- "Vicious fighting machines pit their strength and skill in a battle to the death.
Only the strongest will survive."
- — Back cover
The Robot Wars Technical Manual was a book published during the run of The Second Wars on February 19, 1999 and serves as a compressive guide to that series including plenty of behind-the-scenes information on the show. There are also sections with advice on building your own robot and how to enter the competition Robot Wars itself.
Through the book numerous facts and figures are given as well as numerous full colour photographs.
What is Robot Wars?
Includes an introduction on what Robot Wars is and how it came to be from how it started out in the United States, going through the production of The First Wars and the start of The Second Wars. It then goes into detail about each of the three segments that made up the show at the time (The Gauntlet, The Trial and The Arena). Finally it lists the crewmembers that were involved in making the show, even giving Jeremy Clarkson a brief mention.
Behind the Scenes
This section thoroughly goes through all the aspects that went into the production of Robot Wars. It goes through how the Arena was designed and built as well as how it was lit up. It then goes on to how the show was written followed by some information the Judges and how the audience participated in the proceedings. A graphics section goes into how the series' graphics were creating including the famous intro sequence as well as the robot specifications. The last part offers some info on the commentator Jonathan Pearce as well as presenters Craig Charles and Philippa Forrester.
The House Robots
This section includes detailed information and statistics on each of the House Robots that were present as of Series 2 including the then brand new Sir Killalot. All the individual house robots are given fictional backstories each of which is followed by a so-called counter-claim by the BBC Visual Effects department which of course is the actual real life behind-the-scenes information.
Below are brief summaries of each of these so-called biographies:
- Shunt was supposedly originally built as a remote-controlled drone for use in nuclear reactors. While working on one such reactor somewhere in the former Soviet Union 5 years previously, an accident took place- while it was brought under control, it somehow mutated him into the now-familiar fighting machine.
- Matilda was apparently found in a deep underwater cave off the east coast of the United States. It is speculated that she was potentially the relic of some lost ancient civilization, possibly the lost city of Atlantis.
- Dead Metal seemingly came from the future in the year 16,000 AD from the totalitarian Berserker Empire, named after a race of cybernetically enhanced Humans that held half the galaxy. Thermonuclear-powered robots like Dead Metal were used as the front-line invasion force against target planets, brutally destroying all resistance they encountered.
- Sergeant Bash's military-themed design is played up on. He was supposedly part of a conspiracy theory involving the secret US military base Area 51. Beginning in the 1960s, farm animals were found mutilated and burnt without explanation. A journalist managed to record a video of the machine in 1990, but was promptly visited by three men claiming to be from the military and confiscated said video. The possibility is hinted that there might be more than one Sergeant Bash type unit lurking the southwestern United States.
- Sir Killalot, like Dead Metal, traveled through time. In its universe, Atlantis was never destroyed around 10,000 BC, and the First World War began in 1150 AD. The robot claimed to be an autonomous fighting unit used in battles between Atlantis and its adversary Lemuria. He is also hinted to have some affiliation with Matilda.
The capabilities of the House Robots are also somewhat exaggerated compared to what they could do in real life. Dead Metal for example, is claimed to be powered by a thermonuclear power unit, and Sir Killalot's lance also supposedly works as a flamethrower.
The Sentinel does not get a profile of its own, earning only a brief mention and a single photograph. It is not even considered to be a House Robot being only referred to as an obstacle.
Building Your Own Robot
This chapter works as a detailed guide on how to build your own robot, giving plenty of information on the various components that go into a robot, obtaining the required materials and the various weight categories and rules that all competitor robots had to adhear to. Finally stories of what some of the other competitor robots went through in the series are given.
Throughout this chapter there are pages containing profiles of each of the robots that competed in The Second Wars.
Robot Wars on the Internet
Gives a quick rundown of what was available on the official Robot Wars website at the time.
The Robot Wars Club
Offers advice on how to join the Robot Wars Club, lists what you receive for joining and after that how to enter the competition itself.
How To Make A Video Diary
Goes through the steps in producing a video diary documenting your robot potentially for use on the show itself.
This final section lists all the terms technical or otherwise that were used throughout the book.