Building Techniques: Basic Bipedal Frame Shapes

Ahoy there!

Mondays are tough, they follow weekends. Weekends are the only time I have to see my wife, since we work on opposite schedules. I realized that I don’t have the time to write an article to be released on Monday over the weekend, so I will be tentatively changing release dates to Tue-Thu-Sat. Makes it a lot easier for me to have time to write the darn things. So, aside from that, let’s take a look at frame building techniques today.

There are three main types of bipedal frames I’ve come across, the humanoid, the industrial (or hunchback) and the hi-leg. The humanoid frames have a very human figure: two arms connected to the torso, generally a head that sits on the torso, two legs connected to the hips which are under or at the bottom of the torso; a machine that resembles a powered exoskeleton with armour. The industrial frames have a distinctly industrial look to them: legs connected to a torso, arms connected to a torso. No separate head, no separate hips; kind of looks like a forklift. The third, the hi-leg, is a take on the AT-ST walker from Star Wars fame: two legs and a torso. I’m not really sure what kind of industrial uses a hi-leg type frame would have on the colony worlds, though, so if someone could enlighten me I’d appreciate it.

In order:
XRM-18 Halchan, by XGundam05,
VT-22 ‘Minx’ Grunt type, by A. YATES,
TTT Hi-Leg Pikeman, by milt69466

One of my main issues with frame construction is that I don’t know where to start. I just put pieces together until it looks good, tacking on pieces as arms and legs whenever I get to a place where I think it looks good. This doesn’t usually work too well. I propose taking a moment before you start building (whether SSC or otherwise) to look at the pieces available and think it through. Do you only have a limited number of joints? Try a hi-leg. Large, bulky pieces? Let’s build an industrial. Lots of small pieces, many clips? That definitely calls for a humanoid.

Once you’ve made your decision as to the type of frame to build (and there are more than the ones I’ve discussed, such as Ijad, that will be in a later article), you can start putting pieces together. I like making my legs first to ensure that I have enough support for the frame, then I make the torso, then arms (if planned) and lastly, whatever’s left I’ll tack on as systems. Unless, of course, there are pieces that just scream at me from the get go, such as my naphtha sprayer from 41527 Rokit, and the tusks from my as-yet-unposted 41535 Boogly (awaiting completion of my lightbox).

The joy of frame construction is that you can do nearly anything, as long as you have the pieces. I, personally, am a pretty big fan of the mixel ball joints. They allow simple joints with few pieces and little thinking required. A lot of people don’t like them because they don’t look as good as other joints do, and it’s true, hey look a little out of place when the only thing connecting two parts of a leg together is a ball. They do, however, make building simple for the novice like myself.

MF-43 “RAT” [dune rats], by A. Yates

Even A. Yates uses them in his new MF-42 “RAT” frame as shoulder joints as well as ankles. Since they’re so well hidden, you can’t really tell that they’re ball joints unless you look on the inside seam. Using ball joints for hidden joints such as shoulders and hips can be fairly flawless, especially on bulky industrial-style frames, but you wouldn’t want to use them on a humanoid frame since they have much finer detail. For humanoids, the most common that I’ve noticed are taps for the shoulders and pneumatic t bars for the hips, connected to travis bricks. It’s unlikely to be available for use during a Single Set Challenge, though, which is why building (good-looking) humanoid frames as SSCs is fairly difficult. Hi-legs can use any parts that clip together, such as 1×2 clip connected to 1×2 handle or even the new 1×2 w/ 2 handles which can be found as a 3-of in our friend 41531 Flamzer.

The mid-limb joints such as knees and elbows can be done in one of two ways: articulated, or inarticulate. Articulated means that it uses a clip or ball joint to move so that the upper arm or thigh can be posed independently of the lower leg or forearm. Inarticulate means it does not have an actual joint, and instead is just built in whatever shape you want. Yates’ “RAT” frames have inarticulate knees that are assembled in a 90 degree angle and inarticulate arms that are just sticking straight from the shoulder. The “Hi-Leg Pikeman” has articulated knees, which includes a clip connection so that the leg can bend. The “Halchan” has articulated elbows while having inarticulate knees. Instead, it uses a articulated high ankle to give it that little bit of extra flexibility and the very classy goats-leg look.

Hands and feet are generally fairly easy. A hand can be anything ending with a clip, so that systems can clip into it by the use of handle of some type. A foot, however, can be much more complex or just as simple. A lot of work goes into feet, and there are dozens of perfectly valid types. The important part is that they’re appropriately sized and positioned so that the entirety of your frame is stable. If it isn’t, it risks falling over whenever someone so much as looks at it.

There are many other methods of construction and I’ve barely scratched the surface. Other things to take into consideration are torso construction, head construction, various types of systems, terrain and stations. I hope to cover them all eventually, but I think this is enough for today. Once I’m done my light box, I will get a couple of shorter mixel SSC posts up. This article has taken me a total of 4 hours to write and I’m running out of steam. Plus, my boss wants me to get back to work.

Thanks for reading, as always, comments are my lifeblood. I love improving and doing things you like but I can’t do that if I don’t know how. Have a great week!


