Mech-Ception: What I learned about Mech Construction from 72004: Tech Wizard Showdown.

After feeling disappointed at my own ability to build a good looking mech for a LEGO Rebrick contest, I set out to examine 72004: Tech Wizard Showdown in search of ways in which I could improve my design. Along the way we discover the mech suit in a mech suit: Mech-ception!IMG_2744

IMG_2682In the closing hours of the LEGO Rebrick NEXO Knights Mech Building Challenge, I thought I would give it a go.  After all, how hard could it be? I’d recently returned from Japan BrickFest, where I had the chance to study Mechs and Giant Robots aplenty. I’d even attended a mech building workshop where some key concepts were presented and discussed. It seemed that everyone could do it. In retrospect,  this was an over simplification of the facts on my part.

IMG_2680
In retrospect, there are so many issues with this Mech.  In fact, I filled a paragraph with them.

I built a mech as a MOC. The final result was a bit meh. The Black and green colour scheme seems to work, BUT, I can identify a number of faults: the legs are disproportionately long, and it is quite wobbly; the shoulders look a bit weird.  The feet look like they belong belong on an AT-AT, there are way too many studs on display.  It looks like something thrown together by someone short of parts, trying to get a mech built in six hours.  Which coincidently it was.  However, it got me thinking about what would help to make it look like a reasonable Mech Model.

So I thought I would have a look at the final Mech in the NEXO Knights line: 72004 Tech Wizard Showdown. I wish I had looked at it a few weeks ago. As I built it, I learned a few important lessons in mech construction. Continue reading

Nexo Knights Villains: saving the best ‘til last [Twinfector 72002 Review]

IMG_0370

This is the third and final year of NEXO Knights. While the line has been a bit hit and miss over the last few years, especially AFOLS looking for a clear cut castle or space range, I for one will miss is once they are gone. I have gathered a good number of the Knight’s sets over the last few years- while the actual builds have been interesting, I have ultimately dismantled them all and used the parts to rebuild Classic Space sets. Add air tanks and they look like fantastic space men and women, ready to explore the galaxy.
IMG_9741IMG_9865-2

But, just as the Classic space sets were without any form of antagonist, until the arrival of Blackthorn, I have found none of the  antagonist characters fitting into my vision of a NEXO- Classic Space Utopia. The bad guys just haven’t captured my imagination: demonic lava beasts and rock monsters are great in the fantasy landscape afforded by the castle line, but as villains in a science fiction/space theme, they are haven’t appealed to me. As such, I was excited when it became obvious that the villains in this final season were far more sci-fi inspired than any of the others seen to date.

While the new series is yet to air, the ‘Tech Infection’ theme, has the villains looking suitably more futuristic than fantastical. We see a collection of white skinned villains, with varying levels of cybernetic components, and lime green printed circuit motif’s on their faces to imply a level of ‘infection’.  Their Black green and silver uniforms, with a red eye makes them an instant army, with sufficient variation to make them interesting. But more on that later.

Continue reading

Getting back on Track: Continuous Linked tracks in 2017 LEGO Sets.

Over the last few weeks, life has been getting a bit busy, and interfering with my ability to get to the keyboard! Not an excuse. Just an explanation. And not a very clear one either! Anyway: Perhaps it is time to get back on track…

IMG_8088

Continuous, self propelled tracks were first conceived in the 1770’s, but it was probably not until the early 20th century that they became a method of choice for moving heavy vehicles such as tanks, bulldozers and Antarctic exploration vehicles across soft, uneven ground. The term ‘Caterpillar tracks’ was trademarked in 1911 by Benjamin Holt.  Such tracks have featured in LEGO sets or either as continuous rubber bands, since 1969 and as interlocking linkages since 1974 (Element 273). Continue reading

Giving NEXO Knights a Boost…

A quick post this morning to demonstrate how easy it is to get a fun result from LEGO Boost, with very little style or skill. I really believe that the Boost Move Hub is the successor to the motor bricks of the 1960’s and 70’s.

