Lightning was a competitor robot that fought in Series 7 of Robot Wars as well as the Tag Team Terror in the second series of Robot Wars Extreme. It reached the Heat Final in Series 7, losing to Gravity, and the second round of the Extreme 2 Tag Team Terror alongside The Steel Avenger, losing to eventual champions Bulldog Breed and Robochicken.

Lightning was the brainchild of Laurie Calvert, who came up with the idea for the robot after seeing Cassius self-right in Series 2. It took the team several years to gather the sufficient funds to assemble Lightning, with the project costing £4000 and the robot receiving to £2500 worth of parts. Previous versions of Lightning failed to qualify for Series 5 and 6 - being defeated by Razer and Barbaric Response, respectively. Lightning R2 appeared on the Discovery Channel programme, Robots Revenge, which the first version of Killer Carrot 2 also appeared on.

Team Lightning expressed interest in applying for Series 8 of Robot Wars with an upgraded version of Lightning. However, the team did not have enough time to acquire sponsors or make the necessary upgrades, forcing Lightning to pull out.Citation?


Extreme lightning

The Extreme 2 version of Lightning that also failed to qualify for Series 6

"The robot's design philosophy is to combine ramming motion with flipping action for maximum devastation."
— Team Lightning on their robot
Lightning Rear

Lightning with rear spikes in the arena

Lightning was a blue and silver wedge-shaped robot with two large rear spikes and a novel side-mounted pneumatic flipping weapon. In Extreme 2, this consisted of two small side flippers which opened outward from both sides of the robot in a similar manner to a front-hinged flipper, although only one of the flippers allowed Lightning to self-right. In Series 7 the flippers were replaced with one large side flipper, which could act as the robot's srimech and featured interchangeable panels and flipper configurations which could be changed to suit its opponents. However, this was not permitted under the Series 7 rules, so Team Lightning chose to use the single panel flipper for all of its battles as it was considered twice as powerful as the smaller ones.

Lightning self-rights

The Series 7 Lightning self-righting

Lightning's weapon set-up was unique among flippers, which usually opened straight up or fired outwards. The robot's key tactic was to drive under other robots and use the flipper(s) to throw them onto their sides, against the wall or into the pit. However, the team lacked experience in the arena, and the robot had a high ground clearance that was easily exploited by robots such as Bulldog Breed and Gravity.

Alien DriversEdit

Lightning aliens

Lappal and another alien

When Lightning was built, Nigel Booth from the Alien films, and a friend of Calvert's, commissioned four small foam aliens to be added to Lightning in the hope that they would fall off during the fight for extra interest. The idea stemmed from a backstory that Lightning was constructed from the remnants of a crashed alien spaceship.

One particular alien, named Lappal, derived from the names of Laurie, Phil and Albert (Phil Denyer was the first engineer, replaced by Richard De Smedt) was given the task of "driving" the robot. Lappal sat in a special triangular section on top, next to the flipper.

"The real idea of this section was to act as a 'hook' to trap any robots on top of us so they could not drive off, and we could take them places, such as the pit or House Robots (see Nasty Humphrey in our first Tag Team fight). It worked well!"
— Laurie Calvert

Robot HistoryEdit

Extreme 2Edit

"Will it strike twice? They have double flippers."
— Jonathan Pearce
Lightning Psycho Nasty Humphrey

Lightning and Humphrey exposed to Psycho

Lightning's first appearance was in a Tag Team partnership with The Steel Avenger. Its first round was in a battle against returning robots Nasty Humphrey and Stinger. Lightning tussled with Nasty Humphrey in the opening seconds, before attacking Stinger once. The Steel Avenger tagged out and put up a fight against Stinger, but ended up pitting Stinger and itself. Lightning was left to fight Nasty Humphrey alone, and it managed to get Nasty Humphrey tipped against the side wall where it took damage from Mr. Psycho. The time ran out, and Lightning had scored enough points to progress through to the next round.

"In the semi-final round we knew it would be tough and that the chances were high we'd get flipped by Bulldog Breed as I prophesied in the pre-fight interview"
— Laurie Calvert
Bulldog breed lightning

Bulldog Breed flips Lightning against the arena wall

Steel avenger lightning

The two beaten machines

Lightning was thrown onto its back by Bulldog Breed almost instantly. The impact, however, knocked out a receiver battery and rendered Lightning immobile. Bulldog Breed tried to flip Lightning out of the arena, but the large flat shape of Lightning made it very hard to get out. Lightning was left on its back with its wheels spinning, and was eliminated from the Tag Team Terror when The Steel Avenger finally succumbed to Robochicken's flipper.

