The Steel Avenger (sometimes written as Steel Avenger) was a two-wheel driven, plough-shaped robot armoured with aluminium and stainless steel panels and polycarbonate bulletproof casing with a large pneumatic axe as its weapon, driven by Team Steel Avenger, formerly known as The Pneumatic Fanatics. It originally had two interchangeable axe heads in Series 3, a pick and a broad axe which were mounted on a hinged arm, to function like a mace. This idea was scrapped in favour of the sharp steel axe on a solid arm that was featured from Series 4 onwards. The bodywork was originally covered in a silver coating as the robot was originally made to vaguely resemble a medieval knight's suit of armour complete with steel chassis.
The team competed in Series 3, 4, 5 and 7 of Robot Wars, also entering in both series of Extreme. In addition to its weaponry, The Steel Avenger often sported a rainbow-coloured feather duster, to "keep the arena clean", however, this was permanently removed from the robot after Series 5. In Series 5, the team added a rear lifter to The Steel Avenger, and two mini axes on each side for a self-righting mechanism (its previous srimech, one of the spikes on either side of the robot used in Series 4, failed to be of much use). The design of the robot was so that when at its maximum speed of 15 mph, a charge and impact from the bladed, arrow-shaped end would cause severe damage. The best example of this was its Mayhem battle, where it sheared a wheel off King B Powerworks. The robot however suffered from having a 1–2 cm ground clearance in later wars.
- "The plan was to get the new robot – SA2 - ready for Series 7 and go back in there with all guns blazing. As it happened it was never going to be finished in time, so we reluctantly dragged old Steely out of retirement for one last time so we could take part again."
- — John and Jacky
SA2 (aka Steel Avenger 2) was planned to enter the Seventh Wars, but it was not finished in time so the team decided to bring the old Steel Avenger out of retirement and try for another wars. A few small changes had been done to The Steel Avenger to make it perform as well as it could. A gas bottle was borrowed from SA2 and fitted in. This bottle had a different dip tube system and allowed a full 1.1 kg gas fill without problems. The old bottle only used to allow a 500gm fill which was why The Steel Avenger always ran out of gas and got stuck. The axe head from SA2 was also fitted, a 3/4 inch thick lump of steel. The last change was to strip down the rear lifter to just a skeleton so that the weight saved allowed for the other changes. After Robot Wars was finished at the end of Series 7, SA2 was given back the parts that the original robot had borrowed for the series, but ultimately SA2 was never completed.
The team often sported shiny metal breastplates. The Steel Avenger never made it past a heat final, but came in second in the Extreme 1 Tag Team Terror. It also won the award for Best Engineered robot in Series 4, and an award called Best Costume of Robot Wars Extreme, which was not shown on TV.
- "Series 3 was our first attempt after finding the programme on TV and thinking “I can do that!”"
- — John Willoughby
For its first televised Robot Wars appearance, The Steel Avenger was placed in the penultimate heat of the Third Wars, and was placed up against a returning Robot Wars team with Schumey Too, in its first round battle.
- "I counted that Kev got in 11 full whacks with the pick, about three of which made contact"
- — John Willoughby
In the battle, The Steel Avenger missed most of its axe blows, and was almost pushed into the pit of oblivion quite early on in the battle by Schumey Too, but The Steel Avenger reversed away just in time, after its front ram hung over the edge. The Steel Avenger then drove far away from the pit and charged into Schumey Too, but the robot then drove right over the top of Schumey Too. Overpowering Schumey Too, The Steel Avenger then left Schumey Too bouncing on an arena spike, before charging in again, axing and denting the 'spoiler' of Schumey Too, and pitting it just as Schumey Too drove to escape, right past the pit of oblivion. This put The Steel Avenger through to the next round of the heat. Before the next battle, the team had to mend the pick, which had become bent by its repeated axe blows on Schumey Too. The Steel Avenger was then placed up against Team Nemesis with their new Diotoir machine in the second round. Before this battle, The Steel Avenger exchanged the pickaxe for the broad axe. In the battle, Diotoir flicked The Steel Avenger onto the arena side wall, getting it stuck there. However, Sergeant Bash then came out out the CPZ and freed The Steel Avenger and the fight continued. However, The Steel Avenger was almost caught by Dead Metal, and was eventually flipped onto its side by Diotoir's wedge. The Steel Avenger had no means of self-righting, so it was deemed immobilised. The Steel Avenger was ambushed and attacked by Shunt (which was not shown on TV) and had a huge hole smashed into it, as well as having the axe head cut off by Sergeant Bash. Cease was eventually called and The Steel Avenger was eliminated from the competition.
