“You want your little baby socks…for your little baby feet.”

Over the span of many years spent looking at LEGO mecha (robots, drones, etc.), I’ve concluded that the single feature that separates the good builds from the great ones is the foot.  Poseability is a close second but nothing screams mastery of the genre to me more than a nice pair of robo-feet.  More than a fetish on my part, I submit that most mecha have unlikely, under-detailed or just plain ugly hooves.  Constant reader the next time you look at a mech I urge you to check out the feet, more often than not they are blocky or just plain wrong in some way.  Never has the concept been better illustrated than the latest build by the usually reliable Gamabomb.  The thumbnail for “WARMATE” got me very excited, until my gaze drifted down to the feet.  My first thought was that those things would sink into the mud like crazy, causing the legs to snap off at the knees when it tried to move. The lower legs look like stilts that would cause the war machine to collapse at the first indication of a strong breeze.

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It really is a shame because the rest of the design is money, from the Xenomorph style head to the beautifully detailed arms to the exacting sticker work.  I’m not sure if the stickers are official LEGO stock or custom, but the little triangles are just the right answer.  In fact, there is great texturing everywhere you look, the head is almost a build within a build and it’s so inspiring that I can easily imagine it as a detail on other models like a tank or  a spaceship.  Gamabomb also hit it out of the park with the Photoshopped image above.  The choice of background, shadowing and logo all combine to elevate the build beyond the common fare.  That’s where the nu-school has it over the old-school in spades; for the most part they have a much greater skill set when it comes to presentation.

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I mentioned that the ability to strike a pose is also paramount to quality mecha design and Gamabomb gets an average score there.  WARMATE seems a little static from the waist down and I wish it could hold its rifle with a little more panache.  The thigh gap on this model may be admirable, but those feet!..it looks like the builder just quit when he got to the knees and that’s a damn shame because the rest of it is stunning.

27 thoughts on ““You want your little baby socks…for your little baby feet.”

    1. Although it was indeed the intent of Gamabomb to give his mech toothpick legs, I still reserve the right to call him out for that choice. On his Flikr photo he says:

      “Keith Goldman thx for blogging my Warmate. I read your blog with joy and a smile on my lips, great. The sticker are not from Lego, they are water slide decals from Japan which i always use for mech mocs.
      And yeah, noone likes my mech legs 🙂 but thats how they are looking, like thin prostheses.”

      I’m not saying everyone has to agree with my critique, but this blog is all about having an opinion and not just saying “great moc with NPU” and moving on to the next shiny thing.

      I like 90% of this model, but I hate the rest of it.

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  1. In defense of the stick legs, I feel that it goes to the particular style of a lot of modern mecha concept art (Aaron Beck, et al) which relies on suggesting disproportion, amputation and such. It adds an unnatural feel with long skinny arms, massive bloated heads, withered appendages, etc. Gamabomb’s Warmate may be confined to urban combat, relying on concrete to support the legs. Having said all this, I admit I hadn’t noticed the feet until I read your post (I was too distracted by the rest of the build, lol) Ah how I missed uber-nerdy discussions like this on Flickr a few years ago. Great write-up, keep ’em coming please!
    (…We are allowed to write “lol” on this website yes?)

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    1. I wasn’t familiar with Aaron Beck’s work, thanks for that! I’ve seen some of the movies he’s designed for like Elysium, but I’ve never looked at his work closely. Your comparison is spot on.

      Even though I have a better appreciation now for the influence and a new artist to explore, I still think the legs are wack. Even in the urban environment they still seem awfully susceptible to falling or being pushed over. You’d hear it coming a mile away too. Don’t get me wrong though, the rest of it is aces.

      Glad to have you on the Manifesto Shannon, I hope you stick around and comment as much as you’d like. I agree this kind of conversation has dried up on Flickr, I don’t know if it’s not cool anymore or people have moved on to some other site or app. I miss the discourse too and I’m very gratified with the comments I’m getting here. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On the style of conversation…
        As far as I’m concerned I feel the depth of conversation is inverse proportional to the growth of the community. Back in the beginning of the century when I entered the community it was quite small. Knowledge was shared feely and the discussions where on MOC and building techniques. Presentation was not a big deal for the majority.
        Now it seems to me presentation is even more important than your built. Just not to vanish in the vast amount of photoshopped pictures which often make it really hard to distinguish real builds from renders. Portals like flickr make it easy to browse and like those amounts of pictures without having a close look. People rush through thumbnail galleries just to see everything.
        If one takes a closer look on a picture there is not much time to stay, examine and rethink the model shown. I trap myself commenting only short, pressing my thoughts into as few words as possible.

        This makes me think I should focus more on less, giving the less more time and attention.

        Thanks for the lessons Keith and Shannon

        Cheers
        Marco

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      2. I do agree that people talked more at the turn of the century when the hobby was tiny. It was possible back then to know who everyone was by both their work and their words. Sure we had lurkers but I think the percentage of lurkers were smaller. It was the small town nature of the hobby back then that made it comfortable for people to interact but it turned into the big city with all the fractures that go with it. I agree that presentation wasn’t as important back then, that’s one thing that has changed for the better though. Digital cameras were still relatively a new tech back in those days so things were very different. I also agree that it’s getting harder to tell the real lego from the digital and I don’t really dig that trend.

