Calabash Bros (alternately spelt as Calabash Brothers, Calabashi Bros or Calabashi Brothers) is a Chinese robot which competed in various King of Bots featherweight events, including the 2018 UK International Championships. Built and entered by Team Pofeng (also known as Team Pro-fun), it initially achieved two victories and a loss in the qualification rounds of the UK Championships, and was eliminated at that stage after losing the 8 Way Melee to Barróg.
However, Calabash Bros would later be reinstated in the competition, taking the place of Barghest in the Knockout Round and winning over fellow substitute Utopia. From there, it would earn additional victories over British vertical spinners Blunt Force Trauma Remix, Shrapnel and DB12, securing its place in the final round. Calabash Bros would ultimately finish as runner-up of the 2018 UK International Championships, after being flipped and immobilized by Amnesia.
Prior to its UK run, Calabash Bros competed at domestic King of Bots featherweight events in Wuhan and Beijing, winning the former outright and finishing in the top 24 of the latter. It also fought in the subsequent event in Qingdao, China, alongside another vertical spinner built by Team Pro-fun, FZU Toxic Stinger. Team Pro-fun finished the Qingdao event third overall, with FZU Toxic Stinger also winning the Racing event outright.
Equipped with an undercutter spinner, Calabash Bros also took part in the 2019 Opening Battle, representing the red team. There, it fought one head-to-head battle against drum spinner Black Rabbit, but lost on a Judges' decision despite performing strongly throughout the battle.
Calabash Bros was named after the late-1980s Chinese animated series of the same name. The name was chosen by Team Pofeng in reference to the robot's interchangeable weapon configurations, which they likened to as 'brothers'.
Calabash Bros was a purple, two-wheel drive robot armed with a 'modular' spinning weapon system. Its weapons included a small asymmetrical vertical spinner and a large horizontal undercutter spinner, each with their individual weapon modules and designed to be easily fitted to the front of the robot. The vertical spinner featured a distinctive tooth-shaped design sharing many characteristics with flywheels and other bar spinners, and proved especially capable of flipping opponents over as well as causing considerable damage to them. A pair of front wedgelets were located directly underneath the spinner, allowing Calabash Bros to get underneath opponents and maximize contact between them and the spinner itself. The weapon mount for Calabash Bros’ vertical spinner also incorporated a pair of castors on top of its weapon mount, allowing the robot to be driven upside-down when flipped. Additionally, the gyroscopic forces acting on the vertical spinner allowed the robot to lift and swivel on its own wheels, enabling Calabash Bros to self-right whenever it was inverted.
According to an interview on the official King of Bots website, Calabash Bros was directly inspired by Ellis Ware's featherweight Neon; Hong Wei had served as part of the technical crew for Season 1, and began designing Calabash Bros after seeing Neon when it competed as part of Great White. The robot itself incorporated a CNC-cut HDPE chassis and 6mm titanium alloy front armor panels as part of its construction, as well as a 'posture assist control system' to improve accuracy when attacking opponents.
King of Bots UK 2018
In the 2018 UK International Championships, Calabash Bros first appeared in the opening qualification round, where it faced two British spinners – Kevin Cleasby’s Microswitch and Matthew Pearman’s Tempest.
All three robots hesitated as they got their weapons up to speed, with Calabash Bros tentatively approaching Microswitch before turning round and luring it across the arena. Calabash Bros turned round again and drove head-on into Microswitch’s drum, causing the Hertfordshire machine to recoil. After bumping into the corner, it charged into Microswitch again, then into Tempest, using its spinner to catapult both of its opponents into the air. Seconds later, Calabash Bros flipped Microswitch over with another powerful blow, and concentrated on attacking Tempest as Microswitch was left spinning in the center of the arena.
Calabash Bros twice drove into Tempest’s spinner, the second impact causing Tempest to recoil violently into the wall. It proceeded to charge into an inverted Microswitch, throwing Microswitch into the corner and leaving it with limited mobility. For several seconds, Calabash Bros darted back and forth across the arena, before circling round and driving into Tempest’s bar spinner again. A second weapon-on-weapon impact caused both robots to recoil again; Calabash Bros was thrown upside-down, and immediately attempted to self-right using the gyroscopic forces of its spinner. However, it kept gyrating and clipping the floor spinner-first, and momentarily got stuck on the pit after throwing itself over again. Calabash Bros eventually drove off the pit, but again lifted itself on its side as it made another lunge at Tempest. Again, Calabash Bros attempted to flip itself back over, but ended up getting stuck on its side, and was briefly nudged by Microswitch as it spun around on its left wheel. Calabash Bros eventually landed upside down again, and reversed, before spinning and getting itself side-stranded again.
