Saturday, October 13, 2012

Remembering TurboGnome

The days when my mechanically minded Number Two Son and I built big combat robots are receding into fond memories now, but sometimes things turn up that remind me of that era.  Recently while rummaging around in the Secret Underground Workshop in search of parts for the upcoming Robot Dragster project I realized that some of the components I was collecting were old friends.

They were in fact bits and pieces of TurboGnome.

As you can see we once even had our own "baseball card", containing a large amount of non-factual information.

Turbo was in the 120 pound weight class, and might have actually weighed that....sometimes.  It all depended on what kind of modular weapons we happened to slap on.  There was no "high carbon tool steel" involved, just whatever we thought would injure and/or insult our opponent of the hour.

For a recurring high tech foe named Centipede -he skittered around on many small cool walking feet - we had flails of barbed wire mixed with kevlar strips to make a bouquet of entanglement.  We at various times armed the Gnome with a baseball bat, a machete, and with "The Brunswick Device", a bowling ball on a chain.  Once at a State Fair exhibition show we were pitted against a robot made of plywood.  We went at him with the "Spam-o-Nine Tails", cans of the greasy lunch meat attached to chains and spun up to a velocity sufficient to cave in the enemy robot's shell and slime it with protein of dubious origins.

Fun times indeed, even if TurboGnome was essentially obsolete from his creation.  You see, a robot whose striking power depends on stopping and spinning in place so that the weapon arms extend outward (and it is centrifugal not centripetal force here) has a severe tactical disadvantage.  Other robots could just stop a safe distance off and wait.  One of them named Mad Cow would actually mock us by mimicking our spin.  Then when our tactics had to change and we came out of the spin he would wallop us good and hard.

We would always give broken bits of our lawn gnome pilots to the victorious teams.  They were usually displayed in places of honor in the pits.

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