The Master was a Californian robot, and the winner of the 1995 Robot Wars UK Open Competition, held in London. There, it earned victory after immobilising Thor in a battle which was broadcast as part of the British Robot Wars, included in Heat D of Series 1, and the VHS release of Robot Wars: The First Great War.
- "The Master really is these two huge steel spheres. Inside the spheres are motors, batteries, speed controllers, a radio - everything it takes to drive the thing is contained in [these]. And then, the weapons, like this saw here, attach onto the thing from the front or the back."
- — Mark Setrakian explains The Master's design in an interview from American Robot Wars 1996
The Master was an invertible axlebot design, uniquely containing most of its electronics within its two spherical wheels. The robot was equipped with a front panel which featured a set of spikes at the end, and a circular saw attached to an arm at the rear. The Master featured a point of actuation between the two weapons, so the front panel would appear to function as a lifter, while the circular saw arm could be brought from the floor while The Master's wheels still made contact with the floor. Castor wheels were also applied to the bottom of The Master's saw housing to protect it.
Throughout its appearances in the US Robot Wars events and fellow robot combat show BattleBots, The Master's saw could be substituted for interchangeable weaponry including a spiked hammer, an electric lifting spike, and a large triangular-shaped ramming/thwacking blade. The robot's modular design allowed for the weapons to be easily replaced, removed or relocated; for example, the lifting panel could be removed entirely to allow the saw or triangular blade to swing overhead. In these configurations, this enabled The Master to function as a torque reaction thwackbot. Only The Master's circular saw was seen during its televised Robot Wars appearance, used in tandem with the lifting panel; however, footage from The First Great War suggests that the triangular blade was also used during the 1995 UK Open.
The Master was one of three US Robot Wars competitors, along with Thor and La Machine, to be invited to compete in the 1995 UK Open Competition. It fought in numerous battles alongside its fellow American compatriots, as well as future Stock Robots Grunt and Eubank the Mouse, with considerable success. Various clips of these battles were shown in the First Great War video release, while The Master's battle with Thor was also televised as part of the first British series of Robot Wars.
- "We'll revisit the 1995 Robot Wars UK Championships in London, featuring two of the most powerful robots in the world today! The Master, built by Mark Setrakian, and Thor, designed by Shilling Robotics, both from America, and what a night it was!"
- — Jonathan Pearce in Series 1, Heat D
The Master initially turned to face Thor using its lifting panel, but Thor made no aggressive movements, and The Master bumped into it, before continuing to circle around Thor. After a sustained period of hostility, The Master made the first move and drove up the surface of Thor, burying its circular saw through the armour of Thor, which could only flail its weapon at no target in defence. The Master's attack also caused Thor to start leaking fluids. The Master withdrew its saw, and bumped into Thor using its left wheel. After Thor retreated, The Master held off until it found the right moment to charge in with its saw, shearing a loose piece of armour from the top of Thor.
- "And there, surely a killing blow! Smashing right to the heart of the hydraulic cabling!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
While Thor pushed back, The Master brought its saw onto the top of it, causing damage while shearing the circular saw in the process, creating a shower of dust. The Master continued to grind away in spite of the damage, cutting into the top of Thor's weapon, and briefly throwing sparks. The Master almost managed to drive up the side of the retreating Thor, but The Master brought what remained of its saw onto the front of Thor, creating a gash, before finally sacrificing the remainder of its saw to cut into a front wheel of Thor. These last attacks had immobilised Thor, and The Master won the battle.
- "And The Master is surely one of the most powerful robots in the world, and for me, the star of the 1995 UK London Robot Wars!"
- — Jonathan Pearce
Later into Heat D of Series 1, The Master was also seen competing on American turf in the 1996 US Championship, as part of a montage of the competition. Footage of its appearances there was also used in the official video release, American Robot Wars 1996.
In the first round, The Master faced Tazz. The battle started tentatively with The Master slowly edging closer towards Tazz before swinging down with the saw blade aiming towards the tires of Tazz. Tazz swung its arm around, smashing into the saw blade of The Master who retaliates by smashing down with the saw blade arm. The Master causes some minor damage to the top of Tazz.
- "Here again, The Master's saw has broken down and Tazz using its massive breaking power just to pin him for thirty seconds which knocks The Master out of the competition in the first round!"
- — Paul Vallis
At some point in the match, The Master loses all functionality in the saw and is put on the defensive. Tazz quickly gets underneath and uses its lifting arm to pin The Master down for thirty seconds in a shocking defeat for the reigning heavyweight champions.
The Master later fought in a Grudge Match against Red Scorpion, both of whom felt they wanted to show off their might after losing in the first round.
- "The Master and the Red Scorpion, had both been humiliated in the opening round and both wanted to show they were made of tougher stuff!"
- — Paul Vallis
At first Red Scorpion didn't move allowing for The Master to come smashing in with the saw blade. Eventually, Red Scorpion moves and dodges the attacks from The Master. Red Scorpion then uses its front red claws to grab hold of one of the wheels of The Master, pinning it and using its tail to rain down hits. Red Scorpion soon pushes The Master towards the arena side wall where it gains victory of The Master.
The Master would later fight in two rumbles. The first rumble saw The Master fight against La Machine, BioHazard, DooMore and Vlad the Impaler. The Master did well for the first few moments of the rumble, using its saw to slice DooMore and Vlad the Impaler, however at one point in the battle, as The Master swings down to attack Vlad the Impaler, La Machine spins and slams into The Master tearing off its saw blade arm entirely, causing the arm to dart across the arena. The Master survived longer than its opponents as La Machine took care of then one by one before going on to win the battle.
