"First hit – our robot will hit your robot. Second hit – your robot will hit the ceiling. Third hit – you’ll hit the surrender button!"
— David Calkins

Spin Doctor was a robot from the United States of America which competed in the first season of King of Bots. Built and entered by David Calkins, the founder of RoboGames, it lost in the first round against Great White after one of the closest and most destructive battles in the show's history to date. It received a wildcard to bypass straight into Round 3, where it defeated fellow wildcard, Crossfire. Ultimately it was another wildcard which ended Spin Doctor's run in the fourth round, after a loss to the fellow American entry, Megabyte. Spin Doctor also won a Tag Team battle alongside Great White, despite becoming immobile during the battle.


Spin Doctor

Front view of Spin Doctor

Spin Doctor is a black and red, four-wheel drive box-shaped robot armed with two weapons – a two-toothed vertical spinning drum and a front-mounted flamethrower. The drum – referred to as a bar spinner by David Calkins – spun at 2,100rpm and proved capable of damaging and flipping opponents over. Spin Doctor itself also featured strips of LED lights along the top and sides, which pulsated in different colours before and during battles, as well as a hinged front wedge to lead opponents into the drum. It was the fastest robot to compete in the first season of King of Bots, with a top speed of 15 metres per second (approximately 33.6mph or 54km/h).

Robot HistoryEdit

King of Bots (Season 1)Edit

Spin Doctor appeared in Episode 2, where it faced Anglo-Australian entry Great White in the first round.

Great White v Spin Doctor 1

Spin Doctor is sent flying by Great White's first hit

Great White v Spin Doctor 2

Spin Doctor burns and rams Great White into the wall

It immediately darted from the red square and drove into Great White’s spinner, the impact sending it flying and tearing one of its side panels loose. A side-on slam from Remora ripped the panel completely off, with Spin Doctor driving head-on into Great White again and sustaining more damage from the latter. As Great White’s spinner temporarily stopped, Spin Doctor fired its flamethrower and rammed Great White against the wall, engulfing its opponent in flames and almost causing it to overturn in the process. The two competitors separated seconds later, with Spin Doctor momentarily getting stuck against the wall spikes before ramming Great White again.

Great White v Spin Doctor 3

Both robots are flipped by one of the grinders

Great White v Spin Doctor 4

Spin Doctor flips Great White onto its side...

Great White v Spin Doctor 5

...only to sustain another hit from the latter's spinner

Gas vented from Spin Doctor’s flamethrower nozzle as it pushed and unsuccessfully attempted to shoot more flames at Great White. Despite an intervention from Remora, it proceeded to push Great White into one of the grinders, which flipped Great White over. However, as a result of another slam from Remora, Spin Doctor itself was thrown onto its right-hand side by the same grinder, only to spin itself back upright using its exposed wheels. Spin Doctor kept pushing and hitting Great White – a powerful blow from its drum threw Great White over and into the wall spikes. It pinned Great White against the spikes as soon as the Australian machine self-righted, before continuing to push and damage it. This was until Great White’s spinner clipped the bottom of Spin Doctor’s wedge, throwing it off the floor – Spin Doctor withstood a few more head-on hits from Great White before pursuing and bumping the partially-immobilised Remora.

Great White v Spin Doctor 6

Spin Doctor's drum hits the floor following a rear-on hit from Great White

Another head-on collision ensued, before Spin Doctor deflected Great White against the wall and drove away. However, the drive chain for its drum broke as it was being chased by a noticeably faster Great White, which hit Spin Doctor from behind using its spinner. The impact threw Spin Doctor forwards and caused its drum to hit the floor; it struggled to drive away from the wall as Great White threw it into the air with a second successive hit. Spin Doctor threw Great White away with another hit from its drum, continuing to deflect and survive blows from its opponent in spite of its new-found mobility issues. It drove towards and around Great White, but bumped into the wall spikes in the process.

"Uh oh… it’s not good!"
— Forrest Yeh reports mobility issues as Spin Doctor drives into the wall spikes

Spin Doctor reversed and continued to dodge Great White, only to drive into the spikes again and sustain a few more hits from the latter. One of these hits caused its right-front wheel to lock up, leaving Spin Doctor driving in half-circles close to the team’s control area. A final slam from Great White crippled Spin Doctor’s drive completely; it twitched backwards and forwards while venting gas from its flamethrower, but its movements were not enough to prevent it from being counted out. After a long and hard-fought battle, Spin Doctor was eliminated by knockout.

