When fans across the LEGO community first got their hands on 70615 Fire Mech to review there were common themes (with the Brick Fanatics review reflecting many of them). The set is awesome, its towering height is amazing and the fact that a mech with this many parts exists is a dream come true.
The drawback being that the knees are not articulated – that mid leg rigidity was commented on time and time again, and differentiates The LEGO NINJAGO Movie mech from a lot of previous offerings. Naturally this got the team here at Brick Fanatics wondering if the set could be modified to include the missing articulation. The answer to that question is a resounding yes, and truth be told it is not even that complicated to do. However, the result quickly reveals why the LEGO Group omitted such a feature in the first place.
In making this modification to the Fire Mech I chose to try and mimic the structure of the leg as included in the original set as closely as possible. This is not a requirement, more changes could be made – the only part I would consider non-negotiable is the large hinge known as the Technic Rotation Joint. In order to insert this fairly substantial piece I enlarged the leg by a length of six studs so that it could both be inserted and still maintain a full range of motion.
Upon completion of the upgrade I was initially delighted to find that it worked exactly as expected, allowing for a much more realistic range of articulation that such a vehicle would need to actually walk. However, this was quickly tempered by confirming all the reasons I am sure the LEGO designers went for static legs. Bending the knee significantly shortens the length of the articulated leg.
70615 Fire Mech, as released, is already tall with a high centre of gravity – those six studs that I added did not help in this regard. With a shorter leg there is absolutely no way to get the vehicle to stand up on its own; cool poses require constant support by a hand or other secure structure. The result is a complete elimination of any options for posing the mech. In this regard the rigid legs as designed in the official set make sense as play and posing, while not as dynamic, are actually possible.
In the end this was an interesting exercise in reverse engineering the LEGO Group’s decision making. I would not be surprised if early prototypes of this model included the articulation I added, but eventually the design process saw it removed for the reasons I discovered along the way. If anyone is able to figure out how to do this conversion while maintaining the ability for the mech to stand on its own, please get in touch! I could not figure out a solution and would love to hear if our readers can find one.
This set was provided for this feature by the LEGO Group.