Robot Combat League premieres Feb. 26 at 10pm ET/PT on Syfy.
At least since 1927’s Metropolis, and continuing into the modern era with Transformers and this summer’s anticipated blockbuster Pacific Rim, robots have been a fixture in movies and television. Some of the mechanized creations have become popular characters in their own right, from Robby the Robot of Forbidden Planet, to the nameless robot in TV’s Lost in Space, to those lovable droids R2-D2 and C-3PO in Star Wars, to name just a few.
A burgeoning TV and movie genre over the years has pitted robots in battle against each other, and for a while, the “battling robots” TV trend was popular, most notably in the Comedy Central series BattleBots. But that series featured robots created by home inventors doing battle with each other. Syfy’s new series Robot Combat League, however, ups the ante, and combines elements of BattleBots with cinematic robotics.
Hosted by WWE’s Chris Jericho, Robot Combat League, premiering Feb. 26 at 10pm ET/PT and airing Tuesdays, features tournament-style gladiatorial combat between 8-foot-tall, state-of-the-art humanoid robots controlled by “robo-jockeys.” (Think a realistic version of the movie Real Steel.) Robot Combat League features 12 teams consisting of a fighter (the “robo-jockey”) and a robotics engineer (the “robo-tech”) from various backgrounds. Each team is paired with a unique robot and will fight in a competition using a high-tech exo-suit that translates the jockey’s movements to the robot.
The robots are designed and created by robotics expert Mark Setrakian, who has developed life-saving robotic systems and also pioneered cutting-edge creature effects, animatronics and control technology for films such as Men in Black and Hellboy. Setrakian combined his study of biology with engineering to create robots with uncanny organic movement. And they look pretty cool, as well — which is part of the reason why audiences have been drawn to robots for the past century.
Robot Combat League airs Tuesdays on Syfy at 10pm beginning Feb. 26.
The Robot Fighters of “Robot Combat League”
Here are the robots, and the jockeys and techs controlling them, that will be competing in the first season of Robot Combat League, with descriptions provided by Syfy. Which ones will you be rooting for?
Jockey: Andrew Montanez
Tech: Ross Mead
An axe-shaped head acts as a weapon during combat and provides a place for a camera to capture all the action.
Strengths: His axe-head smashes opponents in the face, and heavy armor protects during close-range attacks.
Weaknesses: Heavy armor restricts range of motion and ground speed.
Jockey: Devonric Johnson
Tech: Russell Tait
Made of steel and leather, Brimstone is a mechanical brute with pummeling power. Light and flexible leather offers excellent mobility, a unique look, and when torn, will reveal bright metal underneath.
Strengths: Smooth surfaces deflect attacks by causing them to glide off the body armor.
Weaknesses: Exposed midsection allows opponents to open gaps and damage internal mechanisms.
Jockey: Jeffrey Fellin
Tech: Paulo Younse
This heavy-armored trooper is rigged for combat with tank-tread feet for extra traction. His helmet-cam is similar to those used by the U.S. military.
Strengths: Great protection and strength.
Weaknesses: Extra armor and pack limits speed and range of motion.
Jockey: Amber Shinsel
Tech: Dave Shinsel
His shock-mounted roll cage can absorb high-impact attacks. This robot is light and fast.
Strengths: Unique roll cage design and smoked titanium panels reduce the weight of the armor while offering good protection.
Weaknesses: Roll cage restricts range of motion, making him more prone to attacks.
Jockey: Ciji Thornton
Tech: Fazlul Zubair
Tightly engineered, his features include stainless steel armor, shock-suspended armor bands, a built-in camera with high-intensity lighting, and devastating weapons.
Strengths: Strong center of gravity makes him extremely difficult to knock down.
Weaknesses: Armor features create mobility issues.
Jockey: Keisha Howard
Tech: Annika O’Brien
He’s constructed from steel that’s been stitch-welded together and features a 24″ video monitor in his upper torso.
Strengths: Heavy armor offers good protection and is designed to allow for an excellent range of motion and thus good mobility for attack.
Weaknesses: An opponent with high degree of accuracy can attack open gaps and destroy internal mechanisms. Stitch-welding can be blown open.
Jockey: John Peel
Tech: Heather Knight
He’s made from steel with chain mail and metal crests and finished with a distressed, battle-tested look.
Strengths: Great protection and strength.
Weaknesses: Strong, heavy armor limits speed and range of motion.
Jockey: Amanda Lucas
Tech: Saura Naderi
Made of welded steel and reclaimed parts, his skin includes hoses and other mechanical structures that add depth to his structure.
Strengths: Lightweight body armor allows him to move freely and fire off attacks with lightning speed.
Weaknesses: Light armor leaves him vulnerable to attacks.
Jockey: Diana Yang
Tech: Chris Hardouin
Built from fiberglass and aluminum, his spikes are firmly fixed to his skeleton and protect him during combat.
Strengths: Unique hooks offer protection and allow him to use his entire body as a weapon.
Weaknesses: Lightweight armor makes him more prone to attacks.
Jockey: Ashley Mary Nunes
Tech: Kyle Samuelson
Although more crudely constructed than his counterparts, his oversized shells help withstand attacks to any part of his body.
Strengths: Incredibly versatile and can endure attacks to any part of the body.
Weaknesses: Heavy armor slows his rate of attack.
Jockey: Bayano Kamani
Tech: George Kirkman
Made of 18-gauge steel with a high-quality automotive finish, his circular head houses a camera and high-intensity light that scans side to side.
Strengths: Fast and deadly with a dynamic range of motion for increased attack poses.
Weaknesses: Must use speed and strategy to overcome a stronger adversary.
Jockey: Heather Williams
Tech: Brandon Lewis
Has a clear resin dome that covers his “skull,” which moves around with a life of its own.
Strengths: Tight body-fitting armor offers great protection from attacks.
Weaknesses: Stitch-welded skull makes his steel plates more likely to split during combat.
Robot Combat League fighting: © 2012 Syfy Media, LLC. Credit: Nicole Wilder
Robot Combat League individual robots: © 2012 Syfy Media, LLC.