Robot Wars: The First Great War was a video based around the first series of Robot Wars. It was released on VHS on March 29th 1999, making it the first general video release of Robot Wars. It featured behind-the-scenes footage, clips of some of the earliest robotic combat contests, and highlights of the heats and grand final which saw Roadblock be crowned as the first UK Series Champion.
The title of the video is derived from the nickname of World War I.
The UK VHS release was originally shipped with a collectible tin box that included the VHS tape in a standard case inside.
While it was not released on DVD in the UK a release did occur in the Scandinavian region (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) in 2003 by PAN Vision (with the slightly different name Robot Wars: The First Great Wars). This release left out the "Robot Builder's Guide" that was on the UK release (though the back cover claims otherwise) and included Danish, Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish subtitles. In Finnish the video was called Robot Wars: Ensimmäiset Fantastiset Kamppailut and in Swedish it was called Robot Wars: De Första Stora Slagen.
Each heat shown followed the exploits of up to three out of the six robots in the heats from The Gauntlet onwards.
- Heat A: Roadblock, Nemesis and Killertron
- Heat B: Recyclopse, Mortis and Detonator
- Heat C: Plunderbird 1, Dreadnaut and Robot The Bruce
- Heat D: None
- Heat E: Bodyhammer and REALI-T
- Heat F: T.R.A.C.I.E. and Elvis
- 1995 UK Open Competition - The video featured highlights of the event that acted as a pilot for the television show. Robots of various weight categories were seen in action, including Grunt and The Mouse (which went on to become two of the three Stock Robots used in the First Wars), as well as famous American competitors Thor, La Machine, The Master. The latter two were inaugural mentions in The Combat Robot Hall of Fame. Towards the end of the video, an extended version of the battle shown in Heat D between Thor and The Master is shown, with The Master emerging victorious. The machines at the meeting fought in regular battles, and Soccer events, like those seen in the first three television series of Robot Wars.
- Behind-the-scenes footage - Interviews with the Visual Effects Designer Chris Reynolds and other Robot Wars staff, revealing some of the original concept art and general ideas behind the house robots, Matilda, Sergeant Bash, Dead Metal and Shunt, as well as the Robot Wars Arena.
- Heat Highlights - Began with the same house robot introduction seen in Heat A, and largely followed three robots in each of the heats featured. The battles included alternate camera angles (e.g. from the House Robot cameras) and pit interviews cut from the television episodes.
- Robot Builder's Guide - Also part of the video is a robot building guide presented by Craig Charles, with tips and advice for budding roboteers from Technical Consultants Derek Foxwell and Mat Irvine, as well as some of the roboteers themselves, including Ian Lewis and Simon Scott from Team Razer, and Rex Garrod of Team Cassius. An explanation of the Robot Wars Rules is shown for guidance.
Facts & Stats
Throughout the video, a series of facts and statistics of Series 1 were revealed, including:
- The average age of the roboteers in the First War was 27.
- The combined distance covered by the 36 competing robots in The Gauntlet was 340 metres.
- Over 150 staff were involved in the production process.
- The First Wars was recorded in just three days.
- The combined weight of the 36 competitors was 1.9 tonnes- roughly 16 times the weight of Matilda at the time.
- The scrap metal used for the set was salvaged from Hanningfield Metals, East London.
- The competitors, laid end-to-end, would measure 38 metres.
- Roughly 90 minutes worth of robotic combat took place in the First Wars.
- All four house robots were powered by 2 x 12V batteries, which are recharged constantly during filming. Matilda's batteries couldn't be accessed without removing her tusks.
- The four house robots all used components from children's Go-Karts. They all suffered at least two major breakdowns during the series.
Errors & Omissions
- Although it is a highlights package for Robot Wars: The First Wars, it completely ignores the events of Heat D, which was a featherweight-only heat, won by Cunning Plan.
- Robot The Bruce's encounter with Cruella is also omitted.
- The footage of Heat E and F missed out The Trial and arena semi-finals, with the exception of T.R.A.C.I.E.'s battle with Prince of Darkness.
- Jeremy Clarkson, the presenter for Series 1, is cut out of all of the footage.