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Building LEGO mechs – the basics

by admin on May 27, 2014

in Building Techniques

(Written by ninja5)

One of my favorite things to build out of LEGO bricks is mecha, or mechs. Mechs are very popular with LEGO builders, and there are many official LEGO sets with mechs as well. In case you aren’t familiar with what a mech is, it’s basically a big robot with a cockpit that can hold a person (or in this case, minifigure) to navigate it. Mecha come in many shapes and sizes; I’ve seen four-foot tall mecha at BrickCon (LEGO convention in Seattle), and also tiny ones that are basically the size of a minifigure. Mecha can look like giant armored humans, animals, armored tanks on legs with Gatling arms, or any other shape you desire. Below I’ll show you some basic steps for building a mech in case you want to build your own. So let’s begin! 🙂

LEGO Mechs by ArtifaxCreation

To build a LEGO mecha, it is best to start with the legs as they will provide the foundation and support.  They have to be sturdy enough to hold up your entire model, and also have articulation for movement. Keep in mind that the legs can have knees that bend forward like human knees, or they can bend backwards (these are usually referred to as “chicken-walkers”). Or you can just skip the knees all-together, like I did with the mech below.

LEGO Mech Tutorial - Building the Legs

Next, you need to build a torso for your LEGO mech. The torso needs to be about the same height as the legs to be proportional, and it also needs to be pretty sturdy. You can design the torso so that the cockpit is on it, inside it, or at the top in the “head” section. Also, don’t forget to include attachment points for the arms!

LEGO Mech Tutorial - Building the Torso

The next step is to attach the main body or torso of your LEGO mech to the legs. Then you can start working on the arms.

LEGO Mech Tutorial - Assembling the Mech

So now you have the basic shape of a LEGO mech, but it’s still missing three very important features: weapons, armor, and a pilot. Therefore the next step is to add the cockpit and pilot, and some weapons, tools and other accessories. You can attach them at the ends of the arms, on the shoulders, on the legs, and pretty much anywhere else you feel like they should go.

LEGO Mech Tutorial - Adding Accessories

The final step is to attach armor to protect the mech and the pilot. It should match the color-scheme of your mech that you have established so far. The best places to put armor are on the arms, the legs, the body, and around the cockpit. This will also bulk up your mech to give it a stronger look.

LEGO Mech Tutorial - Adding Armor

Congratulations! If you followed these steps you now have completed your very own LEGO mech! At this point you can leave it as it is, or you can continue refining your design by adding extras like antennas, booster-rockets, stickers and more!

LEGO Mechs by Mark Stafford

LEGO mecha are not terribly hard to build (unless you are building a 4-foot tall one) and they are lots of fun. They also have great play value, especially if you build a whole army of them for big battles and smashing stuff. If you would like to get some inspiration I would recommend you visit Mark Stafford’s gallery on flickr. Mark is an official LEGO designer, well known for his amazing LEGO mechs (see picture above).

LEGO Mech - Kai Fire Mech

One of my favorite styles of LEGO mecha are what I call “Ninjago mecha”. These are based on the #70500 LEGO Ninjago Kai’s Fire Mech set, a really nice little mech that requires few elements and is fun to build. One expert at building this type of LEGO mecha is ArtifexCreation (see videos below); they have created LEGO mecha for all four ninja, Sensei Wu, a snake warrior, a stone warrior, General Kozu, a skeleton warrior, Nya, and Lord Garmadon. Not all of their mecha are built in the previously mentioned style, but most of them are.

As I have mentioned, there are also official LEGO sets with mechs. I own a few of them myself, including the LEGO Power Miners mech from 2009 (set #8189), the #31007 LEGO Creator Power Mech (technically not a mech but a robot, but it does come with great parts and building techniques), and the above mentioned LEGO Ninjago Kai’s Fire Mech. My current favorite set that comes with a mech is the #70814 LEGO Movie Emmet’s Construct-o-Mech that will be officially released in just a few days.

