Ludens: Kojima Productions LEGO

1/6 Scale Full Lego Rebuild
KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS Company Icon / Mascot

From Sapiens to Ludens
We are Homo Ludens (Those who play).

Designed by Yoji Shinkawa, Ludens is the company icon and mascot of Hideo Kojima’s Kojima Productions video game company.
“Ludens wears an “extra-vehicular creative activity (ECA) suit”, and often carries a flag bearing the Kojima Productions logo – which is based off Ludens themself. Ludens is prominently featured in a video titled “Kojima Productions logo movie”, where they trek into the unknown of space and plant the studio flag into uncharted lunar ground.”
Death Stranding Wiki

Around 50 hours of building time to recreate this 1/6th scale LEGO version of Ludens. Articulated as much as possible and free-standing. Based off the 1/6 collectible by Sentinel & 1000 Toys.

Ludens
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Ludens

BUILD NOTES

This build was actually set in motion all the way back from JBF2019. I was able to meet Marius Herrmann for the first time and saw his video game inspired MOCs, notably the Gekko from MGS4. We talked a bit about video games and LEGO MOCs and a discussion topic was making the Ludens mascot of Hideo Kojima’s Kojima Productions. Back then, I had the Nexo Knight Visor part #11269 in mind to use for the helmet visor but it never came in clear (without print). 

The idea was left in my notebook and forgotten until recently when I played Death Stranding. I had a blast playing the game, loving both the story and gameplay. The storytelling was just fantastic and was just hooked on knowing what was going to happen next. I had to pause playing as I left for a trip to Tokyo with my Fiancée for a while where I was able to purchase both the Nendoroid Jumbo Ludens and 1/6 Ludens by Sentinel & 1000 Toys.

After returning, I went back to finishing the game and enjoyed it so much that I spent an extra few days getting the Platinum trophy for it (my first PS4 Platinum at that!). Immediately after, I set aside the first few pieces I’d use for the build which were the 3 windscreen pieces (as seen in WIP Item 2) and the quarter tile pieces to be used for the horn above the head. I knew that these were the central pieces I’d need to do the head design right. 

I stored these and didn’t start the build until a close LEGO building buddy of mine passed by my place and saw them and immediately knew what they were for (he’s also a fan of Yoji Shinkawa’s work and we’d share his artwork and stuff in our conversations). That convinced me to finally start the build.

Initially, this was only supposed to be a head bust build as a trophy of sorts to be displayed with my BB pod and various Ludens. My Fiancée however convinced me to make it a full build when I was done with the upper body. If the future Wifey says do it, you do it. 😁😅

 

Inspiration and sources

Obviously here the main inspiration is the 1/6 scale Ludens. I was fortunate enough to find this in Akihabara (inside the Kotobukiya store but there were only 2 left and I purchased 1). 

Having the 1/6 model allowed me to get the proportions right as I was initially doing it by eye with the pictures of the Jumbo Ludens and 1/6 toy online (I didn’t want to remove both from their display cabinet 😋).

It was crucial for me to get the silhouette right not just from the front and rear views but also from the side view as the side profile is also the logo of Kojima Productions. 

I had to reference a bit of Yoji Shinkawa’s sketches for the Ludens as well. 

Researching a bit more on the concept of the Ludens, I found out about how it was designed to be reminiscent of “an astronaut exploring a digital space”. The armor it wears is known as the extra-vehicular creative activity (ECA) suit. ]

Just mentioning here that I’m also a huge fan of Yoji Shinkawa’s work ever since I discovered Zone of Enders (ZOE). I’m actually not a huge Metal Gear Solid fan (I just never got to play it and always felt like I had to play the earlier games to fully enjoy the series). The Ludens is my latest addition to my Yoji Shinkawa collection as I have various ZOE Kaiyodo figures, the Volk from Left Alive, the ZOE 1 Collector’s Edition with huge artbook, and the CE of Death Stranding). 

Yoji Shinkawa's Ludens sketch

WIP Process (Ver. 1)

I. Face Build

My initial candidate for the face was really the skull piece but it had fitting issues with the top windscreen so I made brick built versions. The issue with these was that they looked too comical so I eventually scrapped them. 

II. Helmet and Head build

The windscreen and top curved design pieces for the helmet were picked out weeks before this build even started. The issue was now shaping it right and making the helmet’s side design looking right. 

III. Front chest plate, shoulders, arms

After making the head, I made the upper chest frame along with the front chest plate, then the shoulders and arms, then the abdomen, and lastly the straps. I was pretty happy with the quick progress at this point but was feeling weird about the current proportions. 

IV. Filling the body, adding the head light, and backpack initial build

Filled up the body as the previous photo has a hollowed out side abdomen. Added the tube details from the right abdomen sidethat would hook to the back and hidden by the backpack. I actually didn’t take pictures of the backpack’s construction as the shape and construction was quite basic.

