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Major Tom

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"The idea for Major Tom was originally to out-rank Sergeant Bash."
— Henry Ryan

Major Tom was a robot from the Isle of Sheppey that competed in Series 4 to 7 of Robot Wars, also entering in both series of Extreme. It had previously failed to qualify for Series 3 despite a near perfect qualification run.

Despite competing in 4 separate series of Robot Wars, Major Tom never reached a Heat Final, having only reached round 2 in Series 4 and 5, and going out in round 1 in Series 6 and 7. Its best performance was in the Annihalator in Extreme 2, where it finished third.

The robot's name came from the astronaut in the David Bowie song "Space Oddity", and Craig Charles and Jonathan Pearce frequently made jokes involving the song's lyrics.

Versions of Major TomEdit

Despite taking on many different forms, every version of Major Tom (except for Series 3) was always painted in the colours of the Union flag. Major Tom was also famous for its plastic bubble-gum dispenser head which was present on every machine that featured on the televised show. The head itself was either knocked off or destroyed easily, as shown during Major Tom's most infamous moment after its loss to 101. The head also sports different head gear during each series; a cap in Series 4, a helmet and crown in Series 5, 6 and both Extremes, and just a crown in Series 7.

Major Tom (Series 3 Qualifiers)Edit

Major Tom

The version of Major Tom that failed to qualify for Series 3

The Series 3 version of Major Tom was very different to all of its successors, mainly because it did not have its trademark head or Union Jack colours. It was white with blue, green and red triangle shapes painted on it. Its weapon was a lifting device that had a secondary usage as a split scoop. It was originally meant to be a tracked robot, but the rubber tracks were replaced with wheels for the qualifier. The robot was also 13kg overweight so the team had to replace the thick steel shell with aluminium.

Major Tom (Series 4)Edit

Majortom

Series 4 appearance

For Series 4, the split scoop of the Series 3 machine was taken off and half of a garden water barrel was added to the top armour along with parts from bicycles and lawnmowers. The weapon was converted into a lifting ramp powered by a golf caddy motor along with the main drive and was capable of lifting 12 stone.
"Firstly, changes were made to the weapon. The splitting wedge was dropped from the robot in favour of the lifting arm. To this was added a hefty plate, turning it into a kind of wedge. Because of its weight and size, a much faster revving motor was used to achieve a quicker lifting action"
— On the team's website
The new weapon was capable of lifting Henry Ryan's car and also caused quite a large dent in one of the doors. This version is referred to as Major Tom Mark 1 in Robot Wars Extreme: The Official Guide. The series 4 version was originally painted black with meteors down the sides, but this was repainted with the Union Jack for its appearance in the main series.

Major Tom (Extreme 1-2, Series 5-6)Edit

"The good-looking dodgem car!"
Robot Wars: The Ultimate Guide on the second version of Major Tom
Extreme major tom

Major Tom in Extreme 1

Major Tom 2

Series 5 appearance

Major tom

Major Tom in Series 6

In Extreme 1, the robot became more box-shaped with a vertical spinning disc on the front, rotating at 35mph and the body was made from a cut-down 1977 bumper car body, found by team member Joe Brown, and a garden water barrel, the robot traveling at 10mph.

In Series 5, the chassis was shortened from the front to reduce weight and fit in larger motors. A roll-bar was added to the top of the machine for Series 6 and Extreme 2 to act as a srimech (though its weakness is labeled as not having one), and the blades on the disc were also enlarged to cause more damage.

Major Tom 3 (Series 7)Edit

Majortomdamage

Front view of Major Tom 3, damaged after its encounter with X-Terminator

In Series 7, a new design known as Major Tom 3 was entered, which was an invertible two-wheel driven, box-wedge shaped robot with a double clamping spike on the front. It was much slower than its predecessor with only a top speed of 4mph, as a result of much stronger motors and low gearing, but had good pushing power, and a broad surface.

