2006-05-20 : How I buy mechs

My Lego-buying process for mechs goes like this:
1. I make a tentative list of parts I want.
2. I find several possible stores.
3. I fill parallel shopping carts.
4. I buy the ones I want!

1. A tentative list of parts I want

These days I buy parts for a whole but naked mech, then parts for a variety of attachments.

For a whole but naked mech, in gray, I buy this list:

1x Brick, Modified 1 x 1 with Headlight (Dark Bluish Gray)
2x Hinge, Brick 1 x 2 Locking with 1 Finger on End (Dark Bluish Gray)
2x Hinge, Brick 1 x 2 Locking with 2 Fingers on End (Dark Bluish Gray)
1x Plate 1 x 2 (Dark Bluish Gray)
2x Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with Handle - Type 1 (Dark Bluish Gray)
2x Plate, Round 1 x 1 (Dark Bluish Gray)
2x Plate, Modified 1 x 1 with Clip Light - Type 2 (thick ring) (Dark Bluish Gray)
1x Plate 1 x 1 (Trans-Dark Blue)
1x Slope 45 2 x 1 (Trans-Dark Blue)
4x Tile, Modified 1 x 1 with Clip (Light Bluish Gray)
2x Brick 1 x 1 (Light Bluish Gray)
2x Plate 2 x 3 (Light Bluish Gray)
1x Slope, Inverted 45 2 x 1 (Light Bluish Gray)
2x Slope 45 2 x 1 (Light Bluish Gray)

Here's what these parts look like:

And here's what they look like built into a mech:

2.Several possible stores

Let's start here on BrickLink, browsing parts to buy. Open that page in another window if you want and follow along!

Of the parts I'm looking for, the hardest one to find is this one:
1x Slope 45 2 x 1 (Trans-Dark Blue)

Let's find several BrickLink stores we can buy it from.

See where it says "Trans-Dark Blue" toward the bottom of the page? Click that. Now we're at a page that says "All Items For Sale: Parts: in Trans-Dark Blue color." We're looking at some whip antennas, not the parts we need.

In the search box, type the description of the part you're looking for; in this case, "Slope 45 2 x 1." Before I hit Go I always pull down to show only new parts, 100 per page.

So now we get a list of stores. Each entry you see is a different store you might buy that part from. Here's what you're looking at:

- I'm in the USA, so I choose stores only in the USA. Sometimes rare pieces are much more inexpensive in Europe - but not for me, who has to pay shipping to get them here.

- I have a budget in mind, so I choose stores whose minimum order I'm comfy spending.

- Say I'm putting together 4 mechs. A store that has only 2 of the part I need won't help me. Also, you'll notice that some stores list quantities like this: "600 (x10)." That means that you can buy the piece only in multiples of 10; you can't buy 4 or 11 of them.

- And for our purposes here and now, any of the prices we see listed in the first, oh, 50 stores are reasonable prices. When you're buying in bulk, like I've been recently, your concerns are a little different, but for a half dozen of this particular piece, I figure 8¢ each is basically as good a price as 5¢ each.

So: look down the list and choose the first four or five stores that meet your criteria, open them each in its own window. I always leave my base BrickLink window open too - I might be back to it.

3. Parallel shopping carts

Each of those BrickLink stores looks just the same. In the narrow left-hand column you've got navigation, in the big panel you've got what you're currently doing. Click around, check it out. You can browse by piece or by color.

Your goal is to go through the list of parts you want and find all of them, in the right quantity, in this store. Add them to your cart as you find them.

Your secondary goal is to learn the names of parts you may want in the future. If you're already a Lego person, you no doubt have your own names for the parts - like at my house we call part "Plate, Modified 1 x 2 with 1 Stud" a one-bumper. I maintain a reference list, an Excel spreadsheet, matching my names for parts with their BrickLink names.

Anyway but fill your cart with the pieces you need. Fill your cart at each of the several stores you're browsing, until you're satisfied with what you've found. Some stores will turn out to be useless to you - they have lots of cheap windshields, but no arms legs or bodies - and if that's happening a lot you'll want to go back to your main BrickLink page and add new stores to the mix.

I don't usually wind up buying my list exactly - that's why I call it tentative. Usually alternatives catch my eye instead.

Oh and every store you order from, you're going to play a couple bucks shipping and handling. If you can buy all the parts you need from one store instead of two, you'll save, even if all the parts there are a little more expensive. It's pretty rare I find all the parts I need at one store, but sometimes.

4. Buy!

Compare your full carts and buy the one or the ones you want.

