There are a few common connections that crop up a lot in mecha building, and a few techniques that I use a lot, that I’ve stolen from other, better designers. In the interests of spreading information around, I’m going to discuss a few common joints used for articulation and difficult angles in building mecha. Feel free to add more in the comments, or correct me if I’ve got something wrong. These are behind a cut because it’s long.
First up, the classic arm joint:
This is a hinge plate connected to a tile clip connected to a 1×2 plate with handle. It’s useful because you get “up/down” articulation from the handle on the plate, the hinge plate can rotate on the tile clip, and the hinge plate makes an excellent elbow. The only difficulty is that the plate with handle has to be mounted horizontally, making for a bulky mech.
Similar to the above, this joint makes a great shoulder, and can take a hinge plate to complete the arm. The advantage over the above is that it can rotate in more directions, and is less bulky. You can replace the headlight brick with a 1×1 with studs on four sides, and have a shoulder on each side.
This is a pretty basic connection, but it can give great results. The tile clip fits onto the tap at a slight angle, which can be a big advantage. Soren uses it on the ankle of this mech, and I use it in the shoulder of some of my miners. The nozzle of the tap can be plugged into a pin or a cylinder for a rotating joint.
This is just one way of fitting together this very versatile joint. The basis of the joint – the light clip – is one of the most useful parts there is. This joint makes a great groin or torso with legs attached at the bottom, or for a bigger mech, this can be a knee.
Malcolm uses this joint on the ankle of his Mgn-302. It allows quite a difficult angle in a pretty small space. Replacing the 1×2 plate with something else can expand the versatility of the joint.
This is the neck of Joshua’s Aln-11, attaching the body of the mech to the red clip. The pistol allows for a really interesting angle that’s otherwise very hard to achieve. This is just one way of using a pistol, which is an extremely useful piece. Some people have been known to shave the sights off their pistols to expand their utility, but I can’t condone that.
Getting into more unconventional joints now, this is a robot arm inserted into a headlight brick. I use this joint on my miners. The joint gives pretty limited flexibility, but it produces some interesting angles. A tile clip on the bar can bulk it up a little.
Surprisingly useful, this unconventional joint is the arm for some of my miners (but it’s not original to me). The hand can clip onto pretty much anything, or be inserted into a headlight brick for a very nice shoulder. The angle of the hand gives an interesting angle.
This is just one of many unconventional uses of clips. Here, a tile clip fits onto the back of a horizontal clip, at a slight angle. You can clip tile clips to clips, clips to each other, and even push tile clips face-to-face for a quick change of orientation.
I’m pretty sure I’m not the first to do this, but I’ve not seen it anywhere else. I use this on the legs of my clockwork mecha. It’s a minifig hand plugged into a hose nozzle. It’s remarkably flexible and small, but a bit ugly.
So those are some of my favourite joints. Happy building!