For reasons best known to myself, I recently built the NEXO Knights Knighton castle set. It was an interesting build, demonstrating the 2017 NEXO Aesthetic, with lots of dark blue, orange, trans neon orange, dark stone grey and bright blue for the trim (being King Halbert’s colour). But I bought it for the parts. Reasons shall become apparent with time, or perhaps on Instagram…

In pulling it apart, I thought, wouldn’t this look great if it were mobile, like the Fortrex. Then I realised I had not yet dismantled the walking base which I discussed last week. To make the project a little easier, I removed the tail, head plate and gun: I am here for a good time, not a long time. I reconstructed a tower and moved some of the other components from the caster to produce something a little like this…

final

 

So… a few elements onto the walking base, a short ‘Walk forward’ Program, and voila: a moving MOC that is just a little more interesting than anything I might have produced with the castle elements alone, or indeed the Boost. The Classic knight was terribly impressed with the changes that had occurred since he was a young lad.

final

The program I used is extremely simple: Play; Walk forward at speed 50 for 30 seconds; And Stop.

Mercifully, I have not mixed elements too much, and returning my sorted Boost to its natural state should not be too hard.

And now I return you to our normal viewing…

What would like to make move with Boost? Would you build a more comprehensive castle to move? Why not comment below, and follow the Rambling Brick on WordPress or Facebook. Until next time…

Play Well!

Smooth Rolling With NEXO Knights Year 2 [What I learned from Lance’s Twin Jouster 70348]

NEXO Knights has been a theme with a mixed reception amongst the AFOL community: its a fantastic mashup of castle and space elements, but at the same time it is not quite either in the purist form.  The geometry is fascinating, as I have previously discussed.  However, due to so many different things happening throughout the year to distract a LEGO Fan, I have not really spent much time with the theme until now.

There are a couple of stand out changes that I have seen this year.  One is a change in the primary aesthetic of the models: The Knights’ vehicles released in 2016 were had a palette which was primarily bright blue, stone grey,  transparent bright orange with a few earth(dark) blue elements as well as a couple of trim elements, colour matched to the knight whose vehicle it was.  In 2017, the transparent orange is still there, but there is a much larger amount of earth blue and bright orange  compared to the stone grey and bright blue. We have also seen more prominent trim in the colours of the knights, demonstrating the new tile designs quite nicely.  In fact, you may almost be forgiven for thinking “There is a lime green, bright red, azure, white or bright yellowish orange vehicle.”  The Classic space vibe which might have been felt with 2016’s models been reduced this year, in return for the ‘Knight Motif.’ There there is the obligatory change in the villainous team, moving from the Lava monsters to non so molten Rock Monsters.

I should also mention the stickers, because while there are plenty of stickers to apply, those designed to be applied to transparent orange elements have a transparent clear background, making them useful on all surfaces.

Here is a quick ‘Face to face’ of this year’s $AU30 Lance’s Twin Jouster 70348 (212 parts) with the 2016’s Macy’s Thunder Mace 70319(200 parts).  I would consider them both occupying equivalent places in the range, both priced at $AUD29.99.

comparison 16-17.png
On the left, Macy’s Thunder Mace, sporting the greys, silver, blues and trans bright orange of the first year of NEXO Knights.  On the right, we see a typical year 2 vehicle, sporting the colours of Lance Armstrong (white) on top of the dark blue and trans orange.

As well as the colour scheme, the play features have also developed on this year’s set.  I personally found the Thunder Mace a relatively mundane build.  The cockpit felt a little incomplete and the windscreen did not feel properly supported underneath. The only feature I found particularly inspiring was the mechanism that rotated the mudguards, to reveal the hidden weaponry beneath! Admittedly, this is pretty addictive.

 

But are the changes just cosmetic?

Continue reading

Seeking Inspiration With ‘NEXO Knights: Build Your Own Adventure’ [Review]

covers.pngEvery so often a builder runs out of ideas.  It doesn’t matter whether you are a child or an adult. Now and again you say to yourself ‘I don’t know what to build!’

This might be becoming a more and more frequent complaint as we enter a culture of building a set and leaving it built. The creative spark almost extinguished as the direct result of years of targeted marketing and passing through the education system and getting a job.

Certainly, entering life as an AFOL, I found it harder than I should have to dismantle sets that I had built from the instructions.  Some have never been dismantled.  Admittedly, included in this number are the Cafe Corner and Green Grocer, so some would suggest I would not be blamed for leaving them intact.  But I have accumulated a good number of city, and regular creator sets over that time to establish a functional supply of bricks. Sometimes I feel inspired to build,other days it is a hard slog.

Continue reading

Better Suit Up – a New and Simple Minifigure Mech System 70366: Battle Suit Lance

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.

exosuit
LEGO Ideas ExoSuit 21109 – image from brickset.com

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.

Continue reading