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Media Essays: The Career of Razer


This is the title card for my essay about Razer

After covering Behemoth and Hypno-Disc, I thought now would be a good time to cover another Robot Wars legend. And who better to cover than arguably the most famous and successful machine in the show's history? Part bird, part reptile, the rest machine, it's the one and only...RAZER!

This is a picture of Razer, the subject of the essay

Built in Bournemouth by fellow engineers Simon Scott and Ian Lewis, Razer has gone through an illustrious career throughout Robot Wars with a grand total of 39 wins in the UK series alone, three Best Design awards and a win in many tournaments from Pinball to World Championships to the All-Stars and more. Razer's career has seen many successes but also some heavy blows for they didn't always have a glamorous win in their time on the show. Heck, it took them quite a few tries to finally win a main series but we'll cover that. Razer is a machine like no other that's not only very powerful, but also very inspiring as many other vertical crushers would be made after Razer's debut. Also, this is a machine that has had plenty of merchandise to collect from a pullback toy to a minibot and it's also a playable robot in every Robot Wars video-game so far created. This is the story of Razer and how they managed to build up a career full of many wins and always seemed to score big no matter what competition it was in. Let's sink are claws into this career essay and dive into Razer's time on Robot Wars...


A Promising Debut And An Early Exit

Razer debuted in Series 2 of Robot Wars. As seen here, Razer didn't originally have its famous self-righting wings so as a result, it kinda looks like a bird with its wings chopped off. Pretty gruesome description I know. XD


In its debut, Razer was a four-wheel drive machine with a wedge to get under opponents and a piercing crusher that could squeeze with a pressure of nine tonnes (three tonnes at the tip). In order to meet the weight limit, Razer had to be drilled full of holes with about 450 of them in total to bring the weight down. By Series 2 standards, this machine already looked more advanced than most robots that had appeared at that time so chances are even the producers knew this robot was going to be something special.


Razer's debut saw it compete in the Gauntlet in where it had a bit of radio interference that caused it to lose control briefly, but thankfully that didn't last long and they made it to the end of the course where they surprised the audience and even Jonathan Pearce by grabbing onto Shunt and pushing it back to the end of the course. Talk about showing off right at the start! This is a Series 2 machine pushing Shunt like he weights nothing! Impressive, isn't it? After that, it competed in the Football tournament and won that one. It went into the eliminator rounds in where it was up against Inquisitor. On paper, this sounds like an easy match for Razer. Inquisitor has no weaponry that can pose a threat to it and Razer has that big crushing beak that will make mincemeat out of it. At first, it seemed like that was what was going to happen when Razer bit into the back of Inquisitor and destroyed their flail. But...they promptly broke down and lost the fight as a result. That's a shame. Talk about setting a great first impression and then losing in the most anti-climactic fashion possible.


So what happened? Why did Razer just conk out like that? Well according to the old Razer website, Ian Lewis manoeuvred the machine to gain better purchase on Inquisitor. Doing so caused it to jump in the air and the force of the impact with the wheels sheared the drives so they couldn't move after that. As good as dead as they put it. Also in Razer's Ultimate Warriors Collection DVD, Simon Scott revealed that he'd suggested Inquisitor drive into the back of Razer with their flail going, a move that ultimately cost them the fight. He even acknowledges as such that this loss was his fault, bless him.


But it wasn't all bad news for Razer. They won their first Best Design award for this series so they got something out of it at least. I bet if they hadn't lost to Inquisitor, they probably would've won this series instead of Panic Attack. Imagine that alternate timeline...


Another Random Conk Out Made Up By Two Big Wins

Series 3 came around and Razer showed up again to have another crack at the title. As you can see, this series was when the famous wings were added to the machine. With the rise of flippers and lifters, a srimech (self-righting mechanism) was an absolutely necessity here so the team made the right call to add the wings on. The wings also in my eyes just further enhanced Razer's awesome eagle-esque design so it's good they put them on. Also Vincent Blood joined the Razer team in this series and would be a part of the team until after Extreme 2 ended.


Series 3 looked like a promising series for Razer and they seemed the likeliest to win it alongside Chaos 2 and Hypno-Disc. Razer indeed started off very strongly by dispatching of Backstabber in seconds and then their second round fight saw them against Aggrobot. This was a tougher fight because Aggrobot had a very awkward shape and it made grabbing hold of it much harder than it looked. At one point, Razer got into the back of Aggrobot and crumpled it up badly. Aggrobot was still mobile but the fight looked very much to be Razer's. They were doing all the damage and Aggrobot couldn't really do anything back to it so Razer was in for a guaranteed win at this rate...

