The History of Robotic Combat

Want to know some more of the details behind Robotic Combat?

• Check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page!
• Also, tune in to the BattleBots Forum for current discussions!
• Read the What's New page for the most current robot happenings!
• Check out the Events page to see some other Robotic Compeitions!

This sport has had its ups and downs over the years. I have collected highlights from robot combat history on this page.

updated 11/20/02
The text herein is not authorized by BattleBots® or Robot Wars®

  1992 -Marc Thorpe, a 1971 graduate of UC Davis, fools around in his kitchen attempting to build a radio controlled vaccuum cleaner. With unexpectedly violent results, he decides that remote-controlled mayhem is a good thing. He starts to plan a robotic combat event.
  1994-Marc Thorpe creates Robot Wars®, a competition where, in front of a live audience, home-built robots will face off against each other within an arena, which also has it's own surprises. With a month to go to the event, needing additional funding, he forms a partnership for financial support with Sm:)e Communications- a record label out of New York. The first annual Robot Wars® comes together, with a handful of robotic competitors and about 1000 people attend to witness this first event in San Francisco, at the Fort Mason Center. *
  1995-The second annual Robot Wars® is even bigger and better. New and better Robots arrive, the event is more organized and attendance is at full capacity. The event is also held in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center.
  1996-The third annual Robot Wars®, same location, is huge. 75 Robots attend this event. Things are going great, or so they seem. The partnership between Marc Thorpe and the greedy record company from New York (now Profile Records, owned by Steve Plotnicki) starts to experience problems. Most of this is behind the scenes, so nobody really pays much attention. The disagreements between the partners move quickly into the courtrooms.
For a complete description of the early days of Robot Wars, visit
  1997-The fourth annual Robot Wars® is nearly cancelled due to the disagreements between the parnters over ownership rights. With only moments left, an agreement is finally made and the event takes place at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center. 74 robots put on a fantastic show over the weekend. By now, the media, the builders, the fans, sponsors... are all hungry for more. Everyone seems to be caught up in the frenzy of Robot Wars!
  Mid 1997-Without consent or input from Marc Thorpe, Profile teams up with Mentorn Broadcasting to produce, film and broadcast a Robot Wars® TV event overseas in the U.K., using Marc's original ideas and designs for robotic combat. This series of 6 episodes airs over 6 weeks on BBC2 and is a great success in the U.K.
  February 1998-While everyone else is gearing up for Robot Wars 98, Profile Records issues a court order preventing Marc Thorpe from holding any more Robot Wars® events.
  March 1998-Marc Thorpe releases a letter to the robot competitors explaining why it's taking so long to get answers to everyone who want to get into the '98 event. In general, it outlines how Profile will not allow an event to proceed.
  May 1998-Carlo Bertocchini (creator of the robot Biohazard) creates the Robot Wars® Forum, an online central discussion area for Robot competitors and enthusiasts. It draws the contestants together as a group in a centrallized online discussion forum.

June 1998-Things really start to get nasty. Profile attempts to shut down the Robot Wars® Forum. The legal issues become a big issue on the Forum. With only a couple months left, competitors are now convinced that there will simply be no Robot Wars® 1998. However, a previous competitor, Gary Cline, comes forward to say that he is willing to put on an event if Robot Wars® does not happen, his event would be an invite-only party, just for the competitors, no crowd or anyting, just a chance to get together to show off the robots that everyone has been working on, and to do what they were designed to do- battle. He titles the event "Robotica". On June 26th, Gary announces the location of Robotica to be the Cow Palace in San Francisco, on the same weekend that the presumably-cancelled Robot Wars® was supposed to be- August 14-16.
Through e-mails and disussions on the Robot Wars® Forum, the Society of Robotic Combat (SORC) forms as a unified group of robotic competitors.

