Watch the worst robot fight club ever

When badly made robots battle in a bizarre sumo-wrestling match known as Hebocon, hilarious destruction ensues. May the crappiest robot win!

Bonnie Burton
Journalist Bonnie Burton writes about movies, TV shows, comics, science and robots. She is the author of the books Live or Die: Survival Hacks, Wizarding World: Movie Magic Amazing Artifacts, The Star Wars Craft Book, Girls Against Girls, Draw Star Wars, Planets in Peril and more! E-mail Bonnie.
Bonnie Burton
3 min read

Get ready to robot rumble! Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

In the classic game Rock'em Sock'em Robots, opponents are equally matched. Even in the robot thunderdome in the movie "A.I.," the robots are given a fighting chance. Sadly, though, not all robots are built to withstand a beating, and the Japanese robot sumo-wrestling competition known as Hebocon proves this point one metal punch at a time.

"Hebocon: The Robot Contest for Dummies," a just-released, eight-minute video about last summer's tournament, dares to ask: "If one crappy robot and another crappy robot fought each other what would happen?"

Contestants were asked to submit their crappiest robots for the tournament -- and were penalized for adding anything that could be considered too high-tech.

"The robots in this tournament are nothing like what their builders initially imagined them to be, robots are forgotten on the train, the strategies made with careful planning only result in failure, and the entrants who enter the ring brag about their robot's secret moves that don't really exist," the video's YouTube description states. "This is the heated battle between crappy, but lovable robots."

Over 30 horribly-constructed robots battle in what can only be described as a robot fight club imagined by David Lynch and Pee-wee Herman. The robot that exits the ring or falls over loses.

"Hebocon is a robot contest for the technically ungifted," the video claims.

To say that some of the robots are crappy is an understatement. Many of the robots can't move forward and some that can accidentally walk out of the ring on their own. Even starting the actual matches can be a struggle. "But that crappiness is what makes Hebocon so unpredictable," the video says.

One minimalist robot called "Amazing Quick Floor" is just two mini four-wheel drives attached to a piece of cardboard. Whereas its opponent, "Land Isopod" looks like a giant pill millipede and is made from a motorized toy wearing an iPhone case. In this instance, crappiness trumped strategy as the slow-moving Land Isopod crawled over the Amazing Quick Floor robot, which then shot out of the ring.

Some robots use food to their advantage. Video screenshot by Bonnie Burton/CNET

The first round of sumo battle involved two robots facing off, but the second round match pitted four robots against one other in the ring.

Some of the oddest contestants included a robot that merely shakes a packet of ramen seasoning at its opponent; a pole dancing Barbie doll; a robot weighted down by noodles; and a boxy robot attached to vibrating sex toys.

Kids and adults alike competed to take home the title of Crappiest Robot Champion. A massive robot named Kametaro 1 won the tournament but still was criticized for its size and weight as opposed to the other crappy robots in the competition.

"I seriously tried to win and now I feel ashamed," Kametaro 1 robot's creator said in his acceptance speech. Another contestant won the hearts of the crowd because she forgot her robot on a train and then went out for a beer instead.

While the actual competition took place in July at Tokyo Culture Culture in Japan, the video was shown this past week as part of the Japanese Media Arts Festival.