After the 1st series of Robot Wars on TV the heavyweight robots were all established, the smaller middleweights and lightweights were all but ignored (this was ok as heavyweights look good on TV). It took money, lots of time and a workshop to build a heavyweight and not something for the average person on the street.
The first ant Toecutter was built by Adam Clarke who set up the original 100g, 4" cube limit. This meant the robot had to be less than 100g and fit in a 4" cube and be able to fight, a far way off todays 100kg heavyweights. While building Griffon I decided that these antweights would be fun (and might catch on) so I built the original Odyssey and Argo, they were very primitive but fought in the first world series with Tyrant, Pants, Cannon Fodder and TYPE-0. By this stage the weight limit had increased to 150g to allow the use of standard parts rather than expensive micro parts.
This set the stage for world domination (almost).
Antweights then started to slowly take off as a cheaper smaller, faster flowing sport. Fights were limited to 3 minutes but hardly any matches went the full distance. Articles in the Robot Wars magazine and on various web pages spurned people to build their own fighting machines and there was even a deathmatch fight on Robot Wars Extreme that showed how dangerous antweights can be (Combatant).
Ants are now in their 7th year (AWS1=26 Sep 1999) with Antweight World Series 21 just being fought. Usual attendance is between 35-45 ants and is fairly steady numbers wise. Robot Wars on TV and the FRA have fallen but Ants remain.
I can safely say ants will be around for a few more years.
An antweight is a remote controlled fighting machine that weighs less than 150g and fits in a 4" cube. The full rules can be found here.
As a start here are 3 ants to give an idea of what can be achieved. These pictures are fairly old so the ants have progressed from then with more dangerous weaponry, upgraded servo's and Li-Poly batteries.
flipper (showing damage from Combatant)
expanding ant with pincers