and got underneath King Buxton once again as it attempted to push Roadblock from the side. With King Buxton on the arena spike, Roadblock sliced into its front again, before pushing King Buxton back as it started smoking and caught fire. Roadblock finished the battle by cutting through one of King Buxton's tyres with the saw before allowing it to be thrust by the arena spikes. As a result of this victory, it progressed to the Grand Final once again.
- Craig Charles: "Well that circular saw of yours is quite nasty, isn't it?"
- Hender Blewett: "Aye, it’s pretty good, well we're very impressed with it!"
- Craig Charles: "You seriously bashed King Buxton. Scratches, you sawed the wheels in half..."
- — Craig Charles and Hender Blewett discuss Roadblock's circular saw after the Semi-Final battle with King Buxton
In its Grand Final eliminator, Roadblock was drawn against the fifth seed Cassius in a rematch from the Series 1 Grand Final, where Roadblock had fought Cassius' predecessor, Recyclopse. At the start, both robots rammed head-on into each other, with Roadblock getting underneath Cassius and eventually pushing it into the PPZ. Matilda attacked Cassius as Roadblock drove further underneath it, before Roadblock pushed it across the arena, getting caught by Dead Metal's pincers in the process. Roadblock escaped, bumping into the swinging mace and causing Cassius' wedge to tear into the floor as it continued pushing the latter round. Before long, Cassius swerved off Roadblock's wedge and darted into Sir Killalot, getting lifted over in the process.
- "Oh, look at this, top of your picture! Roadblock, meanwhile, has gone into the PPZ, it's in trouble..."
- — Jonathan Pearce as Roadblock falls foul of the House Robots
As Cassius self-righted, Roadblock became trapped in the PPZ by Shunt and Dead Metal, allowing Cassius to get underneath and flip it against the railings. With Roadblock unable to self-right, it was dragged by Sir Killalot's lance and flipped onto its back in the middle of the arena, before sustaining more attacks from him and the other House Robots. Cassius intervened, slamming into Sir Killalot and nudging Roadblock into the corner of the PPZ before 'cease' was called. Following this defeat, Roadblock's reign as the UK champion came to an end, with Bodmin Community College later discovering that Cassius' initial slam had dislodged one of the plugs and sockets connecting its batteries.
- Peter Kinsey: "You’re only as good as the weakest part... and that feeling was it today. Just one small plug and socket..."
- Hender Blewett: "Cassius has beaten the lot."
- Peter Kinsey: "...but we're ready to go again."
- — Bodmin Community College after Roadblock's defeat to Cassius
Despite losing its UK title, Roadblock was given the opportunity to fight again in the playoff, where it faced the fourth seed Killertron in a battle for third place. This was the second time the two robots had fought each other, with the playoff being billed as a rematch of their Heat Final encounter in Series 1.
- "Roadblock and Killertron, no strangers to each other. This, a repeat of a battle in the First Wars..."
- — Jonathan Pearce just before the playoff commences
At the start, Roadblock immediately scooped Killertron up with its wedge, before pushing it towards the PPZ. Killertron drove away to avoid contact with Sergeant Bash and Matilda, but Roadblock soon got underneath and pushed Killertron back into the PPZ, cutting through its plastic shell with the saw. Killertron hooked itself against the wall with its axe, allowing Matilda to come in and lift it with her tusks as Roadblock got underneath again. The two robots escaped the PPZ, with Roadblock again pushing Killertron around and causing damage with the saw as it pushed Killertron underneath The Sentinel. Scooping under Killertron again, Roadblock was briefly pinned between Dead Metal and Sir Killalot, but escaped from the PPZ to push Killertron against the wall and the mace, only to get itself attacked by the House Robots again in the process.
- "Very tight so far, isn't it? Very close. This is going to be a difficult one for the judges."
- — Jonathan Pearce on the playoff so far
Eventually, Roadblock escaped to push Killertron against the angle grinders, and pitted it after the latter was dragged by Dead Metal. 'Cease' was called, and Roadblock finished third in the Second Wars as a result of this victory. This battle proved to be its final appearance in Robot Wars, as Bodmin Community College returned for the Third Wars with its successor, Beast of Bodmin.
- Peter Kinsey: "We thoroughly enjoyed this. It's been a valuable experience in all departments. It's been really good."
- Chris Kinsley: "We've met loads of people that we know we can have a great time with, and it’s been brilliant!"
