Tag Archives: Mech

Horsell Common and the Heat-Ray

Ulla!

This isn’t my first Martian Fighting Machine build, but inspired by GunnBuilding’s latest series of Martians, I decided to give it another go.

Normally when I build, I’ll get something basically complete and then tweak it a little over the next several days as it sits on my display shelf. It’ll generally only be minor tweaks, though; I tend to build all in one go even with large SHIP-class builds.

This time, I did quite a bit more tweaking than usual, reworking the legs once and completely rebuilding the head twice. The final result might be my best tripod yet, and it’s certainly the most book-accurate one, to the extent of incorporating the carrying basket on the back (which isn’t something you commonly see).

Now with ulta-accurate prisoner carrying basket!

It’s not the most completely stable of builds with all those joints in the legs, but the multijointedness would give the Fighting Machine a more flowing, cephalopoid kind of a gait that seems in keeping with the Martians’ squidlike physiology. And it does stand up, even on surfaces with little to no “give” or friction, like my display shelf. A real-life Martian Fighting Machine walking on spikes like that would drive its feet into even cobblestone roads with every step.

Heat-Ray on the left of the cockpit (operator’s POV), Black Smoke dispenser on the right

I’ve tried to incorporate all the details H. G. Wells described in the original work, though he’s frustratingly vague about certain fundamental design aspects (like the shape of the vehicle’s main body, the nature of the “hood” under which the Martian operator sits, how the legs actually attach and so on). This version has several previous media tripod designs in its ancestry, but neither the 1953 manta saucer nor the 2005 tripod included the basket (well, the 2005 version kind of did, but not with any prominence), and even Jeff Wayne relegated the carrying basket to the Handling Machine in the art from his musical version. For a long while I considered his tripod the definitive version, but these days I prefer something a little more sinister. The Jeff Wayne tripod was plenty sinister enough when I was a kid, but these days I can’t help but see a fat, long-legged tick or wingless cartoon mosquito when I look at it.

What I’m using as my Martian pilot isn’t big enough for the book’s description of the Martian being “the size of a bear, perhaps”, but this weird mould (apparently of some unknown Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles thing called The Kraang) looks nearly perfect for the cephalopoid, brain-dominated Martians. Easier to fit into a workable Fighting Machine build than an octopus, too.

The Kraang: A near-perfect WotW Martian.

Anyway, this is my latest take on the epic alien walker that is probably the ultimate ancestor of them all: the Martian Fighting Machine.

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Sagittarius

Sagittarius Defence Mech

I think this is a much better mech than last time’s SPARTVS design, but interestingly enough I have far less to say about it. It’s weird how that works sometimes. I was perfectly satisfied with the SPARTVS until I built this Sagittarius mech, but now that I have this to compare it with the SPARTVS seems a bit clumsy and clunky.

To me, this looks like a sort of light aerospace defence mech, which makes the name “Sagittarius” (“Archer”) very appropriate. Interestingly, though, that wasn’t the origin of the name.

With those long legs and splay-toed feet, I thought it had a rather ratite look. For the uninitiated, “Ratites” are a bird family, including all the extant large flightless birds (ostriches, emus, rheas, cassowaries and kiwis) plus the non-flightless tinamou and a number of extinct birds including the moa of New Zealand and the elephant bird of Madagascar. Anyway, it was nearly the Ratite-class, but that didn’t seem right for what was obviously a military design, so I cast my mind around for something similar but a bit more predatory.

Aha! Secretary Bird!

Secretary-class works even less well than Ratite-class, but the scientific binomial name of the Secretary Bird is Sagittarius serpentarius. And Sagittarius being a constellation as well as a genus, and meaning “Archer” to boot, that worked doubly well for a space defence walker.

S.P.A.R.T.V.S.

The SPARTVS walker

The SPARTVS (“Spartus”; “Synergistic Piloted Assault Robot Tactical Victory Suit”) mech is a twin-crewed close-quarters combat mech developed by Cyberus Industries of Titan, a subsidiary of TransOctan. TransOctan is one of the oldest transcorporate entities in the System, and though its power has fluctuated relative to the other feudal-capitalist giants like Bencom and Lagrange-Lunacorp, it remains one of the major powers, and one known for a certain ruthlessness.

Twin-crewed bipedal mechs are not common even in the System, but Cyberus Industries of Titan seem to specialise in them; the SPARTVS is not the first such mech to come out of the Cyberus manufactories beside the Vid Flumina.

The SPARTVS was designed as an enforcement mech for quelling labour riots, so its first factory-default standard model featured neural stun batons to be used in the lower pair of hands, and sleepgas dispensers fitted to the upper arms. However, TransOctan corporate security forces requested a change to monomolecular-edged cutting blades in order to deal with unrest in the volatile Mercury solar farms, where rioting workers had access to Mercurian-environment power armours like the so-called Hellsuit.

