By Gary Metzker, Contributor
Read for a chance to see defending champion Bite Force take on Tombstone– or maybe Minotaur vs. Witch Doctor?
Still scratching your head? We’re talking Bots. BattleBots.
The hit television show “BattleBots” is returning to the Long Beach area. The show will be filming twice a day inside an airplane hangar near the Long Beach Airport starting April 12 and finishing April 22.
“BattleBots” originally aired on Comedy Central in 2000-2002, then was revived on ABC for two seasons in 2015-2016. The Science Channel aired encores of the two ABC seasons last summer, and now new episodes will premiere this spring on both the Discovery Channel and the Science Channel. The re-imagined version on the killer-robot combat competition comes from Whalerock Industries and the creators of the original BattleBots franchise, Trey Roski, a graduate of Long Beach State, and his cousin, Greg Munson.
“This is a video game come to life,” said Munson, who studied music at USC. “This is an educational tool where these bot builders are becoming heroes. Kids watch the show and are inspired to build something. I’ve gotten so many emails where parents write that their kids take that inspiration, go immediately into the garages, and become builders.”
Roski admits the show is violent, but “it’s violence in a good, clean way where the only thing that gets hurt is the robot.”
The men hope they are stimulants for the STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) movement. They created a BattleBots IQ program where more than 30% of the participants are young women.
“There is nothing more exciting for a girl than to beat a boy in the most violent sports in the world,” Roski said. “Everyone is equal here. We had a guy in a wheelchair drive a robot with his chin. We have female teams competing. In fact, Elaine Woo is coming from China to prove why she is an international champion.”
Roski created BattleBots after entering a robot in “Robot Wars,” the forerunner to his show. His creation La Machine destroyed the competition.
“I fell in love with ‘Robot Wars’ and did everything in my power to make it something special, because I was a champ and got hooked and won and that evolution happened,” he told Long Beach State’s alumni magazine.
When the founder of “Robot Wars” got caught in some legal issues, Roski received permission to take the idea and expand it. His first BattleBots tournament took place at the Cal State Long Beach Pyramid in August 1999, and it attracted 40,000 online viewers. A few months later in November 1999, a pay-per-view broadcast of the event gave television audiences a taste of the competition — and soon after, it was announced that Comedy Central intended on adapting the competition into a regular television series. The show premiered in May 2000 and was soon a hit with television audiences. The premiere episode boasted some of Comedy Central’s highest ever ratings at the time.
The show’s format: Each match consists of two robots competing in a single, three-minute bout, the goal is to destroy or disable their opponent. If there is no knockout during the battle, a panel of judges will declare a victor.
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But BattleBots is more than just a competition. It’s the story of how builders use a number of platforms and state-of-the-art onboard technology and cameras to enhance viewing and provide combat analytics. Most robots stand four feet wide by three feet tall, but Roski said a few are “huger than huge,” and there will be four HammerBots that can generate a great deal of damage.
“The robots are just heads above the robots of three years ago,” Munson said. “We are going to have more international robots. We have two team from China, one from Russia, and a bunch from the United Kingdom. Truly the world champions from around the world.
“It’s a sport for the brain, not the brawn. It’s where a good idea can kick bot.”
If you go
To purchase tickets go to battlebotslive2019.eventbrite.com/?aff=WRI.
Use the promotion code MondayMonday when selecting tickets for $10 off any weekday session except Friday evening.
The studio is located at 2770 Industry Ave. in Lakewood.
The show will be filming twice a day — the first session is from noon to 4 p.m. April 12-April 20. The second session is from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day. There is no filming on April 15 or April 19.
The studio has 1,000 seats and most of the weekend seats have been sold. Organizers say Tuesdays and Thursdays are the best opportunities for tickets and some “surprises.”