SMIDSY at the Brighton Live event, 22/09/2001

Robin Bennett writes:

Today didn't get off to a terribly good start, we arrived an hour late (but at least my bike now has an MOT - due to a misreading of the MOT certificate last November it hadn't had one for rather a long time - oops).

We almost weren't allowed in the main competition as they'd already started the first round, but we were squeezed in at the end - against Terrorhurtz (the successor to Killerhurtz, the best axe in RW). We had about 15 minutes to put the top armour on and get into the ring. There was a minor delay when we couldn't find the split pin for the top jaw but Kathy came to the rescue with a nappy pin (the Plunderbird guys who were commentating loved this and made sure the crowd knew about it). We weren't allowed to use our disk as they only had a wire fence between the robots and crowd - it could easily have thrown shrapnel into the crowd.

Our first attempt to start was cancelled because his axe wouldn't work - Mentorn would have made him go in without a weapon to keep to the schedule but here they just wheeled in the next set of robots.

The guy who does Miss Struts had brought along another walker, one he'd built for Technogames - it spun a couple of weights to rock back and forth and used a short unpowered pendulum as a second 'foot' - very cleverly moving without actually driving the feet and in true walker style it was slow and dull - it couldn't even do reverse let alone backwards. Scuttle was also in the arena, running rings around Miss Struts and zooming in and out between her Wellington-booted feet.

Then it was our go - Terrorhurtz tested his axe and made two half-inch holes in the tarmac playground. I can't remember the details - it was a blur of trying to avoid the axe while also trying to get a good run up for a ram. We could push him around a bit but not enough to ram him against the wall and even if we could it was only railway sleepers - there was no pit or house robots to aim for either. The axe hammered down endlessly but didn't seem to do that much damage to us (although it was wrecking the playground as we were moving fast enough to make sure he missed more than he hit, and he hit the ground hard on every back swing).

Eventually SMIDSY just stopped driving - John still had control of the jaws but I couldn't move the wheels, Terrorhurtz hit us a few more times and it was all over. :-(

As we lifted SMIDSY out of the ring we were surrounded by kids saying "Wow, you were absolutely mullered! Kewl!" which I suppose is fame of sorts... There was some bad feeling in the pits about the level of violence during a 'friendly' event, which surprised John and me as we thought it had been pretty fair, they had stopped as soon as they realised we were immobilised. It was a frighteningly good axe though, at the end of the bout he buried it two inches into a railway sleeper (where it stuck).

Amazingly it had only penetrated our top armour in one place - on top of the jaw motor mounting bracket. It had mangled the chassis quite badly in places - for I while I thought we'd been immobilised because the chassis rails were stoved in until they'd hit the sprockets! However they weren't quite that bad, and the problem was the 4QD-radio lead - the angled end had popped out of its socket, despite the metal clip and gaffa tape.

We plugged the plug back in, bent the chassis away from the sprockets with borrowed mole grips and declared SMIDSY ready to fight again :-) There was a series of games and grudge matches scheduled for later in the day but they wanted to run the whole of the second round next and John and Vickie had to leave so we called it a day.

We had a look for the Antweight robots that were supposed to be there but couldn't find them - I suppose that's the downside of robots that'll fit inside a handbag.

On the whole it wasn't very successful but we enjoyed ourselves, SMIDSY took on one of the best weapons in the world without too much damage - if we'd been allowed to use our disk it could have been very different. In hindsight we should perhaps have refused to fight such an obviously dangerous robot when the rules were so much against us - we could have hung around for the games, done better and come home with much less damage but I'm not sure that's really the spirit of the thing.