- "I would just love to get my own back on them [The House Robots], and avenge the damage they do to our robots. Maybe next time."
- — John Willougby
- "Back to avenge defeat by Diotoir last time"
- — Jonathan Pearce
The Steel Avenger was ready to redeem its loss to Diotoir and returned for The Fourth Wars, it competed in Heat M of the main competition. The robot now had side spikes for self-righting purposes. In the first round melee, The Steel Avenger was placed up against the number 11 seeds Wild Thing and newcomers Humphrey. Wild Thing got underneath both Humphrey and The Steel Avenger with ease. It was considerably faster than the unseeded machines, and pushed The Steel Avenger into Matilda's CPZ, and lifted it over and off its wheels. Matilda re-righted The Steel Avenger - and flipped the feather duster out of the arena with her tusks just as The Steel Avenger ran away - but meanwhile Humphrey was having control problems, and could only slowly turn in tight circles. Wild Thing persisted in his attack on The Steel Avenger, slamming it into the arena side wall. However Humphrey then soon ground to a halt and was flipped by the arena floor flipper after being ambushed by the house robots and it was subsequently eliminated, putting both Wild Thing and The Steel Avenger through to the next round. The Steel Avenger was then placed up against the number 27 seeds Sir Chromalot in the second round of the heat. The Steel Avenger pushed Sir Chromalot around constantly, missing its opponent several times with its axe weapon. The seeded Sir Chromalot machine couldn't get away from its opponent quickly enough, and The Steel Avenger was then able to break Sir Chromalot's drill weapon. The Steel Avenger then pushed the seeded machine towards the descending pit of oblivion, and then into it. This put Steel Avenger through, to go up against the number 11 seeds Wild Thing once again in the Heat Final. In this battle, after some ramming from both machines, Wild Thing then eventually managed to topple The Steel Avenger with its wedge shape, however the new self-righting mechanism failed to work at all, leaving The Steel Avenger immobilised on its side. The house robots then closed in and eventually lined up The Steel Avenger to be pitted, and left Wild Thing to finish the job, eliminating The Steel Avenger from the competition.
However, despite the failure of its new self-righting side spikes, The Steel Avenger won the award for Best Engineering for the Fourth Wars, beating the previous year's winner Chaos 2.
The Steel Avenger now had side-axes to replace the self-righting spikes, and was also equipped with a rear flipper. It made its first appearance in Extreme Series 1 by challenging Behemoth for the Challenge Belt, this battle being the main event in the first episode of the series. In the battle, despite striking Behemoth several times with slams and strikes from the axe, The Steel Avenger was flipped over and over by Behemoth, almost out of the arena at one point, but was then left immobilised in the CPZ. Refbot didn't count The Steel Avenger out so Behemoth self-righted The Steel Avenger, but then toyed with it from then on before flipping it over again, cease was then called and the outcome of the battle was obvious, the winner being Behemoth.
The Steel Avenger also fought in the Extreme Series 1 Tag Team Terror tournament, it fought alongside Suicidal Tendencies.
- "We teamed up with Suicidal Tendencies to do the Tag Team event, as we had met each other before at Debenham and fought there. It seemed like a good idea to join forces and see what we could do together."