"Our original expectation was, of course, that we would win. At the beginning of the fight, our spinner was hitting [Great White] more often, but in the middle of the fight, their spinner got us just right...and that was that. In the end, it is a sport, and even the best sports teams don’t win every match."
— David Calkins

After its much praised first round fight, Spin Doctor was reinstated via the wildcard system and drawn against fellow wildcard, Crossfire. Immediately after the fight with Great White, the team immediately repaired the damage in anticipation of such an event, having to hammer the back bar into shape and replace the rear axle. Fortunately, the team had plenty of spares.

"If you know yourself and you know your enemy, you need not fear the outcome of a hundred battles."
— David Calkins
Crossfire vs Spin Doctor

Spin Doctor throws flames behind Crossfire

Spin Doctor vs Crossfire

Spin Doctor disables Crossfire's weapon

The fight was slow starting, with Spin Doctor doing its best to avoid the unwieldy but dangerous Crossfire. After circling its opponent a number of times, Spin Doctor charged beneath the blade as Crossfire reared up, and shepherded it into the side wall with its flamethrower blasting. Crossfire slowed down and its weapon stopped, and Spin Doctor rammed it into the spikes, its drum grinding away at the exposed bottom and its flamethrower still heating up the opposition. Spin Doctor noticeably ripped a piece of Crossfire away from its back end, and immobilized it. The battle was decided by knockout, allowing Spin Doctor to reach the fourth round.

"Everyone here has the same goal, which is to win the championship, so of course our goal is to win."
— David Calkins

In the fourth round, Spin Doctor fought another wildcard recipient, and fellow American entry, Megabyte. Having earlier taught the team of Chiyung Jinlun how to defeat Megabyte in an earlier round, David Calkins was confident that Spin Doctor would be able to emulate the tactics that resulted in the Chinese machine’s victory.

"They do have a very strong robot. They also have weaknesses, and so it’s going to be Forrest’s job to get underneath that spinning disc… John [Mladenik], you’re a very good friend of mine. I love you, and I’m sorry in advance that we’re going to beat you!"
— David Calkins prior to Spin Doctor’s battle against Megabyte
Megabyte vs Spin Doctor 1

Spin Doctor has one of its side panels ripped off by Megabyte

Megabyte Spin Doctor sparks

Sparks fly as Spin Doctor and Megabyte collide

In the opening seconds, Spin Doctor sped out of the red square, maneuvering itself into Megabyte and deflecting the silver shell spinner into the wall spikes. Having been spun round by Megabyte, it shuffled back and forth across the arena, seemingly unable to turn left as a result of the collision. Spin Doctor sustained considerable damage as it turned into an approaching Megabyte, which tore its left-hand side panel clean off. Still unable to turn properly, it returned to the red square, only to sustain a hit to its rear armor from Megabyte. Slowly, Spin Doctor attempted to pursue Megabyte – sparks and debris flew as Megabyte hit its wedge a few more times. Gas vented from Spin Doctor’s flamethrower nozzle as it reversed right into Megabyte, which spun Spin Doctor round and tore its left-rear tire clean off. The same impact also caused Megabyte to recoil into – and break – the wall, resulting in the battle being stopped while repairs to the arena were carried out.

Megabyte vs Spin Doctor 2

Another hit from Megabyte throws Spin Doctor into a spin and removes its left-rear tire

During the interval, one of the Judges asked the Spin Doctor team whether they would be able to and were willing to continue fighting. David Calkins immediately confirmed that they would, and so the battle was resumed with less than two minutes remaining.

"There is always a glimmer of hope. The fight is never, ever over until it’s over."
— David Calkins expresses his reasoning for continuing the fight against Megabyte
Megabyte Spin Doctor knockout

Spin Doctor is left immobilized on one wheel as Megabyte lands its final hit

However, Spin Doctor’s mobility was severely limited as a result of Megabyte’s battle-stopping blow. It spun round on one side in the red square as Megabyte attempted to position itself for another attack, spouting gas at its opponent as the two competitors collided head-on once again. Spin Doctor continued spinning around on one wheel as it was promptly counted out, and was finally eliminated from the main competition via knockout. Despite his team’s defeat, David Calkins spoke highly of his King of Bots experience when interviewed by Ling Zhou afterwards.