Weekly Overview: Orbitons, Spiders, and Comment Review

So this is what I hope to be a weekly overview of what I’ve done and what I’ve learned. I expect this to be somewhat interesting for all MFZers, and moreso for those of us who are mixel abusers. I’d like to start off by thanking everyone for the warm welcome to the community, and notably Mantisking ( who spiked traffic to this blog (40+ viewers over 2 days!) by linking to it.

First thing, I’d like to present my 41529 Nurp-Naut SSC build, since I haven’t made a dedicated blog post for it. I honestly don’t think it’d be worth it, it’s lacking serious creativity. Personally, I don’t think Nurp-Naut is a very good Mixel to purchase for MFZ due to the odd pieces it contains and the fact that it’s over the golden ratio (52 pieces for $5.98). If you really like the transparent domes, though, I guess you could probably get a couple of good stations out of him.

I managed to get a station out of this build as well, a simple comm station.

Overall, pretty limited stuff to work with. My imagination was borked after working on the previous two during the same day, so it may just be that, but I can say that I’m not a huge fan of Nurp-Naut.

To start, I’d like to show a couple of Orbiton builds from other frame engineers:

Mixel Orbitrons SSC

By Lorc (Hangar post)

MFZ-41527,41528,41529 (alternate model)

By darksyntax (Hangar post)

And compare them to my own (Blogpost links: 41527 Rokit, 41528 Niksput):

As you can see, there are quite a few differences. In my frames, I try not to use the mixel style block feet but maybe I should just stick to that. The ones I stick together don’t really look any better. I really like the tilted forward style of Lorc’s Rokit frame, and I love his broad-shouldered bipedal Niksput (quite different from my own). darksyntax managed to turn Rokit into a near-Chub, which is fairly impressive for a mixel. His high-leg Niksput uses the wing plates in a clever manner, I hadn’t even contemplated using them in this way. darksyntax’s Nurp-Naut is absolutely brilliant. I never thought to attempt using SNOT for it, and I hadn’t considered a frame in the shape of a sprite from Reboot. It works very well here, and I am very impressed at the design choices by these two architects.

Something I learned this week through 30263 Spider Crawler and darksyntax’s Nurp-Naut, technique wise, is that part 4871 is particularly useful as a SNOT piece. Something else I noticed about the Spider Crawler is that those little spider legs make decent legs for a frame. I can see an Ijad-style frame ending on points like that. The biggest issue I would think is that the frame that has those kinds of legs would by necessity be lighter than most due to the pressure that would be applied to such pointed feet. And pretty much only in 4p, since they’re really small to begin with.

Something that I’ve noticed about my first post, the Spider Crawler one, is that I was very short and quick with it. I didn’t really offer any explanation. As the week went on I tried different things and I think I like my writing for my Niksput post the most. I really like fluff, and the lore behind MFZ has a lot to work with. Most of the Terran Colony frames are just scrapjobs given new life, and the Solar Union can afford to make military-grade frames. Mercenaries exist as well which give a huge variety of potential factions to work with. And when in doubt, there’s always the alien Ijad. The Ijad race is really interesting. The average Ijad will pilot scrambler frames while being hosted by Ghanateh, but they can inhabit a whole gamut of hosts. We’ll take a look at some Ijad frames next week. I’ve already started on the Glowkies mixels and I think they’re turning out pretty good if I do say so myself.

So aside from all that, I really want comments. I’ve received a few “welcome to the club” comments, but I’d love to see what people think of the frames I’ve created and of the fluff that I’ve conjured. I will perhaps, start posting to the Hangar since there seems to be a lot more discussion there, but I find it very intimidating to join forums and forum discussions due to the fact that I can’t help but feel like an outsider. I’ll link this blog in both the facebook group and the G+ group as well, but I don’t think it’ll be much more than once per week for my overview posts. If there’s something in particular that you would like me to try, I’m usually up for it, whether that be writing or building.

So, thanks for reading, and have a great week! I’ll be updating 2-3 times a week, hopefully Mon-Wed-Fri, with an overview post like this one scheduled for Saturday. The posts are set to auto-publish at 0400 UTC (0000 EST), so you can check them out then if you’d like.


Single Set Challenge – 41528 Niksput

Here’s the second Orbiton-class Mixel, 41528 Niksput. Something I didn’t quite notice until my wife pointed it out is that he looks just like Elvis when his wings are pointed the right way. I have no doubt that this was completely intentional. #ElvisLives

I personally think Niksput here is pretty ridiculous-looking. Bangs puffed up like a 60s rock star, a bulbous eye and farting fire make for an odd grouping of qualities. He does, however, have a very interesting parts list for a mixel.

Those wing plates are pretty great, but they’ll be hard to fit on a mixel if I want to keep it symmetrical. Which I do, because I’m somewhat anal retentive like that. There are a lot of pieces in this set that I just didn’t know what to do with, so I ended up just sticking things together until it looked somewhat reasonable. And then I gave it legs.

