New Earth Strategic Trust
Classification: Mid Range / Melee
After the success of the Mammoth model, the Zenithal was born out of NESF’s aim for a better defense combat reFrame with improved mobility. The new heavy model features a thicker armor plating than its predecessor and is equipped with the DASH movement system. This allows it to briefly move in a straight line, closing the gap between enemy combatants.
Equipped with an improved version of the AR-G99BURST, the AR-X99BURST-TG can load armor piercing rounds and carry more ammo. The FW-BONEBUSTER allows the Zenithal to take out enemy reFrames foolish enough to get into close range, while the shoulder-mounted SH-REACT02H1 deflects enemy fire from a distance.
This build is highly inspired by the Zenith Wanzer from the Front Mission series. I actually combined elements from various Zenith models (FM1, FM3, Left Alive‘s Zenith) to make this version.
If you read my Left Alive review, the end part there actually has a few pictures of the Zenith HW2 along with a screenshot at the end. I’ve actually been planning this build since that post and I’m happy to finally build it as it’s one of my favorite Front Mission models.
The challenge here was to still make it using the reFrame system as I have another original design but Wanzer-inspired build planned in the future. This Zenithal build would serve as the test bed for that and required widening the proportions to match the chunkier Wanzer look.
I. Head Build (initial)
As I knew this would be part of the NEST faction, I had actually used the same head template as the Sailia and Jackal. The idea was to keep the head simple and compact as I was going to embed it within a collar for the body assembly.
This took me 8 hours to get right with most of the time being spent figuring out the widened shoulder joint placement. It’s still essentially the same reFrame assembly but wider then reinforced. Covering up the shoulder joint was another issue and the assembly in the pic was the first version. This was secured from both top and under but I didn’t like the look so it was revised. The cockpit opening mechanism is also different as I wanted to make it similar to how the Zenith HW2 opened up in Left Alive (more on this below).
III. Waist and Thighs
These two sections were actually modeled off the Zenith HW2 from Left Alive as I had the collector’s edition artbook beside the build area and was heavily referencing off it. I wanted to get that chunky leg look and ended up padding the inside of the thighs with extra armor. There was actually enough space to do it as I used a wider cross-axle (7L) for the hip width compared to my usual 6L.
IV. Legs and Shoulders
The legs were a tricky to do as I had to incorporate the Dash wheels in the back of the legs (see the next area). The feet design also couldn’t look like my usual heeled feet as this was a chunky guy and it wouldn’t make sense. The Zenith design also traditionally had these two toe pronged things for the front at an angle so I wanted to replicate that as best as I could.
The early version of the shoulder (left side of pic) felt too small and didn’t quite fit the proportions so I scrapped it. The final shoulder design was also built to be cleaner and more flushed. The white striping is actually made with white headlight bricks.
DASH Movement System
If you’ve played Front Mission 3 and onwards, the mech units (called Wanzers) actually move in 2 ways. One is by walking a specific number of squares as indicated by your legs movement capacity. The other is via the dash option which allows you to move farther for less Action Points but only in a straight line.
This feature is actually built into the Wanzer’s designs by adding wheels to the heels of the mechs. Studying the Left Alive concept art of the Zenith HW2, it’s shown that when not in use (walking), the wheels are tucked into the calves. When the Zenith would dash, these wheels would come down, allowing for faster movement.
This was the hardest part of the leg design to incorporate with LEGO pieces. Most of it was due to knowing where to properly place the pivot point of the whole mechanism. I found that you had to place it near the ankle (ideally was on the sides of the ankle). I used a bunch of clip elements (bad robot arm + a bar with clip) at the right length as anything longer wouldn’t fit into the back of the lower leg when not in use and anything shorter wouldn’t reach the ground.
The other thing was making sure the cavity where the wheels would tuck in was deep enough while also looking good. Thankfully I had these hinge top pieces in LBG and tan and that helped add some detail while keeping the section secured.
My only complaint here is how the wheels aren’t fully flat on the ground but design-wise, when Wanzers dash they actually bring their legs straight and go into a quarter squat position to brace for the sudden burst of speed. 😛
V. First draft
I actually had a deadline for the first version of this as I had to attend a local LEGO gathering last Saturday. I started the build Wednesday night so I had 3 days to build this. I barely finished the full mech without compromise but didn’t have enough time to make weapons so I borrowed the Sailia OG’s assault rifle and sword 😛
VI. Head revisions
After the event, I went back to the build and started changing up a few things. The head felt too plain while looking at it during the event so I added back an antenna. I removed the antenna from the first head version as there wasn’t enough space and would hit the body collar. This new one was placed much higher so it was fine.
VII. Shoulder Shields
I’ve always wanted to use these castle / building panels as a shield so this was the perfect chance. I started by making the mechanism to connect to the shoulder accessory socket. I then moved forward to securing it while adding connection points to allow me to add details to the sides and the inside area as without those, it would look too plain and not durable enough.
Cockpit Door mechanism
VII. Finishing Touches
I actually ended this build by making a bulkier version of the borrowed assault rifle from the Sailia OG. I then made a backup melee knuckle-like weapon just like how it looked like in the game (not in picture).
It was pretty fun to build this guy and he’s the chunkiest design I’ve ever made. There’s a lot of fun techniques used here that aren’t overly complicated but give a good effect (take a closer look at the back of the thighs for example).
I’ll be using the expanded frame here for another Wanzer project sometime in the future and will also be updating the reFrame V3 instructions to include this modification so please look forward to those changes. 🙂
reFRAME v3 Instruction Manual
The reFrame System is a modular brick skeleton aimed to help both new and veternan brick mech builders create their own designs in a consistent size with modular capabilities. It was originally designed to be a basis for all my mechs in the Mech Wars universe. Having gone through a number of upgrades, the V3 reFrame can now house a minifigure pilot in the chest without sacrificing aesthetic or articulation.