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"... and if you know anything at all about Robot Wars, you'll already know who we are."
— George Francis during the team's introduction in Robot Wars Extreme 1

Team Chaos (informally known in Series 1 as The Village Idiots) was a long-standing team that entered the first six series of Robot Wars and both series of Robot Wars Extreme. The team entered two robots, Robot The Bruce in Series 1, which reached the Grand Final, and Chaos 2 (originally Chaos) in Series 2-6, reaching the Heat Final of Series 2, winning Series 3 and 4, reaching the second round of the Semi-Finals in Series 5, and the Heat Final of Series 6.

The Team[]

An informal battle between two Robot Wars greats

Team Chaos began in 1997, when George Francis, along with Mick Cutter, were asked to help Rex Garrod to build Recyclopse for the first series of Robot Wars. The team also built a second robot, Robot the Bruce.

"I first heard about Robot Wars back in '97 ... I was originally asked to help out Rex Garrod with Recyclopse. Shortly before the series, we decided to make another robot. We built Robot The Bruce, Rex and Simon built Robot the Bruce and I did the electronics for it, so we entered two robots."
— George Francis on entering Robot Wars

George Francis and Mick Cutter entered Robot the Bruce. They were friends who both flew model aeroplanes[1].

"They call themselves The Village Idiots - they're no idiots, they're very clever electric engineers...George Francis, the driver, is building a single-engined aeroplane driven by a car engine, that's a bit of a worry."
— Jonathan Pearce

George Francis went on to build his own robots, Chaos, and its illustrious successor Chaos 2, though he continued to work closely with Rex Garrod and Team Cassius, with George helping Rex with the electronics on Cassius, and Rex helping with the mechanics of Chaos. Chaos 2's first ever battle being an informal roadside skirmish with Cassius, which Chaos 2 won 4-1[2].

"Chaos 2 is the first robot of mine that I did the majority of the mechanical construction on. I've always done all of the electronics on my robots, this year I've done most of the mechanics and pneumatics as well. Rex made the high pressure rams, some valve adaptors, and the wheel hubs. Obviously he also supplied most of the materials, lots of advice, fixed some gear wheels, and supplied loads of coffee!"
— George Francis on the Chaos 2 website[3]

All of the two teams robots were built in Rex Garrod’s workshop.

"Like all of my previous robots, I built Chaos 2 in Rex Garrod's Workshop in Mickfield, nr Stowmarket, as I don't have the machine tools needed. This must be one of the most prolific workshops as between us we have now built 6! (Recyclops, Robot the Bruce, Cassius, Chaos, Cassius II and Chaos 2)."
— George Francis on the Chaos 2 website[4]

Rex Garrod also helped with Chaos 2, with Chaos 2's first ever battle being an informal roadside skirmish with Cassius, which Chaos 2 won 4-1.

In Series 1, the team was known as The Village Idiots

"They call themselves The Village Idiots - they're no idiots, they're very clever electric engineers...George Francis, the driver, is building a single-engined aeroplane driven by a car engine, that's a bit of a worry."
— Jonathan Pearce

Mick Cutter left the team after Series 2, and Ian Swann joined in his place, along with his son Richard.

Team Chaos in Series 6

George Francis and Mick Cutter wore black shirts in Series 1 and blue shirts in Series 2. When Ian Swann and Richard Swann joined the team, they, along with Francis, sported red sweatshirts with Chaos 2's logo printed on in black, a palette swap of the machine's colours. In Series 5 and some occasions in Extreme 1, the team wore regular T-shirts, also red with Chaos 2's logo printed on.

Team Members[]

George Francis[]

George Francis at the controls of Chaos

A self-employed electronics engineer from Ipswich, George Francis was the Team Captain and driver for all the team’s appearances, also operating the flipper on Chaos and Chaos 2. He did the electronics on all his robots, and did the majority of mechanics and pneumatics on Chaos 2. He designed Chaos and Chaos 2.

