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LEGO Nexo Knights Axl with ball-joints?

LEGO Nexo Knights is a mash-up of LEGO Castle and LEGO Space, and it has given us some very interesting characters, vehicles, and locations. One of the most unusual minifigures is Axl, the big and burly knight. According to the LEGO Nexo Knights website, “Axl grew up in a rustic, little town in mining country. He is big, strong and always hungry. Sometimes for fighting, but mostly for something to eat.” 🙂

As you can see, Axl is a gentle giant, so how to represent him in minifig form? Standard LEGO minifigures are all the same size, and to make them look a bit bigger, LEGO usually gives them a bulky armor, longer legs, or larger headgear to make them stand out. However, in the case of Axl, they wanted to make him even larger that those solutions could provide, but not quite as large as a bigfig.

LEGO eventually settled on an interesting combination of standard minifig legs, and a regular torso piece without arms fused together with a large armor. So, Axl is made of seven pieces; standard minifig legs, a regular torso/specialized armor fusion that can’t be separated, two specialized arms that connect to the torso with LEGO Technic pin connections, a standard head attached to the neck-post of the armor, helmet, and helmet-visor.

The large armor/upper body combination gives Axl much wider shoulders than it would be possible using regular minifig parts and armor pieces, and it also makes Axl taller than other minifigs. At the same time, his legs, head, and headgear are normal, which allows him to walk, sit, and swap head and headgear like regular minifigs.

Another unique feature of this combination is that the specialized arms allowed LEGO designers to provide fully armored shoulders, upper and lower arms, and hands. The entire arm is a single piece, with no moving components, but very detailed design.

When a new piece like this comes out, LEGO fans sometimes wonder how the part was designed, however besides some rare behind-the-scenes interviews, we usually don’t get to see the developmental stages of the design process. In the case of Axl, however, we do have a preliminary photo of one of the sets, which shows Axl with a somewhat different armor/arms/torso combination (image courtesy of LEGO fan and Reddit member CM4Sci).

First of all, you will see that the armor doesn’t come down as deep on the torso. My guess is that this was changed because the armor wasn’t hugging the torso enough for a secure enough fusion between the two pieces. It appears that the armor and shoulders are using the same LEGO Technic pin connection, however notice that the shoulders and arms are two separate pieces connected with a ball-joint!

One of the criticisms Axl has been getting is that his arms are completely stiff, besides basic shoulder rotation. Not even the wrists move, like on regular LEGO minifigs. This means that Axl can only hold weapons and other accessories in one way. However, it looks like LEGO did originally design the arms with more articulation, and they were only changed at the last stage before release.

Why LEGO decided to change the design at the last minute is anyone’s guess. Perhaps they felt that the ball-joint made Axl look more robotic than human, or the small ball-joint was not strong enough to hold Axl’s heavy weapons. Whatever the case, I always like to find little behind-the-scenes glimpses like this into LEGO’s design process.

There is no doubt that Axl is an awesome minifigure, and all in all, I’m happy with the final design despite the stiff arms. I also found that because of all the detailing and metallic color of the arms (plus the glorious glowing orange shoulders!), they make great greebling bits for spaceships and machinery. The LEGO Technic pin connection at the shoulders and the standard bar-clip hands allow you to connect the arms in many different ways to other LEGO elements.

If you don’t have any LEGO Nexo Knights sets yet, I highly recommend getting at least one or two to check out all the interesting new elements and minifigures. If you are interested in Axl, he is included in several of the currently available LEGO Nexo Knights sets. The cheapest way to get him is via the #70365 LEGO Nexo Knights Battle Suit Axl, which is only $9.99 (see above). You can find all the sets under the LEGO Nexo Knights section of the Online LEGO Shop.

What do you think? How do you like the LEGO Nexo Knights theme? And what do you think of the minifigures? Do you like LEGO’s solution to make Axl bigger than his peers? And what do you think of the ball-joint solution for the arms? Feel free to share your thoughts and discuss in the comment section below! 😉

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{ 10 comments… add one }
  • brickmaster May 30, 2017, 12:43 PM

    Wow! This is fascinating! Thanks for sharing! Do you know if the balljoint and hand are a single piece, or is it like in the Mr. Freeze mech with the hand having a technic hole and a technic pin with a balljoint?

    • admin May 30, 2017, 4:13 PM

      Hm… that’s a good point. I’m not sure if the hand and the ball-joint piece are meant to be separate parts or one. I would assume they are one because of the same color, but I’m really not sure.

      • BLProductions May 31, 2017, 10:42 AM

        I am pretty sure they’re one piece. Nexo Knights tends to make new molds for everything, especially minifig parts, so why wouldn’t this one be new? Also, the Ball with Friction Snap (design 6628) is color-locked in black, and using that piece would add an additional pivot point that would reduce the hand’s ability to hold up heavy accessories. The Ball with Cross Axle (design 2736) would eliminate this additional pivot, but it’s still color-locked in Medium Stone Grey. The ball itself might be a new piece, separate from the hand, but that seems pointless. 🙂

  • JasonK May 30, 2017, 1:21 PM

    Interesting! Especially since this looks like a finished packaging image. I wonder why they decided the change it the last minute, and what does it take to change a product so late.

    • admin May 30, 2017, 4:14 PM

      We will probably never know those details, but yeah, it’s a neat piece of LEGO history. 🙂

  • TomTom May 30, 2017, 2:03 PM

    I like it! Too bad they went with the nonmovable arm.

    • Håkan May 30, 2017, 2:42 PM

      The original design looks less imposing, though…

    • admin May 30, 2017, 4:15 PM

      I think both have their plusses and minuses, and it is still possible that they will reuse a similar arm configuration in a future set. 🙂

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