#70814 LEGO Emmet's Construct-O-Mech

I hope this article gives you some ideas for LEGO mech building. If you have questions of comments feel free to share in the comment section below. Also, I’m a KFOL (Kid-Fan-of-LEGO), and this is my third post here at theBrickBlogger. Feedback is welcome! 😉

Shop for LEGO Mechs

And you might also like check out the following related posts:

{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

BLProductions May 27, 2014 at 10:26 AM

Nice post, ninja5! 😀 I love mechs, particularly Ninjago Mechs. I have Kai’s Fire Mech, and my brothers have the Thunder Raider, but those seem to be our only mechs. 🙁
I must note though that if you watched JANGBRiCKS review of Emmet’s Mech, you can see that it doesn’t have a lot of flexibility, so though it looks cool (it is), it is actually not a great mech. 😕
Also, ninja5, if those are your pictures, your camera is out of focus. I think it may have been too close to the subject. Try moving the camera away and zooming in, it helps. 😉

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admin May 27, 2014 at 10:59 AM

Yeah, that was interesting about Emmet’s mech; that the legs didn’t move much. My guess is that this has to do with the sheer size of the mech. I think little kids would get very frustrated if their mech keeps falling over. I have the fire-truck mech and it has that problem; it has more flexibility, but it keeps falling over unless you position it just right because the upper body is so large and heavy.

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BLProductions May 27, 2014 at 11:35 AM

Yeah, I my youngest brother has called both of those sets, I’ll let him get them and see how frustrated he gets. 😕 🙂 There is a review on Brickset today on Emmet’s Mech, it shows more of that problem.

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Strider May 27, 2014 at 8:18 PM

I saw the video review by Artifex Creation, and at the end it showed that it could be pushed back some without falling over. So at least it is very sturdy.

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ninja5 May 27, 2014 at 12:26 PM

I realized after I watched the video that it is pretty easy to customize it to be more flexible. Also, I wrote this several days before that video came out.

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ninja5 May 27, 2014 at 12:27 PM

Whoops, I meant to reply to the first comment…

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ninja5 May 27, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Thanks for the camera tip, I haven’t had this camera for long and am still getting the hang of it.

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ninja5 May 27, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Dang, I can’t seem to reply to the first comment… This is kind of weird.

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BLProductions May 27, 2014 at 4:49 PM

You are replying the the first comment. But you commented after admin commented, so your comment is beneath it. 😉

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Lloydguy May 27, 2014 at 10:27 AM

First comment! Cool! I made a transforming mech for Emmet, and I will use these tips in the future!

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Lloydguy May 27, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Whoops, not first

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ninja of stealth May 27, 2014 at 12:25 PM

Nice post! 😀

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ninja5 May 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Admin, thanks for adding the videos, that didn’t come across my mind. Also, did you get the email for my contributor page?

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admin May 27, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Yes, I did get your contributor’s page. I will try to upload it before this weekend. I was waiting for this post to be published.

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ninja5 May 28, 2014 at 6:58 AM

Thanks! If my email has given you my real name, please do not put it on my contributor page. My parents will kill me.

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admin May 28, 2014 at 9:44 AM

I absolutely won’t. I’m very careful about the privacy of our readers and contributors, especially when they are minors. I only use real names when specifically requested.

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Fikko3107 May 27, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Aww, I wanted to write something like this…Oh wait, mine is more about robots, this is more towards Mechs…well, they’re distinct enough, I might get on that once my blog-post writer’s block is finished…

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admin May 27, 2014 at 2:42 PM

I was thinking of you when I edited this article. I know you are big on robots and mechs. 🙂

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Superweapon May 27, 2014 at 3:45 PM

Thought you would have mentioned Exo-Force in the Official LEGO part.

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admin May 27, 2014 at 9:20 PM

It is a good point as Exo-Force is full of mechs, however it has been retired a long time ago so from the perspective of learning from official LEGO sets it would not have been particularly useful to mention them.

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Ray May 30, 2014 at 4:47 PM

Galaxy Squad also had some mechs. But yeah, Ninjago has had the most visible mech sets lately.

