Matilda (sometimes nicknamed 'Tildy') was one of the original four House Robots. Based on a mutant alien dinosaur, she was equipped with pneumatic flipping tusks and interchangeable chainsaw or flywheel weapons at the rear. Matilda was fashioned from fibreglass matting. She was driven by a 12-volt motor and her tusks were operated by a powerful pneumatic carbon dioxide system.
Matilda was rebuilt from scratch for the 2016 series of Robot Wars, with a revised design. The new headpiece further enhances the dinosaur influence, with added spikes to the neck-frill, and new glowing red eyes. The rear shell now resembles the back of a crocodile, with raised spikes, and no Stegosaurus-like armour plates on top. Matilda's weight has increased significantly to 350kg, and her flywheel is now a double-bladed Hardox 35kg wheel, spinning 25 times per second. Her tusks also have considerably more flipping power at 800PSI.
In the earlier days, Matilda was the House Robot most picked on by the contestants, and was often flipped or attacked by robots for fun. After the flywheel was added, she became one of the most dangerous of the House Robots, now capable of throwing a contestant robot out of the arena. Jonathan Pearce often called Matilda the 'Matriarch of Mayhem.'
Matilda features in the BBC's first teaser trailer for the 2016 series.
Matilda's weaponry consisted of pneumatic lifting tusks and an interchangeable rear-mounted weapons bay that could accommodate either a chainsaw running at over 3000rpm or a 27 kg (60 lb) vertical spinning disc.
During the first series of Robot Wars, Matilda's lifting tusks ran on a relatively simple pneumatic system. For Series 2 minor changes were made to the pneumatics, allowing the tusks to lift faster. This system would remain unchanged for Series 3 along with the majority of the robot. It was however during this series that Matilda used metal horns instead of the rubber ones. These tended to break off easily and were removed once again in favour for the rubber ones.
For Series 4, the tusk mountings were changed. Originally, the tusks had been mounted close to the chassis. This was changed for a higher mounting, giving the tusks a higher area of lift. The change resulted in a much stronger and more reliable system. Improvements to the safety catches of Matilda's armour were also added. Before these improvements were made, the rear section of the shell would often fall off when she was flipped.
For Series 5, the pneumatic system and tusks were completely changed. The original tusks were scrapped in favour of larger, newly designed tusks. The pneumatic system was also changed to a much more complicated system using a mixture of air rams and dump tanks. Instead of the tusks being pulled back by the rams, they were now pushed upward and could lift much heavier weights. It was also during this time that her chainsaw, which had been almost completely destroyed by Razer, was scrapped in favour of a vertical spinning disc. Due to the disc's power and weight, the mounting was made from thick solid steel, which itself weighed a considerable amount. The flywheel was originally intended to be introduced in Series 4. The disc was painted pink, to catch more attention on camera, and given larger teeth to flip robots partway through series 5.
In 2016, her new 800PSI tusks operate at full pressure, her new 35kg flywheel is made from Hardox, and she features a new strengthened shell. Interestingly Matilda's head now flips up with the tusks.
Matilda was the second House Robot to be introduced into the series. Her tusks were relatively basic back then, and only had a simple lifting mechanism. Often, she would rely more on her chainsaw to attack robots that strayed into her CPZ (as she did with Mortis). The chainsaw itself was largely ineffective against the majority of the robots, as shown in the semi-finals of Heat D; whilst she was able to cut through the wooden body of SAT'arn easily, her saw stopped instantly upon contact with the metal body of Demolisher.
Rather than using her tusks to flip other robots, Matilda instead used them to ram them. This proved very effective during the Gauntlet, where she was often placed right at the end of the run. One of the most notable instances involved her pushing back Prince of Darkness just as it had crossed the line, taking it back several metres. Luckily for the contestant robot, she got stuck, allowing it to complete its run.
