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"I can't tell you much about it, because it's classified; although I'll show you the weapon..."
— Oliver Steeples introduces and demonstrates Griffon's lifter in Series 2

Griffon was a robot from the University of Reading team which competed in Series 2-3 of Robot Wars.

The heavyweight successor to Series 1 Grand Finalist Cunning Plan, it did not enjoy as much success in the main UK Series as its predecessor, being eliminated in the Gauntlet stage in Series 2 and in the second round of Series 3 - the latter after being pitted by Cerberus ten seconds into the battle. However, Griffon won the Series 2 Internet Insurrection Grudge Match on a Judges' decision, overturning House Robot Sergeant Bash in the process.

DesignEdit

Griffon

Griffon in Series 2

"Griffon looks like a moving video cassette recorder, but look for the fast-forward button; at 19mph, no-one can match that thrust! Its lifting arm is powered by linear actuators: to you and me – and you, Craig – that means 'electronic pistons!'"
Jonathan Pearce introduces Griffon in Series 2

Griffon was a low box-shaped robot made out of polycarbonate and armed with a four-bar lifting arm powered by linear actuators. The robot's dimensions, shape and weapon gave it a great resemblance to highly successful American robot and multiple BattleBots heavyweight champion BioHazard, while Griffon also boasted a top speed of 19mph and a tough construction.

During Series 2, Griffon suffered from radio interference issues, as well as poor steering and traction along the arena's wooden floor panels due to excessive friction being placed against the wheels. Oliver Steeples solved both problems by replacing Griffon's electronic speed controllers with mechanical ones to resolve the interference problems, and adding screws to Griffon's wheels to improve its traction and steering.

The original Series 2 Griffon cost around £1200, and was upgraded for Series 3 with two extra centrally-mounted wheels for improved manoeuvrability, a different gear ratio and upgrades to its lifting arm, which enabled the latter to lift 300kg. According to Jonathan Pearce, the updated robot was also said to have demolished a garden wall in testing.

QualificationEdit

Despite being a successor to Cunning Plan, one of the Series 1 Grand Finalists, Griffon was not originally chosen to compete in Series 2, and was made a reserve robot after performing poorly in the auditions. However, it was eventually selected to compete after Reckless Endangerment pulled out of the main competition.

"Originally I was a reserve due to the fact that my robot wasn't very good at the preview due to the fact that I had my degree final exams just previously and didn't get a lot of info about what was happening. However on Saturday 15th I got a call saying to be ready for Monday 17th at 11am for the start of filming (Reckless Endangerment had failed to get itself working)."
— Oliver Steeples on his official website.[1]

Later on, Griffon successfully entered Series 3 through attending the auditions, before Oliver Steeples attempted to enter it into Series 4. However, it failed to qualify for the main competition of the latter, and would not attempt to apply for any future series of Robot Wars following Steeples' retirement from the show.

Robot HistoryEdit

Series 2Edit

Oliver Steeples: "One of the House Robots is going over. I've got the lifting arm, so we might as well use it."
Philippa Forrester: "Well, Ben, I'm hoping you're the sensible brother here – is that what you're hoping for as well?"
Ben Steeples: "Yeah, I've been screaming at him to go down the other way, but he wouldn't listen, and now he wants to take a House Robot – and he'll end up in the pit like Mortis."
— The Steeples brothers discuss Gauntlet tactics with Philippa Forrester
Griffon gauntlet

Griffon is assailed by the House Robots in The Gauntlet

Griffon made its first Robot Wars appearance in Heat C of the Second Wars. It was the sixth and last robot in that Heat to attempt The Gauntlet, and began its run by driving straight towards the wall of breezeblocks on the centre route, stopping short of the arena spikes. However, it became evident that Griffon was encountering steering issues – slowly, it reversed and attempted a run through the left-hand route, but veered right and bumped into the railings as it tried to turn in.

"Well, [Ben] says he enjoyed watching Oliver making an idiot of himself in the First Wars, but what can Oliver do now?"
— Jonathan Pearce responds to the Steeples' interview as Griffon is attacked by Shunt

Griffon reversed, raising its lifting arm as Shunt became stuck on its rear panel, before shuffling itself free and stopping short of an approaching Matilda. Matilda rammed, lifted and dragged Griffon back as Shunt bumped into it, before the two House Robots pinned Griffon in place as it was left at a 90-degree angle.

