- "This has attracted me because I want the boys to find out about robots, to find out about engineering, yes we'll have fun on the day, but it's more about learning, and seeing what robots are all about."
- — Neil Oliver
Soldier Ant was a robot which competed in Robot Wars: Battle of the Stars, broadcast as part of the ninth series. It was designed by documentary host Neil Oliver, who was mentored by Team Shock’s Will Thomas throughout the competition process. Soldier Ant performed well, but as it failed to win a battle via knockout, it finished third within Episode 2.
Soldier Ant was a brown robot similar in appearance to Tiberius, armed with a steep triangular wedge and a hydraulic vertical crusher with 3 tonnes of crushing force. Its armour was also strong, with 8mm of HARDOX steel and 3mm steel providing protection around the front, sides and rear. However, Soldier Ant had no self-righting mechanism, and its tyres were exposed and fragile. Soldier Ant has a rear castor, but this is where its ground clearance is most exposed.
Neil Oliver's sons originally wanted Soldier Ant to be a walker, but Will Thomas advised against this.
- "Having seen the robot in action, my biggest concern is if something gets in behind it, I think we're very vulnerable to being flipped over!"
- — Neil Oliver
The name Soldier Ant is derived from the insect of the same name, as some ants are capable of delivering fatal bites, even to humans. This also references the biting nature of Soldier Ant's crusher.
Neil Oliver is a television presenter, archaeologist and author. Oliver has hosted a long list of BBC documentaries, including the long-running Coast, and also Vikings, which was referenced by Jonathan Pearce. Coincidentally, Neil Oliver was born in Renfrewshire, where the Robot Wars Arena is found.
Two of Neil Oliver's three children also joined him on the team, 10-year old Archie, and 8-year old Teddy. Archie drove Soldier Ant in the arena, while Teddy operated the crusher.
Will Thomas is the captain of Team Shock, who reached the Grand Final of the Series 8 with Shockwave. Based on this success, Thomas was chosen to mentor the team, and make repairs when necessary. Alongside Battle of the Stars, he competed in Series 9 with Aftershock.
Battle of the Stars
- "You're [Dee] up against the man who once presented a programme called The Celts: Blood, Iron and Sacrifice - he's mean! And so are his kids at the controls."
- — Jonathan Pearce refers to Neil Oliver's TV career as Soldier Ant's first battle commences
Soldier Ant shuffled back and forth as Dee slammed into its wedge, before driving across the arena and attempting to direct its crusher towards Dee. The two robots met in the middle of the arena, with Soldier Ant eventually grabbing Dee by the chassis and momentarily pushing and dragging it. Soldier Ant released its crusher, where Dee backed away and got itself caught on the arena spikes. Dee escaped, slamming into Soldier Ant a few more times before Soldier Ant gave chase and eventually grabbed Dee again, briefly getting its crusher through a hole in Dee's top panel.
- "Once presented The Vikings, you'll remember that... and now he has them on the horns of a dilemma!"
- — Jonathan Pearce makes another reference as Soldier Ant grabs Dee
After more dodging, Soldier Ant charged into Dee once more, catching it by the wheel and leaving it positioned on its side as it punctured one of Dee's tyres. Soldier Ant grabbed Dee again in an attempt to crush through the top panel, but struggled to pin Dee against the wall as the latter spun around, dodged its charges and whacked its side. Soldier Ant nudged Dee one more time and chased it inside an empty CPZ, before 'cease' was called, and the battle went to the judges.
- Neil Oliver: "We did much more damage."
- Archie Oliver: "We did much better than you!"
- Jordan Stephens: "Hey listen, listen, you've got a weapon and that; ours is one weapon!"
- — Lighthearted fighting talk between the Oliver family and Jordan Stephens at the end of the battle
The decision went unanimously in favour of Soldier Ant, giving it two points and provisional second in the league table standings. It was revealed after the battle that the robot had sustained a few holes in its armour, inflicted by Dee's spikes. Next, Soldier Ant faced Robbie Savage's Robo Savage.
