Interview with Greg Cathalina and Sam Price from Bugglebots

Bugglebots competitors Greg Cathalina (WeeWoo) and
Sam Price (Maximum Ogredrive) talk to The Robot Report
about their time at Bugglebots.

What were your expectations of Bugglebots with this being its’ 
inaugural event?

Greg: Cosmin and I were going into the competition with something new, and it was a new event, so we were very curious as to how it would turn out. I guess we didn’t really have any expectations of the event other than what Bugglebots had said it would hopefully be like. We knew the show was focused a lot on entertainment as well as the competition, so we set out to be entertaining and have fun.

Sam: With it being a new event and run by volunteers, I don’t think I had many expectations either and expected it to have a lot of teething problems. Maximum Ogredrive was reasonably untested too, and with the competitors being hand-picked I was expecting the caliber of the competition to be very high. But at filming itself there was a really good mix of experience levels among the teams, and that made it less daunting and more enjoyable. I don’t want to say I felt overly confident, but I wouldn’t say I was overly nervous either. It was a really fun event, and it totally exceeded expectations in terms of organisation. It’s probably one of my favourite events of 2018.

Greg: Yeah, it was really well run and we’re not the only ones who were very glad about that! There was a fair amount of waiting around due to filming interviews and stuff like that, but for us this allowed for extra repair time… which I don’t think too many roboteers would complain about! Bob was great at keeping the audience entertained between fights too, and the crew were really organised so it wasn’t hard to find out information if you needed it.

Greg and team mate Cosmin in pre-fight interview

What opponents did you want / not want to fight?

Greg:  We knew there were a few powerful spinners in the competition, and we actually built WeeWoo with them in mind and wanted to fight them! Cosmin and I would have both really liked to fight either Rev 2 or Flick. As it turns out, we didn’t fight a spinner in the main competition which we were a tiny bit sad about but I guess that’s the luck of the draw, and the fight with Maximum Ogredrive certainly made up for it!

Sam: I would have really liked to have a crack at Limpet or Doom Kid. Control fights are my favourite, as fights with spinners can be over very quickly. I have a good driving reputation, and both Limpet and Captain Doom are driven by highly esteemed drivers, so it would have been cool to see how I would have fared against them. But after fighting WeeWoo I can’t say I was deprived of a good driving fight, as that fight was just 3 minutes of being on my toes the whole time!

Sam with Maximum Ogredrive

How did you feel about the other bots in your heat?

Greg: Well there was this Ogredrive guy…

*Sam laughs*

Greg: Jokes aside, I really liked our heat as there was so much variety! Sam’s Ogredrive is a great saw bot, and I love a saw bot! Flick looked amazing, Rev 2… Well I love a good undercutter and I love a crusher like Snippers McGee too! Our heat was really diverse and I adored that. I also kinda loved that we went up against Doctor Thwackenstein as it was one of the largest bots in the competition and we were the smallest..

Sam: I sighed at first because I’ve fought Felix (Rev 2) a number of times before in live events and he’s gunning for me every time we fight! With this heat being so diverse I couldn’t really form a plan in my head as to how I thought it would turn out. Despite being an overhead saw bot, Maximum Ogredrive has thin top armour and so I didn’t fancy facing Doctor Thwackenstein or Snippers McGee.  I didn’t know much about WeeWoo as Greg and Cosmin had kept it pretty secret before filming, and Cosmin has a nasty drum spinner so I was apprehensive about this bot. Rev 2 and Flick are also pretty nasty spinners! So I don’t think I was as happy as Greg with the line-up. I knew I wasn’t going to have an easy time of it, but that’s the luck of the draw and the nature of the competition.

Sam (left), Cosmin (middle), Greg (right) ready to do battle.
WeeWoo vs Maximum Ogredrive

How do you both feel about WeeWoo vs Maximum Ogredrive being one of the best fights of the season?

*awkward silence and giggling*

Greg: I don’t know, I’m so awkward with compliments… Proud, I suppose. It was WeeWoo’s second ever fight, we’d never driven them on a steel floor before, and it was my first time driving together with Cosmin. So for it to be a fan-favourite definitely gives me a sense of accomplishment! It’s nice when people enjoy something you’ve made. We set out to show that cluster bots weren’t useless and the fight with Maximum Ogredrive definitely proved that I think. So I’m proud and humbled by that achievement. I don’t feel bad about losing to Sam, it was a great fight!