This allowed Microswitch to briefly push Calabash Bros beside the closed pit, before the Chinese machine spectacularly gyrated on its right wheel into the right-hand corner. Calabash Bros finally landed upright upon hitting the side rails – to the delight of Samantha France – and proceeded to land another blow each on Microswitch and Tempest. With Tempest’s bar spinner no longer working after ejecting its own weapon belt, Calabash Bros proceeded to hit, circle and pursue the Team Slam machine a few more times, at one point launching Tempest into the air again. After driving around the arena for some time, Calabash Bros hit Tempest’s bar a few more times, but almost spun itself into the open pit in the process. Calabash Bros darted behind and hit Microswitch a few more times, and was nudged by Tempest before time ran out. The battle went to a Judges’ decision, which ruled in favor of Calabash Bros, awarding it its first three points of the competition. However, it still sustained considerable damage to its bulkhead and armor from Tempest, while Wang Jiaqing and his translator later stated that it required a few adjustments ahead of its next battle.
It and Shrapnel tentatively left their starting positions as they got their spinners up to speed; Calabash Bros immediately pursued Strix, but was rapidly chased and cornered by Shrapnel. Two hits from Shrapnel’s flywheel sent Calabash Bros sent cartwheeling into, then flung over the top of Jarvis Callister’s machine, almost resulting in Calabash Bros exiting the arena. Immediately, Calabash Bros self-righted, only to be thrown into the air again by Shrapnel before spinning towards the right-hand side of the arena.
From that moment, Calabash Bros appeared to struggle for mobility, only being able to spin slowly on the spot. Shrapnel pushed Calabash Bros into the corner, clipping the Chinese robot’s front in the process. Calabash Bros was briefly lifted onto one wheel by Strix, and sustained two more blows from Shrapnel’s flywheel. The second blow threw Calabash Bros alongside the wall, with Calabash Bros initially attempting to recover by gyrating back into its upright position. However, Calabash Bros sustained another heavy blow from Shrapnel, the impact sending it into a forward somersault and ejecting the robot’s battery. Calabash Bros’ drive and weapon were both left disabled as it landed in the corner, and the robot was swiftly counted out as Shrapnel proceeded to attack Strix. With this, Calabash Bros finished the battle in third and last place, scoring one point.
Here, it started the battle much more tentatively, initially approaching BANE before retreating to the top-right hand corner. The three competitors converged as Naughty Snake flipped BANE over with its own spinner, with Calabash Bros darting and spinning across the arena before positioning itself close to the ACE Robotics machine. Calabash Bros circles round and hit the side of BANE shortly after the latter self-righted, before sending BANE recoiling by hitting the lower lip of its front wedge. A few seconds later, Calabash Bros attempted to push BANE towards the pit, albeit without success, and weaved across the arena as it tried numerous times to attack BANE once more.
Calabash Bros continued to drive around the flame jet as Naughty Snake flipped BANE a second time, and momentarily waited again while BANE self-righted. After circling round and nudging BANE again, Calabash Bros finally landed a few more blows on the front of BANE, one of which threw the blue and gold machine into the air and caused some of its wires to be left exposed. A few seconds later, Calabash Bros threw BANE backwards a second time, before buffeting it towards the open pit. With a few more hits, Calabash Bros immobilized BANE’s drive system, and briefly proceeded to pursue Naughty Snake across the arena. Calabash Bros churned away at the side of BANE and flicked it away one more time, before driving across the arena and proceeding to dodge a few charges from Naughty Snake. Calabash Bros narrowly avoided the pit before charging into Naughty Snake one last time. Just after time ran out, Calabash Bros followed Naughty Snake into the pit, but both robots survived to a Judges’ decision regardless. After a tentative battle, the decision ruled in Calabash Bros’ favor, awarding it its final three points.
By the end of the qualification rounds, Calabash Bros had scored a total of seven points, enough for it to finish joint-twentieth overall and to qualify for the 8 Way Melee. There, it fought Barróg, Blunt Force Trauma Remix, Naughty Snake, Cobalt, Orpheus, Utopia and Neon, for a chance to earn the final place in the knockout round.
