The story of the virtual Hall of Fame for Combat Robots
Team Run Amok established the Combat Robot Hall of Fame in August of 2003 -- the 9th anniversary of the first Robot Wars competition in San Francisco. Ballots from the robot builder community inducted twenty-five robots into the hall of fame and awarded Honorable Mention to another fourteen.
The Hall re-opens for balloting in August of odd-numbered years. Membership in the Hall is by ballot of the global combat robot community. Notification and balloting instructions appear in combat robot forums in the US, UK, Australia, and India in August of odd-numbered years. A robot appearing on at least 50% of authenticated ballots gains full membership in the Hall, and a robot appearing on fewer than 50% but at least 25% of the ballots appears on the Honorable Mention roll and remain eligible for promotion to full membership in future balloting. Some special consideration is given to robots receiving a high percentage of votes from a specific global region.
The Hall of Fame 'Contest'
The approach of the 9th anniversary of the first Robot Wars competition in San Francisco motivated me to create a site to honor the efforts of builders who had created particularly successful combat robots. I decided that the community of robot builders themselves were the group best suited to select robots for the new Hall of Fame, but I needed a way to focus the attention of that group on the 'big picture' rather than just start an arguement.
My solution was to disguise the balloting as a contest. The builders were invited to predict my own list of twenty-five 'Hall of Fame' robots, which would direct their attention toward what they believed other builders might think and away from any personal favoritism. As a starting point, I created my own list (see below) of 25 'Hall of Fame' combat robots plus an 'Honorable Mention' list of 10 more based on:
The rules of the 'contest' were simple. Contestants received one point for each 'bot on their list that also appeared on my top-25 list plus 1/2 point for each 'bot that was on my honorable mention list. I also granted a point to everyone who listed the most commonly submitted 'bot that did not appear on my lists -- the "people's choice". I gave them the four criteria I had used and also stated that all robots on my list had appeared in one or more of the following competitions: Robot Wars ('94 through '97), BattleBots, Robotica, Robot Wars U.K., or Robot Wars Extreme Warriors.
- Dominating success in combat;
- Pioneering or perfecting influential designs;
- Having great fan or entertainment appeal; or
- Otherwise making a lasting impact on the sport.
I posted the rules along with an email address on the Delphi combat robot forums and tallied the responses as they came in. The ballots were surprisingly tightly centered around a core group of robots. Nearly every email mentioned a few robots unique to that ballot, but a group of robots emerged that appeared on the majority. Six robots appeared on every ballot submitted!
My votes for the 25 Hall of Fame combat robots
My ballot counted no more than anyone else's, but it proved to be a good predictor of the final results:
||Son of Whyachi
||Vlad the Impaler
My list correctly predicted 21 of the 25 inductees into the Hall of Fame, plus four that received honorable mention. 'The Master' received enough votes in 2011 to be promoted from the honorable mention list to full membership, improving my list's record by a little.
My 'Honorable Mention' list
||Dr. Inferno Jr.
||Wedge of Doom
These Ten 'bots deserved recognition, but I thought that they were either too odd or insufficiently unique to make my top 25 list. Three of these 'bots were voted into the hall of fame directly, and two others were given honorable mention. The others in red above were on my list for the following reasons:
- Pussycat - I knew very little about the British robots when I made my first trip to compete at Robot Wars. Wandering thru the pit area, I came across Pussycat and I froze in my tracks. It was sitting on all four wheels, looking like a pyramidal beer keg with a funny little circular saw blade at the point. Tall and tippy, it just made no sense at all to me. When I saw it in action, it made a great deal of sense -- David Gribble's 'bot completely rocks!
- Run Amok - This 'bot went against design paradigms to create a high-clearance, modestly powered, pivot-steered machine that was exactly right for the unique challenges of the first season of Robotica. The only junkyard lawn mower to win a major tittle, tenacious Run Amok was modified with a nasty looking dual-blade spinning weapon and made it to the Tag Team finals at Robot Wars as 'Run Away'. She was the luckiest robot ever built.
- Snake - Mark Setrakian scores again. No wheels, no legs, no feet. It slithers and squirms on its belly like... well, like a snake. Come to think about it, it doesn't even have a belly. People just stand and stare. Is it a combat robot? It has competed and is eligible for consideration.
- Tentomoushi - Twelve-year-old Lisa Winter builds a giant ladybug. The first successful 'smotherbot' became an icon for the sport. There ought to be a place for it in the hall of fame -- maybe at the snack bar?
- Wedge of Doom - Tony Buchignani's power-packed lightweight champion has twelve wins. Simplicity and power can be beautiful.
And the winner of the contest...
Brendan McClure from Alberta, Canada nailed 19 out of the 25 'bots on my Hall of Fame list, plus three from my Honorable Mention list for half a point each. He also listed the 'People's Choice' winner 'Panic Attack' for a bonus point: a 21.5 point total. His list also tied with my own for most choices shared with the popular vote list at 21.
Brendan McClure's List:
||Son of Whyachi
||Vlad the Impaler
- Ginsu - Trey Roski's show-off 'bot used large circular saw blades for wheels and was very well known -- it had a McDonald's Happy Meal toy made in its image. Even so, the only vote it got came from Brendan.
- The Judge - Jacha Little's titanic overhead hammerbot achieved full membership in the hall in the 2005 balloting. Brendan was just a little early in addding this super-heavyweight to his list.
Brendan (known as GUAVAMOMENT on the forums) received a 'Run Amok Combat Robotics' embroidered hat and an Oregon Clandestine Street Fight video CD. Well done, Brendan!
Note: Cale Putnam submitted the only ballot that mentioned one of my 'bots, 'Run Amok', in the top 25. I don't know whether Cale is a fan or if he was just trying to suck up to me. Either way, I sent him a copy of the video CD. Thank you, Cale!
Copyright Mark Joerger, 2003, 2008