        As for Flickr, it’s not ideal but at least the ‘notes’ function is back, it’s a great tool to have. I’ll grant you that flickr is impersonal and it’s got this really weird atmosphere where everyone looks but damn few talk. The old days were not perfect but they were a little friendlier and alot more talkative. I think the activity on this blog shows that the love of conversation is out there, we’re just divided on too many platforms an private reserves.

        I hope you comment more here Marco, your postings are always food for thought!

        Cheers and all the best to Sandro,

        -Keith

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      3. No worries at all! I’m interested to see whether this style of mecha design is just a fad and whether it evolves or becomes an evolutionary cul de sac. And yes, Flickr hasn’t been the same since we lost nnenn. For some reason, lots of old schoolers had kids and became busy and maybe some political correctness came into play? Regardless, thanks to you we now have a space to critique again and I am eternally grateful 🙂

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      4. I didn’t really tie the decline of Flickr to Nate’s death but that’s an interesting take. I put it more on the removal of the ‘notes’ feature but you could be right. Live has definitely intervened with alot of the O.G.’s plans. Kids, jobs, mortgages, it’s all the enemy of building. Not sure about the political correctness, I think people just loose interest and wander off, or they just can’t find the time to participate like they used to I hope you stick around and comment more often, I’m eternally grateful for the responses I’ve received so far, it validates the decision to run the blog.

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    2. Concur. This MOC corresponds with current trends in robot art. I think you nail it when you say it suggests amputation. More than once, I have found this generation of robot images disturbing… Is that the intent? I don’t know, but it is “a thing”. It is… uh… legit? Not an oversight? It’s not like Gamabomb built the hell out of the whole thing and then at the last minute said: “Know what? Screw the feet… Nobody really cares about them!”. No way. It’s deliberate and its fashionable. Full credit.

      But I have baggage. I can’t help but to jump the gap between assessing a MOC… and assessing a weapon system. Really, this is totally a credit of the builder! MOCs like this are built so well that I stop seeing Lego, and I see the topic of the art: A weapon. But… as weapons go… I want my robots to be able to walk in mud, snow, sand, and lose gravel.

      All the crap (mud, snow, sand, and lose gravel) piles up all over the place. Even in pristine paved and concrete sealed environments… once the fighting starts… crap everywhere! It’s a total safety hazard! OSHA guys would go nuts! Look at Gaza, Iraq, Somalia, Detroit… Worlds of crap! And old “hop along” here… his buddies would be popping him out of cracks in the sidewalk all the time.

      “Super sniper bot! I need you on this overwatch NOW!”
      “Sorry big sarge… he’s stuck in a pot hole about half a block back… I think his leg is bent again…give us a minute…”

      So, style? YES.
      Bitchen build? YES.
      Mad props? YES.
      Robosoldiers with tiny feet? NO!
      What if we put little rubber caps on them… Like crutches? NO!
      What if we gave him three legs? War Spider! Better… but NO! Just lace up some god dam boots over those crab stickers he’s walking around on!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This reminds me of something I read in a sci-fi concept art book (I think it was John Harris) about long drooping cables being added to a huge space station to give a sense of mass/weight to it despite gravity not being a thing out in open space. The point was that sometimes you gotta blatantly change the laws of physics for the sake of evoking a certain feeling, sort of like how laser blasts in the movies always have sound effects even in the vacuum of space.

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  2. I have to say I’m on the other end of the spectrum here. For me art needs no damn functionality, it doesn’t need to be practical. Flush it all down the drain for the sake of aesthetics.

    When I look at this model, it’s the weirdness of it that first captures my interest. The strange color choices, the long arms and the insanely bulky upper legs followed by those… sticks. That’s what makes it a standout for me, that’s what makes it unique. I find myself drawn to this way more often than to the standard battle mech.

    And on the plus side, the fact that I get to read posts like Michael’s makes the entire affair even better.

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    1. Well, it could just be that I’m an asshole who likes to find fault with everything, but I don’t want to have one of those blogs where every decision a builder makes is awesome, that’s no fun to read. I agree with you that the model stands out much more than the average mech, but the legs are just too much of a disconnect for me, stylish or not. I also agree that functionality isn’t the end-all be all, but I wouldn’t flush it down the drain either. If something doesn’t make sense to me about a design, I can still enjoy it, but I reserve the right to make fun of it.

      Sometimes I think it should be the Rutherford Manifesto, I enjoy his posts more too.

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      1. I’m not saying you’re wrong to find fault in here, just thought I’d throw a different opinion. In fact I’m tempted to say myself that the feet are too damn tiny, just not for the same reason: it’s not because it’d be silly to picture this fella in a combat situation, but it would possibly look better if the feet were a tad more… there. :))

        Functionality can have it’s place, but for me it only matters when it’s required by the context; for example a replica of real satellite or a moon rover. But in this case, I’d say it’s clear the weird design was the main aim.