  July 1998-Out of the blue, Mentorn UK (producers of the UK Robot Wars TV show) announce that they will hold Robot Wars® in San Francisco the same weekend that Gary Cline's Robotica was planned. The response to this announcement is less than stellar in the robot builder community. Soon after, Mentorn decides to cancel this plan for a Robot Wars in San Francisco, due to the already very popular support for Robotica. Meanwhile, filming begins on Mentorn's second series of Robot Wars UK TV show.
  August 1998-Robotica invitations are filled to capacity. A day later, and quite unexpectendly, Gary Cline is forced to cancel the Robotica event after being served a court order against him by Robot Wars' Profile Records. With only about a week before the scheduled event, the competitors are up-in-arms about this unbelievable turn of events, anger is focused primarily towards Profile and Steve Plotnicki for holding things back.
  August 14, 1998-With no event to go to, the builders end up using the weekend as a simple get-together in San Francisco to discuss the whole mess. A few builders bring their robots just to show off. This meeting is organized by SORC. Marc Thorpe attends and addresses the group with an update on the status: Things are not going very well for Robot Wars vs Thorpe.
  September 1998 thru January 1999-Legal battles continue. Profile refuses to budge from their position, much to the anger of the competitors. No end is in sight. No Robot Wars® event can happen while the case is tied up in court. The lawyers are continuing to try to hammer things out. The future of Robot Wars® as a whole is in danger.
  March 5, 1999- The announcement finally comes on the Robot Wars® Forum of the end of the court case (Profile vs Thorpe) regarding the sale of the Robot Wars® Trademark. Profile has won the rights to Robot Wars. Gary Pini's letter mentions that Marc Thorpe will still be involved in Robot Wars in some ways, but does not elaborate.
  March 9, 1999- Marc Thorpe releases a statement on the Robot Wars Forum saying he is supportive of Robot Wars® '99.
  March 10, 1999- Battlebots is announced, founded by Trey Roski and Greg Munson (former Robot Wars builders of famous robot LaMachine)! BattleBots is welcomed with open arms by the robot community, finally a light at the end of the dark tunnel!!
  March 12, 1999- Apparenly on Profile's leash, Marc Thorpe releases yet another statement on the Robot Wars® Forum announcing his support of Robot Wars®.
  March 18, 1999- Carlo Bertocinni steps down from his position as moderator of the Robot Wars® Forum. Dan Danknick and Tony Buchignani step up to fill the position in negotion with Robot Wars®.
  April 7, 1999- The Robot Wars website comes back online after many months of inactivity, featuring some streaming video from previous events, and it's own forum section. Announcements are made that registration is open for a '99 Robot Wars event.
  Mid-April, 1999- The lawsuit against Carlo Bertocchini (concerning the Robot Wars Forum) is dropped by Profile, Carlo is left with thousands of dollars in legal fees. A handful of fellow robot builders help by chipping in some money to help him out.
  April 27, 1999- Robot Wars® LLC (aka Profile Records and Steve Plotnicki and Gary Pini) announce that they are suing Battlebots for attempting to cause "enormous economic harm" to Robot Wars® due to the fact that the 1999 planned event dates conflicted (which they did not: BB | RW). Battlebots owner Trey Roski responds
  June 13, 1999- A new robot combat event has emerged from out of Canada! Robot Rumbles joins the list. (update late 2000-nothing has developed with this event and it is assumed to be dead)
  June 14, 1999- The decision is in! In the case of Robot Wars vs. BattleBots, the courts have decided that Robot Wars has NO rights to stop BattleBots from happening on its scheduled date and time.
  July 2, 1999- Marc Thorpe posts a message on the Robot Wars Forum stating his support for the 1999 Robot Wars event.
  July 23, 1999- Robot Wars '99 is cancelled. The few who registered for the event have gotten their fees refunded with a letter informing of the cancellation. The RW Site stops getting updates and several areas are shut down. The Robot Wars Forum is closed down to any new postings. A sad day for Robot Wars, but still looking very good for BattleBots
