I dont know whether I came up with the idea for Robot Wars or the idea came up with me. It happened during a period in my life when a number of things converged in a particular way.
In 1992, I was working as a senior designer for LucasToys, a new division of LucasFilm. Early that year, I pitched a concept for fighting vehicles to a major toy company. The response was strangely indifferent. All that was said was "some day someone is going to figure out how to do this." I was perplexed, but let it go at that.
Around this time I was also independently pursuing an invention concept: a radio controlled vacuum cleaner. The idea was to turn a chore into play. . . to make vacuuming fun. I built a radio controlled tank and modified by putting a battery powered vacuum cleaner on it. It was fun but not very useful, so eventually I gave up on it.
One day I took the vacuum off the tank and as I looked at it, the 8-year-old boy in me envisioned its potential as a dangerous toy with battery powered tools mounted on it . . .I had a vision of it cutting its way through a wall. That reminded me of my fighting vehicle toy concept which bought forth the entrepreneur part of me . . . as it was instantly clear that this was to how to make the idea work: I could stage events and invite to competitors to build their own vehicles to compete in them. Merchandising revenue from licensing would be the principle revenue stream. . .i.e. toys. Robot Wars would own the licensing rights to mechanical athletes that others would build to enter the competitions.
This was the Star Wars model of an entertainment property generating
merchandising revenue. It sounded much better to call the vehicles robots -- and if I called the business "Robot Wars," I might get a head start with branding from name association with Star Wars if Lucasfilm didnt oppose my trademark application. They did not oppose it. I like to think it was because they wanted me to succeed with my new