Oh right, that happened. Dammit random malfunctions! X(


So yeah, Razer lost thanks to a naff breakdown again. With the crusher stuck all the way open, its wheels were off the floor so the machine couldn't move and thus, were eliminated So what happened this time? The Razer website once again explained the problem. Apparently, a tiny valve which controls the direction of hydraulic fluid into the crushing arm jammed in "up" mode, hence what happened here. The reason the tail is as long as it is is because it's meant to prevent damage to the drives from the impact of rolling over when they self-right. Too bad it ended up working against them in this case.

But Series 3 wasn't all lows for Razer. Not by a long shot! After the main series, they competed in several side-competitions and beat them all. They won the Pinball, they won the International Championships and they won the first ever World Championships after a close call with Behemoth in the finals. And they won another Best Design award so yeah, they went home with a lot of trophies that year! They were also due to take part in a tag-team tournament with Panic Attack as their partner but that event never happened due to a behind-the-scenes incident that requires its own post to talk about so I won't get into it here.


(record scratches)


WAIT JUST A COTTON-PICKING MINUTE HERE!!!


You mean to tell me that we could've had a tag-team tournament...with Razer and Panic Attack as a team?!


...


THAT WOULD'VE BEEN SO AWESOME!!! It really stinks that we never got this. Ah well, what's past is past and we can't change it.


Still, Razer ended Series 3 on a massive high. No main series win but several other wins more than make up for that I say.


STILL No Main Series Win...

Come Series 4, Razer returned again as the third seed for that series. Despite not finishing third in the last series, they gave it that seeding anyway because of its wins in the International and World Championships.


Razer was up in the first round against Velocirippa and Robochicken. This round was clearly a case of "who can Razer kill first" because neither one stood a ghost of a chance against it, let's be honest. Razer spent a good chunk of the battle just chewing up Robochicken (I guess Razer must love a good chicken dinner as I do) and even getting their claw so far into the machine that they picked it up a few times. Despite this, Velocirippa ended up losing in the end. They spent most of the fight staying out the way but then the moment Razer grabs them even once, Velocirippa just...dies. Simple as that. Goes to show it's all about how a robot's constructed, isn't it? Robochicken gets chewed up and still goes while Velocirippa gets bitten once and that's it, it's out. XD Interestingly, you can actually see the full uncut version of this fight on Razer's Ultimate Warrior Collection DVD. You can see it here too on YouTube.

Round 2 was no harder for Razer as it was against Milly-Ann Bug. Razer bit into it a few times and then pulled off all four of its wheels to immobilize it. No joke, they LITERALLY pulled off all four of its wheels one-by-one! That's some skilled driving and crushing to pull that off! So it seems things are going well for Razer. What could possibly go wrong now?


Oh...right. That.


So yeah, Razer was looking like it was in for an easy heat but then Pussycat showed up and spoiled its thunder. It's weird too because you'd think Razer would beat Pussycat easily. I mean with that kind of design, Razer could chew it up and be done with it, right? WRONG! Pussycat did some damage to Razer that caused the machine to get stuck in forward drive and thus they were unable to get away from the arena wall. Pussycat then took the opportunity to just slice Razer to ribbons, something Ian Lewis did NOT take kindly to. He felt that the Pussycat team broke the "Gentleman's Agreement" and had gone too far in damaging Razer after it had been immobilized. Regardless, Pussycat won the heat in the end and would go on to be a runner-up for Series 4 after losing to Chaos 2.


So what went wrong this time? Apparently, Pussycat's blade hitting the front of Razer caused a reverberation that travelled through the chassis and caused a failure in the new cut-off switch they'd installed prior to the show. This switch failure caused the whole thing to shoot into forward drive and as you know, it cost them the fight. Geez, and we give Behemoth flack for unlucky breakdowns like that...


Still, Series 4 wasn't over yet for Razer. They competed in the Pinball as the reigning champions...and proceeded to abandon the run to attack Sir Killalot so they ended up losing their title to Gemini. Yeah, not the best idea ever guys. =P They competed in the Sumo Basho and lost when Shunt pushed them off the ring and they competed in the Southern Annihilator alongside Behemoth, Vercingetorix, Onslaught, Spawn of Scutter and Attila the Drum. To no one's surprise, they ended up winning in the end after chewing up opponents left and right. The final saw them against Onslaught in where they grappled with them for a while but then Onslaught got flipped over on its side by Matilda. With Onslaught gone, Razer then proceeded to attack Matilda.