Initially, Calabash Bros targeted Blunt Force Trauma Remix, and proceeded to damage the side of Orpheus as both of its opponents clashed. Speeding over the flame jet, Calabash Bros turned round and charged into Utopia and the side railings at high speed, before reversing and dodging the undercutter spinner of an approaching Neon. With this, it approached Barróg, throwing the Irish machine onto its side with its spinner before again pursuing and attempting to attack Blunt Force Trauma Remix. In doing so, Calabash Bros sped into the bottom-left hand corner and turned, before getting underneath the front of Blunt Force Trauma Remix.
As both competitors tussled, the tire tread for Calabash Bros’ right wheel was torn in two, hampering its mobility as it left the arena perimeter and drove around for a few moments. It was soon collected by a heavily-damaged Orpheus, which proceeded to push Calabash Bros over the flame jet and into Barróg. Barróg pushed both robots into the bottom-left hand corner; this attack left Calabash Bros stuck on the top of Orpheus, rendering it helpless as the Team Driving Force machine carried it across the arena for several seconds. Eventually, after several unsuccessful interventions from Barróg, the battle was stopped while Calabash Bros and Orpheus were separated by an arena crew member; smoke poured from Calabash Bros’ weapon motor as it awaited separation.
When the battle resumed, Calabash Bros immediately reversed into Orpheus, its right wheel locked up after snagging the damaged tire. Barróg scooped Calabash Bros up and pushed it into the right-hand wall, where Calabash Bros remained as it was being pressured by Utopia. With its weapon belt dislodged, Calabash Bros spun round on its only remaining wheel, and was counted out when it could no longer move out of its circumference. As a result, it was eliminated from the 8 Way Melee, which was ultimately won by Barróg on a Judges’ decision.
Although this initially marked Calabash Bros’ elimination from the 2018 UK International Championships, the Team Pofeng machine would receive a reprieve ahead of the Knockout Round. There, it was reinstated to take the place of Barghest, which withdrew from the championship due to chassis damage sustained in the previous round, and fought fellow reserve Utopia.
Initially, Calabash Bros drove towards and around the flame jet, in an effort to line up an attack on Utopia, itself suffering from drive issues. After once bumping into the wall, Calabash Bros eventually drove into Utopia’s flipper, before hitting the side of the Team. Ablaze machine and throwing it over. With Utopia unable to self-right, Calabash Bros retreated to its starting area and emerged victorious.
In the Round of 12, Calabash Bros faced fellow 8 Way Melee opponent Blunt Force Trauma Remix.
It approached Blunt Force Trauma Remix in the opening moments, and after momentarily hopping near the wall proceeded to circle round and drive head-on into the Suvv Industries machine. Blunt Force Trauma Remix responded by hitting the side of Calabash Bros, sending sparks flying and lifting Calabash Bros onto one wheel. Calabash Bros spun round, the attack having caused its left wheel to seize up, and was left vulnerable to another charge from Blunt Force Trauma Remix. It continued to shuffle across the arena as Blunt Force Trauma Remix, itself suffering as a result of a snapped weapon belt, pressed the pit release button. Calabash Bros momentarily weaved over the flame jet as the two competitors attempted to attack each other again, and tried to turn its spinner into Blunt Force Trauma Remix before the latter pushed it around in circles. Eventually, Calabash Bros flicked Blunt Force Trauma Remix away with its spinner, and proceeded to hop and shuffle away as Blunt Force Trauma Remix suddenly stopped moving over the arena floor. Both robots were counted out at the same time, and the battle went to a Judges’ decision. The decision ruled in favor of Calabash Bros, allowing it to progress to the Quarter-Finals.
There, Calabash Bros would face Shrapnel, with the two competitors forming a rematch following their earlier encounter in the qualification rounds.
In the opening seconds, it dodged Shrapnel’s initial charge, before getting underneath and buffeting the British spinner away. After twice circling round Shrapnel, Calabash Bros was collected and knocked off-balance by the latter’s charge, before surviving two blows from Shrapnel’s flywheel which momentarily knocked it back. Calabash Bros immediately responded, pushing Shrapnel back before turning away and dodging its opponent again. It spent several seconds sliding around and away from Shrapnel, weathering a few more hits from Shrapnel’s flywheel in the process. Eventually, Calabash Bros slammed into the front of Shrapnel, violently throwing Shrapnel into a double somersault.
