It was great news to hear that BattleBots had a new TV deal with a major network- ABC! Builders quickly became nervous to find that the event was by invite only, which means that we had to audition ourselves and our robots for a slot on the show. We were told that the network wanted to focus on new robots, but I felt that bringing Nightmare back would help draw the original fans, so we put his name in the hat, so to speak. Nightmare was originally selected as one of the alternates, a robot that gets to compete only if one of the main 24 selected robots somehow drops out. I received the news only about 2 weeks before it was time to head out to California that one of the entrants had dropped out, and now Nightmare was in the tournament! That was great news because I had been working on upgrades on schedule anyway, and would be ready to ship the robot in time to compete. Nightmare was confirmed as one of the 24 competing robots.
First Fight : loss vs. Warrior Clan
Nightmare was first selected to fight Team Whyachi's robot Warrior Clan. Their robot was basically their old heavyweight "Warrior", along with 2 extra minibots to make the full weight. The minibots each had a flamethrower, and the main bot was equipped with both a horizontal spinning weapon as well as a flipper. These two weapons worked together in an ingenious symmetry, the spinner actually powers the flipping mechanism by activating a catch into the spinner's path internally, thereby forcing the flipper to shoot up with great force. A very unique, and awesome design. Not exactly my first pick, but I knew it would be fun. All three bots in Warrior Clan are very short, and although Nightmare's disc is capable of hitting less than an inch off the ground, a short robot is not optimal height for the best "lift off" potential.
The fiight begain with both big robots spinning up immediately, then both of Warrior Clan's minibots surrounded Nightmare. Nightmare was able to get a good hit in on Warrior, then turned to meet the first minibot head on, sending it flying to the other side of the arena, out of commission. The second minibot, equipped with an upward-shooting flamethrower, pulled under Nightmare and proceeded to flame the underside of Nightmare's main chassis. Nightmare simply backed up over the bot, giving the spinning disc a chance to contact the backside of the minibot, which exploded into pretty much all the individual pieces it had been assembled from. (Side note, I have been told that this was officially the first ever robot EXPLOSION in the BattleBots arena!)
With both minibots out of the picture, Nightmare went after Warrior, but I had underestimated his reach of the flipper, and drove right on top of it while trying to get a good shot. Warrior took this opportunity to flip Nightmare onto his side. But since Nightmare has always been designed to operate while inverted (one drive wheel can always touch the floor), I started to see if Nightmare's weapon was powerful enough to flip himself back over (I have done this many times with my 1 pound version of Nightmare- Micro Nightmare, so I wanted to see if the result would be similar.) It turns out that Nightmare's weapon was still plenty powerful enough to spin against the floor of the arena (and the top of Warrior), gouging the floor along the way, and somewhat navigate around the arena. For this tournament, each team had control of two pulverizers to use against the other team. At one point, Nightmare drove inverted under the arena pulverizer, where the Whyachi guys hammered down and trapped the body of Nightmare from moving, but it was only temporary, as they had to release me. Nightmare continued ambling around the arena, still on his side (by the way, yes the disc is reversible, since it is powered by a huge speed controller, so I was changing direction during the fight to try to get back on both wheels). After a while of this, I ended up charging too hard at the arena screws, which ended up pulling Nightmare up and out of the arena. Another victim of the screws... The referee counted Nightmare out and that was it. By the way, that is considered a TKO, not a KO as was reported. A KO is when the opposing robot is the cause of the knockout, when a TKO is a robot basically disabling itself, or being disabled by the arena. Since Nightmare was still considered to be mobile, and exhibited transational movement (able to cross the arena in just a couple seconds), he was still in the fight until the screws ended it.
That was fun! I wish it had ended in a different way, but at least I got to show off Nightmare's abilities. I will always wonder if the judges would have awarded Nightmare the win if he hadn't been pulled out of the arena by the screws and stayed mobile, continuing to pursue the now Clan-less Warrior while inverted.
Wild Card Woes
Since the tournament had 24 robots fighting for the championship, the first round ended up with 12 losers and 12 winners. 12 is not a good way to build a tournament bracket without "Byes", so they had to get the main event back up to 16 robots, for an 8v8 tournament format, resulting in a single winner. This means that they would select 4 of the 12 losers to re-enter the tournament as "Wild Cards". The BattleBots production company was to select these 4 robots, but Nightmare was not selected. Every team that we spoke with was fully expecting Nightmare to be one of the wild cards, because of how well our fight had gone, and because.... #nightmareornothing!!!!! It was a legitimate surprise to everyone, but we do understand that the only real way to stay in the tournament is keep winning. We are grateful for the amount of air time ABC has given our fight (e.g. minibot explosions), so it wasn't a total loss, we were able to contribute to the success of the new BattleBots.
Any more fights for Nightmare this season?
Well, since Nightmare is officially out of the tournament, there aren't any more official fights, but stay tuned, we will see if Nightmare gets more airtime on ABC's BattleBots, because he DID get some more arena action beyond the one fight! We had an awesome grudge match that we hope surfaces on the show or at least the internet sometime soon.
What's next for Nightmare?
Nightmare has a HUGE fan base, which is why I brought Nightmare out of retirement for this tournament in the first place. I knew that fans of the first BattleBots seasons would appreciate seeing his return, and I wanted Nightmare to be new and updated. I think I achieved that goal. However, since there was such short time to build this time, there were some features I just didn't have time to implement. We were accepted as an alternate in early March 2015, and the robot had to ship in early May. Never before have I pushed so hard to get a heavyweight robot completed in such a short time! Hopefully the next time you see Nightmare, I will have added on a system that will eliminate the issue of the bot getting flipped over. This system will not be easy to build, and is not what most would expect, but is sure to make Nightmare a real force to be reckoned with!
The new ABC BattleBots has generated a HUGE buzz on the internet and social media. Lots of people and armchair combat robot experts are weighing in on the fights and the robots that they see on the show. Everyone is an expert in their own mind. One thing I've noticed is the number of people commenting on how Nightmare's weakness has always been in being flipped over. This is perplexing to me, since Nightmare has NEVER been beaten by merely being flipped over. As a matter of fact, in Nightmare's entire history of fighting (16 fights in all), the only time before the 2015 event has Nightmare ever been flipped over at all, was one fight in BattleBots season 3.0, vs. Son of Whyachi, a fight that ended after SoW hit Nightmare so hard that both drive motors/wheels were forcibly removed from Nightmare, rendering him unable to move at all, even if he had landed rightside up. It wasn't because he was upside down that he lost, it was a one-hit KO from SoW. So please, stop with the "Nightmare always loses because he gets flipped" comments. You should take Chris Rose's advice and see the "Tale of the Tape".