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Like any good sci-fi concept, mecha come in all shapes and sizes. Most audiences hear the word and immediately think of the Humongous Mecha
popularized by Japanese media; on the other end of the scale, we have human-sized Powered Armor
, more commonly seen in Western works.
But what about the middle ground?
Mini Mecha are machines too big or complex to be considered Powered Armor
but not quite humongous
enough to fit in the other category. A telltale sign you have a Mini Mecha instead of a Powered Armor
is the presence of a physical cockpit, typically small and exposed; if the user can be described as a "pilot" or "driver", then you have a Mini Mecha on your hands.
As the above comparison may suggest, these are about evenly distributed between Japanese and Western works, though becoming more popular in mainstream sci-fi.
Compare and contrast Mobile-Suit Human
, where the mecha is relatively small simply due to having a really small pilot
For the low low price of 1.3 million US dollars
this is now Truth in Television
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- Gall Force has the Bronze-D and Bronze-X versions of a mecha about 12-14 feet tall that the Solonoids use remote or piloted for ship to ship combat.
- Ride Back takes place in a universe featuring motorcycles that transform into humanoid robots with their riders still riding on their backs.
- The Sonic Divers from Sky Girls falls somewhere between Powered Armor and Mini Mecha; the machine's legs move with the pilot's, but the arms are controlled with a pair of joysticks.
- It is also Transforming Mecha (from "G" Flight Mode to "A" Walker Mode, so it makes a Transformable Mini Mecha).
- The various Transforming Mecha in Megazone23, futuristic motorcycles with humanoid combat modes. Cutouts of the interior show that their combat mode is basically a motorcycle chassis surrounded by a bipedal shell.
- the TA's and fakes in Gasaraki, like the above mentioned Megazone23 the cockpit is so small that the user is cramped into a racing bike style position with no room to move, though this also means that in an emergency the head cowling on the TA's can open up allowing the pilot to see out.
- Lagann from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is actually shorter than most of the adult characters in the series. Its purpose is to take control of and combine with larger mecha, though it can fight on its own.
- The Landmates in Appleseed are halfway between this and powered armor. The pilot's legs go into the mech's legs, and their arms jut out from the torso under the mech's arms, which mimic the wearer's.
- The Tachikoma from Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex are sentient Spider Tanks that can be manned, but largely operate on their own (inexpressibly adorable) artificial intelligence.
- They are also incredibly fast and agile, often chasing helicopters by jumping over the roofs of buildings or climbing skyscrapers.
- Suits similar to the ones in Appleseed exist.
- All of the military robots used in Ergo Proxy.
- Armored Trooper VOTOMS
- The walkers and snake-mechs from Now and Then, Here and There are exactly this. However, their hatch seems to close only to protect the pilot as both models rely on direct sight (ie, no cameras; if the hatch is closed, the pilots will be blind)
- Bubblegum Crisis has both powered armor and a sort-of Mini Mecha, the DD Battlemover. Plus that MADOX thing that Mackie drives.
- Most of the Knightmare Frames used in Code Geass count more as Mini Mecha than Humongous Mecha. After all, the cockpits take up a considerable amount of space, and jut out of the back of the devices quite noticeably, doubling as rocket-boosted escape pods. Those derived from Rakshata's Guren design feature smaller, more compact cockpits, though they still noticeably protrude. A few of the later Knightmare Frames - those derived from the Gawain (6.5m tall, as opposed to the 4m to 5m everything else) - dwarf most KM Fs, but are still much smaller than most humongous mecha, and are the least common design.
- However, the Middle Eastern League's Bamides, which are shown to be all but immune to tank rounds, are much more akin to Humongous Mecha, standing at over 11 meters. That said, they also ignore most of the human element, being more akin to giant tanks with vaguely leg-like hover systems.
- Innocent Venus has the Gladiators, which are about 15-20 feet tall.
- While Gundam is a Humongous Mecha franchise, several of the universes have smaller machines that are typically used for civilian construction (and, in a couple of cases, building contests and races). Sometimes they're given weapons, but this never ends well. Which is kind of what you'd expect when you try to use construction equipment against actual military hardware. Every time it's been attempted has been out of sheer desperation.
- Ken Ishikawa's Freeder Bug features mecha smaller than the characters, which are controlled from a seat fixed to the back. They can also transform into neat little skimmers.
- Most Round Bucklers in Mars Daybreak are around 4-5 meters tall, Cordless (piloted, as opposed to the more conventional remotely controlled types) are a tad taller than that.
- The PPORs in Key the Metal Idol could probably qualify as this, despite being controlled from a separate location.
