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Media Essays: The Career of Carbide

Title card

I did one of the major stars of the Robot Wars reboot, so why not talk about another?


There is a robot that is feared amongst the roboteering community. A robot who's name sends shivers down the spines of anyone who has to face it. A robot that makes even the likes of Hypno-Disc look weak by comparison. This a robot that has gained fame for its destructive capabilities and for being one of the most fearsome machines in Robot Wars history. That robot...is Carbide.

Carbide

With its deadly spinning bar weapon, incredible reliability compared to most powerful spinners, its iconic green and black colour scheme and yellow tyres and its sinister death hum that sounds like a whisper of death to its opponents, Carbide is a machine like no other. Throughout the reboot, it was the robot EVERYONE feared and the robot that was hyped up as the one to beat. It's also the most successful machine in the reboot, reaching the Grand Final all three times it appeared on the show and it finished as a runner-up twice while winning the Series 9 trophy with ease. Carbide was a near-unstoppable juggernaut in the arena and every Robot Wars fan that watched the reboot was captivated with awe and fear as they watched it in action.


So what was Carbide's career like from beginning to end? How many machines fell victim to its spinning blade and how did it go from being unstoppable to surprisingly ending its career in defeat? That's what this essay is all about. Let's dive into the career of Carbide...

Dave Moulds response

Oh and fun fact, the reason I'm doing this essay is because Dave Moulds himself responded to my Apollo essay, feeling it was "a tad biased". So to make up for that, I'm covering Carbide and I'll be as unbiased as possible for this essay. Hope that makes you feel better Dave! XD Jokes aside, I hope you enjoy as well as everyone else. ^^


A Smashing Debut

Carbide Series 8

Carbide made its debut in the first episode of the reboot, which was arguably the best time for it to debut as it gave the series one big competitor to show off straight away. But we'll get to that. First, the machine itself:


Carbide is an invertible machine with a wedged back, two-wheel drive and was coloured black and green. Interestingly enough, the team consists of Dave Moulds and Sam Smith, the latter of whom WAS in Robot Wars before. Back in the classic series, Sam Smith was part of the Tiberius team and entered in Series 4, 5, 6, Extreme II and 7 with the Tiberius series of machines that were all robots armed with powerful crushers. The machine's only claim to fame in the classic series was winning the University Challenge. Here, Sam Smith would achieve greater success with Carbide, but more on that later. Dave Moulds is also connected to a Robot Wars veteran in some way too for he used to be a member of Team Hurtz, the team behind the Killerhurtz and Terrorhurtz machines, during the team's time on Battlebots. He was never on the team when they were on Robot Wars though, only Battlebots.


Carbide's armour consisted of 5mm military grade steel and 8mm aerospace grad aluminium. It had a shock-mounted top panel made of soft plastic. Its two-wheel drive boasted 4.3 horsepower and the machine started off with black tyres but then from the Heat Final onwards, they switched to yellow tyres. I don't know why, they just did. And then of course, there's the thing that made Carbide what it is, that powerful spinning bar. Measuring 85cm in length and weighing at 25kg, it could spin at 2,300rpm in Series 8 and it operated at 20 horsepower, which is why it was so damaging and delivering such powerful hits. It had a spin-up time of just three seconds, meaning it could get spinning and delivering big hits near enough instantly. The weapon was powerful, but in Series 8 it was unreliable with a few occasions causing the clutch system to force the weapon to stop. A discussion with Ray Billings of the Tombstone team helped Team Carbide realise the issue. The absence of a single washer in the clutch system was pretty much the problem, a problem that wouldn't persist in the next series...

Behemoth vs. Carbide

To say Carbide made a terrific first impression is underselling it IMMENSELY. This machine arguably had one of the best debuts in Robot Wars history. In its first round melee, it tore off The General's wheel like it was nothing and qualified its first round melee with ease alongside Behemoth after the latter disposed of Bonk. Come the next round, it looked as if it was in for an early exit when they were up against Terrorhurtz. As mentioned before, Dave Moulds was on Team Hurtz during their appearances in Battlebots so this felt especially ironic. Terrorhurtz tanked their hits and basically bullied them around the arena until eventually pitting them, and all without needing the axe no less. This is a momentous occasion for you see, this is the ONLY TIME IN THE ENTIRE REBOOT where Carbide was defeated by knockout. Every other time it lost a fight was on a Judge's Decision. Terrorhurtz really is a beast, isn't it? It was the ONLY machine to beat Carbide in this manner! Well done to them!

But Carbide wasn't out yet thanks to the Round Robin format, meaning they had another chance at getting further. They went up against Nuts and completely demolished them and then went up against Behemoth. This is an interesting match-up since Behemoth has a VERY good track record against spinners, often able to take the blows and keep on going like in their bouts with Hypno-Disc and Supernova. And yet Carbide managed to succeed where they failed by defeating them. They tore the scoop in a way that caused Behemoth to get suck on their sides and Carbide disposed of them by pitting them in the end.

