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Our 10 Favorite Mechs in Pop Culture

Mecha
This weekend sees the release of the hotly-anticipated robots vs. monsters film, Pacific Rim (perhaps you’ve heard of it). In it, humans pilot giant mechanical creations (or “mecha” in some circles) to defeat city-dwarfing monsters from beneath the sea. You can catch up on all the Pacific Rim goings-on here, see the list of the best Kaiju here, and read up on our Best of E3 coverage, which named Titanfall best in show. All this chat made us think about our favorite mechs in popular culture, and how much we want one of our own.

Co-written with Matt Cohen

Loader – Aliens

The loader in James Cameron’s equally-awesome, though tonally-disparate sequel to Alien is set up to be nothing more than a piece of labor equipment, allowing Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley to move heavy objects hither and thither. But, we know immediately that it’ll come back in a big way. Queen Alien versus pissed-off surrogate mother in a robot? We all know who should get away from whom.

DeathScythe Hell – Gundam

There are Gundams in every shape and size, but our favorite has got to be DeathScythe Hell, the ultimate stealthy, close combat enabled giant robot fighter. Double beam scythe? Check. Bad-ass, folding-metal bat wings? Big check. Honestly, you had us by just calling it DeathScythe Hell.

AMP – Avatar

Jim Cameron sure likes his mech suits, eh? In a bit of a reversal from his earlier film, the mech is piloted by the bad guy (a frothing Stephen Lang), and the good guy is the alien, or more specifically a biological replica piloted mentally from a tube. It’s a hell of a fight, as the two nine-foot things knock each other through the forest.

Evangelion Unit 03- Neon Genesis Evangelion

If you’re judging a mecha by the standards you would a new car, Sangouki’s got it all. A midnight blue paint job. Sleek angles and corners. A pair of Tonfa weapons to battle other giant robots. There are many Eva models in Evangelion, but out favorite has to be this hyper aware and sometimes disruptive fighting unit.

E-Frames – Exosquad

This ‘90s action cartoon was supposed to be America’s answer to anime, and while it never quite reached that level, it did involve a whole barrage of people in mech suits fighting off pirates and an uprising of Neosapiens, or synthetic life forms who have rebelled. It was awesome, and you can watch the whole thing on Hulu.

Metal Gear – Metal Gear Solid

It’s pretty hard to out-cool Solid Snake, but Metal Gear, the titular Mecha from Hideo Kojima’s masterpiece franchise Metal Gear Solid, gives ole’ eye patch a run for his money. “A bipedal nuclear weapons equipped tank”; it doesn’t get much better than that. There have been many iterations of the Metal Gears throughout the series, but each one is a war-machine on two legs that we can’t help loving.

Big Guy – Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot

Along the same lines as The Iron Giant, this was Frank Miller’s take on the big, mechanical man idea, having the massive American robot come to Japan to save it from the giant lizard that threatens it after the failure of Rusty. That’s pretty much Miller from top to tail.

Krang’s body- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Mechs don’t always need to be huge, or even good at their jobs, as evidenced by the intergalactic (and brain shaped) despot Krang and his rideable mecha-body. Sort of clunky, sort of bumbling, and sort of early ’90s, this was the first “giant robot” that many fans were exposed to, and for that reason alone he deserves a spot on this list. Also… he wears sunglasses.

APU – The Matrix Revolutions

No, this isn’t a very good movie, but arguably the best part of it is the Armored Personnel Units that protect Zion from the onslaught of sentinels. Sure, Kid, the most annoying character in the series, ends up piloting the last one, but that’s not the APU’s fault.

Megamaid – Spaceballs

“She’s gone from suck to blow!” With those words, a transforming spaceship/mechanical maid was forever on our favorite mech list. Mel Brook’s classic Star Wars spoof has one of the more limited Mechs on this list, but it’s also the only one with its own circus inside.

These were our ten favorite. Surely we’ve forgotten some or left off your favorite, but that’s what comments are for. Voice your opinion below!

Comments

  1. michaelalexkawa says:

    I hate to say this but UNIT 02 is the best from Evangelion . Also I love Exo-Squad ,but they are more Exosuits then Mechas ,the same would go for Krang . Where is Voltron , Macross ,Gunbuster ,Gurren Laggan and Teknoman ,Come to think of it what about the Headmasters of Transformers ,especially the ones in Masterforce ,or even Spike and Daniel . Megamaid …..REALLY …..REALLY . Oh there is also Mobile Police Patlabor . But it is your list ,so I can’t really complain .

  2. SharlzG says:

    The things I wished for growing up – to own a veritech or the red lion (or to be part of G-Force, but that doesn’t fit the topic)

  3. CJ says:

    poor Kyle_Anderson …. you raised a shit storm due to obviously omitting various mecha style anime / manga references (& of course the cult classic Robot Jox) … I don’t have time to whine about Macross, or Robotech, not being included in this list – I’m going to see Pacific Rim,in 3-D IMAX (probably one of the few films worth paying to see in this format) one more fucking time!

