Robot Wars Extreme II: Iron Maiden's

When Extreme 2 was announced via email, roboteers were invited to apply for the various tournaments. I immediately applied for the new blood tournament, this was for new robots or those that had only appeared briefly previously. We weren't accepted but out of the blue we got a phone call, asking us if we would like to take part in the “Warrior's Wives” as it was originally known.

I paused for all of 30 seconds considering the state Chompie was in. The damage he took in series 6 meant a complete strip and rebuild. I'd done the strip bit and stored Chompie's bits and pieces to all four corners of the house! I asked Debs and she said "No Way!" So I sadly declined the invitation and went off to sulk, my plan worked! To be fair, Debs objection was to the fact that she had to drive, and the success or failure of Chompalot would fall on her shoulders this time. Anyway, Debs came back about 5 minutes after my sulking began and we had a discussion about the possibilities of rebuilding in the 2 weeks required and Debs reluctantly agreed to drive Chompie. Everything settled I phoned back and accepted :)

I had been planning a redesign for series 7 anyway, but there was no time for a major reconfiguration. It was out with the angle grinder to cut off the outer frame, which had been mangled a bit by 13 black. Followed by a trip to the steel merchants for some new box section and new jaws to be profiled.

The next week was spent in the garage welding Chompie back into one piece, finding all his innards and rebuilding. A bent axle was replaced from the stock, the damaged polycarb body shell was renewed and then handed over to Debs for covering. I rigged a mini bot together so Debs could get a feel for driving and made her practice, she did rather well despite numerous tantrums when the minibot refused to do what she wanted it to. She finally killed it and I had to make another one, although she claims she was just testing it to its limits!

We arrived at RAF Newton and were weighed and given a table, where we were then tech checked. Then came the waiting to see who we would be fighting. There were 3 established bots Behemoth, Pussycat and Kat3.... then there was Us, Riptillion and Spin Doctor. We already knew the Pussycat team and the Kat3 team (always to be found with plentiful supply of choccies).

Philippa came round with the camera crew to tell us who we were going to fight in the first round. I guess we were lucky with our draw of Pussycat and Spin Doctor although I didn't believe that our jaws were strong enough to do any serious damage to either, so we had to rely on Debs driving :) Debs however was feeling the pressure, not wanting to let the team down. So we tried to allay her fears with the usual it's not the winning but the taking part baloney, with the proviso that it would of course be nice to at least get to the next round.

The 3 battles can be found on YouTube if you care to look, in the second round we fought against Behemoth and the final saw us do battle with Pussycat.

Robot Wars Series 6

As Debs had been such an asset at Techno Games I was keen to have her on the team as communications and the finishing touches expert. She agreed and helped by offering ideas and being an extra pair of hands. Her major contribution was suggesting the material to use to cover Chompie's body shell and she also applied the sticky back plastic, as a child she was an avid Blue Peter watcher, she's also very crafty and likes working with paper and glue, her input really helped bring Chompalot to life. James was still on the team, he had no choice really being my son and he got promoted to weapons officer. So in July 2002 we travelled to RAF Newton to take part in Series 6.

The photo above shows a younger Simon stood alongside Chompalot Evo 2 and was taken in the pits at RAF Newton, whilst we were waiting for our chance to battle in Robot Wars Series 6 back in 2001. Note the fact that Chompalot's polycarb armour in series 6 had no 'flames' on the sides, the flames were Debs idea for Extreme II.

At the wars we went through the same round of Tech Checks, Phillipa came and interviewed us and told us the bad news. We had Stinger, Thermidor 2 and 13 Black. Eeeeek 13 Black, we had seen them at the qualifiers and seen the mess they had made of their opposition. Thermidor was another big threat with that flipper. I wasn't so worried about Stinger however. There was nothing we could do but accept the inevitable so we chatted to some of the regs and admired the machines on display until it was our turn. I loaded Chompie into the pen behind the arena, took off his safety bar and stuck in his safety link and drove him into the arena. It was only when I was up into the box that I realised I'd left the foam cover on his upper jaw lol. We were in the box with the 13 Black team. Tension was rising 3, 2, 1 activate. 13 black headed straight for us discs spinning, Chompie greeted them with his jaws, temporarily stopping their disc, and then we had to quickly turn to face the attentions of Thermidor, who promptly did a runner.