The Mark 2 SPARTVS mech incorporated the requested changeout of stun batons for monomolecular cutting blades, and also replaced the upper sleepgas dispensers with hydraulic claws. Smaller sleepgas dispensers can still be fitted to the four upper arms, but the SPARTVS is mostly deployed against exo-suited rioters or spacesuited Blacktron agitators where sleepgas is ineffective.

~~~

And so we return to Classic Space, and the inverted-moral-polarity world of the System, in which the Blacktrons are the good guys and the Classic astronauts represent various corporate factions of the ruling Dark Side Ayn Randian hypercapitalist dystopia.

It’s been a while since I generated a proper backstory for one of my NCS creations, and with something as unusual as a twin-crewed NCS combat mechsuit it seemed like a good opportunity to rectify that oversight, as well as to return to my favourite dystopian take on the Neoclassic Space shared universe. And I got to come up with a new acronym for its name, which is always fun.

You really don’t see a lot of mechs with multiple crew; the whole point of giant humanoid walkers is that they’re supposed to be intuitive to control by a single pilot. If you’re going to build a walker with more than one crewmember, it’s usually going to be more like an AT-AT or a chicken walker and less like a humanoid. “Legged vehicle” rather than actual mechsuit.

However, if you can separate out your crew control roles, or possibly link both pilots together (perhaps with control cables plugged directly into their brains), there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t. Besides, it lets you do things like four-armed mechs that actually might have a hope of being controllable without AI running half of it.

Also, unusual design concepts are like crack for me. I’m hopelessly addicted.

I suspect that the “Synergistic” part of the name acronym means that the pilots are hardwired into the control systems, but it’s possible there’s some sort of holographic control interface instead. It’s the future; maybe people have implanted nanocomputers that interface directly with the brain for information networking, hard-drive memory support and control of personal peripherals. That would also explain the absence of any kind of visible controls for a lot of NCS hardware; they’re controlling it via implants.

Iron Mongery

Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger armour

Who’d have thought that I’d be happily building MCU stuff related to Iron Man?

For a whole complex of reasons (mostly amounting to “I find Tony Stark difficult to relate to”) Iron Man’s one of my least favourite Marvel Cinematic Universe heroes. I never read the comics he was in, not his own book nor the West Coast Avengers that he led when I was reading Marvel comics in the ‘90s, and so I have little background knowledge and nostalgia for the character. All I can draw from is the modern big-screen incarnation, and not all of that because I skipped over Iron Man 3.

Don’t get me wrong; I don’t dislike the character. I enjoy watching him interact with the other heroes in most of the ensemble movies, and even in Civil War I get where he’s coming from despite the fact that I think I agree more with Captain America. It’s just that a solo Iron Man film is usually just a bit too much unleavened Tony Stark for me.

That being the case, you wouldn’t be wrong in thinking I’d be slow to gravitate towards Iron Man builds. However, I don’t especially like most of the grimdark incarnations of Batman either, but that hasn’t slowed me down from building the occasional take on the Batmobile or other Bat-vehicles. Here I am building an Iron Man-related build.

Obadiah Stane’s Iron Monger suit from the first Iron Man movie is noticeably bigger than a regular-sized human. Since the Mark 3 Iron Man armour is represented in LEGO as a minifigure (as are most of the various Tony Stark armours), the larger size of the Iron Monger brings it into “something to build” territory rather than “custom minifig”.

Obadiah Stane… sort of

This version is obviously too big. Approxinmately twice the height even of one of the LEGO big ‘figs like Hulk and Thanos, it’s way out of proportion to a minifig-sized Iron Man. However, the LEGO Group themselves bend scale all the time for the sake of their builds, and in multiple themes. Official LEGO Droidekas are well known for being drastically larger than they ought to be, whereas even as large a set as the Death Star is demonstrably too small. I’m not one of these expert specialist mech architects, and I don’t know how to build much smaller than this and still have it look like the beefy, bulky suit of MCU Iron Man’s first villain.

I think my favourite part of this is the shoulder-mounted hydraulic pistons. A feature of the Iron Monger you really have to include if you’re building it, they’re not easy to do and tend to restrict the movement of the arms. I’ve done what I can, but these do have a tendency to disconnect in certain arm positions.

I’m also rather pleased with the multiposeable fingers. Those rounded 1×1 plates with the bar allow the fingers to splay, giving a much more naturalistic range of hand motion. Okay, my Iron Monger doesn’t have elbows or knees, but it looks reasonable despite that. The helmet even opens up to reveal Obadiah Stane (approximately) behind the mask.

It’d be nice if there was a way to reproduce a range of horizontal movement in the mask, but there’s no way to make the head turn with this construction technique, and anything else would spoil the look.

Kalevala-class Ice Mech

One of my better mechs, I think.

I finally got that horrible one-piece mech cockpit element (#27168) to actually work for me instead of against me! Seriously, that thing’s been a source of frustration since we acquired it with my son’s 70901 Mr Freeze Ice Attack set.

However, I finally realised that with a little judicious jiggery-pokery of angles with the lower pin attachment and almost completely ignoring the towball arm attachments, you can actually make quite a nice mech.

