The Ubiquity of Originality
In part one I suggested that, whilst each Mortar Headd (or Gothic Maid, now that Nagano has retconned himself on an epic scale) is a unique work of art, the forces of the Amaterasu Kingdom Demesne (AKD) tended to run with more unified, even regimented Mortar Headds, seemingly in defiance of this ideal.
This was not because the Headliners who piloted the AKD mechs were in any way trivial – indeed, they were some of the greatest knights in the Joker Cluster – but to remind the foes of the AKD that they faced not a simple fiefdom, interested only in personal glory, but a planet spanning, and rapidly expanding political force with the (admittedly flawed) aim of bringing peace to the Five Star Systems of the Joker Cluster.
Designed by the Mortar Headd Meight (engineer) Leidios Sopp (the alter ego of Amaterasu himself), the most common suit of the AKD forces, was the impressive LED Mirage.
LED, By Example
Rather than being a specialist suit designed for single combat, the LED Mirage is generalist of the grandest order, carrying both normal Mortar Headd weaponry (heat blades, Boomerang Claws, heavy lasers), but also a series of sub weapons, which were designed to deal with light armored vehicles, aircraft, and ground forces – or, in concert with other AKD forces, tackle multiple objectives in combined operations.
This, within the narrative, is only possible because of the skill of Amaterasu as a Meight, and the resources commanded by the AKD, which are not readily available to any other great house – even the renowned Colus Clan, who had few suits to match the LED Mirage. Even the famed series of Black Knights themselves, whose Vatshu was made by the greatest Meight ever to have lived, could barely hold their own at times against Mirage Knights.
What makes the LED Mirage such an effective unit is its primary laser blades, one of which is held as a sword, with the other being mounted to the peak of the suit’s forehead.
Each of these weapons take immense amounts of power to charge, and require the shut down of many other subsystems in the mech, but with the cutting edge of these blades heated to within an ace of 250,000 degrees celsius, they can slice through anything in their path – easily able to cut an enemy Mortar Headd in half.
Supporting these primary anti MS weapons are a series of cannons, missiles, and laser weapons, some of which, being positioned around the feet of the Mirage, are designed with the idea of fending off determined infantry – for even a Mortar Headd can fall to skilled troops, armed with enough short range thermal lances, or heat mines/rockets.
The danger from the skies is not disregarded too, for the Dhories which carry Mortar Headds to battle often carry fusion Buster Cannons – the one truly dangerous area effect weapon still maintained in the Joker systems, which can vaporize even the largest Morter Headd. Thankfully, though well armed, these Dhories are lumbering beasts and the AA systems on any LED Mirage can make short work of such ships before they can become a threat (it taking a great deal of time,and power to charge and lock a Buster Cannon).
Note that normally Buster Cannons are not small enough to be mounted on a Mortar Headd, but Amaterasu being who he is did the job, and on a fully golden mech to boot – all to fulfil a promise to Lachesis… (demonstrated at 2:40 in the video below).
However, and unusually, the LED Mirage can also mount this half scale Buster Cannon, but this is rarely done, as the use of such weapons is looked on as ‘weak’ by the Mirage Knights, who feel that an opponent should be dealt with ‘properly’, and not simply burned away as if they were no more than common infantry.
For defense, the LED Mirage relies on a shield-like device named the Veil, which not only carries energy screens and physical armor, but also houses further weapon systems for both ranged and melee combat.
An interesting note, and perhaps a nod to the feudal – and careful – nature of combat in the age of the Joker Systems is the fact that no LED Mirage can be committed to action without the express permission of Amaterasu (or one of his four great generals).
Moreover, no LED Mirage may be equipped with one of the supplementary weapons which were designed for the suit – such as the infamous Flame cannon, fuelled by a version of napalm which burned hot enough to melt rock – without direct imperial approval.
Bells and Whistles…
Reading through Nagano’s own sources one sees a variety of non standard options available for the LED Mirage as well – from deep space travel packs, to double Veil shield generators, as well as marine and avian operations packs.
Fear and Loathing
“It does not matter if the [LED] Mirage is the most potent Mortar Headd on the battlefield, or not. Everyone else seems to think it is, and is that fact not itself an important resource to cultivate?” – Amaterasu.
Though the LED Mirage was certainly the pinnacle of Mortar Headd development in the centuries of its deployment with the AKD and was even more potent than the suits it replaced, much of the projected power of the LED Mirage was in the lore which was built up around the suit and the Mirage Knights.
Indeed, though certainly one of the most potent suits every made, it might also be said to be fear, that saw many enemy Headliner faced with a Mirage Knight simply would surrender before bending the knee to Amaterasu.
Indeed, before the Colus conflict, and pouring over the available timeline books, I can find no more than a dozen instances of LED Mirages actually being required to engage in combat – each time winning and further reinforcing the reputation of the AKD’s forces.
Hands down, no way have I ever had a worse build than this… Everything went wrong. If the resulting mess even looks remotely reasonable it is not down to me.
First off… an ancient Wave kit.
That danger was well known to me, however.
[For those who do now, Wave was a garage kit maker which jumped up into the big leagues in the late 1990s and went into styrene molding. The problem was, their designers were not the sharpest or best versed with the new materials, so there was a huge boatload of things wrong with the first kits – most notably, lack of register stubs (those dinky little plugs and holes along the edges of kits to make sure seams stay in place, which Wave sometimes simply decided… Nah not needed) and shocking, possibly recycled styrene.]
So, cracking the box, I expected dry, overly brittle, cement hungry styrene, but what I got looked like someone had left it on the roof of a furnace on a summer day…. If you went through the unboxing and thought something was up with some parts, there certainly was.
A fair few parts had warped: possibly removed from the mold when still too hot… I do not know.
Not much warping, and not all parts to be sure, but I’ve not spent this much time with a hair dryer and a pair of pliers since… Well… Least said, soonest mended.
Suffice to say just shy of half the parts needed heat shaping, or heavy filling and five parts from the torso had to be nicked from a totally different kit.
Mind you, without the warping issue, this would have been a good build – all the niggles about old Wave kits being a little trivial and shallow… 😉
Still. As this kit was for a good mate, it was time to roll up the sleeves and get going.
Not one single register mark! 😀
The shoulder is well thought out, though. All the plates are articulated and cover the joint, no matter how the arm is posed.
The gods of hairdryers be blessed. The arms are saved.
That foot could give someone a nasty kick to the gorbals, for sure… Nagano’s style cannot be mistaken.
A bit of a mess, but half the parts in this shot above were from another kit. The rest were warped.
The ‘Veil’, with its lovely ‘you ain’t going nowhere guvvnor’ claws…
Though I do say so myself, I reckon I’ve turned out this pig’s ear, well enough.
Maybe not a silk purse, but at least a decent wallet…
The Wave FSS kits are not all that bad, either in 1/100 or 1/144.
If you really want to collect such kits, the Volks IMS kits are better made, to the sure. HOWEVER, the wave kits, for all the niggles are a damn site cheaper, and just as well detailed (save perhaps when compared to the last three IMS releases).
Nagano’s designs are second to none for me.
I loved this build, not least because it was for old Cacophanus.
Here’s to you, Ahab!
And now, a request… Seam filler. I’m tired of Tamiya Epoxy putty, and I am sure there is a better, more effective filler out there.
So… What do you folks use for seaming?