We turned back for a run at 13 Black and things went a bit hazy (well alright I ran straight into Sir Killalot's breast plate and had a bit of a panic). I saw Stinger perched on the edge of the pits and made a run to try and knock them in but 13 Black cut across us. After I chased them down, we managed to get a chomp on one of 13 blacks discs then we had a good go at one of Stinger's tyres.

At some point though maybe when we had a hold of Stinger, 13 Black snuck up from behind, attacked and damaged us severely, we lost drive and were sitting ducks. Thermidor had died early on and was counted out and was now in the pits. Stinger had done nothing through out the battle, they just pottered about. 13 Black kept hammering away at us. We were counted out and still they kept charging at us inflicting damage. Eventually the house robots came to play. Killalot picked us up and twirled us about. Deadmetal got a grip and had a go with his saw, we were then placed on the flipper and launched across the arena.

Our 5 minutes of series 6 came to an end as we were pushed into the pit. It was a most enjoyable day. After the bout Phillipa stuck her damage cam up Chompie's behind, and then interviewed James, the wars were over for us that day. It was time to load up and go home after another long day, we were already making plans for improvements and changes for series 7 on the way home. It was overall a great day, we made some good friends and learnt a few things to boot.

Robot Wars Series 5 Trials

The Chompalot build was finished the night before the competition, which is never a good sign, actually most of our builds finish the night before lol! Also the motors had started to fail, it been recommended by the 101 team that the front plate of the motor was welded to the body of the motor, however when we did this the glue holding the magnets in place on one of the motors failed. So the night before the trials we were down to 3 motors instead of 4.

The trials took place in August 2001 at the NEC in Birmingham, we faced Spirit of Knightmare. They seemed to be old hands and this was a bit worrying. However in the arena they didn't seem to be very mobile and initially we were on top, after ramming them a couple of times it became obvious that our jaws were set to high and we were not going to get to chomp them.

Then when reversing for another go at ramming we collided with Shunt, it only seemed like a glancing blow but we just stopped. Shunt pushed us around a bit, then Spirit of Knightmare managed to limp over, and nudged us into the pit. So that was it, we were going home the losers, still we'd be back to fight again, so we didn't give up all hope. One consolation for James at least, was that Craig presented him with a bag of goodies. It was a surprise that Craig was there as it was only the trials after all! So home we went, I wanted to find all the problems, fix him up and see if we could have another go. Unfortunately there were unavoidable delays which prevented me from sorting him in time.

And so the 'Dear John' letter arrived from Mentorn :( Still not to be deterred I continued with the fixing and testing. I had fixed the motors by re-bonding the magnets to the case (they've been fine ever since!). After the motor fix I put Chompie back together and took him for a spin around the works car park on a Sunday. I gave him a good run and he performed well. After a while I noticed Chompie was responding a bit sluggishly to the controls and figured the batteries must be running low, so I brought him to a stop in front of me.

However Chompie had other ideas and went into a slow acceleration. I quickly handed the controls over to my Uncle Gordon who had kindly transported Chompie to the car park and I sprinted after him. I caught up with him but what could I do now? I obviously couldn't dive on him and expect him to stop. Fortunately the curbing at the edge of the car park intervened as Chompie crashed into it temporarily coming to a halt where I whipped out his safety link. At this point the heavens opened and it chucked it down.

We pushed Chompie across the car park and loaded up and went home. At this time Chompie went into hibernation whilst Techno Games took priority and new plans and ideas were pushed around in the dark recesses of my skull. The team changed, we lost one member who went off to pursue his own interests, and I drafted in Debs, who was my girlfriend at the time. It helped that she was a robot fan, and was 'a people person'.