Behemoth pits itself

Carbide qualified with the most amount of points scored in spite of losing to Terrorhurtz and the Heat Final saw it facing Behemoth again in where they disabled Behemoth on one side and the bulldozer bot reversed into the pit, giving Carbide the victory. I don't know if it was an accident or if Behemoth purposefully pitted themselves to save their machine from further punishment, but I strongly believe it was the latter. Anyway, Carbide were the first winners of the reboot, qualifying for the Grand Final in the first episode and very quickly setting itself up as the one to watch out for. Funny enough, because of the Round Robin format, Carbide made history as the first ever Grand Final qualifier to make it to the Grand Final despite losing a battle. Now isn't that a weird thing to have on your resume? Made it to the Grand Final despite losing a battle beforehand. XD


Carbide Finishes Second Best

Carbide breaks the wall

Carbide fought again in the second round melee of the Grand Final, facing off against Shockwave and Apollo. It was a very short battle as Shockwave pushed Carbide into the arena wall, causing the latter to rip a piece of it away. Carbide did retaliate by hitting Shockwave and damaging it so badly that even when the arena was fixed and the battle could be restarted, Shockwave was too damaged to continue and so Apollo and Carbide qualified for the Round Robin stages.

Carbide vs. TR2

In the Round Robin stages, Carbide looked to be completely unstoppable for a moment, tearing apart Thor with ease and knocking Apollo out in one hit. But then came its battle against TR2 in which it actually ended up losing on a Judge's Decision because their weapon stopped working. TR2 was able to flip them around with no real retaliation from Carbide as a result, but they couldn't finish them off and so they won via the judges. Carbide's weapon apparently stopped working in this battle because one of its clutch plates had disintegrated. Much like with Terrorhurtz though, this loss didn't really matter for Carbide still qualified for the Grand Final regardless, finishing joint first with Apollo with six points.


For the Grand Final against Apollo, I already covered that in the latter's essay so I won't bother repeating myself again. All I'll say is that Carbide's weapon gave out again and Apollo was able to flip them around numerous times until time ran out and Team MAD were given the win on a Judge's Decision. It was a close battle and Carbide were within reach of a Championship title, but it wasn't to be. Their time to shine came in the next series...


Carbide Demolishes The Competition

Carbide Series 9

Carbide returned for Series 9, appearing in Heat E, the final heat of the series before the Grand Final. For this series, the machine was upgraded in various ways to make it more efficient in battle. A new top panel made of bulletproof glass was added, possibly to tank axe blows, and the chassis remained the same but with updated visuals such as a new neon green paint job, yellow tips on the spinning bar and a new Terminator font logo on the top of the robot. Internally, Carbide was fully reworked with a new custom-made weapon motor and a remedied clutch system. This new motor, which the team dubbed "Bille-tek" contributed to a 20% increase in overall output over the original Etek-based system, while also being shorter, lighter and featuring a custom billet housing. Carbide was also given an increase in top speed from 12mph to 15mph and the tip speed of its spinning bar was now up to 250mph. Did all these upgrades help it? Most definitely!

Carbide vs. Apollo

Series 9 Carbide can be best described as an unstoppable juggernaut. Seriously, this machine just COULD NOT be beaten no matter what was thrown at it! It would just continuously smash its opponents to bits and leave nothing alive! Who knew fixing the clutch system would make such a difference and make it even stronger without the weapon reliability issues?

Anyway, Carbide smashed through its opening melee against Meggamouse, Crackers 'n' Smash and Trolley Rage, dominating with such ease that you'd think they were the only winners of that battle. Come the next round, they were up against Apollo and were clearly still sore over losing to them in the Grand Final last time for they took no prisoners and bashed Apollo into oblivion. I still question what crazy person thought putting Apollo and Carbide in the same episode was a good idea. I would've saved this rematch for later myself, but that's a me thing. Anyhow, Carbide went up against Crackers 'n' Smash next...

Broken arena

...and broke the arena by slamming one of them so hard it crashed into the wall and broke a panel away. Seriously, that was one crazy powerful hit there! The clusterbot was too damaged to continue so after the arena was repaired, the fight went to Carbide without any continuation. After that, Carbide would face Coyote to secure its place in the Heat Final where they fought Apollo again. Keep in mind, Apollo got mullered by Carbide earlier and never really recovered, so it's no surprise that Carbide won the Heat Final and reached the Grand Final once more, its previous Grand Final loss truly avenged now it beat Apollo twice in the heat.