I just went through this process to build 4 tan mechs. Tan's a relatively expensive color to buy parts in; if you're buying blue or gray or white you'll pay less than I just did. I got the parts for 4 tan mechs, fully kitted out, for a total of $12.02, not including S&H.

Here's what they'll look like:

This mech, by the way, gets 2 white dice, 1 blue die for the armor, 2 red dice at artillery range for the rocket tubes, 2 red dice at direct fire range for the big gun on its left arm, and 1 yellow die for the radio on its back. You can just see the antenna.

1. On 2006-05-20, Vincent said:

I bought these parts today from Brick Artist Depot. I imagine they'd welcome your custom too. The one thing you won't find enough of there is part "Hinge, Brick 1 x 2 Locking with 1 Finger on End."

I went a slightly different route with the mech's hip, because they didn't have that piece, and to accomodate the rocket thingy on its shoulder.


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This makes...
Tony I go "So awesome!"*

*click in for more

2. On 2006-05-20, Jasper McChesney said:

Yay. Maybe I'll finally have another use for that huge box of legos I have sitting around! You haven't used technics have you?


3. On 2006-05-20, Ninja Monkey J said:

That store's great! Lots of stuff in one place! I'm still torn on the viability of making kits myself. It's a lot of work. I might just bring lots of little mecha to play at GenCon.


4. On 2006-05-21, Larry Lade said:

Vincent, can I ask what you're using for brick CAD?


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This reminds...
AG of LeoCAD
AG of Bricksmith
AG of LDraw (the underlying software)

This makes...
AG go "Probably LeoCAD or Bricksmith"*
colin go "Lego Digital Designer is hopeless"*
VB go "LeoCAD."

*click in for more

5. On 2006-05-21, colin roald said:

Another option that might save a little time is to fill out a Wanted list at BrickLink.  Then you can click the "Wanted : By Shop" tab to do a search on all shops that have items on your wanted list, and click through to shops to see which items they have.  You're still left with the tedious task of paging through that list to check if they actually have everything you need, though.


6. On 2006-05-21, Vincent said:

Tony I: You've mentioned selling this game at America's Gencon. Will you be making it available for sale to everyone else? (I'm in the UK)

I'm going to make the rules available from my website for free, in electronic form, as soon as I've written final text. That'll be before GenCon.

I certainly won't sell Legos from my website, no earthly way, it'd be way too much work. I probably won't sell books either, except in person - we'll see. Demand for physical books will have to be REALLY high for it to be worth my while.


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This makes...
BL go "IPR?"*
TI go "Thanks"*
lpl go "POD?"

*click in for more

7. On 2006-05-21, Roger said:

You could play at a monstrous scale using Duplo.


8. On 2006-05-21, Valamir said:

Is their any inherent rules in the game that require the use of legos at all?  I mean other than the obvious coolness factor...?

It seems to me you could play this game with Matchbox cars and call it "Car Wars: all the fun of Mad Max without the SJG Bullshit"

Or little army guys and call it "Axis & Allies: the miniatures game with rules that don't suck ass"

Or your collection of action figures and call it "He-man vs. GI Joe: Last Man Standing".

Hell, I'm thinking of hitting up the Big-Old-Bins-of-Hero Clix-Nobody-Wants and buying up a couple of dozen cool figures and just playing with those.

I mean other than coming up with a set of conventions for what constitutes a 2 die long range could pretty much play with anything right?


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This makes...
SDL go "I've been thinking of playing it with Battletech minis"
colin go "well, lego lets you rip stuff off when it's hit"
NinJ go "It also lets you build something for what you need and have the piece represent what it's supposed to represent."

9. On 2006-05-21, misuba said:

You could also just go to just about any store that carries Legos, and buy a few of their X-Pods: plastic pods that have something like 50 small pieces in them, that can usually be combined into something robotic-looking that even has at least vaguely Mechaton-ish attachments. They're about $4 each.

Here's the best current one. And here's the Eric Zimmerman-designed game they made for them, which is interesting but not great.


10. On 2006-05-22, Avram said:

I picked up three X-Pods the other day (Robo, Dino, and Aero), and also an Exoforce Sentinel for $5. It's got some pretty good gadgety-looking bits in.


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This makes...
Uriel go ""*

*click in for more

11. On 2006-05-22, Andy K said:

This Protoss-looking robot lego set made me kinda fall in love with Legos again...

Also, I'm curious after the talk on the other thread about "Vaporators", if Vincent hasn't taken a look at Mordheim?