- — John Willoughby
In the first round, the pair went up against Napalm and Sir Chromalot. The Steel Avenger chopped and rammed Napalm, before tagging out Suicidal Tendencies. Suicidal Tendencies crumpled what was left of Napalm, and Sir Killalot then came in and picked up and dumped Napalm outside of the arena. Much of the action was edited out of the The Steel Avenger and Sir Chromalot fighting, and Sir Chromalot was dumped in the pit of oblivion, this put The Steel Avenger and Suicidal Tendencies progressed through to the second round. They now fought Cerberus and Thermidor 2. The Thermidor 2 machine rushed out to interfere with Suicidal Tendencies and Cerberus' battle, so it turned into a free for all. After a lot of bashing, Thermidor 2 broke down completely, and both Suicidal Tendencies and The Steel Avenger had dealt decent blows to Cerberus, so the duo won the judges decision and met Pussycat and Diotoir in the final. Both robots were concerned by Pussycat, but The Steel Avenger team had also to be interested in their nemesis Diotoir. Suicidal Tendencies held its own against Pussycat, but Diotoir intervened without a tag and The Steel Avenger rushed out to meet it. However, Diotoir flipped over The Steel Avenger over and pinned it down, with Pussycat cutting into it as well, but missing the vitals. As The Steel Avenger righted itself and attacked Diotoir, cease was called.
- "I thought that, with the last thrust of the fight on our part, and the great control that ST was showing over Pussycat, we might have got the judges' decision. Craig kept us on tenterhooks as the result came through and it went to..... Pussycat and Diotoir! Ah well, we tried"
- — John Willoughby
The Steel Avenger later fought in a Mayhem qualifier battle for the right to fight in the second annihilator of the series. It was placed up against two similar robots - Tornado and King B Powerworks, both of them being invertible 4-wheel drive 36 volt machines with cutting discs as weaponry. In the battle, Tornado cut into The Steel Avenger with its disc, but The Steel Avenger managed to hold its own and landed axe blows on both opponents. Tornado then cut a huge hole in the side of The Steel Avenger.
- "They hit us broadside on and our right-hand side panel just exploded! That was a 10mm sheet of new polycarb which just shouldn't do that. The result was a big hole in our side, but no damage done to any of the works."
- — John Willoughby
Not long afterwards, Tornado broke down from damage inflicted by King B Powerworks' forks, leaving The Steel Avenger and King B Powerworks to fight alone. The Steel Avenger then charged at full speed and the 100 kg mass of The Steel Avenger did its job; breaking a wheel right off King B Powerworks. As time ran out, The Steel Avenger approached Matilda's CPZ, without going inside it, and Matilda hit The Steel Avenger with its flywheel and knocked it onto its side, but this was not taken into consideration in the judges' decision that was to follow. The decision went in favour of The Steel Avenger, putting it through to the annihilator.
In the Annihilator, The Steel Avenger started by going up against Panic Attack, Fighting Torque, Disc-O-Inferno, Napalm 2 and Spirit of Knightmare. The Steel Avenger managed to get through the first round after only taking a few blows from Disc-O-Inferno, but Fighting Torque and Napalm 2 turned into the centre of attention, Napalm 2 was sliced by Disc-O-Inferno and rammed by Spirit of Knightmare and was moving only in circles by the end of the fight. However, Fighting Torque was axed by The Steel Avenger, shunted across the arena by Spirit of Knightmare and finished off by the disc of Disc-O-Inferno. Fighting Torque was counted out by the Refbot and subsequently eliminated from the first round. However, The Steel Avenger automatically qualified for the third round as Napalm 2 was forced to withdraw from the annihilator due to the damage that it sustained in the first round battle. In the third round, The Steel Avenger started the battle by attacking Spirit of Knightmare, missing its gas bottle by just a few centimetres. The Steel Avenger then targeted Panic Attack, failing to break through its armour but landing blows on its side skirts and forks. However, in retaliation, Panic Attack raised and pushed The Steel Avenger, who was then flipped by Spirit of Knightmare into Disc-O-Inferno's spinning flywheel weapon and onto its side. With so much gas having been used up already in the battle, The Steel Avenger was unable to self-right with its side axes and was eliminated from the annihilator after later being counted out by the Refbot.
- "As it turns out, we didn't go out alone. We had all caused so much damage to Panic Attack that he was out of it as well. We had hit them very hard, and Kim said that we had broken their front fork actuators. They were indeed smashed very badly and it was more than a pits job to put it back together. Also Panic Attack's back end had been hit so hard by Disco that it was very badly damaged and the magnets had gone in one of the motors...but it was good to be instrumental in taking out one of Robot Wars' most celebrated machines"
- — John Willoughby
At the end of the first series of Extreme, the Pneumatic Fanatics were awarded with the Best Costume Award, however, the ceremony was not shown on the televised show.
