Full Metal Challenge
December 18, 2002 8:27 AM   Subscribe

Pehaps one of the advantages of massive cable channel proliferation is the market for geek sports. Full Metal Challenge is the latest creation of Cathy Rogers(slashdot) who also produced Scrapyard Challenge/Junkyard Wars. (Previously discussed here almost two years ago.) Contestants are given $3,000 and a month to build their own vehicle to compete in a variety of challenges with names "sumo", "wetropolis", and "hall of mirrors." One of the things that makes this show work is the color commentary by Rennaissance punk Henry Rollins.
posted by KirkJobSluder (18 comments total)
As someone with a background in industrial design, a penchant for half-ass rube goldberg engineering, and enough welding knowledge to be dangerous, I've found Monster Garage to be a much more entertaining example of this TV genre. Full Metal Challenge and Junkyard Wars seemed too forced, have run out of good challenges, and I'm sorry to see Cathy Rogers all tarted up with makeup. Plus the original British guy on JW isn't on enough anymore.
posted by machaus at 8:36 AM on December 18, 2002

The problem with Full Metal Challenge is that all the episodes are the same. I still enjoy Junkyard Wars, though, as long as it's a challenge that involves more than just getting an older beater to run again.

And I find Rollins to be painfully boring with his macho posturing. Maybe he's trying to be ironic, but he lacks the wit to carry that off.

Just caught Monster Garage the other night, as I was too addled by a cold to do much but sit before the tube. I thought it was pretty cool, although the macho posing got old quick there too.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:56 AM on December 18, 2002

I was looking forward to this show, especially with Henry Rollins as a host, but it's been a complete disappointment. Just like the American version of Junkyard Wars, they focus more on the competition (of course that's the point here) than the actual building of the machine. The building part was always my favorite. Who cares if they can drive around a pit bumping into a flaming ball, show me how they built the thing, that's the fun part.
posted by jdiaz at 9:08 AM on December 18, 2002

I saw one epsode of this, in which they tried to bowl over ten enormous concrete pins with their vehicles. The graphic before the event showed a car screaming toward the pins, skidding sideways, and sidewiping a bunch of the pins in a spectacular fashion. The actual event featured some monstrosity made from a lawn-mower crawling at about 5 mph toward the pins, and slowly pushing them around. That was about enough for me. I give it about a 2 out of 10. Junkyard wars was fun to watch, though.
posted by Samsonov14 at 9:09 AM on December 18, 2002

I tend to think of Full Metal Challenge as "Battle Bots" with old cars instead of robots, fighting to the death.

I'm surprised to hear anyone call Junkyard Wars "macho" (I hear the phrase "thank you" numerous times on the brit version) and then not say the same thing about Monster Garage. Monster Garage comes off like Junkyard Wars For Dummies, it plays into Joe Sixpack way too much with cheesy challenges (and the stupid announcers they use?). I find myself rolling my eyes and fast forwarding through everything but the actual build process on Monster Garage.

My favorite show of the genre is still Rough Science on PBS (imported from the BBC, no?). It's the same "bucket science" that relies on the basics of science coupled with back-of-the-envelope calculations to solve really hard problems in a harsh environment (harsh in terms of conducting experiments and getting resources to build). And it's entirely free of competition aspects, instead going for cooperative learning by a team working together. A breath of fresh air in an ever-increasing genre.
posted by mathowie at 9:26 AM on December 18, 2002

Gee, for me, it's hard for me to say who's more attractive, Henry Rollins or Jesse James...

Full Metal Challenge hasn't done much for me, but I find myself addicted to Monster Garage these days. It's hard though, because it's on opposite Antiques Roadshow here. Ugh. Decisions, decisions.
posted by greengrl at 9:46 AM on December 18, 2002

Please reread my post Mathowie. I never called Junkyard Wars macho. Rollins is on Full Metal Challenge, which doesn't show much, if any, of the build process. Makes for a boring show with Rollins chewing up the scenery while not much of interest is going on with the challenges.

On preview: I like looking at them both too greengrl, although they're still both tremendous bores.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:50 AM on December 18, 2002

I have to admit that I originally thought the idea of FMC would be interesting, but man, after you've watched a couple of shows, the idea of sitting there listening to the explanations time after time, and listening to that idiot Henry Rollins over the top "acting", I've found that watching entire episodes is like having teeth pulled. Thank god for tivo, it makes it easy to just fast forward through to the actual challenges, and lets me watch the thing in about half the time.
posted by piper28 at 10:15 AM on December 18, 2002

I rather enjoy the idea that the third place team's creation gets destroyed in the "incinerator." It appears to be nothing more than a few fog machines, orange lights, and a small prop explosion. None of the teams looks very disappointed to see their hard-built creation succumb to the destructive power of the thick orange fog...