- "The Master is back with a new weapon. A blade!"
- — Paul Vallis as the beginning of the rumble goes underway
The Master came back for the second rumble, replacing its saw blade arm with its triangular wedge blade. Here The Master fought South Bay Mauler, La Machine, DooMore, Tazz, Punjar, Nemesis, Killbborg, Red Scorpion, Merrimac, Namreko 3000, Gutrip and Marvin. Immediately, The Master charges into South Bay Mauler, getting underneath but failing to topple it. Soon after, a pile up occurs in the centre of the arena as The Master continues to hammer down blows on South Bay Mauler. Later on in the match, Punjar and The Master team up by getting its blade underneath La Machine while Punjar pushed La Machine against an arena flipper, only for La Machine to escape. After attempting to pin La Machine, The Master is attacked by DooMore and becomes trapped. Once DooMore is freed, The Master loses all mobility and is attacked by La Machine and Punjar later on in the match. La Machine, Punjar and Gut Rip were some of the few to remain mobile at the end as the audience cheered for La Machine to take the victory.
|THE MASTER - RESULTS|
|Robot Wars 1995|
|1995 UK Open Competition|
Battle aired as part of Series 1, Heat D
|Robot Wars: 1996 Championship|
|First Round||vs. Tazz||Lost|
|Grudge Match||vs. Red Scorpion||Lost|
|Heavyweight Melee||vs. Vlad the Impaler, DooMore, La Machine, BioHazard||Lost|
|Heavyweight Final Melee||vs. La Machine, South Bay Mauler, Punjar, DooMore, Tazz, Nemesis, Killbborg, Red Scorpion, Merrimac, Namreko 3000, Gutrip, Marvin||Lost|
Outside Robot Wars
In the 1995 US competition, The Master initially defeated Painful Wedgie and Mauler 95 in the first two rounds to reach the semi-finals, where it fought Thor. As with their UK Open encounter, it emerged victorious after immobilising Thor, despite having its saw badly damaged during the battle. The Master was due to fight Blendo in the final, but both robots were declared co-champions of the 1995 competition after Blendo was deemed too unsafe to compete. During the same competition, The Master also won the Best Design Award.
The Master also competed in two seasons of BattleBots, in the Middleweight division. It was initially drawn against The Emasculator in Season 2.0, and advanced via forfeit. The Master then defeated Subject to Change Without Reason in a comfortable 36-9 Judges' decision, advancing to the quarter-finals. The Master collected another win, defeating Blade Runner on a 28-17 Judges' decision to reach the semi-finals. There, The Master should have fought El Diablo, but a burnt out motor forced The Master to forfeit the battle, eliminating the robot prior to its semi-final battle.
After a two-year gap, The Master returned in Season 5.0 and was seeded to advance beyond the preliminary rounds automatically. Its first opponent was Jack Rabbit, and The Master won a close 24-21 Judges' decision. In the Round of 16, The Master fought Ankle Biter, which was able to trap The Master under the spikes lining the arena wall, where it was counted out. The Master was eliminated at this stage.
Team Sinister also competed with various other robots. Mark Setrakian entered the 1996 Robot Wars competition with a featherweight named Gigan, although this was unsuccessful. Rather than competing with The Master, Mark Setrakian built Gigan 2 to enter the heavyweight division of the Robot Wars 1997 competition. Gigan 2 competed alongside Snake, a super-heavyweight robot armed with a drill, using its entire body to provide locomotion, with no wheels or legs present. Although Snake lost its only battle to Scorpion at Robot Wars, it did receive the 'Strangest Robot' award at the end of the 1997 competition, likely as a result of its unconventional design. Snake also entered Season 2.0 of the original BattleBots, defeating Anubis to earn a place in the Round of 16. At that stage, it was eliminated by War Machine after getting rammed multiple times and being left immobile opposite one of the Pulverizers.
Gigan 2 was converted into Ronin, which entered the 1999 BattleBots events in Long Beach, and Las Vegas. After this, it was able to compete in all five seasons of BattleBots during its original run. Over this long history, including the Long Beach and Las Vegas events, Ronin collected six wins and nine losses, alongside a draw. Its peak performance was in Season 1.0, where it reached the semi-finals by defeating Odin and Ginsu, also reaching the Round of 16 in Season 4.0.
Team Sinister's other super heavyweight robot was Mechadon, a 480lb robot with six spider-like legs providing movement. Although it was present at every BattleBots event in the original run, it only fought at the Las Vegas 1999 event, and in the first season. At Las Vegas, Mechadon defeated Ginsu, but was forced to retire ahead of its battle against Ricon. In Season 1.0, Mechadon defeated Prompt Critical without even needing to make contact with its opponent, but it then lost to Rammstein.
When BattleBots aired its 2018 season on Discovery Channel and Science Channel, Mark Setrakian was invited to be a guest judge within the opening battles of the series, alongside static judge Derek Young and recurring judge Naomi Kyle. The first three battles of the series were all Judges' decisions, in favour of Bite Force, DUCK! and HUGE, allowing Setrakian to decide the victors for close, albeit unanimous, battles. Mark also built the robot used to display the Giant Nut in previous seasons of Battlebots.
- Robot Wars competitors such as Sumpthing and Xenomorph bore very similar designs to The Master, potentially taking design cues from it.
- For pioneering the axlebot design and the concept of interchangeable weapons, The Master was inducted into The Combat Robot Hall of Fame in 2011.