So at this point, I was actually read to call the build done as I didn’t even prep any connections for a pelvis assembly. After consulting my Fiancée about the look, she asked me why don’t I just make it a full build as the proportions matched the 1/6 scale toy. 

I actually hesitated but knew that it was meh and there were a ton of issues with it. One reason for the hesitation was seeing all these curved armor shapes for the legs and knew it would be so hard to get it looking right with brick built assemblies. There’s also no big lightweight pieces that fit the leg’s shaping so it had to be done piece by piece.

Deciding to continue with it was proof that my Fiancée knew me really well.
If you’re reading this, make sure to get someone who knows exactly how to push your boundaries.
😜

V. Pelvis frame tests

As I didn’t give the lower body much thought when I was building the upper body, the Pelvis frame wasn’t accounted for. I needed to test various assemblies to use. The top one here is actually using the shoulder joint technique used in the Voltron set. 

I settled for the bottom one as the top 2 ones resulted in a hip width that was too wide. 

VI. Initial leg frame

I knew I had to use these big click Technic joints for the knees for two reasons.

First, I knew it could hold the weight of the upper body assembly which was pretty heavy as is due to the dense assembly.

Second, it had long enough connections making lengthening the leg frame easier. 

The only issue was reinforcing it and connecting System (stud-based) pieces to it.

VII. LEGS Frame test Fitting

I had to revise the bottom of the upper body to have cross axle slots that the axles on the pelvis would slot into. 

I then did a weight + balance test to see if the legs could hold and the model could stand.

It stood for a good few seconds then fell backwards, breaking the backpack slightly. 

VIII. revised LEG frame

I had to reinforce the legs as they were too wobbly  due to some extra articulation points that I scrapped in favor of frame stability. The picture here is me testing adding small ball joints I would attach armor unto using plates with sockets. 

I scrapped these in favor of the design in the next picture. 

IX. Revised body, arms, LEG FRAME, SHOULDER DETAIL, initial foot design

A lot of changes here as I was now comparing to the 1/6 Ludens toy. I realized that a ton of things were weirdly proportioned so they got revised. 

Shoulder shape was modified to have less gaps between curves. Body was widened as it was too sexy and not chunky enough. Arms were overhauled to have better shaping and details, especially for the forearms. Initial connection points for the legs were added. The first version of the foot design was made but was too wide and didn’t look too much like the actual foot design. 

x. revised feet

I remember spending a good chunk of one evening (around 4 hours) just reworking the foot into a durable yet design accurate version. 

The hard part about feet is that all the weight of the build would be resting on them. Where the weight concentrates the most is just under the ankle joint so that has to be a really sturdy assembly. The heel should be strong enough to not easily detach while displacing the weight to a longer foot base. The angled front foot here doesn’t have any weight applied.

xi. leg frame articulation tests

I haven’t tested moving around the feet yet so I played around with them during breakfast to test out some stances. I was pretty happy with the range of movement the ankles had although I knew that would be lessened once the leg plating is attached. 

xii. proportion comparison to 1/6

I loaded this picture into Photoshop and drew vertical lines aligned to the proportions of the 1/6 toy to see where my build was proportion-wise.

There were a ton of issues like how the head was lowered, making him look hunched. The chest plating was placed too high as well and the straps didn’t look right. The shoulders also curved too much. The backpack was too small. The hands were a bit small compared to the size of the toy. The head side armor looked too big and the curved horn didn’t vertically align. 

If I didn’t take this picture for comparison, I wouldn’t have arrived at all those issues. A tip for anyone doing anything like this is to take a photo of your build at crucial stages and impose them on top of a picture of the original (could be a toy or illustration). It’s quite the work but it’ll make your build look much better as you’re doing more accurate building decisions. 

xiii. revised head side armor, front chest plate, and straps.

First thing I adjusted was the front chest as the head now needed to look separate from the body instead of nested in it. This required a lot of rebuilding for the body interior as I also needed to add a collar and make it look like there was another set of armor under the front chest plate. Straps were then adjusted accordingly and this new assembly uses the old round 2×2 tile with an X in the middle, allowing for an offset connection.

The head side armor was reduced by a plate and made it look so much better. 

XIV. initial leg shape tests

With most of the body issues fixed, I then did sample shape testing for the thighs just to get a rough feel of what I wanted to go for. I knew the thigh pieces could work but upon testing articulation, found out they blocked movement at a certain angle so they were scrapped. 

I was looking at both of these from a distance as I just needed to get a thumbnail idea of the leg silhouette.

XV. revised shoulders, adjusted backpack, addition of stand

Before moving on to the leg armor, I finished up all the major prior issues as the extra weight on those would affect the legs. I reshaped shoulder to have better shaping, made the backpack larger and also added a slot where I could add a stand. Prior to this, it could stand freely but a minor bump would knock it down. I needed to make adjustments with it standing so added a support stand. 