I was never into the minis games, as I suck at painting minis and have the attention span of a fruit fly.  But I got talked into playing some rounds of Mordheim like 6 years ago with someone else's figs and I had a lot of fun: It was a skirmish-level game of like no more than 10 figs per side, and instead of the usual goals ("Kill everyone on the other side"), there were several scenarios to play that didn't all involve killing the other side: Get the Hooyah in the center of the map; Get the other team before they retreat; Destroy the other team's Hooyahs, etc.

Hearing the bit about "Vaporators" made me think of those quick Mordheim scenarios. Definitely more fun and more strategy than simply "crush the opponent".



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This reminds...
BEW of Necromunda

This makes...
LPL go "Whoa! (like Keanu)"
LPL go "Andy, where would one get that?"*
VB go "it's Supernova's alternate model."*
LPL go "I am asking Santa..."*

*click in for more

12. On 2006-05-22, Vincent said:

Ralph, about using other models than Legos: right on.

Andy: I hadn't seen that set before. That's really hot.

I'm not familiar with Mordheim but yeah, same deal.

Update: S&H from Brick Artist Depot came to $2.50, which is probably their minimum. So for 4 identical tan and brown mecha, I payed $14.52. I expect to receive the parts by the end of the week.


13. On 2006-05-22, Ninja Monkey J said:

Hey, in case there's anyone who hasn't see them, here are my huge-scale dudes. Only the little guys from the top set still exist (and I use them for Mechaton sometimes). Big Black is torn down, as is Hermes. The only challenge would be making enough cover at that scale. I'd have to build trees

I don't have any pictures of my Mechaton-scale dudes because my camera si teh b0rked.


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This makes...
colin go "fuchikoma"*
NinJ go "I wish I had pictures!"*

*click in for more

14. On 2006-05-22, Avram said:

Partsref looks like a good resource for finding interesting parts. The space-themed section in particular has a nice assortment of things that look like jets or weapon parts. Also see the collection of hinges. (And ooh, turntables! Could make a nice turret out of the 2x2.)


15. On 2006-05-22, Matt Wilson said:

I think it's awesome that most mechaton parts are familiar from me (like those turntables), and I haven't really delved into Lego since maybe 1983.


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This makes...
MSW go "familiar from"
MSW go "Gahh!"*

*click in for more

16. On 2006-05-23, Ninja Monkey J said:

Yeah, they haven't changed radically. There are new hinges, but honestly, I find them clunky and wind up using smaller ones that, it so happens, can be made with parts that were around when we were kids.


17. On 2006-05-24, Avram said:

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This makes...
NinJ go "Very nice!"*
AG go "You can just get one of the CAD apps and take a screenshot."

*click in for more

18. On 2006-05-24, Uriel said:

Well, you've sold my on yet another habit. My gf will kill me if I clutter up the apartment with lego. But it's so cool! I test ordered some parts from a Bricklink supplier here in Sweden and went and bought me a Robopod, which was really cool. Looking forward to the compete rules.


19. On 2006-05-24, Uriel said:

Kit 4881 Robo Platoon seems pretty nice too. 218 pieces, lots of hinges.


20. On 2006-05-24, Vincent said:

J, this is approximately your fuchikoma, right?

I couldn't find the correct piece in LeoCAD so I used box wrenches instead.


21. On 2006-05-24, Ninja Monkey J said:


It's close, but not quite in the right order. The feet are on the inside of the legs, and I put the "door" piece below the "handles", but the way you did it makes the butt clear the back better.

Also, angling the feet outward helps the bugginess.


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This makes...
NinJ go "That is, angle the feet forward and backward."

22. On 2006-05-24, Ninja Monkey J said:


It's close, but not quite in the right order. The feet are on the inside of the legs, and I put the "door" piece below the "handles", but the way you did it makes the butt clear the back better.

Also, angling the feet outward helps the bugginess.


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This makes...
NinJ go "Bhuh? Sorry about the double post..."

23. On 2006-05-29, Iskander said:

I joined in the fun; discombobulating a Star Wars snow speeder proved fruitful. My guy has a little head, cute wings and a big frackin' gun:
Alexander's first mech


24. On 2006-06-08, Kuma said:

Y'all may want to check out - you can build mechs to your satisfaction with LEGO's designer, then order custom packs with all of the pieces for one mech - I checked comparable-sized mechs, and they were about $2-5 a pop for Mechton-sized custom kits.


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This makes...
NinJ go "Kuma, we've discussed this a lot."*
NinJ go "A dickhead is me!"*
Kuma go "It's New and Improved!"*

*click in for more

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