Cruella was a robot that competed in the first two series of Robot Wars. In the first Series, it was nearly 2kg over the Heavyweight Limit. It reached the Arena stage in Series 1, before losing to Robot The Bruce after driving itself onto an arena grille, but was eliminated at the Gauntlet stage in Series 2.
In Series 1, the team introduced themselves as "The Duelists", a team from University of East London", but in Series 2, they went by just University of East London. It is unknown if the team name was dropped for Series 2, or they just failed to use it in their introduction.
In Series 1, the driver Philip Martin was joined by future Robot Wars judge Martin Smith and Kaneesh Lingham. In Series 2, he was joined by Michelle Wheeley, the original driver for the stock robot WYSIWYG in Series 1, a robot which coincidentally was in Cruella's Series 1 Heat.
Cruella's name is a reference to the villainess from the film 101 Dalmatians, Cruella de Vil, which also inspired its appearance in Series 1.
Cruella was a basic low box-wedged robot powered by a pair of Sinclair C5 motors, and initially used its front wedge as its primary weapon, with a second steeper wedge at the back. The team's tactic was to use Cruella's wedge as a high-speed ram, enabling it to get underneath opponents and flip them over.
For Series 2, Cruella was fitted with a new bodyshell with a larger front wedge and with a flat box section replacing the rear wedge. It also featured a steel chassis, new castors which allowed for an adjustable ground clearance, and a rear-mounted 6-inch circular saw powered by a windscreen wiper motor from a Ford Granada. However, the weapon motor for the saw was exposed, and was particularly vulnerable to axes and other spinning weapons.
In Series 1, Cruella was painted black with white spots as a further reference to the 101 Dalmatians character, while in Series 2, it was painted blue and red.
Cruella was the first robot to make its Gauntlet run in Heat C, and immediately went for Shunt's route. Shunt blocked it, but Cruella eventually pushed and drove itself free, knocking down two of the skittles before spinning around and getting pushed into a pyramid by Shunt as time ran out. Cruella attained a distance of 10.15m, which was good enough for fourth overall and to allow it to qualify for the Trial stage.
The Trial stage was Football, with Cruella facing Robot the Bruce, Wedgehog, Dreadnaut and WYSIWYG to score a goal against Dead Metal and qualify for the Arena stage. Robot the Bruce used its strength and power to score the first goal effortlessly, while Cruella held off a charge from WYSIWYG to steer the ball towards the goal. However, its attempts were blocked by Dreadnaut, which appeared to have broken down, and Wedgehog capitalised by steering the ball and allowing Dead Metal to nudge it in despite Cruella shoving the House Robot into the goal. Cruella made up for this in the third round, steering the ball against the wall before charging it into the goal, with both Dreadnaut and WYSIWYG laying immobile.
- "It's the box against the wedge, no weapons on board either."
- — Jonathan Pearce as the battle against Robot The Bruce begins
Cruella qualified for the Arena stage, where it fought Robot The Bruce. It started reasonably well, using its wedge to get underneath Robot The Bruce twice, but unable to topple it onto its side either time. Robot The Bruce rammed into Cruella as it spun, then pushed it across the arena before riding up its wedge a few more times as it slammed into Cruella several times. Then, without provocation, Cruella turned round and drove straight onto a grille, immobilising itself instantly.
- "Oh, that's suicide, surely? What on earth, is Phillip Martin doing? He's on the grille, he won't get out from there now!"
- — Pearce as Cruella beaches itself
Cruella returned for Series 2 with a brand new circular saw as its primary weapon, competing in Heat I. However, it did not get a chance to demonstrate this new weapon following its Gauntlet run. Cruella immediately chose the right-hand route, running into the ramrig before easing itself out and getting stuck in it. Sergeant Bash shoved Cruella before it backed away, before Cruella attempted the central route and got intercepted by Matilda and Sir Killalot, with Matilda attacking its bodyshell. Cruella retreated back into the ramrig, getting pinned there by Sir Killalot as he ran up Cruella's wedge and drove it into the saws. 'Cease' was called, with the team visibly disappointed about their run and Cruella only managing to cover a distance of 1.9m, eliminating it from the competition.
|CRUELLA - RESULTS|
|The First Wars - UK Championship|
Heat, Arena Semi-Final
|Heat C, Gauntlet||10.15m (4th)||Qualified|
|Heat C, Trial (Football)||Scored 3rd Goal (3rd)||Qualified|
|Heat C, Arena Semi-Final||vs. Robot The Bruce||Lost|
|The Second Wars - UK Championship|
|Heat I, Gauntlet||1.9m (6th)||Eliminated|
- Wins: 0
- Losses: 1
NOTE: Cruella's Gauntlet and Trial runs are not included
|The First Wars||Heat, Arena Semi-Final|
|The Second Wars||Heat, Gauntlet|
|The Third Wars||Did not enter|
|The Fourth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Fifth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Sixth Wars||Did not enter|
|The Seventh Wars||Did not enter|
|Series 8||Did not enter|
|Series 9||Did not enter|
- At some stage, at least one of Cruella's team members was, or would become, part of the Robot Wars production team:
- Professor Martin Smith, a team member in Series 1, would later become a Judge for Series 3-7 of the original series and both series of Robot Wars Extreme.
- Smith was replaced for Series 2 by one of the show's technical consultants, Michelle Wheeley, who drove WYSIWYG in Series 1 and was also Phillip Martin's girlfriend at the time.
- As well as its 101 Dalmatians influence, Cruella's name is likely to have been derived from the letters UEL, standing for University of East London, the place where the robot originated.
- The Cruella actually managed to immobilise itself on a grille twice during its Series 1 appearance: once in its battle against Robot The Bruce, and once in its robot introduction.