"Ever since helping Rex to build Recyclopse, I wanted to harness the power of Recyclopse's tongue in a more effective way. By hinging the flipper at the back (instead of the front), you only have to poke a small part of the front blade under your opponent to be able to chuck them."
— George Francis, interviewed on Tectonic Robot Wars[5]

George Francis at the controls of Chaos 2

Under his operation, Chaos 2 won two series in a row, and notably became the first robot to flip another out of the arena. This would later be referred to as his “party trick”, although it was originally unintentional.

"When I chucked Firestorm over the fence in Series 3 it was a complete accident ... I thought Robot Wars might disqualify us."
— George Francis, interviewed in Ultimate Real Robots Issue 17[6]

Despite his success, George remained modest throughout his interviews, often admitting to being nervous and expressing fear of his opponents

"You’re very good though, aren’t you? You’re never smug! You never just think you’re going to win!"
— Philippa Forrester before the Series 5 Heat Final, after George admitted being afraid of S.M.I.D.S.Y.’s disc

Francis also controlled Ramrombit, a sacrificial stock robot from Series 2 built specifically for the Inferno Insurrection Exhibition Event with Nemesis and Sergeant Bash.

George Francis as a Technical Assistant in Dutch Series 2

In addition to competing, George Francis also became a Technical consultant from Extreme 1 onwards.

"Well, I’ve always been helping people fix their robots, right from the first series, and the crew eventually decided to take me on … and pay me for it! It’s something I enjoy as well, so it’s nice to combine your hobby with something you get paid to do! … Mainly it consists of checking the robots as they arrive. Whenever a robot arrives, they need to be scrutinised to make sure they’re safe and operating within the rules that have been set out. Those that don’t work need to be fixed, or damage will need to be repaired if they’ve been through a brutal bout."
— George Francis in Robot Wars: The Official Magazine[7]

George Francis helps to fix Disc-O-Inferno during the Extreme 1 Annihilator

George would inspect robots as they arrived to ensure they fitted the rules, and help with repairs. He can be seen in this role during the second Annihilator of Extreme 1, where he helps to fix Disc-O-Inferno. He kept this role until the end of the series, and also helped at the qualifiers[8]

George often cited a lack of spare time as a problem when it came to updating robots. Chaos 2 was entered into Series 4 unchanged from Series 3, as he did not have time, and whenever asked in later wars about a “Chaos 3”, he would blame a lack of time and resources. Despite this, he did make improvements to Chaos 2 when the weight limit was increased to 100 KG for Extreme 1, and Chaos 2 won Series 4 despite the lack of improvements.

Mick Cutter[]

George Francis and Mick Cutter with Robot The Bruce in Series 1

An electronics engineer like George, Mick Cutter, did the electronics for Recyclopse and Robot the Bruce, and competed with George for the first two series.

In Series 1 he was credited as Mick Cutter, and he is credited as Mick Cutter on the Cassius 2 statistics boards, though the Series 2 statistics board lists him as Mike Cutter. Both names were used, with the Chaos 2 website and Jonathan Pearce referring to him as Mike, but Rex Garrod calling him Mick in Series 3.

Mick Cutter and George Francis work on Robot the Bruce

He shared speaking roles with George, contributing to introductions and interviews. He was often optimistically confident about the team’s chances before battles.

Philippa Forrester: "Who would you hate to be pitched against?"
George Francis: "Erm, any of them, I don’t mind! We’ll take all of them!"
Philippa Forrester: "And does that apply to you as well, you can take all of them?"
Mick Cutter: "Oh yes, definitely! We’ve got the power, and we know that we’ve got a reliable robot, so we just hit ‘em and push them out of the way!"
— The team interviewed in Series 1, before being informed who they would fight in the Arena. Upon being told they were against Cruella, Mick claimed “No problem”

A talented remote control driver, Mick Cutter joined Team Cassius for Series 3 to take over the driving of Cassius 2. However, he never drove Robot the Bruce or Chaos, nor controlled the flipper on Chaos.

