Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Robot Wars with HEXBUG BattleBots - Review

Hexbug developed a set of battling robots inspired by the popular TV series BattleBots (USA), a spin-off of Robot Wars (UK). Both TV series have experienced a revival in the last couple years and growing in popularity.

There seems to be something really appealing to watch robots battle it out for survival and marveling at the engineering ingenuity of the roboteers. The Hexbug BattleBots Arena lets kids bring that experience into their own homes without needing to build their own robots. We hope kids using this toy, however, will be inspired to build their own robots in future. I took a look at the toy with my two kids aged 8 and 6.

Disclaimer: Hexbug sent us a BattleBots Arena to review. As always our opinions are our own.


Robot Wars TV series started in UK first broadcast on BBC in 1998. In 2004 the series was axed, but returned to TV in 2016 with a new arena, house robots and presenters. It was hugely successful and future series were confirmed for the next 3 years.

Mark Thorpe was the brainchild of Robots Wars and came up with the idea whilst trying to make a remote controlled vacuum cleaner!

Robot Wars is centred around the sport of robot combat teams of roboteers fight robots against each other avoiding arena hazards and "house robots" - some household names include Shunt, Matilda and Sir Killalot.

The American version of Robot Wars, BattleBots, and screened on Comedy Central in 2000 for the first time. Like Robot Wars, BattleBots TV series have experienced a revival and returned to ABC in 2015, with 7th season in 2016 and another to be confirmed.

HEXBUG BattleBots Arena - What's included?

Two remote control battle robots, Tombstone and Witch Doctor, two push pulverising hammers and the arena.  Batteries are included in this set.

Building the Arena

The arena comes "flat-packed" and you need to build it. My 8 year old, with the help of his younger brother, attempted the build.

There are a number of fiddly bits, especially slotting in the corner pieces. I would suggest adult support making sure the arena cardboard base doesn't get damaged whilst trying to slot in the plastic upright corner pieces.

Once the corners were in place, the kids managed to build the rest on their own. It's important to get the clear screens fitted properly as pieces do tend to fly off in all directions during combat.

The arena is fairly sturdy, but will not withstand heavy handling. My biggest bugbear is that it can't easily fold down and this is a big negative in a small UK home!

Pairing the Remote Control with a Robot

The battle robots are motorised and controlled with an IR remote control. It's the classic small HEXBUG remote which allows you to move the robot forwards, backwards, left and right. There's also a "weapons" button on the top to control the robot's weapon.

Pairing the remote with your robot was a trial and error experience. There are 4 channels available, so essentially you could have 4 remote controlled battling robots in the arena.

Make sure you pair on robot at a time and that the remotes are on different channels. You may have to move into a different space with one robot to achieve the pairing. Much to my kids delight, sometimes one remote would control both robots!

We did manage to pair the robots with a remote each and the combat could commence.

Know your BattleBots

Within the HEXBUG BattleBot range there are motorised robots and push-activated robots. It's good to know which are which and what you'll get and how they work together.

The BattleBots arena comes with two remote controlled robots, Witch Doctor and Tombstone. They are also available separately without the arena.

Then there's the Tarantula twin pack, which includes two remote controlled robots. These should be able to work with the other robots in the arena - you can have up to 4 remote controlled robots in the arena.

The Bronco and Bite Force robots are push activated but can also be played in the arena as they are dimensionally the same size as the remote controlled robots. But be careful of fingers and flying parts during battle!

See Inside - How the robot works

It's great you can see "inside" the robots. The body of the robots attaches with small magnets so they can "fly" off during battle. HEXBUG made the housing for the "engine" of the robots see-through so you can see the motors, circuit board, and wires.

It makes the BattleBots more interesting as a toy, as kids can see how the motors work and in the case of Tombstone see a pulley operating the robot's weapon. Allowing kids to see inside the "big black box" lets them better understand how things work and hopefully inspire them to make and invent themselves.

Tracy's kids were so inspired last year by the launch of Robot Wars in the UK, they started to design and make their own battling robots.

Play Value


My kids were really excited to play with the BattleBots. It's an exciting toy and provides a lot of entertainment value. If your kids are big fans of Robot Wars or BattleBots TV series the HEXBUG BattleBots is a great way for them to have robot battles at home.

It's THE toy that all the friends want to play when they come over to our house.

You could play with the Robots without the arena, but just make sure you keep an eye on small pieces which are only attached to the robots with weak magnets.


In my mind the play is short lived and my kids soon moved on to other things. The arena is not easily collapsible and so we end up with a rather large toy that can't be easily stored in a small UK home.

HEXBUG BattleBots is lots of fun and entertaining for kids and adults. So in case you want to play your BattleBots HEXBUG Robots by the combat rules, here they are...

Robot Wars Combat Battle Rules

Robot Wars is a knockout game and robots can be "out" when they are:

  • immobile for 30 seconds
  • flipped out of the battle arena
  • falls into the pit of oblivion

If none of above was achieved in combat the following criteria would be judged:

  • Aggression - how much battling the robot engaged in
  • Damage - amount of damage caused by opponent robot
  • Control - robot driver ability to move around arena, avoid hazards and battle opponent

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