"...but Oliver, who loves 3D cartoons, this is a little bit 'Mickey Mouse', and you could be on the way... to 'Pluto!'"
— Jonathan Pearce as time runs out for Griffon

Matilda reversed into and attempted to damage Griffon's lifter with her chainsaw before 'cease' was called, with Griffon covering a distance of only 3.4m by the end of its run. This resulted in being eliminated from the Second Wars; Jonathan Pearce later considered the University of Reading team's run 'unlucky'.

Philippa Forrester: "So the war goes on, and you don't regret to [spending] any – the whole of your summer building a robot?"
Oliver Steeples: "No. Thanks to everyone who helped me in the workshop, 'n bits and pieces – they know who they are!"
— Oliver Steeples maintains grace over Griffon's elimination
Internet insurrection

Griffon turns Sergeant Bash over

Griffon made an additional appearance in the end-of-series Grudge Matches special, where it fought in the Internet Insurrection. There, it competed alongside Killerhurtz, fellow Series 1 Grand Finalist Bodyhammer and Adam Clark's Corporal Punishment, in a battle ostensibly held to determine which competitor had the best website at the time. Griffon started the battle tentatively, getting lifted by the arena spikes as Corporal Punishment violently rammed it off them. It then drove straight into the PPZ, turned round, and got its lifter underneath Sergeant Bash, lifting the House Robot onto his side seconds later.

"...and look at this! Bash is going and going... and all the teams love that! Griffon it was, who turned the Sergeant over!"
— Jonathan Pearce as Griffon turns Sergeant Bash on his side

Shunt and Corporal Punishment momentarily boxed Griffon in seconds later, but Griffon reversed out of the PPZ as Bodyhammer attacked Shunt. It was then pushed sideways after re-entering the PPZ, and was eventually cornered against the railings by Dead Metal. Once Dead Metal drove away, Griffon rammed Shunt as he attacked Corporal Punishment, lifting him as it sat over the Flame Pit. However, it was unable to turn Shunt over, and drove close to the pit as it and Bodyhammer continued attacking the remaining House Robots. Griffon eventually attempted to lift Dead Metal, but was pinned under his pincers as it was being jostled by an arena spike. It escaped, but was lifted by Matilda, who pushed it towards Bodyhammer and Dead Metal with Shunt’s assistance just before time ran out. The battle went to a Judges' decision, which ruled in favour of Griffon, to the jubilation of the Steeples brothers.

Craig Charles: "You’ve won the website Grudge Match, how do you feel?"
Oliver Steeples: "All I wanted to do this time was to take over a House Robot. Sorry blokes, maybe better time next year!"
— An elated Oliver Steeples as Griffon is declared the winner of the Internet Insurrection

Series 3Edit

"We entered last year, didn't do too well at all..."
— Oliver Steeples reflects on Griffon's past performances as he introduces its Series 3 iteration
RW3GriffonLiftDaisyChopper

Griffon lifts Daisy Chopper

An improved Griffon returned for the Third Wars, competing in Heat N. In the first round, it faced Daisy Chopper, a pioneering vertical spinner from the team who entered the previous series with Caliban. In the opening seconds, Griffon crept slowly forward from its starting position, before ramming underneath the approaching Daisy Chopper and stopping its spinning weapon. It turned and stopped short of Daisy Chopper as it made a second charge; seconds later, a collision between Griffon's lifter and Daisy Chopper's spinner flipped the latter over. Griffon raised its lifter before pursuing Daisy Chopper, bumping it from the side and lifting its body over by the frame. However, Griffon struggled to push Daisy Chopper from the rear, and waited until the latter made another charge before lifting it onto one wheel and completely over.

After this attack, Griffon sat motionless in the centre of the arena, raising its lifting arm once again as Daisy Chopper struggled for traction with a damaged tyre. Shunt left his CPZ to nudge Griffon forward, with Griffon suddenly darting and weaving around the arena before again stopping close to the Floor Flipper. It then reversed into Sergeant Bash, who bumped it as it stopped moving, before driving off to meet Daisy Chopper once more. The two competitors struggled to position each other for an attack before Daisy Chopper bumped into Griffon’s side, and Griffon stopped moving again as soon as it drove alongside the Floor Flipper a second time.

