Category Archives: Mechs

Ice Vigilator

Having built a Classic Space Turtle robot, some Blacktron hardware and a Futuron turtle variant, obviously I needed to build something Ice Planet to round out the set of early Space themes. (And maybe something M:Tron, but I’m only just beginning to develop the glimmerings of an interest in that theme and don’t have any figures or logos or trans neon green parts).

An Ice Vigilator mech picks up a crystal

An Ice Planet mech seemed like a good idea, and I have enough in the way of trans neon orange to give several design options.

I went with a four-legged, pleasingly War of the Worlds-esque design using the old-style helicopter windscreen element from the Ice-Sat V. The cockpit section rotates allowing the mech to be walked in any direction, and the multi-jointed legs allow some interesting posing options, though less than you might think because I had to use clickstop hinges for most of them for the sake of stability and weight issues.

The mech doesn’t have a lot of prominent weaponry apart from that big claw. I’m really satisfied with my decision to remodel the cockpit and replace the twin arms on its sides with a single claw arm underneath. The result is so much more Martian Fighting Machine-like and just seems to work better.

The short antennas on either side of the cockpit would probably work as last-ditch weapons, but I’ve decided that they’re actually “thermal lances”: short-range heat blasters for melting a path through the Krystovian ice.

The giant neon orange spindle is supposed to be some sort of crystal deposit. The original Ice Planet people appear to have been doing some kind of rocketry research, based on their proliferation of rocket launchers and satellites, but they also had a number of mining and ice-cutting vehicles, so probably the rocket research was only part of what they were doing.

I’m calling my new Ice Planet mech the “Ice Vigilator”, a slightly meaningless name mostly stemming from the tall, looming aspect of it that made me think it would be a good guardian or sentinel-type vehicle.

The pilot isn’t Generic Ice Planet Guy, who’s my only official Ice Planet minifigure thus far. I’m using the minifigure head with the red goatee (which I’m rather attached to as he looks a bit like me), as perhaps a son or scion of the original “Ice Babe” minifigure. Maybe in any post-Christmas Bricklinking I do I might see if I can acquire the other Ice Planet minifigures, or at least a Commander Bear…

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A Plague of Locust

Blacktron BT221 Locust

It is, however, quite a large locust, and Blacktron to boot, so it should not be taken lightly.

Given the potential body stresses of a hopping form of locomotion on the pilot, a locust might seem a poor choice of creature on which to model a mech, but on low-gravity worlds like Titan and the Jovian moons, hopping is probably the most efficient means of motion there is. With the low gravity producing much lower stress on both pilot and vehicle, the Locust proceeds in what are effectively a series of low glides, mostly using the legs for altitude maintenance.

The BT221 Locust, then, fills the role of the BT086 Alienator on planets whose gravity is low enough to make a walking gait impractical. Armed with three small plasma pulse cannons and two lasers attached to the forward pilot’s position, the Locust is one of the least armed vehicles in the Blacktron arsenal, but makes an effective single-pilot scout/reconnaissance vehicle.

Obviously I’m in arthropod mode for my space builds, what with the Black Widow antiturtle and the Futuron Scarab, but arthropods make excellent base creatures to model mechs and space vehicles after. I’ve got an idea for a mech based on a pillbug design that can roll up into a ball for atmospheric re-entry drops, but I have no clue yet how I’m going to build it in LEGO.

All Terrain Elf Transport

Forward the AT-ET!

In a rather different vein from my previous Christmas build with the candle and the angel, this one is pure fun and silliness.

As a Santa minifigure is still on my list of “stuff to get at some point”, my options are almost as limited for the other kind of Christmas build as they are for building some any sort of Biblical scene.

We’ve got some elves, though.

Okay, they’re the Emily Jones variety, not the Santa’s Workshop variety, but up to a point an elf is an elf is an elf. It’d be rather amusing to have Santa Claus leading a whole clan of Legolas’ kin into battle on dragons, but that’s another build. And I don’t have a Santa yet to do it with.

The words “Christmas elf mech” bounced through my mind like a rogue superball…

I’ve built an elf mech once before, but not a Christmas one (though it was posted on the old LEGO.com Galleries not here), and I thought about several options for making it Christmassy. I initially contemplated a steampunk Father Christmas mech (somehow a steampunk Santa has to go by his British name), but if I was going to use an elf for a pilot that didn’t seem quite right.

“Maybe I could make it shaped like a reindeer or something”, I thought, and the idea of a sort of chibi AT-AT popped into my head.

Of course, the All Terrain Elf Transport has antlers and a red nose, and somehow Santa Claus red seemed the only possible choice for a main colour. It’s not really in keeping with the colours of the various LEGO Elves, but that’s okay. They’re not necessarily in that world right now, and Santa’s colours overrule here anyway.