And then there's Henry Rollins. He's so extreme!
posted by lalas at 10:33 AM on December 18, 2002

FMC having the same challenges is interesting because you can see new approuches to the same "old problem". There is going to be a team that will stand out from the other competitors, but until that amazing team comes along it will remain boring.

MG is good because the build team doesn't always already know each other (like on SC/JW), so there is room for trouble. The bad things about MG are the post production drama spin (during the build) and the over the top announcing during the staged challenges.

The producers of MG did pretty good with Motorcycle Mania 2 and Biker Build Off. Both shows had similar premise of short time frame to build and ride bikes to shows. Matt you might like those, both shows had lots of build time.
posted by sailormouth at 10:54 AM on December 18, 2002

I've not seen Monster Garage, but I love the Junkyard Wars (anyone catch the friday after thanksgiving day marathon? Screw shopping!) I, like most others, enjoy JW for the fact that you often get to see two very different approaches to the same problem. Add to that that I am completely stupid when it comes to anything mechanical or electrical, and I'm dumbfounded at some of these people's ability. It's a great show.

I caught an episode of FMC the other day for the first time. It didn't really hold my attention very well. There just wasn't that level of fascination in people doing things that I couldn't do. And I imagine that upon repeated viewings, watching the descriptions of each challenge over and over would get quite cumbersome.
posted by Ufez Jones at 11:31 AM on December 18, 2002

jdiaz has got it. It's better when it's about how they did it, not what they can do with it.

JYW: I really don't care about the contest, it's basically staged anyway or half the time their would only be one competitor. Also, the junkyard premise is pretty stretched with some of the parts the teams "find".

Which leads to->FMC: Contests aren't as rigged as teams have unlimited time, but I still don't care who wins in the end unless you make it about the technology involved, not just driving.

Which leads to->MG: No fake contest, minimal fake budget and parts supply. Jessie James has mechanic cred to beat all and they always show me a way to do something I find interesting.

But I fully agree, Rough Science is the best.
posted by Leonard at 11:45 AM on December 18, 2002

In the latest series of Rough Science, which has just finished on the BBC, the conditions are harsh in all respects: prospecting for gold in the mountains of New Zealand. In winter.
posted by rbrwr at 3:19 PM on December 18, 2002

Which leads to->FMC: Contests aren't as rigged as teams have unlimited time, but I still don't care who wins in the end unless you make it about the technology involved, not just driving.

Actually it seems that technology is a big factor because different designs tend to favor different events. 'Big and massive' vehicles tend to do well in sumo but poorly in 10 pin and hall of mirrors. Vehicles with heavy electronics get washed out in 'wetropolis'. Driving seems to be less of a factor than the design of the vehicle with equipment failure being a critical factor in success or victory.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:56 PM on December 18, 2002

Rough Science is a very interesting show, but it doesn't go into enough depth! I guess that's because (or why) the show is only half an hour long.

For example, in the past episode broadcast on PBS, the biologist went hunting for herbs to make pharmaceuticals. She found rosemary, made some tea, and just asserted with no justification that it would cure a headache. How does that work?

The same thing happened with the generator. The physicist wrapped some wire around an axle, and placed some magnets near it. When the axle spun, as if by magic, a small flashlight bulb pulsed on and off. I know how it works, but it's fun to hear their version of the explanation, and I'm sure many younger kids would like to know... It's for this same reason (the fun of the explanation) that I wish Bill Nye the Science Guy were still on PBS.
posted by lalas at 5:10 PM on December 18, 2002

Just as an aside I thought you might like to know that Cathy used to play keyboards in this band, and before that this band.

I'm sure you all knew that, but just in case. And if you didn't, she rocked those casio keyboards, in a hairclip type of way.
posted by ciderwoman at 7:29 PM on December 18, 2002

Heh. Somebody post a frame of the Marine Research video where she's staring vacantly with a CONFUSED sticker on her forehead. I'd do it, but I'm a lazy git.

The Korean kids rock out far more.

Maybe Ms. Rogers could be persuaded to do the Yatta! song on FMC?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:40 AM on December 19, 2002

I ama massive fan of Junkyard Wars - I can't comment on Monster Garage or Full Metal Challenge as neither are on UK terrestrial. That said, I agree with Leonard to an extent - I wish it was a bit less staged - ie no giant elastic bands in a junk yard and if the two teams didn't always take different approaches to each problem.

Oh and Rough Science is great. I think that's probably because it was originally concieved as a taster programme for Open University and therefore was made by scientists not TV execs.
posted by prentiz at 1:54 AM on December 19, 2002

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