  August 14-15 1999- BattleBots comes through with it's first event- a HUGE show in Long Beach, CA. Overall a great event and fantastic turnout to usher in this new stage of the sport. A great turnout shows the dedication of the builders. BattleBots is here to stay.
  August 26, 1999- Jim Smentowski (owner of this website) announces that earlier in August 1999, he had been served a summons through Profile Holdings, Inc. to appear under oath discussing the content of this website, in regard to how it relates to the bankruptcy case of Marc Thorpe. Jim is forced to endure a painful all-day deposition with Profile's attorneys and is left handling his own legal fees. 
  November 17, 1999- The second BattleBots, this time in Las Vegas Nevada, is a huge success. Only two weight classes this time- Heavyweights and the new SuperHeavyweight class clash at the All American Sports Park for the one day event, which was taped for viewing on Pay-Per-View on January 29, 2000.
  January 29, 2000- The Pay-Per-View of the BattleBots event from November '99 airs to a tremendously excited television audience. The show is very well produced and is a big success, generating a huge response on the internet with new interest and support for the sport.
  May 6-7, 2000- BotBash 2000, a similar robotic combat event with smaller size robots, is held in Mesa, Arizona, with support from BattleBots, including the use of 1/4 of BattleBots' huge arena as well as BattleBots staff.
  May 15, 2000- BattleBots announces plans to air the next event in June on television thorough the Comedy Central network at the end of 2000.
  June 9-11, 2000- BattleBots holds it's third event to sellout crowds in four sessions over the weekend at San Francisco's Fort Mason Center (back to where it all started!). All four weight classes are represented in this single elimination event. The show is taped for airing on the Comedy Central network later in the 2000 calendar year.
  July 6, 2000- Robot Wars, now apparently abandoning the U.S. market to BattleBots' overwhelming success in the states, announces they will be holding an event in London in two short weeks, inviting American competitors to attend, all expenses paid. Read the announcement.
  July 22, 2000- Robot Wars U.K. tapes a small show with 7 U.S. robots, flown over just for the occasion from the U.S., for future airing on MTV. Some U.K. robots are brought in to join the show.
  July 25, 2000- BattleBots announces that the dates for airing the San Francisco 2000 BattleBots event on the Comedy Central network will commence on Wednesday August 23, running for 13 weeks, with repeats twice every Saturday.
  August 9, 2000- A judge decision in the Profile (Robot Wars) vs. Marc Thorpe case is made.
  August 13, 2000- BattleBots announces their next event, also to be taped for a TV series on Comedy Central, is to be held some time in November 2000 in Las Vegas.
  August 23, 2000- BattleBots - the T.V. series begins airing on Comedy Central.
  September 25 , 2000- BattleBots announces the dates for the November 2000 event - Nov 16-19, 2000 at the All American Sports Park in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  October 23 , 2000- BattleBots releases a list of robots entered into the November event- 147 bots in four weight classes!
  October 25 , 2000- BattleBots appears on the Tonight Show! Christian Carlberg and Lisa Winter bring their bots to show to Jay Leno. Jay says he's going to build a bot too.
  November 3 , 2000- BattleBots appears on the Tonight Show again! Jay reveals that he has his own superheavyweight robot- Chin-Killa
  November 8 , 2000- BBC Multimedia, the company that brought you "Play With The Teletubbies" announces the Robot Wars: Metal Mayhem video game for the Nintendo Game Boy Color.
  November 9 , 2000- BattleBots appears on the Tonight Show yet again! Mauler 2000 faces Chin-Killa in a 1/4 scale BattleBox.
  November 16-19 , 2000- BattleBots holds yet another successful event, this time all four weight classes and over 130 robots compete in Las Vegas for the taping of the second series of Comedy Central's BattleBots.
  November 21 , 2000- Jay Leno airs his fight from Vegas of Chin-Killa vs. Ginsu on the Tonight Show.
  December 12 , 2000- Season 2.0 of BattleBots begins to air on Comedy Central.
  January 3, 2001- Robot Wars has sent out a letter to robot builders, attempting to recruit robots for a new show to be taped in March 2001
  January 26, 2001- Season 1.0 of BattleBots begins to air in Canada on the Comedy Network.