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      2. To be clear I really appreciate your opinion, it’s kind of hard to refute and the model gets big points from me for weirdness. The blog would be boring if everyone agreed with my jackassy opinion, so please keep expressing yourself in the comments, I dig your perspective.

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      3. So, here i am to defend my thiny leg concept….not:).
        The best what ever happens is this discussion here.I prefer when people say what they think. So Keith keep this blog how it is \m/.
        I am not often write somethink about my mocs because my english is terrible and its hard for me to find the right words.
        But i will write a little bit about how the Mech works.
        “Today 2056
        With the rising use of ai controlled mechs the development of anti mech weapons also increased.
        The biggest problem with today’s battlefields are ground mines.
        Reducing the size of the mechs soles was a proven method to reduce the danger of activating such mines. To hold the balance it is necessary to equip the mech with a gyroscope in the upper section of each leg(like a Segway).
        End”
        This is only one possibility to explain why the upper section of the legs are thick and the lower ones are so thin.
        But the truth is, i do not think about to build such a mech in reality, i do not think about how the mech works or whether the mech is useful for something.
        The only reason why i build this mech how he looks…because I like it:).

        Also checkout CARL800, this mech has to thick legs hahaha ;).

        Like all our comments, regards Stefan.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Aha, the builder speaks. Every time that happens it feels like one little victory for the blog. Even if you only come here to comment on your own stuff, I’ve achieved a reaction. Your English is better than some native speakers so you’re doing fine.

        I appreciate the fact that you were just building something that looks cool and that functionality or “real world” considerations didn’t come into the design process. I celebrate it in fact. I really like the build in general and my opinion doesn’t amount to much but you inspired me to write an article, and that’s something.

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  3. I’ll throw in that it is not so much the miniature lower legs but rather the massive uppers. All that power to drive the tiny pegs seems like a waste. Had the lowers been longer, possibly might work both aesthetically and practically just as Aaron’s have a pleasing proportional quality. This reminds me of those prosthetic feet found on murderous South African sprinters. In that respect, if there was a battle on tartan tracks then this is your guy.

    I agree with L’etranger about function following form in the space of a specific aesthetic; but I also agree with Mike on form follows function on the practical side. I think if given a high caliber shit kicker, this guy would do well to lean towards bigger shoes. EVERY war machine must be able to get to a position AND hold it, otherwise it can only be called a target. And that is where the context of it being “Warmate” needs to be considered.

    On a side note, I love the “tick, tick” sound this makes in my head as it walks. Sorry, is the noise in my head bothering anyone?

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    1. For me it’s more of a “bock-bock-bock”sound, and it’s in my head whenever I look at the photo. If WARMATE Was as fast as that murderous south African sprinter you referenced, it would be a terrifying thing to behold.

      The fact that the legs have elicited so much conversation is a testament to the creativity of the design.

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  4. Can’t remember where I read/saw it, but I recall the thin leg concept for a battlefield robot being in part due to reducing the chance of stepping on a mine. I also wonder if it is emulating somewhat that daisy-stepping Mule robotic packhorse the US Army keeps threatening to unleash. Every time I see that thing on some History Channel Militaria du jour, its gait makes me think it has to take a big robo-poop and is choosing its steps carefully, lest the hobbit door burst open.

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    1. Gil that Mule thing is the stuff of nightmares, that thing disturbs me like Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet. The Mule is the perfect comparison for the Warmate and now I have a little wiggle-room in my argument against the legs.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. That mule thing creeps me out! Popping along… looking like it’s alive but not looking remotely like a living thing… uuug! Imagine that thing bumping into you while you try to piss on a tree in some dark forest… Jesus! I hate that thing. But yea, it has tiny feet. So do spiders and crabs. It can work for navigating difficult terrain.

      As for the notion of tiny feet avoiding mines… ehh… there are already mines with magnetic, sonic, thermal and even seismic triggers. Lets not forget tilt rod and trip wire triggers. Mines are cheaper and smaller than soldiers… even soldiers with tiny feet.

      All that said… it’s still a totally bitchen robot.

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    3. Fuck that thing is creepy. Uncanny valley writ large. Maybe that creep factor is part of the appeal to this style of bot, reinforcing the fear of their eventual uprising. Mangled human corpses aren’t uncommon in this aesthetic either.

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      1. Right?! I thought of the uncanny valley as well, it just moves…wrong. The overall style trend is interesting, does it have a name? Are there any other artists in the sub-genre I should check out?

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      2. I dunno if it has a name, but it seems to be all the rage with the post-apoc “droneuary” crowd. Notably Tayasuune (https://www.flickr.com/photos/tayasuune) and Dryvvall (https://www.flickr.com/photos/dryvvall/). The latter’s Ocelot especially reeks of Mule creepery. Jordan Schwartz’s “Kitsune Killer” also comes to mind, though that seems more inspired by Japanese fox art (https://www.flickr.com/photos/sirnadroj/4642031235).

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