And so for the rest of the battle Razer just kept biting into Matilda like so with the House Robots barely helping her. It's speculated that this was all deliberate for they were planning to rebuilt Matilda in the future so they just let Razer destroy this one. Needless to say, Matilda was back and stronger than ever as we know so Razer did her a favour here.


Overall, Razer only took home the trophy for the Southern Annihilator. Series 4 was a decent run but not the best for them. That would all change as we cover...


An Extreme-ly Successful Series.

Razer returned for Robot Wars Extreme with some changes made to the machine. The armour as upgraded, the transmission was improved and a heavier wedge was added to the front of Razer to allow it to drive robots onto the immediate mercy of its claw while also offering better wheel protection. It also got added an adjustable "torsion bar" suspension which allows very precise positioning of the front wedge snout and can allow it to lower or raise the wedge. It's unclear if it was remotely adjusted or not.


These improvements did wonders for Razer for they performed ever so well throughout Extreme. They competed in the All-Stars where they battled Gemini, Behemoth, Firestorm and Tornado and beat them all to become the first ever All-Stars winner. What's interesting to note about their performance here is that the broadcast version of Razer vs, Gemini didn't give us the full story. What do I mean? Well for what we DIDN'T see, Razer drove onto the Floor Flipper, got flipped despite it not being immobilized at the time so it shouldn't have activated and then they got damaged by the Floor Flipper closing down on them. It still carried on fighting after escaping and once it grabbed onto Gemini again, it fired its flipper and that caused Razer's hydraulics system to rupture, immobilizing the whole machine in the process. Kinda sounds like what happened when Nuts 2 fought Androne 4000 in Series 10. Because the Floor Flipper shouldn't have been activated at that point, the judge's ignored all that and judged the fight up till that point and the broadcast version left all that out. Personally, I would've kept it in. It would've spiced up the battle a bit and added some interesting controversy to make for more fun viewing in my eyes.


Anyway, Razer not only won the All-Stars, they also won the World Championships again after defeating Diotoir, Flensburger Power and The Revolutionist in Round 1, Tornado again in Round 2 and DrillZilla in the final. I'm curious how this tournament would've gone if Chaos 2 fought them again...


The only competition they didn't win in this series was a Vengeance battle against Pussycat. They wanted vengeance for their loss in Series 4 and...didn't get it. Pussycat got clawed a few times and even picked up at one point but then a lucky shot on their wheel immobilized it and even seemed to warp their chassis a little so they couldn't move and thus Razer lost a second time but they still want a rematch inspite of Pussycat proving to be the superior machine. Oh just you wait, this is NOT the last time that Team Cold Fusion will be screwing with Razer my friends. Believe me...


Still, Extreme was a great show for Razer. But they still wanted the main title so they went at it again for Series 5...


Razer FINALLY Wins A Main Series!

Seeded fourth for this series, Razer were in it to win it and they showed that off very quickly in their first round against Big Nipper. However, it nearly went belly-up for them right off the bat when the hydraulic fluid reservoir started leaking after the wings were raised for a photoshoot. It was easily fixed but it was a potential knock on the team's confidence for this might be another potential breakdown that could cost Razer the main title. Thankfully, they never had any other issues and in Series 5, they performed with no breakdowns.


The first round with Big Nipper saw them surprisingly take damage when one of their wings came off but that did little to stop them as they chewed Big Nipper into submission. The second round saw them go up against Widow's Revenge, a robot that was said to be made up by the wives and girlfriends of the Razer team. This...is not entirely true. You see, Gillie Blood (who just so happens to be Vinnie Blood's sister) was the fiancée of Ian Lewis at the time and Emily Cathcart was Vinnie Blood's girlfriend. Fiona Mason had no ties to the Razer team at all and the whole thing was done for a laugh for the sake of the show anyway. Gillie is now married to Ian Lewis (and still is to this day) and they have a daughter named Darcie Lewis who joined the team in Series 8. Nice to know that after Razer thoroughly thrashed Widow's Revenge, it didn't sour things between Ian and Gillie eh? XD Anyway, after defeating the widows, they went up against Rick in the Heat Final. Interestingly, Rick wasn't supposed to be here at this point but Suicidal Tendencies had to pull out at the last minute so they came back in and after defeating Destruct-A-Bubble, made it to the Heat Final where Razer curb-stomped them with ease. Honestly Rick, you may as well not have bothered coming back. XD Imagine if Razer and Suicidal Tendencies had fought instead...


