Big PAnts went for qualifying for Robot Wars Series IV in mid-August 2000. The entry to the competition was different this year in that a 'Live Event' was held during which robots would fight off to decide the non-seeded places. I arrived early on an over-cast morning at the Park Street Studios in St Albans.

This is the view of the studio itself. Not very impressive from the outside. I got some help from the Raizer Blade team (who arrived the same time) to unload BP from the back of my car. The final preparations of BP had been pretty tough, but it was sort of ready and the axe worked well.

The day was much like being back in filming again. First a technical check to make sure there were failsafes, on/off devices, etc. I had a bit of a row with Mat Irvine over the key switches used and they weren't overly happy with my pneumatics, but they let BP through. Then it was form-filling, weighing, photographing and so on before being transferred onto a trolley for the first fight. Actually it took a long time to get around to the fight itself so much of the time was spent talking to other teams and frantically cutting a second whole in the back so that I could get my hand to the fire extinguisher controls.

Lots of people were milling around, including George Francis who was busy repairing the dreaded Teddy-bot (a sacrificial bot used for weapons demos during the show). There was a display area outside the pits with the RW toys on show, some AIBO dogs playing footy and teams such as Hypno-disc and Plunderbird. All good fun, but what about the fighting!!

Eventually it was time to go in. I was due to go in against a nice little bot called Edgehog. This was a similar shape to BP only much smaller and compact. It had a large circular saw blade in the middle but I don't think this was working properly. BP was loaded into the entry bay and I drove it into the arena. I then went up to the control box ready to start.

The battle began and Edgehog proved to be a bit more nimble than BP. The commentator kept on shouting 'We want to see the axe' right in my ear, so as soon as I was in range I pulled the trigger. There was a yell from the commentator and the audience as they saw the axe fire just over-shooting Edgehog's back. A second firing and the axe cleaved into the side-pod of Edgehog. It quickly became clear that although there was still movement from my opposition, he had suffered from the blow. I tried in vain to line up more shots, then suddenly I couldn't get the axe to return. This was the end. The pit opened and the house robots moved in and pushed us both into the pit. It was over.
The robots were gently removed from the arena (Thanks for the hole in the back Shunt!!) and we returned to the pits. It was only when I took the top panel off I realised why the axe had stopped. The weld on one joint had failed and the pnuematic cylinder had gone through the bottom of the robot!! Doh! This was really frustrating as I couldn't fix it very quickly (They wanted Big PAnts to fight again) and it was really only down to my own poor welding in the first place. The rest of the robot was still fully functional. The only reason it started limping a bit was due to one of the wires being pulled out of the cable restraint by the cylinder. This would have take about 5 mins to repair. I had a chat to Chris Reynolds (house robot boss) who said he was very impressed with the axe and gave me some suggestions to strengthen it. This really encouraged me, as I was feeling a bit deflated by now. The guy who was organising the fights came over and told me that Bill Hobbins wanted to see me later on for a chat. As some people were being told they were definately out, I remained hopeful.
I spent the rest of the afternoon looking around the place, watching fights and generally chatting to the other competitors. Some were out, some definately in. I fiddled with BP, but didn't really do too much work. Looking back, I should have had a go at fixing the welds, even if it was futile. Eventually, Bill came down to see myself and a couple of teams while we were sat down having a coffee. He was complementary about BP, but said he was worried about the reliability and wasn't going to let us through because of that. He asked me to go back and repair BP ready for next year with a much strengthen mechanism. Despite this, I left not feeling too disappointed. The comments I'd got from everyone made me feel that BP really was a good robot which could be a great robot, with a bit more time spent on it. The traffic jam on the M25 going home game me plenty of time to start plotting....
Thanks to all those who helped me out on the day. Especially to the Raizer Blade team for helping me lift Big Pants around the building all day. Also, my opponent Edge Hog and to the guys from Judge Shred for having a laugh.