Simple. But Effective.

I’ll make no bones about it: Pascal (Pasukaru76 on Flickr) is one of my favourite builders of microscale mecha. Not because of complexity, uncommon parts usage, or fancy articulation. None of that. What he offers are clean, elegant designs, thoughfully put together and beautifully presented.

His latest production is a wonderfully simple, cheap frame named the Groundhog. Eschewing all those taps, droid bodies, t-pieces, and so forth that we (and by ‘we’ I obviously mean ‘I’) are so guilty of relying on, he’s come up with something that I believe the MFZ community should grab with both hands and start running.

SfG-142 Groundhog

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Articulate!

A few months ago there was a very worthwhile discussion at the Mobile Frame Hangar on the subject of articulation in mobile frame builds. I don’t just say that because I started the thread. The responses and discussion were very useful. A recent design by a very accomplished builder got me thinking about this subject again.

Kinetic Acceleration Combat Armor

K-Frame by Brian Kescenovitz

Now, this design by Brian Kescenovitz is a minifig scale hardsuit, rather than a mobile frame. However, take off the head and replace it with something more mecha-y and, et voila, you have a mobile frame. I think this is a wonderful bit of building: immensely poseable and full of character. The range of movement built into such a compact design is quite remarkable (look at the image at bottom left for a great example of dynamic posing.) There’s little that’s wrong with it. Or is there?

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The Vexed Question of Pseudonyms

It is – to my mind – quite sad that even when you try to have a reasoned discussion online, it invariably gets dragged into name-calling and abuse. Part of this – as I see it – is the pseudonymous nature of online debate. I’m careful to use my real name online. I find it makes me take ownership of my statements and argue in good faith. Now, I do not for a moment suggest that everyone who decides to use an online handle is by extension going to argue in bad faith and be abusive. However, it is a contributory factor in many situations.

Where the hell is this coming from? Well, in the discussion on the prevalence and acceptance of fascist/Nazi symbolism within the gaming community (a discussion that grew out of comments made by me on the Mobile Frame Hangar) it eventually descended into anonymous name calling. Now, if you want to behave like a child and go “Ooooh! You smell!” that’s fine. Just don’t do it here. And, to direct my bloviating at one particular poster for a moment: you do realise that “Politically correct shit. Hope you die of cancer bitch.” is a pretty unpleasant thing to say, right? But, congratulations, you manage to combine hatefulness, total lack of reflection, and sexism into one glorious whole. Go you. Bet your parents must be so proud.

There’s another thing that I should point out (and I did so in the very last post of the above linked thread, but it bears repeating.) The active MFZ community is pretty small (I mean, it’s not exactly the WoW community or Star Trek fandom.) There are threads where people are trying to find games. Threads where people say where they live. WordPress logs the IP addresses of posters. Now, either there are a lot of MFZ players in certain very definite places (somewhat unlikely, but possible) or I know exactly who Some Guy That Thinks Your A Fascist (posting from somewhere in the vicinity of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA), Some Other Guy Who Also Thinks That Your A Fascist (unidentifiable, bonus points for at least using a proxy server or something), Your As Intellectual As My Arse (posting from somewhere around Linden/Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA), and Approve This (posting from Portsmouth, England, UK) are.

As I said, it might be the case that this is a coincidence. Or that there are big communities of MFZ players in certain towns in certain states in the USA or certain cities in the UK. Or, using my Holmesian powers of deduction, it could be that I know exactly who is anonymously posting here. Which is kind of weird, as if it is who I think it is, then you’re already using pseudonyms.

What’s the upshot of all this prattling on? From now on, any non-constructive comments will simply not be approved or will be deleted. This is a place for civil discussion in good faith. I have no interest in pandering to the lowest common denominator just for the sake of ‘the community.’ You are welcome (and indeed encouraged) to disagree, to dispute, to discuss. But attack the ideas, not the person.

Now Extra Chunky

As with chocolate, chunky and angular can often be good. Nowhere is this demonstrated better than in the three intriguing designs showcased below.

Hammer
There’s a lot to say about Pascal’s little Hammer mech. The design evokes Robotech destroids (and by extension, classic Battletech mechs) in a way that is appealing, but not overwhelming. The colour choices also make this one really pop: brown, blue, and light grey really work together, but it’s that tan highlight that really jumps out.

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In Good Company

It’s often the case that, when building for Mobile Frame Zero, we build an single mech to photograph. Something that’s nice is seeing a co-ordinated, cohesive company of frames. Not just in the sense of colour co-ordinated, but looking as if they could actually function together, with discernable roles. Preamble over, today’s post looks at some examples of really eye-catching companies.

Delta Fireteam 7
Chris (Ironsniper) is no stranger to Mechatonic. This company integrates three different designs of frame into on cohesive whole. I particularly like the little scout/recon suit.

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Games, Gender, and Geekery: An Interview With Matt Machell

Covenant, by Matt Machell

One of the great things about Mechatonic is the chance to interview people with interesting things to say. This time around, it’s not a name you might at first associate with Mobile Frame Zero. Matt Machell is known in the games design community as the creator of critically acclaimed story games such as Covenant and The Agency. I’d even go so far as to say that Covenant is the best roleplaying game you’ve never played.

Matt is also a father of two and long-time Lego enthusiast. He’s been generous enough to share his thoughts on Lego and gender roles, how play with kids is hugely important, and tragi-comic tales of unfortunate minifig knights and picnicking Nazis!

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