Exo suits hold great appeal for LEGO Space builders. The retired EXOForce theme, as well as the success of Pete Reid’s LEGO® Ideas Exo-Suit 21109 attests to this. This project was brought to fruition with the aid of LEGO® designer Mark Stafford, one of the design lead’s on EXOForce.
However, as appealing an idea as it is to put a minifigure into such a suit, it is can be made quite challenging by the finger blistering use of tiny, greebling pieces to put together a model that is extremely detailed, but otherwise full of pieces that a seven year old may otherwise inadvertently condemn to the vacuum cleaner.
Now I do not necessarily wish to get into a battle over nomenclature used for ‘mechanised, piloted armoured suits, used for military, exploration or industrial applications in hostile environments’. I’m going to refer to an exosuit in this context as one where the pilot is
partially exposed, while the arms and legs of the suit do not need to fit directly over those of the pilot.
In 2016, two Exosuits were released in the NEXO Knights™ theme: 70326 The King’s
Mech, and 70327 The Black Knight’s Mech. However, with a $AUD90 ($USD40 – don’t start me on this one when the exchange rate is more like $USD1 = $AUD1.32) price tag, and a piece count over five hundred, 70327 feels a little much for me to
invest in a theme where I don’t have massive interest at this point. I’m not talking much about 70326, because while it has a lower piece count, a king with a magnificent beard and a lower price tag, it has been officially retired from the Australian market.
These are both relatively tall sets, measuring around 30 bricks tall. Mark Stafford has again been involved in the design process
Now the theme is a year old, the next ‘pocket money’ sub theme replacing the Ultimate Character line is the Battle Suit collection. With fewer than one hundred pieces, and a price of $AUD15/$USD10/£8, these sets provide the basics for a simple exosuit, with inspiration to combine them with other sets from the NEXO Knights™ line.
Battle Suit Lance:70366
Let us start with a quick look at 70366- Battle Suit Lance. Lance caught my eye because he features some of the new Slope 45º 1×2 with cutout and no stud pieces, in white (seen in other 2017 sets including Assembly Square – white and dark bluish gray – as well as some of the smaller NEXO Knights sets in dark blue)
Many of the parts, well, around a third of them are not listed in the Brickset parts database at this time – which suggests that many of them are new to 2017. The key element is the ‘cockpit piece’ 4x2x3 with pin hole, towel and clips. This provides a place for our pilot to sit . The ancillary piece, which clips into the front of the cockpit can be readily replaced by a greebled panel if you wish.
The Mech Suit core used in this suit is similar to that used for Mr Freeze, in the new LEGO® Batman Movie set ‘Mr Freeze Ice Attack’ 70901. Greebling goes on the back, and a panel clips onto the front of the new cockpit piece. Alternatively, a panel can be constructions, involving plates with bars, and further greebling to enhance the effect.
On battle suit Aaron, there is a printed tile featuring his crest which can be attached on the front. This allows quick and easy construction of the set, but takes a bit away from the look of the figure.
The battle suit core looks like this, with a 3 ball frame attached by a friction rivet to the base of the cockpit.
Small ball joints then attach the upper and lower legs. The arms clip directly onto the cockpit, and different approaches can be taken to extend them. The battle suits use larger technic ball joints, together with construction figure hands, as they have the strength to pose with the relatively heavy shield, which would not be seen with the small ball joints, featured in the Mr Freeze set
As you can see, this gives us a very simple core with which to develop a mechsuit. We will come back to this.
We build up bulk on the shoulders, and then move to the legs. Lance has, for reasons I do not fully understand, roller skates.
The build is simple enough, but is a little unstable once you place the shield loaded with powers onto the figure. The hands used allow connection of tools and weapons via a technic axle.
I do feel the hands are a little out of proportion to the legs and feet, but the larger Technic ball joints allow for greater posability with the shield and any weapons in use, as the smaller joins can slip with excess loading.
Quick and Dirty Table Scrap Build
Here is a quick example, designed to show some of the potential of the new system: Please excuse the colouring: my build table is currently covered in Elves pieces. I opted to brick build the chest piece, rather than use the one provided. Fun Fact: Minidolls cannot sit down in the Battle Suits, as their legs are just a little too long. They must stand up, or else make some changes to the construction of the front panel. This should not be too hard.
There is a need for a more elegant hand solution, but I suspect the Mr Freeze hand will become a more frequent, more colourful piece with time. There is also the ability to substitute hands for tools, so really it was limited by my desire to get something together in a very short time frame. I am fairly sure that in the right hands, this system shows potential for generation of an army of Battle Suit wearing soldiers. I would love to see people spread these across a variety of themes.
I found the actual build for Battle Suit Lance to be a little lacklustre. I chose him over the others currently available in store because I have some plans afoot for the slope on his shoulders, but all of the battle suit figures provide different designs of legs and arms, although all use the larger hands. I give the actual set three out of five Arbitrary Praise Units, but the actual mech core gets four APU, for the inspiration it provides. I suspect we will see a flood of new Mech MOCs this year, from people who had not previously been interested in giving it a try. To say nothing of the ‘NEXOgon’ shield piece, which I have previously discussed.
I think the range shows potential, but for older builders, I think the potential is more for the inspiration to construct alternative battle suits, rather than for the primary build. What do you think? Will you pick one up for the character itself, or to use as a springboard for further builds? Why not share your thoughts in the comments below.