This is also the first time I’ve managed something like those completely unfolding mech cockpits that are so fashionable in hardsuit-building circles.

I don’t have a lot to say about this really. I named it after the Finnish mythological epic, because cold-weather climate mythologies are a great source of naming material for Ice Planet stuff.

Three Little Pigs Mech Battle

So I had this idea for a series of mechs based on the story of the Three Little Pigs.

Originally I was thinking I’d do them at minifigure scale and purchase three of the old piggie suit guy (from the Series 12 minifigures) to pilot them, and a Chima figure for the Big Bad Wolf. Then I saw the going rate for Pig Suit Guy. Ouch.

Yeah, he’s not the most expensive minifigure out there (Ginny Weasley for over $25? I laugh), but I still object to paying $35-45 US for three minifigures that I’m probably only going to use in a single creation.

Microscale, then.

You don’t get quite the same level of piggyness with the stacked-1×1-round-plate type of figures, but at least they have pink heads and give an impression of three little pigs. The wolf is marginally better – light bluish grey microfigure with the 1×1 clip tile on top of his head for ears. And it’s worked out probably better overall, because this way I got to build a whole scene out of it.

A very tiny Big Bad Wolf

The Mech Made Of Straw was the first part of the creation to be built, and is probably my favourite of the mechs. I don’t think I’ve built that many microscale mechs before, and I decided to pull out as many of the stops as I could in creative joint structures and not using balljoints all the time. He’s armed with those big pincer claws and a laser or machine gun of some sort.

Mech Made Of Straw

The Mech Made Of Sticks got built next. Again, I went with mostly non-balljoint joints, and built just a little larger than the straw mech. I think I’m most pleased with the clinker-built look of the front torso and the suggestion of knots in the wood with strategic use of studs and tiles. His main weapon is the rocket pods on his shoulders, showing that Stick Piggie isn’t the wisest of pigs (Explosive materials and wood. Hmmm).

Mech Made Of Sticks

Then I took a break from mechs and built the huffing, puffing Big Bad Lobo Tank. To be frank about it, I wasn’t sure I could pull off a good enough Lobomech at this scale, especially since I wanted that big wind turbine element as a main weapon system. The tank was substantially rebuilt after my first attempt, adding the side sponsons and generally cleaning it up. I’m still not entirely satisfied with it but it’s better than it was.

Huffin’, puffin’ Big Bad Lobo Tank

The Mech Made Of Bricks came after that. Originally taller, I rebuilt some sections after I decided that the arms looked too short. A Brick Mech ought to be sort of squat and solid-looking, after all.

Mech Made Of Bricks

This was my first experiment with the use of minifig legs as mech fingers. This mech is small enough that it isn’t quite as good a technique as it would be on something with bigger hands, but it works, and it’s a new technique for me. I’m actually least satisfied with the Brick Mech, which is partly why it’s lurking at the back.

After building all these mechs, I was staring at my daughter’s green baseplates when I started to think that some scenery-building would really unify the creation and bring it all together. Bright green isn’t normally my preferred incarnation of LEGO green, but it certainly works well with the sideways fairytale subject matter here. And it doesn’t hurt that I’ve got enough regular green and other colours to break it up a little. And I got to build the House of Straw, House of Sticks and House of Bricks as well.

Straw House. Note the First Little Pig to the right.
Second Little Pig and Stick House
Brick House with water wheel

It’s actually something of a shame that the Brick House is right at the back, because it’s by far the best of the three houses, complete with water wheel and an interesting technique on the door frame. However, if I put the Brick House at the front it would mean I had to put the Brick Mech at the front, too, and it’s not quite as good as the others. And since the mechs are the actual focus of the creation…

IceBug

The Ice Planeteers had (proportionally speaking) quite a lot of surface vehicles in their single year of existence as a theme, but no mechs. This was back in the day, mind you, before the advent of CCBS and balljoint elements, and making reasonable legs was really hard.

That’s since been rectified, but insectoid ice mechs still aren’t exactly two-a-penny.

Mini IceBug.

I actually started out with the smaller “Snowbug” robot, building it as a vaguely AT-TE-inspired microscale. Something the size of a building that could transport the heaviest equipment across the frozen worlds of the organisation’s mandate.

Then I decided to see if I could scale it up at all.

Big IceBug

Knowing I wasn’t going to be able to build a vehicle even remotely as big as I’d envisaged (3-6-crew cockpit, ½ plate height = approximately 6 feet), I felt free to adapt the basic design while keeping with the overall beetle configuration.

Ski Rover (stowed position)

Ready for deployment

One of my better small Ice Planet vehicles, I think

The resulting ice bug can transport a small ski rover on its rooftop flatbed pallet, adding a nice element of playability. There’s only room for one of the two crew I’ve provided it with in the cockpit, unfortunately, but it does have those rotary shooters as well as the poseable legs and deployable ice rover.

Pilot’s position.

The final element of the overall setup is an ice speeder I built a week or so back but never posted here. My neo-Commander Bear figure (Commander Cold Bear’s body with Old Obi-Wan’s head for the flesh skintone I typically like to use) is driving, now that I actually have the Ice Planet commander figure.

VX313 Fulmar ice speeder