Matilda holds the dubious honour of being the first House Robot to be defeated in the arena (not including Shunt's defeats in the Sumo trial). During the British Bulldog trial, Matilda attacked an immobilised Recyclopse, and was pushed onto its tongue. She was promptly flipped over, the first time a house robot had ever been overturned. Matilda also suffered an internal breakdown during the Featherweight Gauntlet whilst attacking Krayzee Tokyo, whereby she started billowing purple smoke.
Matilda's pneumatic system was reworked slightly to make the tusks lift faster. She could now overturn robots more easily but ramming was still a favourite tactic. It was this series that Matilda used her spark shooter, however, it was rarely seen. As the quality of other robots' armour was on the up, Matilda's chainsaw was starting to lose its effectiveness.
However, Matilda once again had her fair share of being set on by competitors. In the King of the Castle trial, Spin Doctor used its sit-and-spin technique to break off one of her tusks. Also, during the heat final of Heat H, Cassius exploited Matilda's ground clearance and flipped her over, very similar to what happened to her in the British Bulldog trial in Series 1.
In the Joust trial, All Torque faced Matilda and she came off second best, ending up at her entrance, before being repositioned at the wall on the outside of the Jousting arena.
She also fell into the pit during Roadblock's Pinball run. To add the icing on the cake, Matilda was unable to gain an advantage on Kill Dozer because of the latter's scoop digging into the floor. This prompted a girl in the audience to turn around her Matilda sign to reveal a sign rooting for Kill Dozer.
Matilda received new speed controllers and was completely rewired for Series 3, reportedly doubling her top speed and "to avoid and embarrassing smoking circuitry like in Series II". Her soft rubber horns were also swapped in favour of metal ones. This proved to be an undoing as they frequently snapped off. Matilda was flipped several times during the series, this time actually disconnecting her rear armour, leaving her rear workings exposed. Her shell would come off a few times against robots such as Chaos 2, Aggrobot, Facet, Invertabrat and Gravedigger.
Matilda's chainsaw was not making as much impact on robots as it had in Series 1. As many a robot's armour was getting stronger, her chainsaw was becoming her secondary weapon in favour of the unchanged tusks. These tusks helped to ruin Six Pac's pinball hopes as she flipped the 75 point target out of the arena.
Matilda was still a favourite to pick on by the competitor robots because of her not very potent arsenal. After flipping Hypno-Disc to win Series 3, Chaos 2 chose Matilda as its second victim, throwing the house robot onto her left side in the CPZ, where Shunt was waiting, who was next to be attacked.
According to the Robot Wars Magazine, Hypno-Disc sheared both of Matilda's tusks off during Series 3.
Matilda's chainsaw barely damaged armour during this series, as chainsaws were designed for cutting wood, not metal, which made up the majority of robots at the time. Her tusks were given a makeover however. The mountings for her tusks, originally close to her chassis, were moved up, therefore making the tusks lift higher. Safety catches were also added, to keep her rear shell on even if she was flipped.
It was during one of the Christmas specials held after the series, however, where perhaps Matilda's most infamous misfortune occurred. In the Southern Annihilator final, after Matilda flipped Onslaught onto its side where it couldn't self right, Razer crushed Matilda's rear armour, not only filling it with holes, but also rendering the chainsaw inoperable. She was pushed onto the flame pit, with the house robots also attacking Matilda. After Dead Metal pushed Onslaught into the pit, Razer went after Sir Killalot, leaving Matilda immobilised. The damage was so severe that a funeral was held at the end of the episode.
However, Matilda reappeared active, albeit heavily bandaged, at the end of the episode. According to Vinnie Blood, the producers were planning on rebuilding Matilda, so they let Razer destroy her.
Matilda had been completely overhauled to keep it competitive in the new 100 kg weight limit - her chainsaw would not have been very useful because of its design and the strength of competitors' armour. Her tusks were new and larger, and the pneumatic system was gone altogether - instead, a complex system of air rams and dumps were fitted. This new system enabled the tusks to lift far heavier weights than before.
