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June 15, 2009

The mecha models in Mechaton are the stars of the show, and in the gaming world they are very unique. I don’t think any other game has anything quite like them. There are games with mecha miniatures, games with things built along predictable lines, and games that use toys, but no other that has all three. I have come up with a rating system that I use for my own models. I call it T.A.G. It is a combination of three different ratings that all add up to how good or bad a particular model is for use in Mechaton.

The T is for TOY. Yes we “Swoosh,” we also “Boom, Thaka-thaka-kapow, Hiya, and Karate chop!” The more articulated the model is the better an action figure it makes. Can it be positioned in cool action poses? Can it raise its melee weapon over its head in a menacing manner? Can it raise one leg up in order to stand in a dominant manner atop the mangled remnants of its opponent? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then you would give that particular model a high “Toy” rating.

The A is for Art. Anyone who has spent any time looking at “Brickshelf” knows that LEGO is an art medium, and that it can be used with many different degrees of success. As you may have guessed, a higher score in the “Art” category is given to the models that most look like what they are intended to represent, (and do it in the coolest looking way as well.) This rating has nothing to do with the first or third, it matters not how many joints the model has or even if it has any at all, just how good it looks standing still.

The G is for Gaming-piece. This may be the most complicated or multi-faceted of the three ratings. What makes for a great or even a good gaming-piece? Personally I feel that it is stability, and durability. The gaming table is going to get bumped, this is just a given. When that happens a better gaming-piece will stay in place, and not fall over. If it does fall over it certainly won’t break! One of the best gaming-pieces in the world is the checker! The checker has a low center of gravity, making it very hard to knock over, and most won’t break even when thrown full force at a wall. Now I am not suggesting you throw your LEGO mecha models at a wall, but how well do they hold together if you just tip them over? This can be very telling. I have seen many LEGO mecha models on-line that looked incredible, but also very obviously fragile. We have all seen the beautiful models made by great builders that have large assemblies held in place by a single stud connection. Personally after I have to rebuild a mech model twice in the same game I am looking at ways to make it more structurally sound. One way to keep a model from falling-apart when it falls over is to keep it from falling at all. The other mecha miniature games on the market use metal miniatures that are not articulated so they have a very low toy rating, what they do all have in common is that they are all mounted to bases to make them stable. The wider the “base” of the model, the more stable it will be. This method can be copied directly by mounting your mecha model on a LEGO plate. I prefer 4×6 stud plates for this.

light mechs 018_800x600

Another way is to give the mecha model big feet,

tanks 036_800x600

or a wide legged stance that comes close to the outer dimensions of the 4×6 plate.

tanks 139_800x600

Stability can also refer to the miniatures “pose.” I went through a phase where I preferred the non-locking hinge-plates over the “locking hinge-plates. The problem with that is that the models don’t always stay in the same pose after being picked up and moved. When I use the clicking hinges the models keep their stance, and only need “repositioning “ when the “Battle” requires it.
Now I understand that most of this is subjective, and “personal-taste,” but it may help you to build better Mechaton mecha models.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. flintlocklaser permalink
    July 30, 2009 5:14 am

    I’ve just discovered Mechaton last night, and got the PDF this morning. So now I’m stumbling around trying to get a feel for some of the wonderful mecha designs that are out there, and I’m really really struck by the last one you’ve got pictured here – it’s like a Lego version of a Jovian Chronicles Pathfinder! I’ve sort of figured out a lot of the construction, but the feet assemblies and the upper torso have me totally mystified. Would it be presumptuous to ask if you could explain/show how those go together?

  2. July 30, 2009 6:37 am

    Not at all. Helping people with Mech construction for Mechaton is the primary reason for this blog. The problem I have run into is my own procrastination. Making instructions is very time intensive and tedious, but it is my intention to do so soon. I will make sure that the “crusader” frame is one of the first that I do.

  3. flintlocklaser permalink
    July 30, 2009 7:19 am

    Cool, I’ll be looking forward to it! Meanwhile, I guess I need to start working on a Bricklink order for parts to make some Conscripts and 5gens (and if I have indeed figured out how your Linebacker mk II works, a few of them as well!)

    Thanks again.

  4. July 30, 2009 7:32 am

    No problem. If you follow the links to my gallery pages on Brickshelf, MOCpages, and Flikr, you will find more versions of the “crusader” chassis. I have also come up with two more variants of the “linebacker” that I hope to post soon.

    Thanks for your interest.


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