QualificationEdit

During the Series 3 qualifiers, Major Tom was able to navigate the assault course perfectly, but still was not chosen to compete in the main competition.

Major Tom2ndpaint

Major Tom in Series 4 at the qualifiers

At the Series 4 qualifiers it faced the returning Killertron. Both robots fought an even contest for the full five minutes of the bout, with the win eventually being given to Killertron based on damage.

"Major Tom performed really well, far better than expected. The contest was as good as even, until about the final 10 seconds when Killertron's axe came down and got stuck in Major Tom's body shell. The judges scored the win for Killertron"
— From the team's website

Although Major Tom lost, it received a discretionary place in the Fourth Wars.

In its Series 6 qualifier, Major Tom fought Roobarb, Hell's Teeth, and a robot with a spinner. Major Tom was immediately targeted by Roobarb due to it being the most experienced robot in the qualifier, but managed to roll over whenever it was flipped. Over the course of the battle, the unidentified spinner and Hell's Teeth became immobilised.

"All this happened in around 2/3 mins and Major Tom was still going!!"
— Team Roobarb

Roobarb's flipper had also broken, so Major Tom was able to survive for almost the full battle, engaging in a pushing match until losing most of its power. Although Roobarb was declared the winner via Judges' decision, Major Tom was given a discretionary place in the Sixth Wars.

Robot HistoryEdit

Series 4Edit

"Certainly getting into the spirit of Robot Wars!"
Julia Reed comments on the team

In its first televised appearance, Major Tom was drawn up against the number 25 seeds Shadow of Napalm and fellow newcomers Disc-O-Inferno in its first round melee in Heat E of the Fourth Wars. Major Tom paraded through this first round battle, only making minimal contact with the others, as it largely left the other two to attack each other. Major Tom did ram into the seeded Shadow of Napalm from behind once, attempting and failing to lift it, but did little more after that. It actually turned out to be was the most mobile machine at the end of the battle, due to the fact that Disc-O-Inferno had been fully immobilised, positioned on the arena floor flipper by Dead Metal and flipped. Major Tom had just enough time at the end of the battle to slam the limping Shadow of Napalm machine into the arena side wall before cease was called. Both robots moved through to the next round nonetheless.

"Go on, Major Tom! Show 'em what you're made of!"
— An audience member enthusiastically supports Major Tom

Major Tom was then drawn up against the number 9 seeds 101 in the second round of the Heat. In this battle, 101 immediately ran up the body of Major Tom, pushing the bubblegum dispenser head askew. 101 then shoved Major Tom into the arena side wall, crumpling the front ram of Major Tom.

Death of major tom

Major Tom is decapitated

Major Tom then slowed to a stop, and was declared immobilised just as House Robots Matilda and Shunt then came in and cleaved the bubblegum dispenser head away, decapitating Major Tom, although little damage was done to the actual body of Major Tom. It was then pushed onto the Arena Floor Flipper, thrown across the Arena, before being pitted by Matilda, eliminating it from the competition.

"Ground control to Major Tom, goodness me, it's all gone wrong! The winner is 101!"
— Craig Charles describing the team's loss

Extreme 1Edit

Major Tom's only appearance was in the Tag-Team Terror competition where it fought alongside Bigger Brother, Major Tom was actually only brought into the competition at the last minute as a substitute for Plunderbird 5, which had broken down and damaged the entry gate going into the Arena for the first battle.

"We're really looking forward to it!"
— Henry Ryan
Major Tom flipped

Major Tom is flipped by Spawn Again

BiggerBrotherMajorTomvsComengetorixSpawnAgain

Sir Killalot attempts to fit Major Tom down the pit

In the first round, Major Tom and Bigger Brother fought Comengetorix and Spawn Again, the fight started evenly with Bigger Brother and Comengetorix having a tug-of war contest before later all four robots went out. Major Tom got side swiped and flipped over by Spawn Again's only flip of the fight where it had its underbelly axed by Comengetorix. Major Tom was righted by its teammate, but it didn't move afterwards, and was counted out by Refbot. The House Robots put Major Tom on the arena floor flipper, where it was flipped, before being pushed onto the pit, but it didn't fall in because it was too big to fit. Cease was called and Major Tom and Bigger Brother were eliminated from the competition.

