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Time for another PANIC ATTACK??

T he dust has settled. This time, not by very long though. The filming of Robot Wars UK has been something of an ordeal this year, what with promised schedules, behind the scenes production problems, injuries and delays. But finally, The Third Wars are upon us, for Robot Wars returns to our televisions for a third series on Friday December 6th.

T he show itself has a new format, with a much heavier fighting theme. The gauntlet is replaced by combat and the games are reserved to little more than sideshows. The main feature this time is violence. The one thing every viewer wants to see more of - bots getting seven shades of welding knocked out of them. The programme is also longer (45 minutes) and is now repeated twice on BBC2 - Friday late and Sunday.

T he house robots will, as always, be in attendance. No new ones this year, but some serious rebuilds have taken place and Matilda has been hinted to now be a clusterbot. When I questioned Derek Foxwell, technical guru on the show, he was cagey about the exact changes that had taken place. Wait and see was very much the message.

B ut who is likely to be the favorite? Can any topple the Welsh wonders of Kim Davies and Panic Attack? You'll have to wait and see, but here's a look at some of the favorites for this years show.

In the yellow corner are the raining champions, Panic Attack from Cwmbran in Wales. PA was being rebuilt and modified right up to the filming itself and so may have some surprises yet unseen. On the charity circuit over the year, PA has been incredibly reliable and the more powerful lifting forks have proven more than a match for the original Cassius robot. Are lifting forks enough in the vastly improved field. In the silver corner are the favorite under performers from Razer. It never got the chance to shine, but over the summer the guys from Razer have been scaring all-comers with the control and aggression of their beautiful machine. They have even taken in to the United States and given the Americans a taste of the compeition in Europe. If they get a chance to get into postion, they are seriously dangerous.

In the clear corner is the outrageous Killerhurtz. John Reid has been working steadily since the last series to make KHz more reliable and improve the awesome axe even further. The whole body is still made of polycarbonate, giving it good protection. KHz joined Razar in America for Battlebots and now returns to the UK for the main event. Reliability is still a big problem for John and this is the main concern. In the grey corner is the legend that is Mortis. Now entering its Third Wars, the veteran robot is back. The lifting/righting arm that was too heavy for the Second Wars has been built in and the carbon-kevlar body armour has been remoulded. With new brushless motor systems, everything is in place for Mortis' best chance yet. With the team unchanged, could this finally be the victory year for the Cambridge team?

In the dark corner lurks RW veteran George Francis and Chaos II. George has been in all three series and has been involved in the Cassius projects as well. On the charity circuit, Chaos II has been nothing short of awesome, cleanly throwing robots 2 or 3 feet into the air. Using parts off a Phantom jet for the pneumatics, this robot deserves a good place. Expect to see much aero-botics...second only to........... ......Cassius 2. The true unknown. Although C2 has been seen at charity events, it has not been running and even up to the week before filming, there were question marks over it. Totally new, based on very high pressure ram weapons and electronic systems such as traction control, Cassius 2 claims to be the most advanced fighting robot ever built. We will have to wait and see.

Other possibilities?

There are plenty of new contestants of course, with the likes of Centurion and Steel Avenger likely to make an impact. Also old hands such as the Beast Of Bodmin (the replacement for First Wars winner Roadblock), Nemisis, Killertron and Plunderbird 3. In Robot Wars, nothing is ever settled and to expect any order is just wishful thinking. As for the final result, well tune in and see. Let war begin!!

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