Wee fights off Maximum Ogredrive when it attacks Woo

Sam: I think when you build a robot, your creation is quite personal to you and you definitely feel proud when it does well. When I look back at that fight it makes me feel great to have been a part of it, and for it to have happened at an event which was being filmed so that others can enjoy it too. I really had to work for that fight; it was some of the most intense driving I’ve ever had to do in a competition, and it was quite emotionally draining. The fact that so many people have enjoyed it and been so vocal about their enjoyment of it is a great feeling.

Maximum Ogredrive tries to control both clusters at once

Wee and Woo gang up on Maximum Ogredrive

What were your highlights or favourite moments of the event?

Greg: Firstly I think the fight with Ogredrive pretty much goes without saying! I was so focused in that fight that I was oblivious to everything around me. So when people were approaching me afterwards and saying it was one of the best fights of the day, I was pretty surprised and humbled.

Secondly, on the Sunday morning I wanted to test some things out and as I was doing it, Woo started billowing with smoke when a speed controller burnt out. This made me panic because Wee and Woo are so small, so its’ insides are all compacted together very tightly, and I was very worried that everything else inside it would set on fire too! Thankfully everything else survived but the LiPo nearly came to a sorry end. It took most of Sunday to repair it and I was getting pretty stressed out as I was flying home to The Netherlands that afternoon. Then – of all things – the fire alarm went off (though not because of us!) and the whole crew had to evacuate! Fortunately it didn’t last long and we were back inside fairly quickly, but it was an amusing irony that a fire alarm delayed our fire-damage repairs!
Then, we found out that our next opponent would require switching the scoop for the forks, increasing the workload even more! Despite the stress of it, I loved it, and felt a real sense of achievement when we got back in the arena after coming so close to throwing in the towel.

Sam: Taking out Alex Mordue in the Rumble Bee was definitely one of my personal favourite moments. Actually that fight in general was one of my favourite moments. The fight was crazy and I was really nervous about being in the arena with Saw Loser after seeing what it could do. KO’ing it the way I did made me wonder what the Hell I’d built..

Sam (centre) with fellow Rumble Bee competitors Claw 2, Drizzle, Snappy, and Saw Loser

Isn’t Alex Mordue one of your heroes, Sam? How does it feel to K.O one of your heroes?

Sam: Ahh… Heartbreaking? The thing is with “Saw” Loser…. I was expecting it to be a saw! I was in the audience pretty close to the arena during its’ fight with Zero Gravitas and after seeing what it did, was just like…Nope! Do not want to fight that! It was definitely the bot I feared most when going into the Rumble Bee. Drizzle’s weapon is nasty, but the bot was pretty unstable so I wasn’t too worried about it as long as I stayed away from the weapon. Snappy and Claws 2 I’ve fought before and neither have destructive weapons so I went in to that fight with the plan of taking out Saw Loser first if I got an opportunity or keeping well out of its’ way. I never thought I’d actually get that opportunity, and I definitely didn’t think I’d damage it that much! I kind of feel guilty, but it’s still a great feeling to K.O one of your heroes, especially when they’ve got a bot as destructive as that!

Maximum Ogredrive cuts into Saw Loser’s electronics
Image may contain: food
Damage to Saw Loser after being eliminated by Maximum Ogredrive

Were there any low points for either of you?

Sam: When I first arrived at filming I thought I’d lost my safety link, and no one had anything that would have been a suitable replacement, so that was definitely a low point. Then I found it at last, armed up the robot, and everything worked except the saw! So I didn’t get off to a great start. I’d been at work the night before and gotten up really early to drive down to Bristol for the filming. I came very close to pulling out, but lots of people rallied up to support me and weren’t going to let me give up. It turned out to be quick-fix, just needed to replace the speed controller.

Greg: When Woo started smoking, definitely! It’s that heart-sinking feeling every roboteer dreads as they see that little puff of smoke come out of the robot… The Pinwheel guys were watching and said “uh oh that looks like trouble” and I was just like NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! But hey it all worked out in the end!

Overall, did you enjoy the event?

Greg: I really hope we get a second season! The event was a lot of fun and really well organised! The application times and build windows were great, and despite being pretty competitive, the atmosphere among the builders and crew was really chilled and relatively stress free. Everybody was really supportive to each other and the roboteers didn’t feel like they were being invaded by the film crew. I definitely want to do it again!

Sam: I agree with Greg. Aside from the expected bot problems, the event was great fun and well put together. I overheard Kane Aston say that, considering it was the inaugural event for the guys running it, it was so well put together and organised and I echo that sentiment. It’s definitely one of my favourite events that I’ve been to and I’d love to do it again!

Image may contain: 6 people, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor
Cast, crew, and competitors outside during the evacuation.
(Photo credit Philip Bruland)

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