Carbide Reigns Supreme

Carbide vs. Aftershock

The Grand Final of Series 9 can be best described as "How many opponents can Carbide kill before it wins the trophy?" The answer to that is four. In its first round melee, it immobilized Concussion with some powerful hits and went through with Ironside 3. In the Round Robin round, it went up against Aftershock first, another formidable spinner that demolished the competition on its way to the Grand Final. It looked like it was going to be a tough battle, but Carbide proved to be too strong for Aftershock and immobilized them. They even hit the side of the machine near the end of the battle, tearing off a side panel...

Aftershock panel

...AND GETTING IT STUCK IN THE WALL!!!!! This image does not deceive you readers, this really did happen! Once again, it's insane how powerful these fighting machines can be...


After that, they fought Eruption and won the battle and then won another battle against Ironside 3, scoring the perfect 9 points for a knockout in each battle it had. The battle with Ironside 3 did have them worried for a bit since Ironside 3's spinning bar came very close to breaking the chain that drives the spinning bar. Its weapon hub got a large chip and it had intermittent driving control throughout the battle. Those problems didn't mean anything in the end for...

Carbide are the champions

...they beat Eruption in the Grand Final and were crowned the Champions of Series 9. It was such a well-deserved victory for how powerful, reliable and unstoppable the machine was in this series. Nobody could stand up to it and it just demolished everything it was up against. This really was Carbide's time to shine and it paid off. But Series 10 would prove to be a tough series for it to follow up on...

Carbide vs. the House Robots

But before that, he's a fun fact for you. Carbide attacked the House Robots at the end of the battle and there was a moment unseen on TV where Sir Killalot picked Carbide up and its blade sent sparks flying off of Shunt's scoop while Killalot's claw was damaged. While it wasn't seen on TV, we DO have this photo that you see above to show what happened. Pity it wasn't seen on TV as that's quite a cool shot.


Now back to our story...


The Title Defence Proves To Be A Bit Rocky...

Carbide Series 10

The reigning champions were back in Heat B of Series 10, and in quite a stacked heat too what with Eruption and Aftershock being there too. Carbide was given new top armour and had its base frame entirely rewelded with chromoly tubing for renewed strength. Unlike in previous seasons, Carbide had interchangeable spinning bars for this season. It had the original bar, a second black and green bar that was otherwise identical to the original and a heavier red bar with curved tips at the rear. Despite this, we never got to see it used for the red bar was problematic and had to go unused in the end. You see, the increased weight forced the team to use an aluminium/steel weapon shaft instead of a titanium/steel one. During a safety test, the friction generated caused the materials of the lighter shaft to expand at different rates. This resulted in a bushing in the centre of Carbide's weapon that caused it to seize up. There was no solution to fix these issues that could be implemented when filming began, so it had to go unused. I bet if they could use it, it would've been quite a formidable weapon given how ferocious it looks. Still, Carbide didn't really need it for their other bars performed just fine.

Carbide's wheel trouble

Likely in response to Carbide's overpowered weaponry and how easily it dominated last time, changes were made that allowed entanglement devices to be used just so they could take spinners down a peg and give other robots a way to fight back. Carbide weren't worried about that and just continued doing what they do best. However, their first round melee proved to be a problem for they were against a foe they COULDN'T KO easily: Gabriel 2. While Big Nipper was barely a factor in the melee and were left immobile after Gabriel 2 hit its wheels, Carbide just could not stop Gabriel at all. It hit the wheels over and over but Gabriel was still able to move as the machine was too high up for Carbide to hit anything except the wheels. Carbide even lost a piece of its tyre at one point in the match. Carbide did win the battle on a judge's decision in the end, but it was nearly a pyrrhic victory for Carbide's batteries burnt out as a result of lasting the full length of the battle. Had they been unable to replace the batteries, they would've had to drop out. Luckily, they were able to get some replacement batteries and were able to carry on. But the message was clear: Carbide had a weakness after all. Battles it couldn't win quickly would be troublesome for it and if it had an opponent it couldn't kill in seconds, they had a chance to fight back and cause further problems. It was all thanks to Gabriel 2 that Carbide suddenly didn't seem so invincible anymore...


Also Gabriel 2 was the first machine since Apollo in Series 8 that Carbide failed to beat via knockout. Just the fact it survived the whole match was enough for it to get a standing ovation from everybody, although I think Terrorhurtz deserves most of the praise for actually beating Carbide via knockout and barely taking damage from it. Still, Gabriel 2 gave other roboteers hope that Carbide could actually be beaten and that it wasn't as unstoppable as it once was in Series 10. That hope didn't do Aftershock or Eruption any favours for Carbide beat them both in the second round knockouts and the Heat Final respectively and Carbide reached another Grand Final. This makes Carbide the first competitor since Hypno-Disc in the classic series to reach three Grand Finals in a row.