"...and the Italian dodgem car failed to dodgem...er...just about anything really"
— Jonathan Pearce after Major Tom was flipped by the Arena Floor Flipper

Series 5Edit

"I can't remember a bumper car looking like that!"
— Jonathan Pearce
Kliptonitekillalot

A ruined Kliptonite is pitted by Sir Killalot

In the first round of the Heat, Major Tom went up against newcomers Kliptonite, another robot from the Isle of Sheppey. Major Tom had a stroke of luck in this battle, as its opponents broke down quite early on after just a few bumps from Major Tom's spinning disc weapon. Kliptonite was counted out by Refbot, allowing Matilda and Sir Killalot to rip up and destroy the newcomers' robot, before finally dropping it in the pit. This put Major Tom through to the next round of the Heat.

Majortompit

Major Tom reverses into the descending pit

Major Tom then took on the more experienced Kat 3 in the second round. In this battle, Major Tom had a strong start, as it was able to push Team KaterKiller's machine around the arena floor with ease. However, Major Tom then slammed Kat 3 into the pit release button, and then reversed onto the descending pit and went down with it, eliminating Major Tom from the competition. Both teams were uncontrollably laughing in the post battle interview. This battle was also voted the funniest battle ever in Robot Wars for the book Robot Wars: The Ultimate Guide.

"Ground control to Major Tom! The pit's open, and you are gone! Talk about unlucky..."
Craig Charles describing the loss

Series 6Edit

Ian Watts: "...Major Tom was our partners, in the Tag-Team, we can't fight them!"
Philippa Forrester: "Forget about the past! Forget about the past!"
Joe Watts: "They made us lose!"
— The Team Big Brother pre-first round interview
Killer Carrot 2 Major Tom

Killer Carrot 2 lifts up Major Tom

In the first round of its heat in the Sixth Wars, Major Tom was forced to fight old Tag Team partners and number 2 seeds Bigger Brother, in addition to newcomers Riptilion and Killer Carrot 2. In the battle, at first, Major Tom was attacked by Killer Carrot 2. Despite four successive attacks, Killer Carrot 2 could only lift Major Tom, but could not flip it over. Bigger Brother seemingly came to its aid, flipping away Killer Carrot 2, but then went on to attack Major Tom itself, successfully flipping Major Tom into the CPZ, leaving it in Sir Killalot's hands, before Mr. Psycho came in. A severe blow from Mr. Psycho's hammer dented the rollcage. After its rollcage was ripped apart, it seemed that one of Major Tom's drives had stopped working. Major Tom was then counted out by the Refbot, as it could only drive in circles inside the CPZ. Major Tom was then left under the Drop Zone, where a shower of balls of various sizes fell. Cease was finally called, and Major Tom was eliminated from the competition, along with Riptilion, who drove into the pit earlier on in the battle.

"Major Tom, stripped of its stripes and demoted to private..."
— Craig Charles at the end of the fight

Extreme 2Edit

"Will it lose ground control?"
— Jonathan Pearce, as Major Tom enters the arena

Major Tom exclusively participated in the Annihilator in the second series of Extreme. At first, it was up against Typhoon 2, Thermidor 2, Kan-Opener, Revenge of Trouble & Strife and Raging Reality, and went in as underdogs. In the first round, Major Tom stayed out of most of the action, it drove into Raging Reality before being eyed up by Thermidor 2 and flipped into Typhoon 2's full-body spinner. Major Tom then reversed away but was intercepted by Revenge of Trouble & Strife and suffered several blows from their full-body spinner. After this, Major Tom could only spin in circles, but Typhoon 2 was already flipped over by Raging Reality and counted out by the Refbot, so Major Tom survived for the next round of the Annihilator.