    Pacific Rim the movie, not the Urban Dictionary definition ( An obscure sexual act that few are aware of and even fewer can perform. Similar to a Mexican Halloween ( Matt: I gave Barbara the best Pacific Rim of her life last night / John: What’s a Pacific Rim? / Matt: If you don’t know, you’ll never know!)

  4. Ian Berger says:

    I second the Battletech Marauder! Let’s not forget other awesome, iconic mechs like the Catapult, Warhammer, Atlas, Locust, and Hunchback.

    These are mech royalty!

  5. gunsight1 says:

    Wait, no VF-1 Valkyrie from Macross and no Gunbuster? :/ list, I am dissapoint

  6. Steve says:

    I beg to differ. I thoroughly enjoyed all three MATRIX films.

  7. ScreamingFalcon says:

    Where’s Megas?

    Where’s Magnanimous’ two suits (especially his second suit, with it’s fan service cranked to 1000)?

    Where’s Vehicle Voltron (and yes, I am aware how much hate that will bring me, I liked it!)?

    The Big O?

    What about the Knightmare Frames from Code Geass?

    Why are we celebrating cheesy piles of metal junk like the Amp or Krang’s suit when there are soo many better mechs out there?

  8. SyberJedi says:

    You can’t put together a list of mecha and not include the mecha from Robotech/Macross. Robot Jox should have been listed on here as well.

  9. xrysostom says:

    Rather than referring to Iron Giant when listing Rusty, why not replace the latter with the former? And if you’re going back as far as Ripley for “pop” culture, why not continue time traveling back to Robby or Robot B-9? These were among the earliest robots to truly engage audiences beyond the proto-nerds.

  10. hey do NOT FORGET MADOX-01 Metal Skin Panic! Official release 1987 and had a real time live Documentary on the possiblities of that tech being already in existance and the weapons were all completely real and being used with the military at that time as well.

  11. Sargonarhes says:

    What a lame list.
    The Crossbone Gundam X-2
    AT Votoms Scopedog
    Heavy Gear King Cobra
    Gelgoog
    Union Overflag
    Battletech Marauder (which is really a Zentradei Officer’s Pod)

    Now these are kick ass mechs not the lame trash listed here.

  12. Shayde says:

    No Robotech or Voltron love?

  13. Mike says:

    Roy Fokker’s Skull-1 from Robotech/Macross.

  14. Ricardo says:

    No Mazinger Z? No Voltron? No Macross Valkyries? pathetic list…

  15. w_nightshade says:

    MegasXLR is easily my favorite mech. It has a car for a head! CHICKS DIG GIANT ROBOTS… NICE

  16. Person of interest says:

    Cyclone suit from Robotech/Mospeada, which I still maintain is cooler than anything from the other series, including the Veritech.

    Very glad you included Exo-Squad. Once you get past the awful color palette, it had some solid storylines and dark themes.

    If “mech” just means a human piloted robot, you totally missed by not including Voltron and anything in the old Battletech game.

  17. Justin T says:

    What no Macross, Voltron or Spike/Daniel’s Power suits? Or did I misread some disclaimer?

  18. Unidentified Madman says:

    I dunno. Robotech was clearly overlooked but everyone wanted the Cyclone suit. And I’ll 2nd the Voltron being left out. Tell me you didn’t want one of those Lions?

  19. doyle says:

    The fact that “Big O” is not included greatly irritates me!

  20. Great list…but, dude…Gigantor? Space Giants? ULTRAMAN?

  21. Peter says:

    *is a droid*

  22. Peter says:

    ED-209 is droid, not a mech. Also, where is the line between exo-suit and mech? Ironman is not a mech, but but the Loader is.

  23. goldfixe says:

    I’m appalled at the lack of Robot Jox on this list. All the others are legit, though. Especially Exo-Squad.

  24. Sevenpenny says:

    LOL…. Megamaid…. Shes gone from suck to blow!

  25. Bobert says:

    No Gurren Lagann? For shame…

  26. John G. says:

    Man, I love(d) Exo Squad so much.

    Although I have to say…no love for ED-209 from Robocop?
    But then, you can’t get them all.

  27. Steve says:

    Um…Voltron, Power Rangers, RoboJox?

  28. Rodrigo Barros says:

    In the 80s, we had several japanese TV series down here in Brazil that were very famous. You could say they were the Power Rangers’ grandparents. Jaspion, Changeman. They had Megazord-style robots that were cheesily awesome.
    Also, Megas XLR should’ve gotten some love. Chicks dig giant robots.