The Steel Avenger returned for the corresponding main competition and was surprisingly unseeded for the Fifth Wars, despite reaching the heat final of the previous series. The robot competed in Heat A of the main competition. The Steel Avenger was placed up against Scottish newcomers, The Tartan Terror, in the first round of the heat. In the battle, The Steel Avenger shoved The Tartan Terror into the CPZ with ease, using its rear lifter, where house robot Shunt joined The Steel Avenger in axing the newcomers' machine. Between the two axes, The Tartan Terror broke down and suffered cracked ribs, but took the damage well, despite this, it was still counted out and The Steel Avenger went through to the next round. The Steel Avenger limped out of the arena with a flat tire, from running over one of the Tartan Terror's studs that had come loose. After the team fixed the machine, The Steel Avenger had an unfortunate draw as it was placed up against double reigning champions, Chaos 2, in the second round of the heat.
- "We have become good friends with the Chaos team, and they are really nice people, but that wasn't going to stop us trying to do whatever we could to win"
- — John Willoughby
In this battle, The Steel Avenger got flipped straight away by Chaos 2, but self-righted quickly. This was a recurring incident as The Steel Avenger was being flipped repeatedly by Chaos 2 throughout the battle, but the side srimechs surprisingly kept working and so did the robot. It also put up a decent fight, taking some colossal impacts without breaking down, and also managing to get a good hit on it down the side of its flipper, and just caught the back of it, narrowly missing the electronics. Suddenly, Chaos 2 slid beneath The Steel Avenger and shoved it over to the corner where it launched it up onto the rail. The Steel Avenger teetered on the brink for a moment, but then fell over, out of the arena, landing on one of the lights, this eliminated The Steel Avenger from the competition. After this, the team retired The Steel Avenger (supposedly).
The Steel Avenger came out of retirement for one last session before being replaced by SA2, supposedly. It returned for the second series of Extreme, without the feather duster this time, to compete in the Tag Team Terror tournament, and since Suicidal Tendencies was no longer competing in Robot Wars, The Steel Avenger fought alongside its new Tag Team partner, newcomers to the televised show Lightning.
- "We teamed up with the Lightning boys...their first appearance on Robot Wars and we were pleased to be partnering such a well-built machine."
- — John Willoughby
In the first round, the pair was placed up against Nasty Humphrey and Stinger. At first in the battle, Lightning went out to fight Nasty Humphrey. After a promising start from Lightning, The Steel Avenger tagged out to fight Stinger. The two robots attempted to hit each other with their weapons and missed, before Stinger started spinning on the spot. The Steel Avenger charged at its opponent and stopped it from spinning; this impact also caused Stinger to lose drive in one of its wheels. The Steel Avenger took advantage of the situation and nosed Stinger towards the pit. Once Stinger dropped into the pit of oblivion however, gravity caused The Steel Avenger to follow it in as well. This left Lightning alone to fight Nasty Humphrey once again, however Lightning managed to defeat Nasty Humphrey on a judges' decision, meaning that Lightning and The Steel Avenger were put through to the second round of the competition. In the Semi-Final round, The Steel Avenger and Lightning were placed up against Robochicken and Bulldog Breed, who had previously defeated the reigning Tag Team Terror champions in the first round of the competition. In this battle, Bulldog Breed quickly put Lightning out of commission with one very powerful flip in particular, and The Steel Avenger rushed over to aid its ally. However, it soon became clear that Lightning was out of action completely from a lost radio battery, and The Steel Avenger was left alone to fight Robochicken, as Bulldog Breed took on Growler. The chicken put some huge flips in, and whilst The Steel Avenger righted itself each time, the previous Tag Team Terror finalist finally succumbed to low gas. The Steel Avenger was overturned once again by Robochicken, right onto its back, and with limited gas left on board, The Steel Avenger couldn't self-right, and was soon counted out by the Refbot. Cease was soon called, and The Steel Avenger was eliminated from the competition along with Lightning.
- "...Steel Avenger, very experienced in the eye of survival over the years, one big question, why has it never really succeeded?"