"Mike Cutter, my team member for the last two years has been poached by Rex to drive Cassius 2 for him. (I didn't realize just how good a driver Mike was until he won the East Anglian Regional R/C Model Car Championship.) That's my loss, Rex's gain…"
— George Francis on website[9]

Ian Swann[]

"…a friend, colleague and general smart alec!"
— George Francis describes Ian Swann on the Team Chaos website[10]

Team Chaos in the First World Championship

After Mick Cutter left to join Team Cassius, George Francis was joined by Ian Swann and his son Richard, who would remain with the team until their last appearance in Extreme 2.

"I was working on a big job and I needed someone to help me, so I called George to see if he could help us out and he joined in. That's when he asked me if I'd like to be on the Chaos team, didn't take a great deal of persuasion to say "Yes"!"
— Ian Swann on joining Team Chaos

Just like George, Ian Swann was a self-employed electronics engineer, whilst also being a computer programmer.

"I was a little bit involved with Chaos 2’s concept, but not very much, most of that was George’s work, my involvement’s been much more in the modification"
— Ian Swann on the Ultimate Warrior DVD

Ian Swann leads the team's Series 5 introduction

Just as Mick Cutter had, Ian shared speaking role with George, often speaking in interviews and introductions. In Series 5, he gave the team's introduction. Also like Mick Cutter, Ian Swann never drove Chaos 2 or operated the weapon. He did however give advice to George during battles.

It was Ian who coined Chaos 2’s catchphrase “Hit ‘em and flip ‘em”.

Outside of Team Chaos, Ian also helped The Steel Avenger team. The two teams met when their robots were drawn against each other in Series 5, and after socialising after the battle, they became good friends. Ian Swann helped modify the machine for Series 7, cutting the lifter from the plough shape it had previously been to more of a lifting arm[11], and building an interface board and 4-QD speed controllers[12]. He joined their team for Techno Games.

He also gave help to other teams, including Lightning, where he helped with the electronics,

Richard Swann[]

"Young Richard Swann, a student at Castle Hill Junior School, he’ll have to go back to the schoolroom and tell tales of victory!"
— Jonathan Pearce during the Series 4 Heat Final

Richard Swann with the original Chaos and Cassius

Ian Swann’s son, Richard Swann appeared with the team from Series 3 until Chaos 2’s last appearance in Extreme 2, although it can be assumed that him and his father were involved prior to this, as Richard Swann is seen pictured with the first incarnation of Chaos on the Team Chaos website).

Richard’s only real contribution was occasionally speaking in interviews, where he sometimes made humorous contributions, such as when he joked that he thoughtTeam Mace’s star was “…the twinkling star of bad luck” before Chaos 2’s fight with Mace 2 in the Semi-Finals of Series 3.

"Richard was asking what his mum would think, I think she’s going to be very, very proud!"
— Philippa Forrester after Chaos 2 won Series 3

Rivalry[]

Chaos 2 flips Mace 2

Team Chaos had a small rivalry with Team Mace. The two teams first met in the Heat Final of Series 2. Mace pushed Chaos into Matilda, who flipped Chaos over. Chaos attempted to self-right, but was unable to because Francis and Cutter had forgotten to fit pieces of plastic on the back of the robot to help it self-right. In the next series, the teams met again in the second round of the Series Semi-Finals. This time however, Chaos 2 flipped Mace 2 over, and this time Mace 2 was unable to self-right, and Chaos 2 was declared the winner, to go through to the Grand Final.

Gemini, Team Mace's entry for Series 4 and 5, never faced Chaos 2 (despite the likelihood increasing due to Gemini's heat being placed among the first eight in Series 4, when it should not have been), so the scores stay at one victory each for the two teams.

Although Chaos 2 never fought Gemini, George Francis acknowledged Gemini as his favourite robot from Series 4 on the team website[13].

