The Robot Wars Arena was a large rectangular area within the Robot Wars television studio which was used to host all robot battles. The arena was approximately 32 feet by 48 feet and was enclosed in a huge clear plastic box 20 feet high. There were assorted hazards in the arena where some that changed from one series to the next and some others remained constant. Since the start of Robot Wars, the look of the arena changed several times, due to the different studios the series were filmed in.
Originally, the arena was located in a warehouse in the Docklands, London. This setting was used for the first two series of Robot Wars, but this site was cleared to make way for the Millennium Dome. The set used for Series 3, a studio at Elstree Park, proved to be too small, so a new location at Park Street Studios (near St Albans) was found for the filming of Series 4. This also had to be razed to the ground, so for Series 5/Extreme 1 the show returned to Elstree but for Series 6 onwards, it was moved to the former RAF Newton base in Leicestershire.
In 2005, the new owners of the former RAF Newton base discovered the custom made set in the basement of the air base. They notified the property agents, but received no reply. With no use for it, the owners threw out the set - valued originally at £11,000 - and had it scrapped for £250. Robot Arenas Limited (who had bought the arena from Mentorn) claimed legal action against the new owners, claiming wrongful destruction of the tailor-made set. However, Deputy Judge C Edelman rejected their claim in February 2010, ruling that the new owners of RAF Newton had "acted reasonably", and that the set only had "scrap value" anyway. Roboteers, particularly WJ Dijkstra and Kane Aston were particularly vehement at the judge's ruling.
Incarnations of the ArenaEdit
- Filmed at: Docklands, London
- Series appeared: Robot Wars: The First Wars & Robot Wars: The Second Wars
- Main article: Robot Wars Arena/Series 3
- Filmed at: Elstree
- Series appeared: Robot Wars: The Third Wars
- Main article: Robot Wars Arena/Series 4
- Filmed at: Park Street
- Series appeared: Robot Wars: The Fourth Wars
- Main article: Robot Wars Arena/Series 5-7
- Filmed at: Elstree (Series 5, Extreme 1), RAF Newton (Series 6-7, Extreme 2)
- Series appeared: Robot Wars: The Fifth Wars, Robot Wars: The Sixth Wars, Robot Wars: The Seventh Wars, Robot Wars Extreme: Series 1 & Robot Wars Extreme: Series 2
From the Fourth Wars onwards, there were three entry gates for robots to enter and exit the arena for combat, each were labelled by a letter, from left to right, they were labelled Gate A, Gate B and Gate C. From Series 4 to Extreme Series 2, only Gates A and C were available to be used by competitors, Gate B was reserved only for the house robots. However, in the Seventh Wars, all robots were free to enter any of the three gates, even though the house robots still singularly entered the arena via Gate B.
Before the Fourth Wars, there was just one large gate for all machines to enter the arena, coupled with a large ramp so that robots could reach the gate from the pits to get into the arena.
Pit of OblivionEdit
The Pit of Oblivion was a four-foot square hole in the arena floor into which a robot might fall or be pushed. It could be considered the "signature" feature of the arena over the series.
- Debuting in Series 2, originally this hole was open constantly during the gauntlet and from the heat final onwards, and was just a plain black hole in the arena filed with old tyres. The first robot ever to fall into the pit was Tantrum, during the Tug of War Trial. However, Technophobic, pushed in by Killertron, was the first KO pitting of a robot.
- In the third series, it was open during the first two rounds of a heat and then closed throughout the heat final and all subsequent rounds.
- In the fourth series, it was completely redesigned and was now a square panel with black and yellow diagonal stripes on it and a red line around the perimeter. The pit would now be in the closed position at the start of a battle, allowing robots to drive over it. It would open (the panel would descend) after 100 seconds of the present competitor robots fighting (before hand if a robot had been immobilised much quicker), heralded by a siren. However, this siren was actually a sound effect added in post-production, and not audible to the roboteers. Consequently, many Self-inflicted immobilisations were caused by the drivers not noticing that the pit had opened.
