The King of Bots Arena was a large rectangular area which was used to host all robot battles for the shows King of Bots and This is Fighting Robots. Consisting of a 15m x 15m square with a 10mm steel plate floor and 7m tall outer walls, the arena was initially painted gray with red and blue squares at each end as starting positions for the competitors and yellow markings for some of the hazards. The arena in This is Fighting Robots featured a similar color scheme, although the red and blue squares were replaced with four black chevrons on each side, and most of the hazards featured red, blue or yellow markings.
For the 2019 Opening Battle, the arena featured a similar color scheme to its Season 1 incarnation, although without any markings for the arena hazards. Other noticeable cosmetic differences included new logos in the center and opposite the entry gates - which had previously been used for live events - and two corners being decorated with large red or blue triangles, each representing the new starting areas for competitors.
The arena used for King of Bots 2 was largely identical to that of the 2019 Opening Battle, featuring a floor made out of 25mm thick metal panels. Beginning with Episode 5, new markings were added to the hazards as well as the red and blue corners, with some of the wall spike panels also being repainted yellow as in Season 1.5.
In Season 1, the outside of the arena was decorated with large orange and silver clamps, which 'held' the arena with the aid of oversized 'robot arms'. There were raised platforms around the arena for judges, presenters and roboteers themselves. The roboteers were allocated places on opposite sides of the arena to control their machines - once they were ready for battle, they would pull a lever, attached to one of the arena's beams, which in turn would press a button to signify their participation.
For This is Fighting Robots, the arena perimeter underwent a complete redesign, with the outside walls forming an octagonal enclosure. On top of the roof, a set of four redesigned robot arms and a cylindrical scrolling LED screen were present; the latter showing the logos for the show and broadcaster Youku. Audience seating, hexagonal screens and corridors leading to the pits surrounded the entire arena, as well as an area containing a set of four chairs attached to robotic arms. These chairs were used by the celebrity team captains to watch battles from outside the arena enclosure, as well as to confirm participation in battles and select robots ahead of each battle. In the preliminary rumbles, the celebrities also had the ability to move their chairs forwards upon selecting a given robot during the battles themselves.
Also in This is Fighting Robots, roboteers and team captains were allocated spaces on all four sides of the arena, due to the show's greater emphasis on battles featuring more than two robots. Roboteers allocated to each team would signify their robots' participation by placing a token shaped like their team logos onto one of four hexagonal sockets; the same tokens were also used by the celebrity captains to confirm their initial robot selections. Each socket is mounted on one of the arena support beams, taking the place of the former levers, and lights up once the token is fully attached, confirming the team's participation in battle.
The arena perimeter received further changes for the 2019 Opening Battle, with the control rooms being relocated to take up one side, and a new set of screens fitted on top of the arena roof to display video feeds, logos and sponsor advertisements. Audience seating took up one half of the studio, with the other side appearing to be left unused.
In Season 2, the arena perimeter featured a similar configuration to the 2019 Opening Battle, but with a different set of screens and scrolling projections. While audience seating remained largely similar, the previously-unused side would now provide seating areas for celebrity leaders and teams. A prominent new showpiece for Season 2 was a giant animatronic robot located opposite the arena itself, which was used to 'activate' hazards in the first episode and announce the start of battles. The robot was also featured in promotional materials for this season, as well as the opening sequence and occasional short segments featuring the celebrity team leaders. As in Season 1, competitors would signal their participation in battle by pulling levers next to their control areas.
The arena is filled with a range of different hazards to ether assist competitors attempting to immobilize its opponent or to give competitors an extra obstacle to avoid.
Sets of four pneumatic, cylindrically-shaped rods were located in the center of the arena, highlighted by yellow circles, and would fire up from the arena floor in groups of two. Their primary purpose was to lift robots which drove into or over them, suspending them off the arena floor for a few seconds. The rods could alternatively be used to trap robots in place if they drove in between the sets as they rose, such as Great White during its fourth-round battle against Chiyung Jinlun in Season 1.
In This is Fighting Robots, the rods were repainted with red markings and borders, and were one of a few hazards which could be controlled by the celebrity team captains during the main competition.
Although visible in the 2019 Opening Battle, the Floor Rods were replaced with a second set of circular saws for Season 2.
Opposite the floor rods, a set of four circular saws were also concealed in the floor within the center of the arena. The saws were intended to rise up from the floor and damage robots if they drove or were pushed over them by opponents. On occasions, the saws could also carry, lift and flip competitors over, with Chiyung Jinlun using one of them to re-right itself after getting turned over by Greedy Snake during their third-round battle in Season 1. All circular saws were highlighted with yellow markings in Season 1, and blue markings in This is Fighting Robots and much of Season 2.
Two sets of circular saws were used in Season 2, with one set replacing the Floor Rods present in Seasons 1-1.5. Throughout this season, it was common for robots with forks or hinged wedgelets to get stuck in the slots for the saws, posing the risk of an immediate knockout loss. Robots to be defeated this way included Hold Me Back, Boxing Champion and Black Rabbit.
The floor flippers were a set of two powerful pneumatic flippers built into the floor, which could throw robots over or across the arena if they drove or were pushed onto them. In Season 1, they were marked with yellow outlines and positioned on one side of the arena facing each other. Throughout the course of the season, the floor flippers proved crucial in immobilizing robots such as Scorpion and Crossfire.
In Season 1, from the second round onwards, the floor flippers were activated by members of the competing teams. An additional rule stated that teams must not fire their flippers until 90 seconds of the battle has elapsed - firing them earlier than this would result in a points deduction in the event of a Judges' decision. These circumstances resulted in Great White losing its fourth-round battle against Chiyung Jinlun, after its team fired a floor flipper on the latter 13 seconds earlier than the allowed time.