Farran’s green outfit made him the best choice to actually drive the AT-ET, but Azari wanted in as well. As hers was the only cold-weather mantle fabric element I could find I let her.

Anyway, have a rather reindeeroid AT-AT derivative, and enjoy!

Q-Mech

Everything’s cooler in space.

This could just about be my LEGO building motto, but it’s nonetheless true. Astronauts are cooler than regular pilots. Star Wars is cooler than Earth wars. Space aliens are cooler than illegal aliens. You get the point.

Anyway, the various classic LEGO Space themes gave us a world where humans are in space, big time. The original Classic prototheme was a sort of semirealistic basic exploration theme; Blacktron gave us a criminal or rebel element; Space Police introduced us to law enforcement in space. M-Tron showed us the world of space haulage, or possibly mining or manufacturing of some form, and Ice Planet gave us arctic research in space. The year-to-year subthematic overlap placed all these incarnations of LEGO Space in the same universe, so it’s quite evident: in the LEGO future, humans are living and working in space.

LEGO City is the modern “real life” theme, giving us brick-built versions of everything from waste trucks to pizza parlors. However, there are plenty of other adjuncts to the modern City and earlier Town themes, such as the jungle subtheme, the airport subtheme and the construction subtheme. Ice Planet’s obviously a prequel of the Arctic subtheme, Police and Space Police go together, and I’ve played with the idea of space construction (witness this spacedozer). The idea of a Jungle Planet or a Modular Space City or a Volcano World space-based subtheme is a pretty good one, but that’s not what I’m doing here.

No, this build takes its cues from a variety of older City and Town subthemes; most notably the Coast Guard and Res-Q subthemes, but with a bit of the LEGO Fire Service thrown in.

I’ve seen excellent models of space ambulances built by other people, and the airport subtheme is cosmicised every time someone builds a starliner or personnel shuttle, but to my knowledge I don’t think I’ve ever seen a space rescue build.

Taking my nomenclative cues (no pun intended) from the old Res-Q line (1998-99) as well as the various classic Space themes, I’m calling my LEGO Space Rescue Service “Q-Tron”.

This, then, is the Q-Mech.

Selecting red and white with trans blue transparent elements and grey structural highlights as a colour palette both high-visibility and distinct from the various early Space themes, I thought about building a large emergency recovery vehicle-type rover with towing hooks and winches and so on, but I really wanted 6-8 large Technic-type wheels and the only colour I’ve got in sufficient quantity is gold. And that doesn’t work with my chosen colour scheme.

So, more or less done with spaceships for the moment, I decided to build a mech instead.

The Q-Tron rescue service mech is a large (ish) humanoid mech able to navigate rough terrain and provide heavy backup for the Q-Tron emergency response teams. Relatively generic and adaptible, the Q-Mech is used in a variety of space rescue roles wherever large amounts of extra strength are required, including moving debris in the wake of planetary quakes or landslides, crash recovery and cavern bracing.

The mech’s clawed hands are capable of considerable delicacy despite their size, and are frequently employed Jaws of Life-style in crash recovery situations.

The Q-Mech contains a powerful onboard atmospheric scrubber and liquid oxygen tank which can be plugged in externally to those of a vehicle or space habitat in the event of an environmental systems failure. The twin nozzles on either side of the cockpit can handle external hoses, though they are multipurpose in design and also function as part of the mech’s fire suppression system.

The vacuum of space serves as an effective fire suppressor for most types of fires, but there are still various chemical agents in use which contain enough stored oxygen to combust even in vacuum.

These deadly “vacuum fires” cannot be controlled with traditional methods of fire suppression, but the Q-Mech uses powerful “dry-foaming” flame-retardant chemicals to encase and absorb the energy of a vacuum combustion event.

I think my favourite part of this mech is the sloping windscreen interface. A little finicky to put together (it more or less exploded a couple of times during construction when I squeezed too hard), it’s one of my better approaches to a mech cockpit. And the nozzles hide the way it’s done quite well.

I think this may be one of my better mechs yet, even though I’m not really using advanced joint techniques on it. I’m not convinced I could scale up the joint techniques I’ve seen to something this stocky and robust. Still, I’m satisfied with the way I’ve disguised the nature of most of the joints.

Because I wanted to show it in action and still had the Black Horus built, I ended up with a situation in which I have a downed enemy Blacktron pilot being rescued by the Q-Tron mech. A little weird, but emergency services people don’t ask you whose side you’re on before they get to work. They just get on with it.

So this is my space rescue mech. I have an idea for a Q-Tron rescue hovercraft (ie antigrav) as well, and I may well build that next. Stay posted…

Mechs and Violence

Deliberately tryimg to build better mechs and use more advanced building techniques than my endless balljoint limbs and fancified-box cockpits, I put together this little Blacktron mech.