Major Tom Annihilator Round 2

Major Tom is trapped by Dead Metal and Sir Killalot in Round 2 of the Annihilator

It turned out that Major Tom needed to be stripped down right to the innards in the pits as considerable damage had been caused in the first round but they still managed to enter round two of the Annihilator. In the second round, Major Tom tried shunting Raging Reality again, but was then flipped over by Thermidor 2. Its rollcage self-righted it, but it was hit again by Thermidor 2, causing one of the front panels to fly off due to the impact. Revenge of Trouble & Strife then spun Major Tom, forcing it into the path of Sir Killalot, who then shoved Major Tom into an unoccupied CPZ. Major Tom tried to escape, but was then pushed back into the same CPZ by house robot Dead Metal. After looking like the hot favourite to go out next, Major Tom finally escaped from the CPZ and pressed the pit release button, but then Kan-Opener managed to immobilise Raging Reality with its jaws, Raging Reality was then later counted out by Refbot, flipped by the arena floor flipper and eliminated, meaning Major Tom survived for the third round.

Before this round though, the team hesitated to whether they should just take the weapon off to make the robot quicker and more agile, however they eventually decided to keep the weapon on for the upcoming battle.

"Bruised and battered, but the weaponry is still there. They haven't gone for the lightweight option!"
— Major Tom's third introduction into the arena by Jonathan Pearce
Thermidor 2, major tom and rotas

Major Tom and Thermidor 2 watch Revenge of Trouble and Strife go down the pit

In the Round Three battle, Major Tom tried attacking both Thermidor 2 and Revenge of Trouble & Strife, trying to chase them down as they retreated from the arena side wall, but Major Tom was then intercepted and pushed across the arena from one side to the other by Kan-Opener. Thermidor 2 then flipped Revenge of Trouble & Strife over and Kan-Opener then pressed the pit release button for it to go down. Major Tom tried to then steer away from Thermidor 2 who still went on the attack of it. Kan-Opener then pitted Revenge of Trouble & Strife right before Major Tom lost control and drove backwards into the pit themselves. Major Tom was still through to the Fourth Round, it was also a bit of a clue for what was to come.

"We think it will be the last farewell..."
— The Major Tom team's prophetic response to Philippa Forrester asking them about their feelings on the Fourth Round battle.
Refbot counts out major tom

Major Tom is counted out.

In the fourth round battle, it was pushed by Kan-Opener, before Thermidor 2 picked it up and flipped it into the arena side wall, onto its side. Major Tom's rollbars didn't work, but Kan-Opener righted it near a CPZ. Major Tom was then pushed into another arena side wall, and then one drive stopped, only one wheel was turning, but only enough to make the robot twitch. Mr. Psycho hammered its rollcage, knocking the crown of the head. Then Matilda came in and caused severe damage to its fibreglass shell, ripping it apart completely. Refbot then counted it out, before it was placed on the Drop Zone, where a cooker crushed it.

MajorTomdestroyed

The obliterated remains of Major Tom

"And the tune we are singing tonight is in the chord of A. Flat Major!"
— Jonathan Pearce reviewing the replay of the Drop Zone

Matilda then hit Major Tom with her flywheel one more time, which ripped several pieces off and flipped the machine over onto its back, before pushing the carcass of the robot into a CPZ, and cease was called. Major Tom was finally eliminated from the Annihilator.

"The words to the song are "Here I am, floating in a tin can", not "Turned into a tin can""
— Craig Charles to the Major Tom team at the end of the fight.

After being completely destroyed, this bumper car version of Major Tom was retired to make way for Major Tom 3.