"No splash of colour on Griffon... and no great movement there, either. What's happened here?"
— Jonathan Pearce notices Griffon's radio issues
GriffonTiltBash

Griffon tries to turn Sergeant Bash over again

Griffon twitched as Daisy Chopper gingerly pushed it forwards, before shooting forwards, turning and charging into Sergeant Bash's CPZ. It backed away from Sergeant Bash as the latter pushed it away from the wall, before lifting the House Robot against the wall with its arm. A nudge from Dead Metal broke both robots free, with Griffon backing away, turning and attacking Dead Metal in retaliation. However, one of Dead Metal's pincers stopped Griffon's lifter from fully retracting, enabling him to slice through part of the lifter numerous times with his saw until 'cease' was called. The battle went to a Judges' decision, which immediately ruled Griffon as the winner.

"At the end, I think [Daisy Chopper] had more aggression, they had slightly better control, but we thought 'Oh, we've flipped them once.' and thought if we do it again, it's going to go over and over. So I thought, 'It's all House Robots - one of us - fair odds'. So they thought we'd go for one of them, and at least we'll get it up in the air..."
— Oliver Steeples shares his views on Griffon's first-round battle

However, Team TFOSICA appealed against the decision, as they believed that Griffon had been immobilised for a substantial portion of the battle, and that Daisy Chopper had inflicted more meaningful attacks. Although Oliver Steeples conceded that Daisy Chopper had been more aggressive and controlled throughout, the Judges recounted their scores, and made a 2-to-1 split decision, again in favour of Griffon.

Philippa Forrester: "Griffon team, that's a very beautiful robot that you're up against - in fact, I think it's probably THE most beautiful we have. Are you gonna scar it, horribly?"
Oliver Steeples: "Erm, I think we've got enough scars to know our robots go around, so we're okay."
— Philippa Forrester inquires the Steeples brothers about Cerberus
Griffon pitted quickly

Griffon lies defeated after Cerberus' record-breaking pitting

In the second round, Griffon faced series newcomer Cerberus. It began the battle by turning right in an attempt to line up an attack on Cerberus, but stopped moving altogether within a matter of seconds. Despite lifting its arm, Griffon was pushed sideways towards and into the pit by Cerberus, after only ten seconds had elapsed. As a result, it was eliminated from the Third Wars, in what became the shortest battle in UK Robot Wars until the Seventh Wars. With its failure to qualify for the Fourth Wars, and Oliver Steeples' retirement from heavyweight robot combat events shortly afterwards, this battle marked Griffon's final appearance on the show.

ResultsEdit

GRIFFON - RESULTS
Series 2
The Second Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Gauntlet
Heat C, Gauntlet 3.4m (6th) Eliminated
Grudge Matches
Internet Insurrection
Internet Insurrection vs. Bodyhammer, Killerhurtz, Corporal Punishment Won
Series 3
The Third Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 2
Heat N, Round 1 vs. Daisy Chopper Won
Heat N, Round 2 vs. Cerberus Lost

Wins/LossesEdit

  • Wins: 2
  • Losses: 1

NOTE: Griffon's loss in the Gauntlet is not included

Series RecordEdit

Series Griffon Series Record
The First Wars Entered with Cunning Plan
The Second Wars Heat, Gauntlet
The Third Wars Heat, Round 2
The Fourth Wars Failed to qualify
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
Series 10 Did not enter

Outside Robot WarsEdit

After Series 4, Steeples retired from Robot Wars as his heavyweight robots took "too much time and money" to maintain. However, he competed for several years after in the antweight category; among his antweight robots was Mini G, which took design cues from Griffon including the four-bar lifter. Steeples still owns the internals of Griffon, as well as its lifting arm, although the robot itself has now been disassembled.

TriviaEdit

  • Griffon was the only substitute robot used in Robot Wars which came from a team who had competed in a previous series of the show.
  • Griffon is the only robot not to be seeded after reaching the Grand Final in the previous series (excluding where seeding was not incorporated).
  • Griffon was the first robot to successfully flip Sergeant Bash over, and the first to flip another House Robot over other than Matilda.
  • Along with TR2, Griffon is one of two Grand Finalists from a previous series which were not initially selected for the main competition of the following series. However, unlike TR2, it was eventually chosen to compete in the main competition of Series 2 through its role as a reserve.
  • For some time, Griffon's Series 3 battle against Cerberus held the record for the shortest battle in the UK Robot Wars, at only ten seconds. This record was not broken until Series 7, but still stands as the quickest battle not to involve a robot being flipped out of the arena.
  • Griffon was the first robot whose victory was formally appealed by another competitor.
  • A robot named Griffon attempted to enter Series 4, and defeated A-Kill in a qualifier, but had no relation to Oliver Steeples' machine.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Oliver Steeples' official website

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