Robots[]

Name Weight Class Series
Robot The Bruce Heavyweight Series 1
Chaos Heavyweight Series 2
Chaos 2 Heavyweight Series 3-6, Extreme 1-2

Wins/Losses[]

  • Wins: 27
  • Losses: 11

Series Record[]

Team Chaos with their Fourth Wars trophy

Main Series Team Chaos Series Record
The First Wars Grand Final with Robot The Bruce
The Second Wars Heat Final with Chaos
The Third Wars Grand Champion with Chaos 2
The Fourth Wars Grand Champion with Chaos 2
The Fifth Wars Semi-Finals, Round 2 with Chaos 2
The Sixth Wars Heat Final with Chaos 2
The Seventh Wars Did not enter
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Series 10 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Entered with Chaos 2
Series 2 Entered with Chaos 2

NOTE: Mick Cutter entered Series 3 with Cassius 2. George Francis controlled Ramrombit in the Inferno Insurrection.

Outside Robot Wars[]

George started building a robot for the American BattleBots, [14], a robot similar in shape to the original Chaos but with a high pressure flipper on the front and large vertical disk on the back.

"It's was going to be called Quasar, but after reading the Battlebots rules which suggested using www.nameprotect.com to check for existing trademarks, I found that 'Quasar' is trademarked by several companies in the US for electronic/entertainment uses. To avoid conflicts, I'm going to think up a new name for it."
— George Francis on the Team Chaos website

However, the robot was never finished. Instead, George Francis joined John Reid to enter BattleBots Season 5.0 with Beta, which he helped to build[15].

Ian and Richard Swann also built a two-legged walking robot known as The Mincer, which was the focus of an article in issues 40 and 41 of Ultimate Real Robots Magazine.

Team member Ian Swann competed at Techno Games 2003, where he entered Mincer in the Internal Combustion Sprint. It raced against Cyborg, but the race went untelevised, though a small clip of it was used in the intro for episode 9[16]. Ian also joined The Steel Avenger team when they entered under the name Tin Tackler in 2003.[17]

George and Ian converted two copies of the Chaos 2 pullback into fighting robots and Ian built an antweight robot in a two-part feature on how to build an ant, all of which were featured in Ultimate Real Robots Magazine. Ian's ant was a wedge shape with a rear-hinged flipper but it was made from cardboard as it was only for demonstration purposes and was shown fighting one of the converted pullbacks controlled by Richard.

George Francis and Ian Swann also assisted Mike Onslow and Brian Kilburn in the creation of Dave, a humanoid robot[18]. For more information, see International Wreck Crew.

Honours[]


Honour
Most consecutive UK Series Victories (18)


Trivia[]

Team Chaos lift the Series 3 trophy

  • Team Chaos and Cold Fusion Team were the only two surviving teams from the Series 1 Grand Final to fight in Series 4, which they did in the Grand Final.
  • George Francis and Ian Swann had help with pneumatics from Dave Melton, the inventor of FIRETRACE fire extinguisher technology, an expert on pressurised CO2. He installed a special pyroflex tube inside Chaos 2, one of his own inventions. The tube was filled with pressurised inert gases, and in the event of a fire inside the robot, the pipe would burst and put out the fire[19].
"If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't touch it. ... Dave is geared up with special high-pressure equipment for testing fire extinguisher cylinders safely. ... He tested the rams by taking them to three times the working pressure without destruction."
— George Francis, interviewed in Ultimate Real Robots Issue 18 [20]
  • Team Chaos always lost at the Heat Final stage of the main competition when their robot wasn't seeded first, doing so in Series 2 and 6. (This excludes Series 1 and 3, as these series didn't have the seeding process).
  • Team Chaos are one of only two teams to fight in five or six wars and never fail to reach the Heat Final, the other being Team Scutterbots..
  • Team Chaos are also one of two UK Championship-winning teams to never fail to reach the Heat Final, the other being Bodmin Community College.
  • George Francis was part of The Steering Committee.
  • Team Chaos' third robot, Chaos 2, was made an inaugural member of The Combat Robot Hall of Fame in 2003, in recognition of its Robot Wars successes and for being the first robot to throw another out of the arena.[21]
  • Despite Chaos 2 being the first robot to throw an opponent out of the Arena, George Francis did not use this term to refer to such a tactic, instead frequently referring to it as throwing an opponent 'over the fence'.
  • Team Chaos is the only team in history to make six heat finals.

References[]

External Links[]

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