Carbide Doesn't Make It Second Time

Carbide vs. Nuts 2

Carbide was in the first round melee of the Series 10 Grand Final against the veterans Behemoth and the surprise wildcard Nuts 2. Now this is quite a set-up because Carbide has beaten both opponents already. Behemoth immediately went against Carbide with its anti-spinner plough fitted and tanks a few hits but then Carbide sent it spinning onto the pit...just when one of Nuts 2's minibots pressed the button and so Behemoth went straight down. What should've been an easy win for Carbide turned into the most shocking defeat in Robot Wars history for Nuts 2 hit Carbide with its flails...AND DISLODGED ITS CHAIN!!!! Yes, Nuts 2 of all robots BROKE CARBIDE'S WEAPON! I couldn't make this up if I tried! So with no weapon, Carbide were basically helpless and stuck fighting to stay alive until the end. Amusingly, they did get stuck on one of Nuts 2's minibots and nearly got counted out as a result, but got away at the last minute. Still, time ran out and Carbide lost the judge's decision to Nuts 2, making this the first time since Series 8 where Carbide lost a battle. Who knew Nuts 2 of all machines would be the one to break Carbide's winning streak?


Still, Carbide had a chance at redemption for they were in a loser's battle with Rapid. Rapid nearly flipped them out of the arena but mistimed the flip so Carbide didn't go out. Carbide struck back and...well...

Rapid's on fire!

...the results were explosive. Kentucky fried robot anyone? XD

Eruption vs. Carbide

Carbide were reinstated in the Grand Final and went up against Nuts 2 again, this time avenging their loss thanks to installing a "Nut Guard" on the machine to protect the robot from Nuts 2's flails. Nuts 2 couldn't disable the weapon again and Carbide were able to damage and defeat them. Thus they'd made it to the Grand Final once again with Eruption as their opponent. What looked like another easy win for Carbide turned into the battle to end all battles for Eruption were able to take the hits from Carbide and still use their flipper in spite of some damage they took. Even more incredible, Carbide's weapon actually stopped working a few times and even seemed to get weaker and weaker as it went along. Eruption remained strong while Carbide looked as if it were exhausting itself just trying to stay in the fight. Once again, an opponent it couldn't immediately kill proved to be its greatest weakness and that was what ultimately cost them the match as Eruption were given the win on a judge's decision. Carbide were champions no more and Eruption proved to be the final robot to win the reboot after the series was cancelled shortly after. Nevertheless, it was the Grand Final that ended all Grand Finals and was a great final showing for both Eruption and Carbide.


Crazily enough, apparently Carbide had a problem after the fight was over. You see, internal damage it had sustained caused it to start driving around the arena when it shouldn't be with the control for its spinner sticking "on". Sir Killalot had to pin it in place so the crew could take out the safety link and stop it moving.

Carbide at Robonerd

And that was the end of Carbide's career on Robot Wars. They were invited to represent Team UK for the World Champion Specials at the end of the series, but they voluntarily gave their position to Eruption when they won the Series 10 title. So, Carbide ended the series, runner up once again and with the team feeling as if it might be time for something new with how Carbide had worn itself out by the end of Series 10. Due to the show being cancelled, the machine was retired as they felt it wouldn't be competitive enough for the live-shows since Carbide's weapon has to be weakened for safety purposes. It did make appearances as a static display piece at some events like Robonerd and the team DO plan to make the machine fighting fit and ready to battle again should Robot Wars ever make a comeback. For now, the team has built other machines to compete in other robot combat shows like Battlebots and This Is Fighting Robots.


If Robot Wars ever returns, chances are we may hear the sinister death hum of Carbide once again...


Conclusion

Team Carbide

Carbide is one of the most amazing machines in Robot Wars history and has more than earned its fearsome reputation in the arena as an absolute force of nature that leaves devastation in its wake. Its destructive capbilities are nothing to sneeze at and it succeeds where most powerful spinners fail at being a robot that has a powerful spinner AND can be very reliable. It's able to deliver powerful hits and take out opponents without knocking itself out and that's ultimately what made it such a near unstoppable machine. At the same time, Carbide serves as an example on how no matter how powerful your machine is and how destructive its weapon is, you're not invincible. Even a machine as powerful as Carbide can be beaten. Never think you're invincible, because you're not and eventually the competition will catch up to you and surpass you. As is, Carbide's track record is still something to be proud of and its easily among the best the reboot had to offer at the time. With its powerful weaponry and reliability, this was a machine that could tear opponents apart and keep on going. Even now, I bet there are roboteers who would rather face any machine other than this one...


And that's it for this essay. I hope you enjoyed it and found the career of Carbide interesting to read about. Feel free to comment down below. What are your favourite Carbide moments? What's your favourite Carbide win? Do tell me.

Next week, I'll be reviewing the new Star Wars anthology series Tales of the Empire. See you then media fans!

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