In that pose, it looks rather gangsta-esque, so I’m calling it the Black Panther mech. It’s probably fitting if the Blacktron are the galaxy’s criminal element, and makes sense if they’re more like a hostile nation, too.

As far as scale goes, either this is an actual humanoid combat robot, in which case it ought to be roughly man-sized or no more than 8ft tall, or there’s a pilot sitting behind that trans yellow stud on the head, in which case it’s monstrously huge and wields a gun bigger than an ICBM. I’m personally not sure which it is.

With so many of my T-pieces in use on the spacewhale, I had to adapt some of the common advanced joint techniques, and it’s not quite as fully poseable as I’d like. But it works, even if it’s rather bland and meh alongside any really good LEGO mech.

Advanced Mech-Building 101

Up until this point, most of my mechs have been relatively simplistic affairs.

Oh, I’ve done what I could to make them look interesting, but in terms of the actual structure, they’ve been fairly basic. I’d tended to use balljoint elements almost exclusively, with occasional use of those clickstop universal joints, and that’s forced several design constraints on my mechs that I barely even realised I had.

Also, I’ve tended to construct the torso all in one piece, and there’s only so much you can do with that.

I like mechs in general, even if I’m not very good at them. Well, except for some of the Japanese-style Gundams and Anime mechs, which always look strange to me. Yeah, I know I’m dissing the two most influential mech source materials in the universe, but I honestly don’t like those massively overbuilt shoulders and weird flanges and fins and wings all over the place, and the guns bigger than the mechs themselves and all that. There’s a definite Japanese style to many mechs, and if you’ve seen many you know what I’m talking about, but frankly I prefer something a little less Anime-derived.

Having said that, there’s obviously a lot I could learn from the hows of some of these Gundam/Anime mech architects. So I’ve been doing something I almost never do with my LEGO building: I’ve been watching building instruction videos and mech-building tip compilations on youTube.

For all that I overuse balljoint elements with studs, I’ve been noticing for a while how few of the really good mechs that give you even a vague clue as to their joint mechanics actually use balljoints. They use clip-and-bar hinges, pneumatic T-pieces, or other strange joint forms I’m still coming to grips with.

So I’ve been watching and learning how it’s done.

This new raft of joint-building techniques is only half of what I got out of what I’ve seen, though. The other main aspect of what I got from the videos is more deeply buried. It’s the idea of an underlying skeletal frame.

Anyone who’s built the large Bionicle/CCBS figures will probably grasp this by instinct, because I’m told that that’s where most of the building creativity lies in those things, but I don’t Bionicle any more readily than I build advanced mechanical functions with Technic, so you’ll forgive me for being a little slow on the uptake.

Anyway, I built a new mech, deliberately choosing to use some of what I’ve learned.

It’s far more articulated in the spine than any previous mech I’ve built, actually having an approximation of a spine for a start.

The construction of the legs deliberately eschews “normal” balljoint connections, and still has most of the range of motion I’d actually want out of a set of mech legs.

I was initially not planning on giving the mech arms as well as those shoulder weapon pods, but it didn’t look right without them, so I adapted the design a little, but the weapon pods seemed like the only reasonable attachment point.

The result looks something like a cross between a linebacker and a chimpanzee, and is just as topheavy and overbuilt in the shoulders as any Neo Evangelion or other Manga mech.

The claws combine with the black colour and the stick-thin arms to give it a slightly arachnoid look, and so between that and the simianoid remainder of its looks, I came up with the name for it: the Blacktron Monkey-Spider class Mech.

It isn’t perfect. In fact, it’s a long way from it, and I actually prefer the looks of last time’s Space Police Enforcer class.

But I offer it up here as a testimony that I’m learning new things and finding better ways to approach the building of stuff like mechs.

Muscle Mech

I don’t often build “white period” Classic Space creations.

What I call the “white period” isn’t really a specific time period within the Classic Space proto-theme as such, but refers to the group of secondary colour palettes that ran alongside the “classic” blue/grey/trans yellow. Predominantly white with trans blue windscreen elements, these secondary palettes used blue or grey or sometimes black (like a sort of proto-Futuron) as secondary or accent colours.

It’s not that I don’t have the bricks for it. Between my store of trans blue screen elements acquired from early Bricklink forays and the white bricks garnered from the Sensei Wu dragon, various Elves and Friends sets of my daughters’ and other sets, I’m quite well off for the bricks I’d want in the colours I’d need. No, it’s not that I can’t, more that I prefer the classic blue/grey/trans yellow colours. If I’m going to build a white space creation with blue windows, normally I’ll go ahead and add some black accents and call it Futuron.

What I call the “white period”, then, is something different and out of the ordinary for me. And out of the ordinary is almost always a good thing.