So for the first time EVER, Razer had made it out of the heats and were in the semi-finals! Their first round was against Spawn Again and to the surprise of nobody, they won with ease. They went up against the destructive S3 in the second round and again, won with ease. S3 was really the wrong kind of robot to go up against Razer for it's easy for them to grab hold of and Razer's wedge is too precise for S3 to avoid and get anywhere else to inflict big damage. I bet once the S3 team saw who they were up against, they were like "I wish I didn't win that Loser's Melee now!" This wouldn't be the last time Razer would defeat the winner of a Loser's Melee either...

And so Razer now found themselves in the Grand Final of Series 5! At long last, they made it! Their first round was against Firestorm 3 and unlike the All-Stars battle where Razer just spent the whole fight biting into Firestorm and not much else, this fight was more action packed and closer with two near-misses with the pit for the two. In the end, Razer won on damage and they were in the final against Bigger Brother. To no one's surprise, Razer won with ease. And so Razer were the UK Champions at last, taking home the trophy for Series 5. I only wish the Grand Final could've been Razer vs. Hypno-Disc as that would've been a more exciting match but I'M NOT BITTER ABOUT THAT(!). XP


Regardless, Razer fought long and hard for this trophy and after a series of naff breakdowns ruining their chances, it's nice that the machine got to perform as it was meant to and they were able to win in the end. They really earned that trophy and it's hard not to feel happy for them at this point.


This wasn't the only trophy they took home either for they ended up winning the Best Design Award for the third time as well, giving them two trophies to take home in Series 5. Overall, a great year for Razer. Was the next year any better? Well...


A Controversial Finale

I know some of you reading this are already dreading this moment so let's just dive in.


Series 6 saw Razer come back as the reigning champions and the Number 1 bot to beat. Despite improved machines and upgrades in technology, Razer were still looking unbeatable in this series. Their first round melee saw them against Raging Reality, W.A.S.P. and Brutus Maximus and it was the dominant bot in the entire melee with neither opponent standing much of a chance against it. Cyrax fought them in Round 2 and aside from a lucky flip on the champions, they barely posed a threat either. Raging Reality fought them again in the Heat Final and it was yet again barely able to hold its own against Razer. Seriously, when Razer isn't breaking down because someone sneezed at it, that thing is completely unstoppable!


It proved even further come the semi-finals where it effortlessly dispatched of Wild Thing and Dantomkia and in the Grand Final, even Terrorhurtz could barely put up a fight against Razer. However, the final battle saw Razer against Tornado...and they came prepared...

Yes, it's finally time to talk about THAT fight.


Razer vs. Tornado is to this day THE most talked-about and controversial battle in Robot Wars history. Even to this day, people STILL won't shut up about it! You've still got these salty Razer fans who can't accept the fact that Tornado won and just dismiss them as "cheaters" because of that frame. I remind you all that even the judges didn't say the frame was illegal and Tornado were allowed to use it so no, they're not cheaters. Tornado were playing it smart since the frame was the only way they could reasonably put up a fight against Razer anyway. However, some still see the frame as unsporting, including the Hypno-Disc team where in an Ask Me Anything reddit post, they felt it went against the spirit of the competition. Personally, I'm glad they used it otherwise we would've had another boring "Razer bites into opponent and doesn't let go for five minutes" fest and it would've been a rather underwhelming Grand Final as a result. Razer did put a blade on the claw to try and use it to hook Tornado's frame and pick them up but they didn't really get the chance to use it until right at the end. So after a tough fight between the two, Tornado were declared the winners and became the new UK Champions. Unlike Razer fans, I'm fine with this and I don't think Tornado are cheats. They fought smart and it paid off for them so kudos for being creative guys.


An Extreme-ly Shocking Conclusion

Razer were back again for Extreme II but they weren't in it all that much. They only competed in two competitions, the All-Stars and the European Championships.


The All-Stars really has nothing much to talk about as it's yet another competition that Razer wins with ease because unless you're Pussycat or Tornado with the frame on, you're mincemeat against this thing. Interestingly though, Razer VERY nearly lost in Round 1. There was one moment where 13th Black broke one of its wings and Chaos 2 got underneath it. If Chaos 2's flipper had worked at that moment, it could've flipped Razer over and got it stuck on its side with no wing to get it back up and thus Razer could've lost then and there. Alas, Chaos 2 took the fall instead and thus Razer went on to beat Spawn Again, 13th Black and Firestorm 4 to secure another All-Stars win. Funny how it took Razer not being in a series for someone else to finally win the All-Stars tournament.


