Channeling the super mechs of past LEGO themes, 70613 Garma Mecha Man seeks to rise above the walkers that have come before – but does it succeed?
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‘Say my name,’ announces Lord Garmadon as he stomps into NINJAGO City, merrily causing destruction and chaos as citizens flee. To show both the character’s ostentatious and villainous traits, the LEGO designers came up with a mech completely appropriate to the character. It looks fun on screen, but when it comes to a LEGO set, it’s all about the physical build.
TFOLs and AFOLs who were interested in Exo-Force may remember that back in the mid 2000s, the LEGO Group released a set of online instructions which allowed fans to combine two or more mech sets into giant super vehicles. Some of these colossal walkers even found their way into the theme’s comic book series. The Exo-Force mechs were almost exclusively priced to be within pocket money range and were therefore very uniform in size, which is to say squarely medium in stature. The super vehicles were supposed to give fans a chance to have something bigger. They accomplished that mission, but at the price of being flimsy with strange colour combinations that were not easy on the eye. We could only dream of set like 70613 Garma Mecha Man.
70613 comes after years of LEGO designers tweaking and improving mechs and it shows. Is your last memory of mechs the somewhat fragile frames that the Exo-Force rode to war in? Fixed. Did you enjoy the highly pose-able mechs from Marvel and DC Super Heroes sets but wished they could be bigger? Done. Were you frustrated when your previous mechs could not balance, so tipped over? Solved.
My two year old came into the room when I was building this and his eyes lit up with excitement. Upon completion he would not let me take 70613 Garma Mecha Man to the safety of the basement before having a play. Mindful of the basement’s worth of sets I have to repair from the last time someone left the gate open, I tentatively handed it over. To my astonishment it stood up to all but his most vicious attacks. My hat is off to the designer, this is a model that can take a beating. The humour of a gun which uses fish stored on the back as ammo was not lost on him, despite his young age.
There was a lot of chatter when images of 70613 first emerged, expressing frustration that there appeared to be no hinge at the knee. I can confirm that there is indeed no hinge point there but can also report that it does not matter. This is because unlike any mech prior that I am familiar with, 70613 Garma Mech Man is double articulated at the hip. One set of hinges facilitates rotation on the X/Y axes while another can simultaneously rotate along the Z axis. This functionality easily mitigates for the lack of a knee hinge.
It is also amazing how far this model can bend over without tipping. The centre of gravity is much more stable than I had expected. My only complaint with this set is the lack of a melee weapon. The fish gun is hilarious, but part of the joy of Exo-Force was slamming two models together for some close quarters combat. While Garmadon’s walking nightmare does have an articulated hand, no weapon is included. This would be an easy thing to whip up with a few bricks though.
The minifigure line up of course includes Lord Garmadon, the four armed worst guy ever, who has a wonderfully striking design for The LEGO NINJAGO Movie. Green Ninja is included to allow the two to face off – there are ample opportunities to get the pair, which is appropriate given how important their relationship is to the film. A shark suited villain is also included, and the delightfully named NINJAGO City resident, Pat.
Mechs do not get everyone’s juices flowing. My advice to anyone thinking about this set is this – trust your first impression. If you saw Garma Mecha Man and immediately though it looked awesome you will not be disappointed. Unlike numerous past mechs, 70613 is not undermined by some flaw only revealed upon building. Conversely, if your first thought was that such a model is not your thing, I highly doubt 70613 will win you over. It is a mech designed for lovers of mechs, and in that role Garma Mecha Man succeeds gloriously.