Her rear chainsaw "tail" was abandoned in favour of a huge 27 kg vertical flywheel, now capable of destroying robots. Because the disc was so heavy and powerful, the mounting was solid steel, itself fairly hefty in weight. She could now flip robots out of the arena with this weapon, however it took time for this to happen.
In the Flipper Frenzy , Matilda single-handedly immobilised Wheely Big Cheese, Bigger Brother and Chaos 2 with her new weaponry. This led to her being dubbed as "The Matriarch of Mayhem" as Matilda was the only female house robot. Her arsenal was so deadly, that no UK robot flipped her with the flywheel, and Tricerabot was the only robot to flip her over in this guise. However, she received a red card in a Mayhem match between The Steel Avenger, Tornado and King B Powerworks.
Matilda made her mark with the flywheel, like in Extreme 1. After Widow's Revenge was immobilised by Razer, Matilda reversed into the destroyed machine, ripping it apart. She also caused major damage to Rohog earlier in the series, and damaged Firestorm's flipper in the same heat.
There was however a controversial incident involving Matilda. During Terrorhurtz's battle with Ming 3 in Heat L, she immobilised the latter with her flywheel. The match went to the judges, who chose Terrorhurtz.
Matilda had no major improvements apart from the colour of the flywheel. It was now pink instead of grey, although the pink flywheel was occasionally seen in Series 5. It seemed even more powerful than before, as during the Heat A final, she reversed into Raging Reality, tearing off a top panel and carving a huge gash into Raging Reality's side. This attack immobilised the silver robot, ending its run in Series 6.
During Panic Attack's battle with Terrorhurtz in Heat I, Panic Attack was cornered by Matilda in the CPZ. She turned around and ripped Panic Attack's top straight off, flying out of the arena and into a camera.
When Tornado and Dominator 2 fought for a place in the Grand Final, Matilda threw Tornado high into the air with its flywheel, almost throwing it directly into the pit. It was after this action that Dominator 2 drove into the pit itself.
Once again, Matilda proved her power by actually throwing robots Out of the Arena instead of armour panels. This feat happened with Sir Chromalot and Vader. Incidentally, both happened during the Challenge Belt.
Another famous moment that series was in the Annihilator. At the end of Round 4, with Major Tom a sitting duck, Matilda reversed into it, causing major damage to the fibreglass shell. Matilda attacked several times more, with Major Tom ending up dilapidated.
Matilda was unchanged from Series 6, although she kept flipping robots out of the arena with her flywheel, with Ceros being a victim. As Refbot counted out Ceros, she reversed into the rhinoceros-based machine, sending it out of the arena, giving St Agro the eighth place in the semi-finals.
Matilda was the first House Robot to have been confirmed for the reboot series. Along with fellow House Robots Shunt, Dead Metal and Sir Killalot, she has been upgraded to "modern standards". Her weight has been increased to 350kg, Matilda's flywheel is now a double-bladed Hardox 35kg wheel, spinning 25 times per second. Her tusks also have considerably more flipping power at 800PSI. Her design brandishes spikes, and glowing red eyes.
In Meet the House Robots during Matilda's segment, Matilda manages to lose a horn after using its flywheel which caused a piece of wood to fly off which knocked the horn off.
In Episode 2, during the Thor vs Shockwave (2016) in the head to heads, Matilda manages to use her flywheel to tear a section from the already damaged scoop of Shockwave off as well as ripping off the top of the wheel guard of Thor.
Matilda was brought out of retirement in 2010, however, her first appearance in competition was in 2011 at the Uk Heavyweight Championships at the O2 Arena. Built by Alan Gribble, this version of Matilda served as the house robot in the Featherweight Championship and continues to act as house robot for all Roaming Robots tournaments. In 2014, John Findlay built a new version of Matilda. Alan Gribble had worked at Gloucester University providing the innards whilst Alan had provided the shell, but with Alan's death, the university wanted its propriety back. This new version has a flywheel, improved tusks and a tougher body shell. John still has the body shell of Alan's version of Matilda to use for display at events. In 2015 she got another new shell/ new look this time being darker in colour and more tough, looking more like the original.