- From the first Robot Wars Extreme onwards, there was a tyre in the arena that competitors could hit to open the pit. In the sixth series, the tyre was replaced with a metal bumper so that it wasn't mixed up with the tyre that activated the Disc of Doom, but the tyre returned in the seventh series. Notably during Extreme Warriors: Season 2 and Nickelodeon Robot Wars, the bumper was mounted further away from the pit than normal. Occasionally robots travelling at high speed would knock the tyre off the wall. When a robot fell into the pit, a large amount of smoke would ascend from within as the robot fell.
Throughout the history of Robot Wars, three robots managed to escape from the pit after falling in during a battle, although none of them were proper escapes. Stinger escaped during the Series 4 pinball, but the pit wasn't completely open. In the heats of the Extreme 2 Antweight competition, the reigning champion Combat Ant was flipped out of the antweight pit by Hades, who was also in the pit. Probophobia came closest, actually using its arms to grip the arena floor and climb out in its challenge belt challenge against Tut Tut, but cease had been called so it didn't count.
The Floor Flipper was a powerful pneumatic flipper that could toss a robot across the arena. It was used as a form of punishment when a robot had been immobilised, and was one of the most popular. This device was introduced in the third series, where it just looked like a part of the arena floor. In the fourth series, it was redesigned and its appearance resembled the pit. The first use of the floor flipper was against Behemoth in Series 3, Heat B, whilst the final time it was used on television was against Crushtacean in The Third World Championship. The Floor Flipper was also known as "The Evil Ejector" on occasion, particuarly when it was introduced under this name in the Fourth Wars Celebrity Special.
The flipper was usually only used to flip immobilised robots, but there were some exceptions.
- House Robot Rebellions of Extreme 1 and Series 7, where it threw Plunderbird and Behemoth respectively across the arena when the robots simply drove over it. Behemoth has been thrown twice by the floor flipper without being informed.
- Ripper was also thrown in similar fashion after taking on the House Robots in Series 7.
- In Series 7 Heat J, 8645T 2 was righted after being flipped by Thermidor 2 and counted out, before driving straight across the arena where the flipper activated and threw 8645T 2 halfway across the arena.
- In the first eliminator of the Series 7 All-Stars, the floor flipper attempted to flip the still-active competitors in response to their attack on the house robots.
On a number of occasions, the arena floor flipper showed its immense power by hurling featherweights from the arena - robots such as Rampage 2 and G2 both suffered this fate. It also managed to flip robots into the pit - a "hole in one", as referred to by fans. Both the featherweight Cygnus (who was on the floor flipper at the same time as G2) and the heavyweight Fluffy were thrown into the pit by the floor flipper.
Disc of DoomEdit
The Disc of Doom was a spinning panel set into the arena floor activated by a button similar to that of the pit release button. The button was originally going to look like that of the Series 6/Extreme Series 2 pit release button, however it was later changed to a tyre like the pit release button that was used in Series 5, Extreme Series 1 and Series 7 before the series was aired. It was based near the centre of the arena. The Disc of Doom appeared in the Sixth Wars and the second series of Extreme only, before it was removed from the arena before the Seventh Wars after it was viewed as overkill for the arena by several fans and roboteers.
The Drop Zone was a spot on the arena floor, quite near the pit of oblivion, where heavy objects such as television sets, ocean buoys, bowling balls, refrigerators and washing machines fell from the top of the arena. These objects were dropped onto robots that had been immobilised. It first appeared in the sixth series; although the spot where the object would fall (a black square with a yellow 'X' shape across it) first appeared in the first Robot Wars Extreme, not serving any clear purpose at the time. The Drop Zone was originally intended to be activated by a button that house robots or competitors could press (similar to the pit and Disc of Doom) but this idea was not implemented.
