I’m generally not a LEGO photographer. I think it’s mainly because 1) I don’t have the patience to build the really interesting LEGO sets, 2) I don’t have the imagination to come up with a halfway-decent looking MOC, and 3) Minifigures don’t really have the level of articulation I usually look for to get the expressions or poses I like to put into my photos. I’m mostly a ball-joints, elbows-knees-shoulders-and-hips kind of toy photographer.
That’s why these three new LEGO Marvel Super Heroes Mech sets are perfect for me: They’re easy builds that suggest a lot of customisation, and they are chockers with ball-jointed articulation.
For this line, LEGO has led the charge with two of Marvel’s most iconic heroes and the big bad from the latest round of Avengers movies. The Marvel mechs on parade today are piloted by two good guys (Spider-Man and Iron Man) and one baddie (Thanos).
All of these sets are constructed and articulated in a way that will be familiar to fans of LEGO’s Bionicle and Hero Factory lines. Ball joints abound, with lovely swively, bendy articulation at their ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and wrists. There is also articulation at the fingers and a swivel at the waist.
The major difference between these mechs and previous Bionicle/Hero Factory offerings is of course the cockpit, which allows the mech driver’s seats to be accommodated by their included LEGO minifigures—in true Macross/Battletech style.
It’s cute the way the minifigures sit in the cockpit with just their heads poking out, making it look like they’re sticking their head out of the hatch of a walking tank. Their disproportionately teeny heads on top of these giant robo-bodies just adds to the delightful cartoonishness of these toys.
(As a side note, why are these minifigures so angry? I know Thanos is the bad guy, but he’s got his magic gauntlet—can’t he at least look smug? Iron Man seems pretty cross under his helmet, too, while Spider-Man remains inscrutable under his non-removable mask. I may be showing my age, but when I look at faces like these I miss the traditional ambiguous minifigure smile. As far as I’m concerned, the fewer angry toys in anyone’s collection, the better.)
These sets are all based on a similar core build, with the distinctive designs and costumes of each character emulated by the sets’ colour schemes and the different kibbly bits and pieces clipped to their shoulders, chests, backs and knees.
Let’s take a closer look at each set, one at a time.
Thanos’s purple-and-gold Thanos Mech has a very classical knight-in-armour look to it. He comes with the Infinity Gauntlet, the deus-ex-machina macguffin-in-pieces that featured in the two most recent Avengers movies. Each finger of the gauntlet, plus the dome on the back of his hand, bears a stud to clip on a translucent, coloured disc, letting you recreate the placement of the infinity stones. LEGO has kindly provided two sets of each stone, so you can super-bling Thanos’s power glove if you feel the need, or accessorise his colours to your own unique taste.
Iron Man’s Iron Mech is possibly the most straightforward of the three sets, which makes sense given that Iron Man kind of already lives in the mech world. He has transparent domes on the palms of his hands and on the bottom of his feet to emulate his repulsor rays and jet boots. He also comes with the only genuine action feature of the three mechs: a fireable shoulder cannon that you can pew-pew little blue discs out of.
Spider-Man’s Spider-Mech is decked out in the traditional Spidey red and blues, with a big spider logo on his chest and four articulated legs on his back to bring the total of limbs to a very spidery eight. He comes with a bunch of white webbing-shaped pieces that can fit into the tubes on his mech’s wrists so you can pretend he’s shooting robo-webbing. There are some nifty little transparent clips to attach these webs so the Spidey minifig can shoot them, too.
Sadly, because of these mechs’ more cartoony design, Spider-Mech only has three fingers and thus cannot throw up horns or make his signature thwip! move, which seems like a missed opportunity. Thanos gets five fingers on his infinity gauntlet to accommodate the six jewels from his storyline—surely there was room for an extra finger on each of Spidey’s mech’s hands? I suppose minifig Spidey has to make do with the traditional C-claw hands, so three movable fingers is actually an improvement when you think about it.
But are they fun to play with?
Each of these sets is a simple 30-minute build. I shared the building duties with my 11-year-old and 13-year-old daughters (I built Thanos, E built Spider-Man and O built Iron Man). Everyone found the instructions easy, the builds straightforward, and the results a lot of fun.
Thanks to their balljoints, these mechs’ limbs and hands are easily interchangeable. This makes it really easy to swap legs or arms or pieces of armour so you can muck around, invent your own new superhero mech or come up with a silly story.
These mechs are really light, their balljoints have a great range of motion and they have REALLY BIG FEET. Thanks to all of this they can take on some lovely bendy, one-footed poses that might be a little much for your standard action figure to handle without a lot of delicate fiddling about or use of a stand.
I like that these mechs look like they were cobbled together in a hurry, leaving their frames and pistons and levers and inner workings exposed. Their gangly appearance evokes more of an Evangelion or Iron Giant impression than the sleeker robos of Pacific Rim or Getter Robo. This skinny, junky robo style feels like a good aesthetic fit for LEGO in general, and it speaks well to my tastes, too.
I love the colour and the fun of these toys. They’re a great variation on the theme of the Marvel superheroes that observes and includes the key design elements of these characters while putting a lovely LEGO-slash-mecha spin on things.
I would love to see this line continue with more character offerings, particularly LEGO mecha versions of characters like Captain Marvel, The Falcon, Black Panther or Hulk.
The bottom line is if you’re in the market for a bunch of super-posable, lightweight customisable superhero robot action figures that can strike (and hold) a decent dance pose, this is a pretty solid bet for you.
Are you a fan of Bionicle, Hero Factory or mechs in general? Which one of YOUR favourite characters would you like to be given the LEGO mech treatment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Adam Ford is a toy photographer and poet from the tiny town of Chewton, in central-south-west Australia. You can read other posts by Adam here. You can also find more of his toy photos at @adamfigurephotography and more of his writing at theotheradamford.wordpress.com