XVI. hip side armor, Initial thigh armor assembly, lower leg shape test, redesigned head light

One hurdle I had with the legs was that the 1/6 toy and original design had the Ludens in pants then armor. I doubt there’s LEGO black trousers for this scale so I couldn’t get that look. I actually tried stacking black capes but it also didn’t work.

The solution was to create these side armor flaps that would cover the gap between the lower front armor side straps and the side thigh’s armor. Whatever gap inside would be covered by this side armor flap and give it a solid silhouette. 

The thigh’s initial shape was then built and tested with the side flap. I then placed extra pieces to test the knee armor and lower leg silhouette. 

XVII. thigh and shoulder redesign, revised lower leg frame

The shoulders were redesigned again to look more solid with less gaps between curves. 

Thighs were given these gold circular details and the gaps between the front and side panels were reduced. 

Lower leg frame was revised to be ready for the armor plating. 

As of this point, I was pretty optimistic with the shapes on the Lego Ludens. I thought it would be too blocky but it turned out okay. 

XVIII. strap adjustment

The front armor plate is actually strapped in a few places to the backpack. There are 2 per side and the Y shaped one just between the chest and upper abdomen. These have two straps going up to the trapezius between the helmet and shoulder. The strap going down wraps under the crotch and to the lower back. 

The issue I had was that I didn’t have space to shoot the strap past the butt to tuck into the gap of the lower back and backpack. The gap I had was one plate thick and it had to be a flat tile piece. I opted to attach a handle there and modified the strap to clip unto the handle, thus securing the strap assembly.

XIX. lower leg shape test

Just like the thigh armor, I had to do an initial shape test for the lower leg armor.

My problem here was that the knee cover clearly forms a circular shape, neatly wrapping around the thigh armor and I really wanted to get those lines right. 

I also modified the tube connection for the detail on the left of the abdomen. 

XX. initial lower leg armor

The windscreen piece I used here was a perfect piece to get that knee cover shape. My only issue is that there was no clear armor separation between the knee and shin armor but I was less concerned with that. I also focused more on the overall shape of the lower leg than getting all the details right as there was very little space to work with and any extra detail would mess up the silhouette (unless they were stickers). 

XXI. Finalizing lower leg

Finalizing the lower leg, I had to make the gold circular detail by the side of the knee joints look flushed into the armor. I also wanted to get the calf shaping curved properly. 

The ankle armor looks chunkier than I wanted but if I reduced these, the joint underneath would be exposed and make it look less realistic. 

XXIII. Finishing the build

It’s been a long build journey for the Ludens but it’s done! The last things to add were the spear weapon and make the hands slightly bigger. 

While taking photos of the build, I ended up making a few more adjustments like shortening the helmet side armor by a stud and adjusting the curved horn’s position (very slightly but noticeable from the side). 

This was a really challenging build to do due to all the curved shapes and it can’t look like a mech with really segmented armor panels. I was fortunate enough to find and buy the 1/6 Ludens as it really helped getting the proportions and details just right. 

One thing I’d want to change but can’t due to stability issues would be to lessen the hip width to lessen the inner thigh gap. 

 

Notable Parts usage

I. HOSES / TUBES

5102 Hose, Pneumatic 4mm D.

I really love these Pneumatic hoses and recently got enough of them to play around with the element. They’re bigger in diameter than your standard bar/rigid hose (3mm) and the rubber material allows you to shoot a bar into them. 

II. Whip for thin cables

4150 Tile, Round 2 x 2

Not to be confused with the other round 2×2 tile mold 14769, this version has an X underneath. This allows you to put studs normally where the notches are or offset it in the X. This is how I got this Y configuration for the front chest strap. 

III. Large Click Joint

44224 Technic Rotation Joint Disk with Pin Hole and 3L Liftarm Thick

Paired with 44225 Technic Rotation Joint Disk with Pin and 3L Liftarm Thick

One of the bigger joints you use when you build bigger pieces. For heavier builds, you can use two of these connected beside each other for extra durability. 

IV. Whip as thin cables

88704 Minifigure, Weapon Whip Bent Flexible

Just like with the Sailia Dual, I try to use these minifigure whips as much as I can to represent thin cables. There was this small cable from the neck to the backpack on the Ludens that the minifigure whip was just perfect. 

Commissions

If you’re curious about getting a custom reFrame from me, simply check out my Commissions section here in my website. I’ve written all the details you might need to order your own custom LEGO reFrame mech build and what kind of customization options you can get. 

Do take note though that I only do this in a very limited capacity. 

I open up slots for commissions here on my site and also announce it over at my various social media pages. I’d suggest following me on any/all of my social media pages below to stay updated on my work and commission slots. 

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.

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