The European Championships on the other hand are much more interesting. They had a rather easy round against the Dutch machine PulverizeR but found themselves facing Tornado again in the next round. They equipped the beak with a hook so they could grapple with Tornado and lift them up. It worked better than the blade in Series 6 and they hooked Tornado up by the frame. They were about to carry them over to the Pit and perch them on top of it so they'd be stuck and unable to move but...well, THIS happened:

Razer's motors burnt out and thus they were unable to move and as a result, couldn't finish Tornado off. The time ran out and the judges gave the win to Razer. HOWEVER...the Razer team felt the win was undeserved because as they rightfully pointed out, their motors burnt out and they were immobilized while Tornado was still working so really, they should've been counted out. As a result, they conceded the win to Tornado and went out instead. While the Razer team were good sports, I must sadly inform you all that not everybody agreed on this decision. Ian Lewis decided to be a douche about it and say that the competitors shouldn't have the power to overturn judge's decisions and when Simon Scott explained that the vote was 2-1 in favour of conceding, Ian told Vincent his vote didn't count because "He didn't build the machine". Wow, Ian's kind of a jerk. X( He did apologize for his out-of-line remark but it was too late. Vincent had been considering leaving for a while and Ian's remark was the last straw for him. He left the team and as a result, the Razer team retired for a while and Razer didn't return in Series 7. Pity it had to end on such a sour note for the machine but ah well. It wasn't over for Razer yet for they came back in the reboot...


A Very Quick Return And Goodbye

Razer made a surprise and welcome comeback for the very first episode of the reboot in 2016. They made some upgrades to get the machine fighting fit and ready for today's standards and the team now included Gillie and Darcie Lewis as mentioned earlier. Vincent Blood didn't return, no doubt still sore over the sour way things ended for the team back in Extreme II.


Razer looked to be within a good chance of winning this heat with no robot except maybe Behemoth and Carbide posing any real threat to it. Still, it looked as if this might be Razer's heat and in the first round melee, they were looking dominant alongside Terrorhurtz as they took on Nuts and Kill-E-Crank-E. They had hold of Kill-E-Crank-E and with Nuts struggling to do anything against them or Terrorhurtz, it looked as if they were in for an easy first round win...

Oh right, that happened. Didn't see THAT coming...


So yeah, in a shocking twist, Razer went out in the first round after Kill-E-Crank-E spun their wheels to cause them to overbalance and fall in the pit with them! Needless to say, viewers were dismayed at this outcome and Razer never appeared again after this so we never got to see them fight again in the reboot. I must also point out that Kill-E-Crank-E is owned by the Cold Fusion Team, the team that created Pussycat. It really does feel like this team has dedicated their lives to screwing with Razer, doesn't it? XD

As an interesting "What could've been", this photo of Razer shows them fitted with some kind of large scoop that was said to be an anti-spinner plough to shoo off spinners like Carbide. Pity we never got to see it in action...


So with their VERY brief return, Razer went back into retirement and never showed up again in the reboot. And the show got cancelled again so they never got the chance to come back, thus meaning Razer has quite an underwhelming conclusion to its legendary run. Sadly, that's life for you. Not everyone has some grand final send-off to their careers...


Overall

Razer is the definitive example of a machine that when it works, it REALLY works and when it doesn't, it can lose pretty hard. This is a machine that shows you should never be too overconfident in your abilities and that nobody is ever truly "invincible". Razer is a well-designed machine that is hard to beat, yes, but that doesn't mean it's unbeatable and it's foolish to ever think of yourself as such. The Razer team put together a well-designed, well engineered machine that can perform brilliantly when things aren't going wrong and is able to score some major wins as a result. Its many victories are a testament of how hard work and good design can pay off and its few losses serve as a humble reminder that even the best design can still have flaws. This machine deserves its legendary status as one of the Robot Wars greats and with a striking design and terrifying bite that leaves many opponents quaking in their shoes, it's a machine that I think will continue to inspire and intimidate many future roboteers who may wish to participate in this sport of robot combat...


And that's it for The Career of Razer. I hope you enjoyed this little lookback on this legend's career and I look forward to covering another machine in the future. Which will it be? Haven't decided yet but you'll know. Feel free to share your thoughts below too. What do you think of Razer? What's your favourite Razer battle? Comment away!


Next week will see the next part of my 100 facts about Disney countdown and we're on the halfway point so this'll be interesting. See you then everyone!



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