In the vehicular triad of spaceships, rovers and walkers, my last two builds (aside from the little Independence Day windowsill ornament I built) were a Blacktron rover and a Classic Space Federation spaceship. It must therefore be time for a mech.

Still in Classic Space mode (otherwise known as “my normal building mode”) due to enthusiasm over the newest additions to my personal small Astronaut Corps, I elected to build a Classic Space mech, but in the 6929 Starfleet Voyager’s white colour scheme.

Due to some discussions with a friend over the alternate-universe possibility of a heroic Blacktron rebel alliance and a tyrannical Federation, I’ve built something that I think is vaguely ambiguous. It’s heroic white and has a friendly round windscreen, but it also has that hand laser-cannon and cuirass-like chest pseudomusculature. I could see this in either heroic-defender-of-freedom or nasty-instrument-of-oppression role.

The round chest plates are actually one of my favourite parts of this. They were fairly easy to do, but they go along with the windscreen and the upper thighs and some other parts in a whole round-element visual subtext.

As far as naming goes, I’m calling this the “Titan Explorer Mech”, running the ambiguity for all it’s worth between the classic peaceable Federation nature of “Explorer” and the slightly oppressive sound of “Titan”.

I’ve used a green astronaut as the pilot, as the only one of my six (2 red, 2 white, 1 blue and 1 green) Classic astronauts not in use in either the Starfleet Voyager update or the Independence Planet windowsill ornament. I ought to have another green astronaut which I got with the Exo-Suit, but Pete the Robo-Turtle Feeder went missing over 2 years ago before we moved.

Anyway, in the various astronaut suit-colour representational schemes, green astronauts have been variously represented as being mech drivers, support workers, environmental techs and rookie spacemen, but here I’m using him as some sort of space marine or trooper. Or whatever interpretation you want to put on it. After all, they’re only in one set: the Neoclassic Exo-Suit mech. All you can say from that fragmentary evidence is that green suits probably aren’t starpilots.

And just to reverse roles in keeping with my alternate-universe “brightly-coloured tyranny” interpretation of the Classic Space and Blacktron themes, I have the armed Classic Space Titan mech attacking the unarmed Blacktron space truck, defended by a couple of Blacktron spacers who are probably only a couple of stomps away from what the LEGO Message Boards euphemistically used to call “smashed”.

~~~

Planet R-19 was supposed to be a quiet and relatively safe place for the Blacktron rebel alliance to transship goods. Off the beaten path even in the vast, newly-incorporated Ogel Sector, a ten-a-centicred airless world with only a catalogue number and not even the dignity of a proper name, it was well outside the tyrannical Federation’s usual Space Police patrol routes.

Pete Goddard’s intermodal hauler was the first one to arrive at the rendezvous point, where the four containers would be magnetically clamped together into a single heavy-lift vehicle and launched on to one of the Alliance bases on Battraxus or Provine or Caliban III.

For security, Pete didn’t know what was in his own hauler’s container. The four due to be mated together here at Point Sigma had been snuck in to various locations across the dry maria of R-19 and trucked across the dusty basins to the several rendezvous. Pete hoped the others would arrive soon; right now there was only the limited company of the two Blacktron fighters that the Alliance had posted here for security at Point Sigma.

Pete shrugged at the thought. He understood the need for security; the oppressive Space Police were not known for their gentleness with anyone objecting to the iron rule of the Federation and its happy-happy propaganda. But Avi and Sasha were only armed with Centaurian P72 bolt throwers; what were they going to do against a Space P olice Striker-class cruiser?

Or a Titan mech.

The white-hulled Federation “Explorer Mech” – and wasn’t that a joke? – stomped out from the shadow of a big crater less than a klick away and with a full view of the Blacktron haul truck and the two diminutive defenders. A Coreworlder design used as one of the supposedly-civilian Federation Space Service’s main combat mechs, it was theoretically in service all Federation worlds but somehow never seen outside the Core Worlds and Old Earth. Which was particularly strange as the official blurb on the Titan claimed it was designed for the exploration of potentially dangerous new planets, not established Federation Grand Council members like the Core Worlds.

As the Titan mech approached, Pete watched even the brilliant white disappearing into the razor-sharp shadows of the airless world and wondered who had slipped up in the Alliance’s security, that this transshipment point had become known to the Federation.

Or had anyone slipped up? If there had been a security breach, shouldn’t the place be crawling with Space Police stormtroopers and their euphemistically-named Protector-class battle rovers, not just one lone benny in a Fleet mech?

Avi and Sasha aimed their bolters while Pete sat frozen in the limited protection of his hauler’s roll cage. He had nothing to fight with; no defensive guns on his hauler, only a civilian-grade laser more useful for long-distance signalling than combat. Unless something changed in the next twenty seconds, it was about to be all over for Pete Goddard…