- — Bodmin Community College share their views on their Robot Wars experience with Philippa Forrester
|ROADBLOCK - RESULTS|
|The First Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat A, Gauntlet||Completed (3rd)||Qualified|
|Heat A, Trial (Sumo)||Survived (3rd)||Qualified|
|Heat A, Semi-Final||vs. Nemesis||Won|
|Heat A, Final||vs. Killertron||Won|
|Grand Final||vs. Bodyhammer, Cunning Plan, Recyclopse,|
Robot The Bruce, T.R.A.C.I.E.
|The Second Wars - UK Championship|
1st Seed, Third Place
|Heat G, Gauntlet||Completed (1st)||Qualified|
|Heat G, Trial (Skittles)||34 barrels (4th)||Qualified|
|Heat G, Semi-Final||vs. Killerhurtz||Won|
|Heat G, Final||vs. Onslaught||Won|
|Semi-Final 2, Gauntlet||5.45m (3rd)||Qualified|
|Semi-Final 2, Trial (Pinball)||355pts (1st)||Qualified|
|Semi-Final 2, Arena||vs. King Buxton||Won|
|Grand Final, Eliminator||vs. Cassius (5)||Lost|
|Grand Final, Playoff||vs. Killertron (4)||Won|
- Wins: 7
- Losses: 1
NOTE: Roadblock's Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included
|Series||Roadblock Series Record|
|The First Wars||Grand Champion|
|The Second Wars||Third Place|
|The Third Wars||Entered with Beast of Bodmin|
|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 WarsEdit
Today, having not been used for several years, the Series 1 champion is mounted on the wall in Peter Kinsey's garage.
In 2018, Hender Blewitt gave permission for featherweight roboteer Daniel Booth to build a one-third scale featherweight in homage to Roadblock, using the name Road Bump. Coated in 4mm HARDOX armour with 20mm HDPE sides, Road Bump uses Roadblock's original wedge design, with an optional circular saw being usable at the rear. Road Bump debuted at Extreme Robots in Manchester, in April 2018, and competed at one more event under its original team, before being sold on.
- Roadblock was originally given the name Road Rage, and was once referred to as such during a video diary shown in The Making of Robot Wars. However, this was changed at the request of the BBC before filming took place, as a lot of reported road rage incidents had occurred around the time of Series 1's production. Draven, originally called Anthrax, later faced a similar issue when it competed in the first series of Robot Wars Extreme.
- As well as winning the First Wars, Hender Blewitt received an A grade for his A-Level project.
- Roadblock is one of twenty-three robots to have completed The Gauntlet.
- Roadblock became the first ever robot to win a Robot Wars battle. This was against Nemesis in Heat A of Series 1.
- Roadblock is one of only two UK Grand Champions to have never failed to reach the Grand Final despite entering more than one series, the other being Carbide.
- Presumably due to its status as the first UK champion, Roadblock was profiled in Robot Wars: The Ultimate Guide, despite retiring four series before the book's release (one of only two robots in said book to be profiled that did not compete in Extreme 1 or Series 5, the other being Mortis). For unknown reasons, the guide makes no mention of its successor, Beast of Bodmin, in its battle history.
- Roadblock is one of only seven robots to achieve a score of 200 points or higher in a Pinball trial or side competition. The others to have achieved this are Gemini, Killerhurtz, Spawn of Scutter, Panic Attack, King B3 and Razer.
- With 355 points, Roadblock was also the highest-scoring robot in any Pinball trial/competition.
- Roadblock and Tornado are the only third-place finishers so far not to lose to the eventual Grand Champion.
- Roadblock is one of only three Grand Champions so far never to have faced another Grand Champion (although it did fight Team Chaos in the first Grand Final, it was against Robot the Bruce and not the Series 3 & 4 champion Chaos 2). The others are Panic Attack and Typhoon 2.
- Roadblock had the lowest amount of losses out of all of the Grand Champions, joint with Typhoon 2, as both have only one loss. As Typhoon 2 withdrew from the Third World Championship, Roadblock arguably holds the record by itself.
- Roadblock and Typhoon 2 are the only two former Grand Champions never to have lost their final battles, when the latter's withdrawal from The Third World Championship is discounted, although this also applies to the reigning champion Eruption.
- Roadblock was the first contestant robot to appear on Robot Wars.
|First ever robot to complete The Gauntlet|
|Highest Pinball score|
- ↑ The Robot Wars Technical Manual on the construction of Roadblock
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/20160108201853/http://freespace.virgin.net/oliver.steeples/enter.htm
- ↑ https://web.archive.org/web/19990417052259/http://www.tinweb.com/robot/rehearsal/index.html