In This is Fighting Robots, the floor flippers were marked with two blue outlines, and were one of a few hazards which could be activated by celebrity team captains during the main competition. Notably, Yellow team captain Sa Beining activated one of the flippers to impede Sandstorm's initial attack on Chronos during their battle in the second round.
The floor flippers returned for Season 2, marked with yellow triangles from Episode 5 onwards and now located on opposite sides of the arena. They could also be visible in the 2019 Opening Battle, but played a very minimal part throughout the event.
There were a set of five flame jets in two isolated areas near the top of the arena, shooting flames with temperatures of 1000 degrees Celsius. Their function was that they could cause damage to robots' internals and set flammable materials on fire whenever a competitor drove close to them.
As with the floor flippers, the flame jets could be activated by celebrity team captains during the main competition of This is Fighting Robots.
For Season 2, the flame jets were reconfigured to surround the perimeter of the pit, operating at the same temperatures as before.
Several rows of spikes lined the side walls, with each spike weighing 15kg. A robot could push its opponent onto these spikes to try to impale them, and could even cause severe internal damage once a robot was rammed into them. Alternatively, competitors armed with lifters, flippers or vertical spinners could place or throw their opponents on top of the spikes, leaving them stranded for an instant knockout victory.
A disadvantage to these spikes were that they could get bent and damaged quite easily by a massive ram, or be completely ripped off by high-powered spinning weapons, as demonstrated by Megabyte in its Season 1 battle against Stingray.
The spikes were left largely unchanged for This is Fighting Robots, although two of the walls featuring them were repainted yellow. The walls containing the spikes were repainted black for the 2019 Opening Battle and the ongoing Season 2; two panels were painted yellow again from Episode 5 of the latter season.
"Grinders" were a set of two large drum-style spinning hazards located on the arena walls, featuring several rows of large spiked teeth. Famously referred to as gnargalators by Team Robo Challenge, these hazards were intended to damage, flip or even crush competing robots if they drove or were rammed into them by opponents. Competitors armed with grabbing or crushing weapons, most notably Greedy Snake and Spectre, often used the grinders to inflict damage to opponents after grabbing them.
Sometimes, it was possible for the grinders to carry robots over, resulting in the affected robot being left stuck in the space between the grinder itself and its mount, leading to an instant knockout loss. This happened to Whirlwind in its Season 1 second-round battle, after Spectre lifted, carried and lowered it onto one of the grinders.
In Seasons 1-1.5, two grinders would be featured on opposite sides of the arena; in Season 2 and the prior 2019 Opening Battle, they would instead occupy one side opposite the control areas.
In Season 1, a set of three hammers were located in the corners of the arena, with foam heads weighing 60kg each. Competitors could push their opponents near the hammers, allowing them to damage opponents' armor and internals by repeatedly hitting them from overhead.
In This is Fighting Robots, only two hammers were used, mounted on opposite sides of one of the grinders.
While absent from the 2019 Opening Battle, the hammers returned for Season 2, each painted gold and featuring heads weighing 100kg each. Two hammers were seen in the arena, each located between the control areas and either the red or blue corners.
In Season 1, from the second round onwards, competing teams could activate a smokescreen in front of each other's control areas, briefly obscuring the drivers' vision. This fog is not launched inside the arena itself, but directly in front of the control area for a short period of time.
For This is Fighting Robots, a pit was added to the arena, consisting of a large, unmarked square panel located in the center which robots could fall or be pushed into. Although initially closed during the preliminary battles and first two rounds of the main competition, this hazard was made active in the third round, and was lowered at the start of every battle in this round.
If competitors drove into or were pushed into the pit during the first half of a battle, the pit could be raised back up after several seconds to let them re-join, their ascent heralded by flashing lights. Once a robot was freed, the pit would lower again; any pittings after this would result in an instant knockout loss for the affected competitor, regardless of whether or not they had been pitted earlier on in the battle.
For the 2019 Opening Battle, the pit was once again located in the center of the arena, partially decorated with the King of Bots logo. Although not intended to be used, it was accidentally lowered once during the battle between Saber and Iron Rooster, resulting in Iron Rooster's wheels dropping over the edge and Saber accidentally driving itself in at the very end. As the pit was activated improperly, the Judges overruled its role in the battle, and the hazard was made inactive for the rest of the event.
The pit was once again seen in the early stages of Season 2, although it would not play any major part in battles throughout the course of the season. Occasionally, it was also used as the take-off point for the drone hazard, and would gain yellow markings from Episode 5 onwards.
For Season 2, a mobile hazard was introduced in the form of a hexacopter drone, colored red, white and black. The drone features retractable feet and a flamethrower mounted beneath its body, which can be angled horizontally or vertically to attack competitors from above. Introduced in the opening episode of Season 2, the drone saw limited use throughout the course of the season. In its debut appearance, it infamously crashed and took severe damage from The Martian, following an unsuccessful attempt to attack the bipedal competitor.
In Season 1, presenter Ling Zhou would also make her robot introductions within the arena, and interview the combatants outside of it. The winners of Judges' decisions would also be announced with all teams present inside the arena. A similar precedent was evident in This is Fighting Robots, where the show's presenters announced the outcome of battles - including Judges' decisions - from various places inside and outside the arena. For the 2019 Opening Battle, the arena was also used to introduce the red and blue teams and announce the winner of the event; dance performances also took place inside during an interval between the fourth and fifth battles.
- ↑ King of Bots match rules
- ↑ http://www.botsfc.com/home/king-of-bots-episodes-3-4-recap
- ↑ Correspondence with Adam Hamilton, 21st January 2019.