Series 7Edit

"...fought previously in a Tag Team, now enters the arena alone"
Jonathan Pearce
Lightning vs 13Black

Lightning strands 13 Black

Lightning shot off from the start and quickly pinned newcomers Herbinator against the side wall. Lightning took damage from veterans The Alien, but when the spinning hammer robot broke down, Lightning was assured a place in the next round. However, 13 Black continued to attack, as John Denny wished to score more aggression points, so Lightning pinned the seeded robot against the side wall, but in the end they both went through. Lightning went on to fight Thor who came third in the Extreme 2 New Blood Championship.

"This was very close with Lightning managing to avoid many of the hammer blows, but Thor being very fast and aggressive"
— Laurie Calvert
Thor vs Lightning

Lightning is stuck on Thor's wedge

Lightning vs thor

Lightning pits Thor

Lightning avoided Thor's hammer repeatedly, able to predict the weapon use of its opponent. Lightning opening the pit, and trapped Thor in the CPZ. However, Lightning then reversed onto Thor's wedge, which had come to a standstill, but that didn't stop Lightning taking a few hits from Thor's hammer. Both robots were immobile, so the House Robots and Refbot pushed both robots free. With battle recommenced, Lightning slid beneath Thor and flipped it sideways into the open pit.

"I think Lightning's finished. They're not moving are they, Refbot? Go and check. OH, they are! Well, well, well. That was the old rope-a-drope, Muhammad Ali trick, and now Lighting can push Thor down the pit! And completely turns the battle on its head! Kidology from the Lightning team, and Thor has gone!"
Jonathan Pearce
Gravity vs Lightning

Lightning slips under Gravity

Gravity vs Lightning

Gravity catapults Lightning

This put Lightning against the formidable Dutch machine Gravity in the Heat Final. Already at a disadvantage in terms of flipper power, Lightning was further damaged by a flat tyre. Gravity threw Lightning into the air, with Lightning swiftly self-righting and sliding beneath Gravity, but failing to bring its own flipper into effect. The two robots then rammed into each other in a pushing match, before Gravity flipped Lightning into the air once more, causing something to break inside Lightning, and the valiant machine fell so Refbot counted it out. Its motionless form was joined by Shunt and Dead Metal, who Gravity quickly dispatched as well.


Extreme 2
Tag Team Terror
with The Steel Avenger, Round 2
Round 1 vs. Nasty Humphrey & Stinger Won
Round 2 vs. Bulldog Breed & Robochicken Lost
Series 7
The Seventh Wars - UK Championship
Heat Final
Heat D, Round 1 vs. The Alien, Herbinator, 13 Black (7) Qualified
Heat D, Round 2 vs. Thor Won
Heat D, Final vs. Gravity Lost


  • Wins: 3
  • Losses: 2

Series RecordEdit

  • The original Lightning, this model had no weapon but it could travel at 20mph
  • Lightning R2, the version of Lightning that failed to qualify for Series 5
  • Lightning before battling Razer at the Series 5 qualifiers
  • The pre-Extreme 2 version of Lightning that was never finished
  • Lightning as Thunder in Techno Games
  • The Lightning team in Series 7
  • Lightning on display with Thunder at the 2011 Championships
  • The team with Lightstorm Vampire at Techno Games
Main Series Lightning Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Did not enter
The Fourth Wars Did not enter
The Fifth Wars Failed to qualify
The Sixth Wars Failed to qualify
The Seventh Wars Heat Final
Series 8 Withdrew from application
Series 9 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Did not enter
Series 2 Entered

Outside Robot WarsEdit

Like many Robot Wars teams, the Lightning team entered Robot Wars' sister show Techno Games with a modified version of Lightning called Thunder. It entered the football tournament and teamed up with its Tag-Team Terror partner The Steel Avenger (called Tin Tackler in Techno Games). Together, the two robots were called Team Flash.

The team also entered Lightstorm, which was the silver medalist in the Rocket Car competitor in 2001, Lightstorm 2, which was the Rocket Car Champion in 2002, Brickbat, which was a Odd Rocket competitor in 2002 and Daft Ada, a Funny Cars competitor in 2003 (which won the NESTA Sportsmanship Award) in Techno Games.

Lightning fighting Iron-Awe at Yeovil in 2002

Lightning also competed on the live circuit for a while, fighting several famous robots such as Series 3-4 champion Chaos 2 and Series 6 champion Tornado. In August 2002, Lightning took on Iron-Awe at an event in Yeovil (

Notably, it defeated Tornado in one battle at the Lakeside Robot Zone charity event, organised by the late Steve Merrill, in 2004.

Despite being fully operational, Lightning has since been retired, and now occasionally appears as a static exhibit at live events.


Red Dwarf and Space Ranger, Team Lightning's Middleweights

Team Lightning also competed on the Middleweight circuit with Red Dwarf and Space Ranger. -


"I mentioned this to Mat Irvine during filming of the first Techno Games and he said 'keep watching'. The next year was series 3 and the first OOTA by Chaos 2 against Firestorm."
— Laurie Calvert[1]


  1. Correspondence with User:Toon Ganondorf, 2009

External linksEdit

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