- — Jonathan Pearce
SA2 was due to attempt to qualify for the Seventh Wars, but it wasn't completed coming up to the time of the qualifiers, so the team brought the original Steel Avenger machine back out of retirement once again to fight for one last time.
- "It turned out that we were in the 'Heat of Doom (or Death)' as various people had called it, being grouped with some nasty spinners such as Shredder and Supernova. Storm 2 was also in this heat and was a very powerful rambot. As it turned out, the first fight of the group was between Supernova, Storm 2, Mayhem and Rhino, which kept us out of the worst of it, thank goodness. There were some awful noises coming out of the arena from where we were standing."
- — John Willoughby
In its first round melee, The Steel Avenger was placed up against previous heat-finalist Shredder Evolution and new robots to the competition in Trax and Sub-Version 1.1. At first in the battle, The Steel Avenger took on Shredder Evolution, in an attempt to take out what the team considered to be the most potent of the robots. The Steel Avenger shoved Shredder Evolution into the CPZ, along with Sub-Version 1.1, before being flipped by Trax, however The Steel Avenger managed to self-right. The Steel Avenger then chased down Shredder Evolution again, and pierced its axe inside Shredder Evolution's wheel guard and The Steel Avenger dragged Shredder Evolution over to the flame pit. It held the previous heat-finalists over the flame pit for a while, before the other two competitors swarmed in, after having their own private encounter. The Steel Avenger was then flipped again by Trax, but once again swiftly self-righted. Then The Steel Avenger struck the titanium top of Shredder Evolution, narrowly missing a wire, and then struck again to drag it around, but let go and reversed away just as time was running out. As cease was called, Trax pitted Sub-Version 1.1, Shredder Evolution hit The Steel Avenger's axe and put a large S-Bend in the arm. However, the judges' decision put The Steel Avenger through to the next round of the heat along with Trax, and eliminated Shredder Evolution.
- "Controversy reigns again on Robot Wars, what are you thinking?"
- — Craig Charles, to the judges, upon hearing the decision
The second round saw The Steel Avenger be placed up against the experienced Team Reactor, with their limping Rhino machine. This battle proved much more tentative, particularly in comparison to both of their battles in the first round. In the battle, despite taking a few flicks from the Rhino lifter, The Steel Avenger recovered each time and managed to land around a dozen successful axe blows, whilst shoving it around the arena. These axe blows were eventually enough to slow Rhino down to a halt, immobilising Rhino, although its weaponry was still working. The Steel Avenger was suffering from leaking batteries, but still managed to activate the pit release button, and The Steel Avenger eventually line up and shove the immobilised Rhino machine down into the pit of oblivion for the win, this sent The Steel Avenger through to the heat final.
- "As I said, it's not a great robot, your robot, but do you know why? It's because you never improve it! You come back, year after year as the same thing!"
- — Craig Charles to The Steel Avenger team
It was now that The Steel Avenger was placed up against the number 16 seeds Storm 2. In this battle, Storm 2 immediately ploughed straight into and underneath The Steel Avenger, just as The Steel Avenger fired its axe, therefore missing with its strike, but also catching the axe pick in the arena floor. Once The Steel Avenger eventually came free of the arena floor, Storm 2 rammed it again, but The Steel Avenger then retreated towards the CPZ, dodging around house robot Matilda. Storm 2 did the same as it was in hot pursuit. As The Steel Avenger came broad side onto Storm 2 again, and fired with the axe again, Storm 2 rammed The Steel Avenger once again, this time the seeded machine had a long run up and rammed it at speed right into the corner of the arena, into the CPZ. The Steel Avenger flew straight over the arena side wall from the impact of the seeded machine, and was therefore eliminated from the competition. This was The Steel Avenger's last appearance in Robot Wars before being finally retired for good to make way for SA2 (who would never be completed).
- "I thought Steely had done really well this year for such an old machine. To have made the heat final was more than I had expected we could achieve and I have to remind myself that we only went along to have some fun!"