It initially backed away before charging straight into Robo Savage, pushing it close to the Flame Pit and a CPZ. Soldier Ant dodged a flip from Robo Savage before crushing through the space between Robo Savage's flipper and top left-hand panel a few times and steering it into the wall. It then pierced through the rear of Robo Savage, briefly lifting it in the process, before dragging, spinning and pushing it over the pit square. Soldier Ant opened its crusher, allowing Robo Savage to drive away and ram into it. The two robots continued dodging each other until Robo Savage got underneath Soldier Ant, lifted it and toppled it over onto the Flame Pit.
- "Char-broiled Soldier Ant!"
- — Jonathan Pearce as Soldier Ant lays on the Flame Pit
Unable to self-right, Soldier Ant was counted out and flipped upright by Matilda, who proceeded to push and throw it against the wall. Soldier Ant retaliated by grabbing Matilda's tusks as she dragged it back across the arena, before dropping it into the pit, with Soldier Ant balancing on its rear panel after being pitted.
- "This crushing, biting jaw was inflicting a great deal of damage. It couldn't inflict the killer punch, and they were... frankly lucky, in that they just got one use of that flipper, and flipped us onto our back, but we’re not even damaged."
- — Neil Oliver rues the battle with Robo Savage
Having scored no more points in the previous battle, Soldier Ant’s last Head-to-Head against Kadeena Cox and Kadeena Machina was its final chance to secure enough points for a place in the Grand Final.
- "We have to win from now to the end!"
- — Neil Oliver just before the clash against Kadeena Machina
The battle started tentatively, with Soldier Ant turning round to dodge Kadeena Machina's disc. It attempted to grab Kadeena Machina several times, pushing it towards the wall before being hit by Kadeena Machina. Soldier Ant continued attacking, eventually pushing Kadeena Machina side-on before receiving a few more blows as it tried to grab the latter again. In doing so, Kadeena Machina shredded one of Soldier Ant's tyres, severely hampering its manoeuvrability and leaving it unable to drive in a straight line. Soldier Ant sustained more damage from Kadeena Machina and became fully immobilised as Kadeena Machina split the end of its crusher open. Another hit saw part of Soldier Ant's side torn out and its removable link falling out, before 'cease' was called.
- "What a shame, for young Teddy and Archie and Neil. Out of the arena they go, out of the competition they go. And for the last time in the competition, we'll hear that great voice of Neil Oliver, one of the great voices on TV."
- — Jonathan Pearce as Sir Killalot drops Soldier Ant over the wall
As the teams high-fived and congratulated each other, Sir Killalot picked Soldier Ant up and dumped it out of the arena, with hydraulic fluid leaking from Soldier Ant as it was dropped over the wall. Following this loss, Soldier Ant did not score enough points to secure a place in the Grand Final, finishing joint third in the Head-to-Head round with Dee.
|SOLDIER ANT - RESULTS|
|Battle of the Stars|
Episode 2, Third Place
|Episode 2, Head-to-Heads||vs. Dee||Won via Judges’ decision (2 points)|
|Episode 2, Head-to-Heads||vs. Robo Savage||Lost via KO (0 points)|
|Episode 2, Head-to-Heads||vs. Kadeena Machina||Lost via KO (0 points)|
- Wins: 1
- Losses: 2
|Series||Soldier Ant Series Record|
|Series 1-7||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Entered with Shockwave|
Not selected with Manta and Maelstrom
|Series 9||Battle of the Stars, Third Place|
Entered with Aftershock
|Series 10||Entered with Aftershock|
NOTE: This series record reflects the performance of mentor Will Thomas
- Soldier Ant was first unofficially revealed online through a tweet from Dara Ó Briain, on December 2nd, 2016.
- Soldier Ant was one of eight robots whose silhouette was used as a placeholder when demonstrating the Series 9 episode format. During this demonstration, Soldier Ant, JAR and Kadeena Machina were all eliminated by Kan-Opener (despite it not being possible for only one robot to qualify from a four-way melee).