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Beardless Dwarf May 27, 2014 at 4:50 PM

Cool post! I’ve recently gotten into doing BIONICLE MOCs and I use a lot of system techniques in the ones I’ve done so this was very interesting to me.

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BLProductions May 27, 2014 at 5:18 PM

Hey, totally off-topic, but Huw just posted this on Brickset:
http://brickset.com/article/11314/75058-mtt-revealed
Apparently it’s a lot worse than the 2007 one. 😕 Maybe because it comes with good guys?

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admin May 27, 2014 at 9:20 PM

Interesting. A lot of negative opinions about the set. I think it looks good.

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BLProductions May 27, 2014 at 9:28 PM

Yeah, me too. 🙂 I think Lego is going more for the SNOT technique now, like on the Sandcrawler 75059. Though this new MTT is smaller than the old, and comes with less battle droids. 😕

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lego ff May 27, 2014 at 5:25 PM

What! I found the construction mech, Bennys spaceship, and the dropship over the weekend!

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admin May 27, 2014 at 9:21 PM

Nice! Yeah, they have been popping up at stores.

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DX ZX KENDO NRG KIMONO TECHNO JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING-SERIOUSLY I HAVE A MOUTH OF LIGHTNING May 27, 2014 at 10:11 PM

I have watched all of artifex’s mech videos. They are so cool! His designs are really cool. Great post by the way!

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DX ZX KENDO NRG KIMONO TECHNO JAY-MOUTH OF LIGHTNING-SERIOUSLY I HAVE A MOUTH OF LIGHTNING May 27, 2014 at 10:11 PM

Do you have a contributors page ninja5?

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ninja5 May 28, 2014 at 6:59 AM

Not yet, I will soon. Admin hasn’t posted it yet.

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ninja5 June 4, 2014 at 7:21 AM

Well, now I have a contributor page.

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Yoda Archives May 28, 2014 at 3:53 AM

Nice article, I love mechs.
Check to see if the camera has a macro or close-up photography setting. It might have an icon of a flower. That will tell the camera you are photographing something small.
Also a tripod will help keep your camera steady. But rather than buy a tripod use an item that may already have, a bean bag.

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LegoUniverse Bob May 28, 2014 at 5:58 AM

Nice post, ninja5!:D Mechs are my favourite LEGO builds. I have a decent amount of them, but this helped quite a lot.:)

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Bohrok Tru May 29, 2014 at 2:13 AM

Are those three in the picture near the bottom yours?

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Håkan May 29, 2014 at 7:02 AM

The trio is made by Mark Stafford, and the videos by ArtifexCreation. It’s mentioned in the article, if you read it through more carefully.

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admin May 29, 2014 at 12:02 PM

They are from Mark Stafford, as mentioned in the article. 😉

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Bohrok Tru May 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

oops, sorry! I read it really late last night! XD

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d3mon1977 November 25, 2014 at 3:45 AM

Can i ask what sets i need to build this nifty little mecha?
(leg parts etc)

thanks!

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admin November 25, 2014 at 10:25 AM

Which one? 😕

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d3mon1977 November 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM

The torse and leg parts. The join parts i guess. (hands?)
Which pack’s u suggest me to get to make such a cool small mecha.

what packs are these from?

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admin November 25, 2014 at 10:33 AM

I’m still not sure which mech you are referring to as the article highlights several. If you are looking for an official LEGO set with a small mech, Ninjago has several. It is a good place to start. The mechs in the article are from random parts, not from any particular set. 😉

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david January 28, 2016 at 9:13 AM

maybe i’m just less good at lego than most of ur readers but i didn’t find this post too helpful

blurry photos are overlookable but there just wasn’t enough of them. i couldn’t really get much of an idea how you built them

back to deconstructing LXF files i suppose

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admin January 28, 2016 at 9:58 AM

David, this is an introductory article about building mechs, written by a young LEGO fan. There are so many ways to build mechs, so it is really not possible to discuss every aspect of the topic in one post. However it should give you an idea where to start. Also, make sure you watch the included videos. They will give you more ideas about mech-building. 😉

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