- — John Willoughby
|THE STEEL AVENGER - RESULTS|
|The Third Wars - UK Championship|
Heat, Round 2
|Heat O, Round 1||vs. Schumey Too||Won|
|Heat O, Round 2||vs. Diotoir||Lost|
|The Fourth Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat M, Eliminator||vs. Wild Thing (11), Humphrey||Qualified|
|Heat M, Round 2||vs. Sir Chromalot (27)||Won|
|Heat M, Final||vs. Wild Thing (11)||Lost|
|Tag Team Terror|
with Suicidal Tendencies, Runner-up
|Round 1||vs. Napalm 2 & Sir Chromalot||Won|
|Round 2||vs. Thermidor 2 & Cerberus||Won|
|Final||vs. Diotoir & Pussycat||Lost|
|Mayhem & Annihilator|
4th in 2nd Annihilator
|Mayhem Qualifier||vs. Tornado, King B Powerworks||Won|
|Round 1||vs. Panic Attack, Spirit of Knightmare, Fighting Torque|
Napalm 2, Disc-O-Inferno
|Round 2||vs. Panic Attack, Spirit of Knightmare, Napalm 2|
|Qualified (by Default)|
|Round 3||vs. Panic Attack, Spirit of Knightmare, Disc-O-Inferno||Eliminated|
|The Fifth Wars - UK Championship|
Heat, Round 2
|Heat A, Eliminator||vs. The Tartan Terror||Won|
|Heat A, Semi-Final||vs. Chaos 2 (1)||Lost|
|Tag Team Terror|
Competing with Lightning, Round 2
|Round 1||vs. Stinger & Nasty Humphrey||Won|
|Round 2||vs. Bulldog Breed & Robochicken||Lost|
|The Seventh Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat I, Round 1||vs. Trax, Shredder Evolution, Sub-Version 1.1||Qualified|
|Heat I, Round 2||vs. Rhino||Won|
|Heat I, Final||vs. Storm 2 (16)||Lost|
- Wins: 11
- Losses: 8
- Series 1-2: Did not enter
- Series 3: Heat, Round 2
- Series 4: Heat Final
- Series 5: Heat, Round 2
- Series 6: Did not enter
- Series 7: Heat Final
Robot Wars Live Events
The Steel Avenger competed in the first live event of the new Robot Wars at Portsmouth in March 2013.
Outside Robot Wars
Like many Robot Wars competitors, The Steel Avenger team entered Techno Games with a weaponless Steel Avenger called Tin Tackler. It entered the Football event, teaming up with its Robot Wars Tag-Team Terror partner Lightning (known as Thunder in Techno Games).
After Robot Wars finished, The Steel Avenger was retired and regularly appeared as a static display at the annual Debenham robot rumbles, alongside all three Cassius models, Chaos 2, and other famous Robot Wars robots that are now retired.
In 2011, The Steel Avenger was sold to Team Enigma, and is currently being entered into various robot events such as Robots Live! and Roaming Robots, with the feather duster attached again for some battles.
- The Steel Avenger only lost to seeded machines that then went on to win the heat in the main competition, outside of its opening appearance.
- The Steel Avenger was set to be retired at the end of Series 5, but was brought back for one last appearance in the Extreme 2 Tag Team Terror. It was due to be replaced by the team's new machine, SA2, for Series 7. However, as SA2 was unfinished leading up to the time of the qualifiers for the Seventh Wars, the Pneumatic Fanatics brought out the old Steel Avenger machine again for one last appearance, before retiring it for good.
- At the end of the first series of Extreme, The Pneumatic Fanatics (The Steel Avenger team) were awarded with the best Costume Award for the series, however the presentation of this award was not shown on the televised show.
- The Steel Avenger was well known by the producers for being a very well engineered machine; consequently it won the Best Engineered Award in Series 4.
- The Steel Avenger was in fact the first and only returning robot to win the award.
- Despite its good reliability, in its Robot Wars career, 5 of its 8 losses resulted in it being flipped, and 4 of those were due to a failure in the self-righting arms.
- Terrorhurtz and The Steel Avenger are the only robots with Bladed axes that have managed to immobilise an opponent, however, The Steel Avenger's knockout of Rhino is generally not considered an immobilisation, as The Steel Avenger pitted Rhino before the Refbot could count it out.
- The Steel Avenger was incorrectly stated as having gone out in the 1st round in both the 3rd and 4th Wars ahead of its Challenge Belt match against Behemoth.