What would happen when two shoddy robots sumo-wrestled with each other until one of them fell over or got punched out of the ring?
Answer: it made for terrific entertainment and surprisingly good for your soul.
Organized by the Tokyo-based Daily Portal Z (NIFTY Corporation), "HEBOCON: The Robot Contest for Dummies,” newly selected for the 18th Japan Media Arts Festival, was for the technically impaired who didn't take themselves too seriously to have fun (and lovable failures) in their lives.
Only 31 entrants out of 32 actually took part in the tournament on July 19, 2014 (we will reveal the reasons later). In the first round, a formal one-on-one duel was fought between each pair. The second round, on the other hand, was a heated, no-holds-barred combat to the death among four survivors each game from the previous round.
From the most hilarious robot contest video you're ever going to watch this year, we can see “robots” made out of 4WD toy cars plus a piece of cardboard; plastic wheels and “eyes” taped to an old cassette recorder; swishing Barbie dolls that swirl and kick their opponents. There is even a tissue box tank "actuated" by adult toys here!
And the combat process, of course, was a healthy mixture of chances, surprises, and outright hilarity. No use for strategists here:
In order to lower barriers to entry as well as the intimidation factor, there was actually a “penalty" for the use of high technology in the robotic contestants.
Here comes the problem, though: When one doesn't have the skills nor knowledge to assemble an actual motor or 3D-print out necessary parts, how does one even put forth a workable and movable robot fighter?
One makes do with what one has, of course. In HEBOCON, most people remodeled pre-existent motor toys with everyday materials, using remarkable humor and astonishing creativity to supplement their lack of technical acumen.
In the HEBOCON, even bad fortune and absent-mindedness were embraced with heartwarming generosity and good cheer. Such was in the case of the sole entrant who failed to make an appearance: She went and outright forgot her robot on the train to the contest venue.
Resigning herself to the fate of giving up on the contest, the entrant went into a nearby eatery having a beer and a dish of fried dumplings instead, and then posted about this on her Facebook page. Her apology for her unintended absence, e-mailed in with said photo attached, was read by the MCs and projected to the large screens.
The audience greeted this “act of supreme crappiness” with roaring laughter and a round of applause.
Who is to say that only scientists and expert engineers get to enjoy the fun of robotics? In the "HEBOCON: The Robot Contest for Dummies,” only the joyful and the foolhardy win.
**If anyone wants to launch a similar contest in his or her local area, please contact Daily Portal Z at this e-mail: dailyportal [at] list.nifty.co.jp.
Let’s enjoy a light-hearted day out with your very own crappy robots!