Series 7Edit

"Very slow at 4 miles an hour"
— Jonathan Pearce's only criticism
Tsunami vs X-Terminator vs Diabolus vs Major Tom 3

Tsunami prepares to throw Major Tom 3 out

Major Tom 3 was drawn up against German runners-up Tsunami, the number 11 seeds X-Terminator and Diabolus in the first round of the Seventh Wars. Going against Major Tom created unmentioned revenge for Diabolus, not just because it was another robot from the Isle of Sheppey, but Major Tom defeated the team's previous robot, Kliptonite, in the Fifth Wars. In this battle, Major Tom's first collision with Diabolus caused an immediate effect as the head fell straight off Major Tom 3. X-Terminator toppled Major Tom 3 over with its disc, causing the front of Major Tom's wedge to crumple a bit. Major Tom 3 did not last much longer as it tried to run to safety, but its top speed of 4mph proved to be its undoing, as Tsunami then eyed up the sluggish Major Tom 3, pushed it side on towards the flame pit and flipped it straight out of the arena, eliminating it from the competition.

Major tom oota

Major Tom 3, having been thrown out of the arena.

"Carnage already in the warzone, and Major Tom out! Gone. Hit by the tidal wave - the Tsunami, and they went."
— Jonathan Pearce

Major Tom 3 was then soon followed out of the arena by Diabolus.

"Major Tom: Major Disappointment!"
— Craig Charles after the battle

ResultsEdit

MAJOR TOM - RESULTS
Series 4
The Fourth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 2
Heat E, Eliminator vs. Disc-O-Inferno, Shadow of Napalm (25) Qualified
Heat E, Semi-Final vs. 101 (9) Lost
Extreme Series 1
Tag Team Terror
with Bigger Brother, Round 1
Round 1 vs. Comengetorix & Spawn Again Lost
Series 5
The Fifth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 2
Heat J, Eliminator vs. Kliptonite Won
Heat J, Semi-Final vs. Kat 3 Lost
Series 6
The Sixth Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat L, Round 1 vs. Bigger Brother (2), Killer Carrot 2, Riptilion Eliminated
Extreme Series 2
Annihilator
Third
Round 1 vs. Kan-Opener, Raging Reality,
Revenge of Trouble & Strife, Thermidor 2, Typhoon 2
Qualified
Round 2 vs. Kan-Opener, Raging Reality,
Revenge of Trouble & Strife, Thermidor 2
Qualified
Round 3 vs. Kan-Opener, Revenge of Trouble & Strife, Thermidor 2 Qualified
Round 4 vs. Kan-Opener, Thermidor 2 Eliminated
MAJOR TOM 3 - RESULTS
Series 7
The Seventh Wars - UK Championship
Heat, Round 1
Heat F, Round 1 vs. Diabolus, Tsunami X-Terminator (11) Eliminated

Wins/LossesEdit

  • Wins: 5
  • Losses: 6
  • Major Tom, between Series 3 and 4
  • The team with the Series 5 incarnation of Major Tom
  • Major Tom getting worked on behind the scenes during Series 6

Series RecordEdit

Main Series Major Tom Record
The First Wars Did not enter
The Second Wars Did not enter
The Third Wars Failed to qualify
The Fourth Wars Heat, Round 2
The Fifth Wars Heat, Round 2
The Sixth Wars Heat, Round 1
The Seventh Wars Heat, Round 1
Series 8 Did not enter
Series 9 Did not enter
Robot Wars Extreme Appearances
Series 1 Entered
Series 2 Entered

TriviaEdit

  • At 36 seconds, Major Tom 3's battle against Tsunami, X-Terminator and Diabolus is the shortest battle in UK Robot Wars to require two immobilisations. However, it did not make the top 30 list.
  • The Major Tom team has a member called Henry and Henry has a team member called Tom.
  • Major Tom was twice in the same Heat as Killer Carrot, Disc-O-Inferno, and Team Demon (Diabolus and Kliptonite).
    • Both times Major Tom was in the same Heat as Killer Carrot, it was knocked out in the first round of the competition.

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