The two competitors rammed each other again, with Calabash Bros again getting underneath and steering Shrapnel back towards the center of the arena. Calabash Bros pursued Shrapnel for some time, and circled around it in an attempt to land a side-on attack. After shepherding and bumping Shrapnel towards the railings, Calabash Bros sustained another blow from Shrapnel. This time, the flywheel hit one of Calabash Bros’ wheels, causing one of its drive belts to break. With its mobility crippled, Calabash Bros turned slowly towards Shrapnel, clipping the bottom of Shrapnel’s wedge and flipping Jarvis Callister’s machine over as it did so. Shrapnel’s flywheel malfunctioned as it hit the floor, eventually leaving it on its back and unable to self-right. Calabash Bros turned and hopped in and out of the corner in celebration, bumping into Shrapnel again just as it was fully counted out. With this, it picked up an unexpected victory, and a place in the Semi-Finals.
In its Semi-Final, Calabash Bros faced DB12, a vertical spinner built by Team Asgard.
Both robots drove into each other immediately, with Calabash Bros clipping the front of DB12 and knocking it off-balance. It attempted to attack the rear of DB12, but could not get underneath, and was briefly thrust off the floor while pursuing and ramming DB12 head-on. This attack allowed Calabash Bros to briefly slip underneath the front of DB12, only for DB12 to break free and shepherd Calabash Brothers into the pit release button. Dodging a blow from DB12’s flywheel, Calabash Bros then pursued the red and gold machine across the arena, before slamming into the side of DB12 and chasing it over the flame jet.
The two competitors exchanged more glancing blows, before Calabash Bros powered its spinner down and pressured DB12 along the arena railings. Calabash Bros spun its weapon up again as it and DB12 broke free, and threw DB12 into the pit release button with a powerful charge. Seconds later, it was thrown off-balance by a retaliatory slam from DB12, but landed upright, and momentarily drove into the bottom-left hand corner. As it tried to drive out, Calabash Bros was bumped, pushed and pinned against the corner by DB12, before throwing DB12 over as the latter reversed and charged into its spinner again. With DB12’s spinner now disabled, Calabash Bros pursued its British opponent across the arena again, clipping its rear panel before the two machines bumped each other a few more times. Calabash Bros spun DB12 round with another hit, by which point smoke started to pour out from within DB12’s weapon mount. A few moments later, Calabash Bros clipped the rear of DB12 again, thrusting DB12 towards the pit and ripping out its removable link. With DB12 now immobilized, Calabash Bros bumped and flicked its defeated opponent into the pit, securing its place in the final after a close and evenly-fought battle.
It started the battle tentatively, getting its weapon up to speed before trying several times to attack Amnesia from the side. Calabash Bros was briefly bumped by Amnesia, and attempted to pursue the Team Immersion machine across the arena. However, it was quickly scooped up by Amnesia, and momentarily stopped moving as soon as it spun itself off Amnesia’s flipper. This left Calabash Bros vulnerable as it was pushed and flipped against the side wall by Amnesia, although it escaped by turning round and driving over the top of Amnesia before it could land another flip in. However, Calabash Bros was soon rounded up and steered away from the wall by Amnesia, and was unable to get underneath Amnesia as the two competitors rammed each other head-on. Almost immediately, Calabash Bros was scooped under, pushed and thrust into the wall by Amnesia, the attack leaving Calabash Bros inverted and immobile. Despite its wheels and weapon spinning, Calabash Bros was counted out, resulting in it finishing runner-up in the 2018 King of Bots UK International Championships.
2019 Opening Battle
Calabash Bros was one of eight featherweight robots attending the 2019 Opening Battle, held to promote the then-upcoming second season. Representing the red team, it fought a solitary head-to-head battle against Black Rabbit, equipped with the undercutter spinner. Before the battle began, Calabash Bros encountered issues as it got into its starting position. As the robot entered the red triangle, its wheels were left unable to make contact with the checker-plated part of the arena floor.