February 13, 2001- BattleBots releases an all-new huge web site, and announces their next event on May 24-28 in San Francisco, also announces BattleBots Toys, BattleBots in New Zealand, BattleBots on Nash Bridges TV Show, a huge tips section, and much more.

  March 19, 2001- BattleBots begins to air on BBC2 in the U.K.
  April 2 , 2001- BattleBots closes registration for the May 2001 event, a record-shattering 650+ robots have registered!
  April 4 , 2001- TLC begins to air the Robotica series 1.
  May 22-28 , 2001- The taping of BattleBots season 3.0 is a huge success at Treasure Island, San Francisco. More robots, more excitement, and more damage than ever before!
  June 20 , 2001- Robot Wars tapes an event in London with several U.S. contestants, to be aired later on TNN.
  July, 2001- BattleBots toys start to show up for sale in stores across the U.S.
  July 10 , 2001- BattleBots season 3.0 begins to air on Comedy Central.
  August 20 , 2001- The new 'Robot Wars Extreme Warriors' series premiers on TNN
  October 5-7 , 2001- BotBash holds yet another successful event in Phoenix, AZ
  Mid November , 2001- Robotica holds another event in Los Angeles, taping the show to be produced into Season 2 and 3 of TLC's Robotica, premiering December 12.
  November 4-11 , 2001- The sixth BattleBots event takes place on Treasure Island, San Francisco. The event is taped to be produced into Comedy Centra's BattleBots season 4.0. Over 400 robots show up to battle it out.
  December 13 , 2001- TLC begins to air the Robotica series 2.
  January 8 , 2002- BattleBots begins to air Season 4.0 on Comedy Central.
  Mid-January , 2002- Robot Wars tapes another Robot Wars Extreme show in the UK, many U.S. Bots are in attendance.
  February 2, 2002- Robot combat hits the big timel! A commercial with combat robots airs during the Super Bowl.
  February 6 , 2002- Marc Thorpe announces that he is finally free of the Robot Wars litigation that has tied him up for so many years!
  March 28-30, 2002- BattleBots IQ holds it's first youth tournament in Orlando, Florida. 47 teams attend with their student-built and designed bots!
  May 22-27, 2002- BattleBots holds it's seventh event on Treasure Island, San Francisco. Nearly 500 robots are in attendance for this tournament, which will become Season 5.0 for Comedy Central's BattleBots.
  August 20, 2002- Comedy Central begins to air it's new season of BattleBots Phase 5.0 in 1/2 hour episodes.
  August 24, 2002- The innagural Steel Conflict robot combat event is held in Southern California, a big success!
  September 10, 2002- BattleBots announces that the planned event in November 2002 has been postponed. Comedy Central has decided not to renew taping for Season 6.0. BattleBots explains that they are aggressively looking at new possibilites.
  September 13-15, 2002- BotBash holds another annual tournament in Tempe, Arizona.
  September 18, 2002- The Robot MarketPlace opens for business.
  October 18, 2002- begins it's first live internet BotCast at the innagural Lazy Toad Robot Club tournament.
  November 9-10 , 2002- RoboJoust holds yet another successful Robot Street Fight in Las Vegas. Over 70 robots in attendance.
  November 18, 2002- The Robot Fighting League forms, in effort to standardize across all the smaller local robot tournaments taking place around the country.

There you have it, The whole story so far in a nutshell. Stay tuned as more Robot Combat history is made. I'll continue to update this section with brief details of major stuff going on in the sport. If you know of a major event that is not accounted for on this page, contact me.

Want to know some more of the details behind Robotic Combat?
Check out the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page!
Also, tune in to the BattleBots Forum for current discussions!

*None of the robots in this competition were a robotic palletizer.

Navigate the Team Hercules site with ease!