Corner Patrol ZonesEdit
The Corner Patrol Zones (or CPZs) are the yellow and black striped areas in the four corners of the Robot Wars Arena. It is in these zones that the House Robots dwell. If a competing robot enters one of these zones, the House Robot is allowed to deal with them as they will. If a robot becomes immobilised, however, the House Robots are allowed to leave their zones and finish off the competitor, otherwise they will be given a yellow card by Refbot for leaving once, and then a red card for leaving twice.
The CPZs appeared in every series apart from the second series. In the First Wars, the original four house robots Shunt, Matilda, Sergeant Bash and Dead Metal all had their own CPZ for their own and they appeared in every battle aside from the grand final, where only the six competitor robots were in the arena. In the Third Wars, the house robots appeared in a rotation system of all five machines. In the Fourth Wars, Shunt, Matilda, Sergeant Bash and Dead Metal appeared in a rotation system with Sir Killalot appearing in every battle. From the first Robot Wars Extreme onwards, only two house robots were allowed in the arena at a time and this moved in a rotation system between all of the machines. In Series 2, CPZs were temporarily replaced with the Perimeter Patrol Zone (or the PPZ), a perimeter of yellow and black stripes surrounding the circumference of the arena, littered with house robots.
Entering a Corner Patrol Zone would cost points for 'control' if the match goes to a judges' decision, but you would gain points for 'style' if you could fight back and defeat the house robot occupying the CPZ. You would also gain points for aggression for shoving an opponent into a CPZ.
Perimeter Patrol ZoneEdit
For Series 2, Corner Patrol Zones were replaced by the Perimeter Patrol Zone. The PPZ was a narrow band around the perimeter of the arena where competitor robots were open to attack by the house robots. Four of the house robots would be situated all around the PPZ in each Arena Stage battle, with all five appearing in Grand Final battles only. The PPZ appeared only in the second series, the producers opting to revert back to the Corner Patrol Zones for the Third Wars onwards.
The Flame Pit in the arena caused the most trouble with flammable robots. The flame pit was a large panel near to the arena side wall and one of the CPZs, in the same half of the arena as the pit of oblivion, but on the opposite side. The flame pit let out more fire than the flame jets and were useful for pushing robots onto and melting the circuits, or burning any flammable materials on the exterior of the robot.
These spouts shot a CO2 mist upwards. Flaming robots found them useful as fire extinguishers in a pinch, and they were relatively harmless, apart from obscuring view. However they occasionally caused problems for robots with holes in the bottom of their chassis, as the CO2 could seep in and freeze their electronics. The most notable example of this was Tetanus in Series 5.
Early hazards included:
- Pneumatic Spikes that would fire up from under the arena floor, either on their own or in groups of five. In Series 1 and 2, they would come up slowly to lift a robot's drive wheels off the ground temporarily (or block their routes in the Gauntlet) but in Series 3, they would fire upwards much more powerfully, with enough force to toss a robot clean into the air. They were removed in Series 4, after they interfered too much in matches, regularly causing major upsets by flipping robots over or knocking them off-balance. Known victims of this included Behemoth, Pitbull and Berserk 2.
- Arena side bars and spiked pyramids, which like the maces, were more for arena atmosphere than actual functionality. Even still, they were known for occasionally immobilising robots, with Mortis, Recyclopse and REALI-T being prime examples. The side bars were removed in Series 2, and the Pyramids were removed in Series 3.
- Below-floor-level grilles that could immobilise robots that drove over them. These were later replaced with the Pit of Oblivion, but are generally considered the predecessors to it, serving purpose in immobilising robots like Wedgehog, Plunderbird 1, Full Metal Anorak, and even Shunt after he drove onto one by mistake.
- The early arenas from Series 1 and 2 also featured hanging or swinging Maces. They were initially round and fairly small in Series 1, but became much larger and more cube-shaped in Series 2. Typically, they were more atmospheric than damaging, but in spite of this factor, they did occasionally affect matters, such as when Nemesis was hit by one in its Gauntlet run of Series 1, turning it away from the end course and allowing Matilda to attack it.
- Flame jets which spurted out flame from the sides of the arena. These were removed and replaced by angle grinders.