In the fictional setting of Mech Wars, I had always imagined that the mechs (or reFrames) was a product of scientific progress and the need for newly established global powers to have highly developed weapons and technology. Somewhere along this idea, I realized that there had to be an initial design that would serve as the very first version of the current reFrames. This model would be mass produced, colored and customized to the owning nation’s preferences, and most, if not everyone, would have this at the beginning of the Quorus Wars (the current main conflict of the Mech Wars scenario).
Introducing the reFX01 or reFrame unit X model 01. This would essentially be the first successful reFrame in the days prior to the start of the Mech Wars. Designed to be mass produced and can be equipped with various configurations based on the buyer’s preference, these iron sentinels could easily demolish any form of military weapon based on older, non-reFrame technology.
The earliest versions of the reFX01 were the A and B type, mostly distinguishable by their varied head design. While there isn’t much of a performance difference between the two, A types became popular with pilots that went into the heat of the battle while B types were mostly used for recon, utility, and aid missions.
While these models were eventually called outdated, with global powers creating newer reFrames, the FX01 is not a model that should be underestimated, especially in the hands of a skilled pilot.
My original intention for the Mech Wars reFrames was for a builder to create one unit that he/she could customize over time with newer parts or features. This is rooted in my earlier days of playing a lot of Armored Core and being obsessed with the idea of having an actual robot that I could tweak with newer parts and weapons. Watching and building a lot of Gundam / Gunpla also plays into this, with mechs in the series getting upgrades over time with newer parts, features, and accessories that would determine the outcomes of epic battles. At some point in my childhood, I had acquired a Zeta C1 Gundam Sentinel Plamo kit. Inside the instructional booklet, there were notes about how the Zeta C1 evolved from its predecessors, the A1 and other models, and had notes on differentiation in certain design aspects and that really latched on to me.
As I started making more LEGO mechs, I realized that I had drifted from this initial idea and had created mostly varying mech designs that didn’t really need upgrading as they were already complete and had designated functions and features (this was 2015).
Come 2016, I decided to make myself my very own base reFrame that I would gradually expand and customize over the next few months. This coincides with my 2016 schedule of having to leave for a huge chunk of the year to take care of some real life priorities so I’ll have limited access to my LEGO and would probably only carry some essential parts with me to create add ons for my “signature” reFrame.
The reFX01 actually started with only a head that I had designed sometime late last year. It was originally a head design for a small mech for JuneBOT, a themed build month that takes place in well.. June 😛 and is headed by the great Kosmas Santosa. I ended up building the head but realized the mech it was going to go on was too small and the head didn’t really fit aesthetically but I did like the design and set it aside thinking I’d build an appropriate reFrame for it eventually.
Fast forward to 2016 and me coming back from my exhibit, I decided to build something mech related but in an entirely new way so I built the reFX01 Head Bust since the head was all I had designed at the time.
Also as a way to reengage our LUG mech builders, I decided to hold a mech head building activity as a way to get people to explore head designs. This is when I created the type B visor look and was really happy with it (with practice comes great things! :D)
After finishing the head builds, I felt that it was finally time to take on the reFX01 project in full. Starting with the torso, I wanted to have a piston / hydraulic look, taking cues from the head bust details. While I was successful in cramming that into the reFrame base, the earlier version of the body ended up too clunky. I decided to sleep on it and hopefully dream of a better design hehe.
Waking up and seeing the weird chest I’ve made, I decided to overhaul the whole thing and go with a sturdier / blockier look, reducing the gaps between the armor panels and reducing the details between them. I retained the pistons and even found a way to improve them, giving an extra level of stability for the abdomen ball joint connection. I continued with the leg design I had from the previous day and ended up with the image below halfway through day 2.
I have to admit something, I have a really hard time building feet. As compared to creating every other limb for my mechs, I tend to redo feet builds twice or thrice (or even more) because either I make them too simple and stable or too complex and unstable. In terms of time it takes to build, feet design definitely take 2nd place for me. I initially started with the toe design as I normally do for most of my builds but that wasn’t working out so well so I designed the foot from the heel and worked my way forward.
2 bad robot arms, 3 t-bars, 2 lampholders, and a few 1×2 curved slopes later, I had this for a foot and was quite happy with it. I’d have to say that this is probably the best foot I’ve designed so far, offering stability, durability, and enough detail to complement the entire design. The shaping and color is also quite pleasing and can be reproduced in different palettes easily.
The shoulders were next and I decided to go with a mixel ball joint instead of the usual Hero Factory / Bionicle sized hollow ball joint assembly for the reason that I wanted a more compact shoulder design similar to the Waltz. The shoulder assembly isn’t actually that complex and just involves using brackets to add designs to the front and back and the two bad robot arms (connected by a t-bar) gives the build an extra level of sturdiness. Arms were also kept to a simple design as this should be a generic looking mech build that could easily be upgraded and customized.
For the backpack, I used the brick with those half liftarms attached to make sure the headlight brick doesn’t move with the handlebar attached (I call this the “Knee Piece” as it’s the part used for the knees of my reFrames). Slotted in some 2L technic axles and plugged those with the droid head cylinder piece and a 2×2 round plate. I then attached the side design using short technic slope bricks (the one with 2 holes) and the mudguards that would fit on the droid heads.
Lastly, I built the basic weapons for the refX01, giving it an arm shield with pipe grenades clamped to them and a basic assault rifle. Nothing fancy about both armaments as they’re designed to look simple yet highly functional and easily mass produced.
That’s it for this build. I’ll probably tinker a bit more with other weapon designs for this guy before creating extra parts like bigger backpacks, more functional shoulders (with shoulder weapon attachments maybe), and armor upgrades (leg boosters, or a heavy armor configuration). Until the next build 🙂
For those interested in LEGO mech building, I put out an eBook over at Amazon Kindle a while back called Mech Wars Instructional Primer. If you’re looking for a resource that could help you start or even improve your mech building skills, you might find this eBook useful 🙂