However, Calabash Bros overcame these clearance issues almost immediately, weaving away from the triangle before repeatedly dodging and lunging at Black Rabbit. After some time, the two robots collided head-on; sparks flew as Calabash Bros sent Black Rabbit spinning on its side into the wall spikes. Calabash Bros accidentally drove itself into the wall as it tried to attack Black Rabbit again, resulting in it being pushed a short distance by the latter. Nevertheless, Calabash Bros landed a few more hits on Black Rabbit, one of which launched Black Rabbit off the floor amidst a shower of sparks. Calabash Bros proceeded to pursue Black Rabbit across the arena, only to turn round and dodge Black Rabbit as it drove towards the center of the arena. After pursuing Black Rabbit again, Calabash Bros clipped the side and front of its drum-wielding opponent, circling around the arena as it gave chase once again. Once more, Calabash Bros slammed into the front of Black Rabbit, hitting one of its wheels and temporarily leaving Black Rabbit immobile on one side.
Having hit Black Rabbit's drum twice, Calabash Bros proceeded to bump and circle round the latter, before throwing it off the floor with another slam. In an attempt to attack Black Rabbit again, Calabash Bros accidentally drove into one of the circular saws, which threw the purple and green machine into the air. Sent skidding into the wall as a result, Calabash Bros shuttled back and forth towards the center, and slammed spinner-first into the wall once more as it tried to attack Black Rabbit again. It proceeded to rip a shard of metal off Black Rabbit as the latter drove into its undercutter, but struggled to move away from the perimeter as Black Rabbit pushed it back into the wall spikes. Calabash Bros landed a few more blows on Black Rabbit as the two competitors continued dodging and bumping each other; moments later, it followed and rammed Black Rabbit head-on in the corner. This attack left Calabash Bros immobile on one side, rendering it vulnerable as Black Rabbit pushed it forwards opposite the grinders.
Calabash Bros spun round close to the grinders, only to be hit and pushed by Black Rabbit. It was left almost completely immobilized as a result, twitching and spinning precariously close to the grinder. After several seconds, Calabash Bros weaved its way towards the center once again, lunging straight at Black Rabbit before hitting the latter and one of the circular saws. Both robots maneuvered towards the corner, where Calabash Bros threw Black Rabbit forwards with another head-on blow. Calabash Bros chased Black Rabbit one last time before the battle concluded, landing another light hit just after the battle concluded. Both robots survived to a Judges' decision; despite the amount of damage it inflicted to Black Rabbit, the decision went against Calabash Bros, resulting in the red team picking up its first loss of the event.
|CALABASH BROS - RESULTS|
|King of Bots UK 2018 (Insomnia 63)|
|Rumble||vs. Tempest, Microswitch||Won via Judges' decision (3 Points)|
|Rumble||vs. Strix, Shrapnel||Lost (1 Point)|
|Rumble||vs. BANE, Naughty Snake||Won via Judges' decision (3 Points)|
|8 Way Melee||vs. Barróg, Blunt Force Trauma Remix, Naughty Snake, Cobalt, Orpheus, Utopia, Neon||Lost|
|NOTE: Calabash Bros was reinstated for the Knockout Round, taking the place of withdrawal Barghest.|
|Round of 12||vs. Blunt Force Trauma Remix||Won|
|2019 Opening Battle|
Part of Red team
|Head-to-Head||vs. Black Rabbit||Lost|
- Wins: 6
- Losses: 4
|Series||Calabash Bros Series Record|
|Season 1||Did not enter|
|Season 1.5||Did not enter|
|Season 2||Entered with Po Feng|
Outside King of Bots
Team Pofeng also competed in the Chinese TV show Clash Bots with the heavyweight vertical spinner Toxic Fangs. The team were very successful in this tournament, finishing in second place overall, collecting wins over the likes of Flame T Rex, AU Thumper and even the eventual champion Dark Wolf, despite losing the title fight to the latter.
- Two complete versions of Calabash Bros were actually built by Team Pro-fun, each sporting one of the robot's spinners as well as individual purple and green color schemes. Both versions initially entered the 2018 Wuhan event as a single robot, allowing Team Pro-fun to swap between the two versions depending on which opponents they faced throughout the competition. However, under British robot combat rules, only one version of Calabash Bros (the purple vertical spinner) was allowed to compete in the 2018 UK International Championships.
- Team Pro-fun member Hong Wei was unable to travel to the 2018 UK International Championships due to visa issues, resulting in Wang Jiaqing attending the championship alone. However, Wei was still listed as Calabash Bros' sole team member on its statistics card throughout the course of the event.
- KOB Hall of Fame - interview with Team Pofeng
- Correspondence with Gareth Anstee, 19th January 2019.