"So, I’d like to thank the Chinese people for their magnificent hospitality; I’d like to thank all of the staff of King of Bots for putting on a fantastic show. We had a great time. Like I say, you know, it’s a sport – sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Now we get an opportunity to go out and see a little bit of Shanghai!"
— David Calkins following Spin Doctor’s loss to Megabyte

Spin Doctor also fought in a Tag Team battle, paired with its first-ever opponent, Great White. Together, the united team fought two Chinese drum spinners, Rust Boar and Wild Beast.

Spin Doctor vs Wild Beast 1

Spin Doctor attacks Wild Beast in the opening moments

Spin Doctor vs Great White 2v2

Spin Doctor and Great White inadvertently damage each other

Spin Doctor vs Rust Boar

Sparks fly as Spin Doctor hits Rust Boar

Wild Beast Spin Doctor saws

Spin Doctor approaches Wild Beast as the latter is lifted by the circular saws

Immediately, Spin Doctor drove towards and spouted gas at Wild Beast, activating its flamethrower as it got underneath, shredded Wild Beast’s sacrificial tire and rammed the latter opponent into the wall. With Wild Beast on top of it, Spin Doctor reversed rapidly, throwing Wild Beast off as it charged head-on into Great White’s spinner, losing its left-hand side panel once again. It briefly bumped into Rust Boar, and after several seconds chipped and pushed it across the arena into Great White and Wild Beast’s minibot. Spin Doctor briefly met Great White again near one of the grinders, before driving away and resuming its duel with Wild Beast. Momentarily driving over one set of circular saws, it pursued Wild Beast before reversing over the wedge of Great White, nearly tipping itself onto its side as a result.

Rust Boar smoke

Spin Doctor and Great White collide again as Rust Boar starts smoking

Wild Beast flips Spin Doctor

Spin Doctor is flipped over by Wild Beast

2v2 2 arena smoke

Spin Doctor sits immobile as smoke from Rust Boar fills the arena

Spin Doctor signed panel

The signed panel from Spin Doctor, as presented to the Wild Beast team

Spin Doctor pushed the now-immobile Rust Boar as the latter started smoking copiously, slowly driving back and forth towards the grinders as it tried to activate its flamethrower again. This allowed Wild Beast to throw Spin Doctor into the grinder itself and flip the American machine over. Flames spouted from the front of Spin Doctor as it landed upside-down and coasted to a stop beside Wild Beast’s drone – the attack from Wild Beast left it completely immobilized. The battle was soon stopped early after smoke from Rust Boar’s batteries engulfed the arena, preventing the surviving robots from continuing safely. The resulting Judges’ decision ruled in favor of Spin Doctor and Great White, even with the former’s immobility. After the battle, David Calkins and his teammates signed one of Spin Doctor’s armor panels; Calkins himself presented the panel to the captain of the Wild Beast team, in exchange for one of Wild Beast’s damaged wedges.


King of Bots (Season 1)
Main Championship
Fourth Round
Round 1 vs. Great White Lost
NOTE: Spin Doctor received one of the wildcards to reach Round 3
Round 3 vs. Crossfire Won
Round 4 vs. Megabyte Lost
Tag Team
Partnered with Great White
Tag Team vs. Rust Boar & Wild Beast Won


  • Wins: 2
  • Losses: 2

Series RecordEdit

Series Spin Doctor Series Record
Season 1 Round 4
Season 1.5 Did not enter
Season 2 Did not enter

Outside King of BotsEdit

David Calkins is the owner of RoboGames, the largest live event for robotic combat worldwide, and has operated yearly for over a decade. King of Bots competitors such as Thunderstorm, and Megabyte have applied for the 2018 edition of RoboGames.


  • Spin Doctor was the most successful robot and team from Season 1 to not compete in Season 1.5, with the team focusing on organizing RoboGames at around the same time.
  • In direct translations from the King of Bots website, Spin Doctor was referred to as Dr. Rotation.
  • For the second and third rounds of the competition, the team still remained on site to assist with the repairs of other robots, and offer advice, notably congratulating Knife Legend for its win under extremely fortunate circumstances.

External LinksEdit

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