Meet the delivery skiff, nicknamed “Wind Runner”. An amphibious frame used to deliver parcels across bodies of water both large and small, the delivery skiff was given a rework when it turned out that the Solar Union had secretly built mineral extraction platforms in the middle of a lake that was the source of drinking water for the colony. Now they are still as fast as ever but have received an upgrade to their maneuverability with the improved Flicksail® wind rudder. Of course, we can’t forget to include the newly fitted dual naval rams which provide them with unparalleled close quarters destruction.

This was a simple frame to construct and left quite a few pieces available, so I decided I’d see if I could get a station out of it. I found a use for the wings, thankfully. It’s slightly longer than 4 studs, and it really doesn’t work at all if you consider that the standard scale of MFZ is 7p and we’ve already cut that down by over 40% using 4p scale frames, but suspend your disbelief for a moment as I show you this wonderful yacht with foreign dignitaries on board (wearing the green berets)!

If you really want to make it fit a little tighter, you can raise the sails vertically, but I find that makes it seem a little too tall and off-ratio. Here’s a comparative image of them side by side to show the size difference.

As always, comments and feedback are welcome and requested.


Single Set Challenge – 41527 Rokit

Have I mentioned that I really like mixels? No? Well, I really like mixels. For lego, they’re as inexpensive as you can get. Even the smallest of box sets and polybags are more expensive than mixels. $5.98 for ~60 pieces is as good as it gets. Especially now, with the weak dollar and the prices of everything going up by 25%. Yeah, I’m a little bitter. The price sure didn’t go down when the CAD was doing better than the USD. Anyway, I digress. $6 for 60 pieces is the golden ratio.

Today I will be discussing 41526 Rokit. An Orbiton-clan mixel that has his electronic brain exposed like Dr Gero is shown standing around holding laser sticks in his hands.

He definitely has some nice pieces to use. There are a few things in here that are notable, including the transparent dome and circular plaform, which are obviously begging to be used together, and a single tap. Also, the red light sabre beams. Those are awesome. I don’t have any since the star wars sets are so overpriced, so these are great to toss in to the bag of tricks.

So with this, I was handed a few systems right off the bat. The dome is a structurally reinforced transparent aluminum dome, protecting direct hits to the pilot sitting inside while giving him great visibility. It’s also air-tight, which allows this particular frame to be used in shallow water or in space.

I’d like to introduce “Welder”, the pressurized low-orbit spot welding frame refitted with naphtha cannisters, a rocket launcher and a laser rangefinder, with a reinforced transparent aluminum dome for protection. The rocket launcher can be refitted to fire missiles, if you wants to swap a direct-fire for an artillery system, and if you don’t want to be spreading hydrocarbons across the field the naphtha thrower can be replaced by a simple laser pistol which, coincidentally, looks identical except with a laser beam instead of a plume of fire.

That’s my MFZ SSC for Rokit. I hope y’all like it, and please do leave me comments about what I can do to improve this for you. Oh yeah, I noticed afterwards that this is the set that contained the nixel for the clan. I forgot to include it in the parts list, and subsequently didn’t use it in my build. I’ll eventually get a “redux” of this one for that simple reason.


Single Set Challenge – 30263 Spider Crawler

Near my home there’s a place I affectionately call the “Costco reject store” which sells goods with damaged boxes or returns from Costco, as well as several other stores. Every once in a while they end up having lego for sale. The prices are generally reduced anywhere from 20% to 60%, so it really helps bring the prices to reasonable levels. I recently acquired a small pile of lego sticker book bundles, which are two story books and a sticker book, as well as a polybag, for under $5. They make great gifts for my younger cousins so I always pick up multiples. One of these contains the polybag for 30263 Spider Crawler. I didn’t think much of it until I opened it up and made it.

I took a short look at it and realized that it might make a halfway decent frame. So I flipped it upside down to get that nice “Studs not on top” (SNOT) look and it worked out wonderfully almost right out of the bag. I made two versions with small differences, one using direct fire weapons and one using melee.

“Pistol Crab”, Direct Fire (2x direct fire weapons, 2x radar antennae):

“The Tick”, Melee (2x Claw, 1x Booster rockets, 1x radar coupling):

Now you can see that I’m being fairly liberal with the use of the term “system”, but they’re all removable when necessary and you can renegotiate the fits for whatever system you feel more comfortable with.

Yes, it is fairly small, but it fits (tightly) within 4p scale which is generally the scale you’ll get when doing SSC with small sets.


First post… About this blog.

Hey all,

I’m a fan of Mobile Frame Zero (MFZ), and I’m also pretty broke. I love Lego but it’s often waaay overpriced here in Canada. I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you know about things such as the golden ratio, MFZ, the hangar, and the rules surrounding the game. I’m mostly creating this place as a repository for my Single Set Challenges (SSC) for MFZ. One of the best purchases, price-point wise, are Lego’s Mixels, a brand of build-your-own action figures with cartoony looks. Today I spent the day creating a 3-man team (and two stations) for $20, using the “Orbiton” mixels. I will eventually put up the photos, but don’t expect anything too professional: I don’t have the patience to deal with that kind of stuff.

So I will, of course, also link to other material found elsewhere on the web by such fun guys as Mantis King, Dark Cloud, and a variety of other folks/blogs.

Thanks for putting up with me!