- The titular Powered Armor of Infinite Stratos are probably closest to this, albeit edging closer to Powered Armor territory than Humongous Mecha.
- The Guard Robots in Kiddy Grade and Kiddy GiRL-AND, which also function as land vehicles for the ES pairs.
- MD Geist's setting featured the government using Powered Armor and the anti-Earth control Nexrum who used mini-mechas.
- In Superdimension Fortress Macross and its sequels (as well as the adaptation-compilation Robotech), the Zentraedi battle pods and suits are this, albeit scaled up for a pilot who is at least about 30 feet tall, making them one of the few mecha that can arguably fall into BOTH categories, depending on your frame of reference.
- Marvel Comics Spitfire and the Troubleshooters (later Codename: Spitfire) featured a mini mecha known as the MAX.
- Iron Man's bulkier Hulkbuster armor has aspects of this.
- The Diggers from Spider-Man and Venom comics are obscure villains: mech-drivers who usually work for corrupt corporations in digging for resources in illegal areas.
- Rocket Raccoon has one that's strong enough to stun Thanos.
- In American Flagg, the deactivated body of robot deputy Luther Ironheart serves as this for talking housecat Raul, who "pilots" the body from where Luther's holographic head would ordinarily be.
- The AT-STs ("chicken walkers") from Star Wars.
- The Matrix gives us mini-mechas which also have Guns Akimbo large caliber machineguns.
- The power loader suit from Aliens. Many companies were very disappointed to learn that no such product existed yet.
- The mecha suit Wikus van de Merwe uses in the climax of District 9.
- Obidiah Stane's powersuit in Iron Man 1, the Iron Monger, blurs the line between Mini-Mecha and Powered Armor. It is very humanoid but much too large for his limbs to extend far out from the cockpit inside the torso. In fact, because it has a literal helmet structure, it's not a stretch to say that Iron Monger is powered armor from the neck up, and the rest is mini-mecha.
- The Rhino's suit of armor in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
- The AMP suit from Avatar also walks the line; the pilot's body is entirely within the torso cockpit, but he/she directly manipulates the legs with foot pedals and the arms with servo armatures, worn by the pilot so that the AMP's larger arms follow their exact movements.
- The Wyvern mecha-suits from John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor's Into the Looking Glass series are more like this than they are Powered Armor, despite their (roughly) humanoid shape, especially in the first version, which relies on purely human technology.
- The warden of the titular prison has a combat exoskeleton in The Omega Cage. Luckily for the people he's chasing, he's not very skilled with it.
- Legacy of the Dragokin: Rufus is building one near the start of the book. He plants to use it in construction but its first job is wiping out monsters that invaded the city.
Live Action TV
- Unsurprisingly, Power Rangers has tried this on for size, as with every other mecha trope. The unpiloted Minizord (in Power Rangers Ninja Storm) may or may not count: it seems to be intelligent-ish and basically controls the combining procedure. However, there is also the Transtech Armor (Power Rangers Operation Overdrive), an oversized-but-not-Zord-sized car that transforms into a robot mode.
- Kaixa's Side Basshar from Kamen Rider Faiz changes from a motorcycle into a bipedal, open-cockpit walker with tons of missiles.
- Kamen Rider Fourze has the Power Dizer, which stands at 10 feet tall and can transform from a mecha into a tank-like vehicle or a launch tower that can propell Fourze's Cool Bike into space. Until the Second Rider shows up, it often serves as Fourze's backup - especially once Jerk Jock Shun Daimonji reforms and joins the team, because the strength and constitution he developed to play American football lets him use it more effectively than anyone else.
- And now we have Kamen Rider Gaim and his Watermelon Arms, which is as large as the Power Dizer and can swich between a giant watermelon form, a flight-equipped mode and its main humanoid fighting form that ressembles a cross between a giant samurai and a small Zaku.
- Avatar has Colonel Quaritch's AMP Suit, which topples over when defeated, and marches in the Premium Limited Edition of the game.
- Warhammer 40,000 uses the term Dreadnought to refer to bipedal war machines larger than Power Armor but smaller than Titans. Like everything in the 40K universe, the trope is turned Up to Eleven so much that "Mini" is stretched to it's limits. Space Marine Dreadnoughts, standing between 15 and 25 feet tall, are somewhere between walking tanks and venerated tombs, piloted by a mortally-wounded Space Marine in a life-sustaining sarcophagus. Ork Deff Dreds and Killa Kans follow the Marines' example and have their Ork and Gretchin pilots crudely wired into the contraptions, while Eldar Wraithlords are graceful constructs "piloted" by the soulstone of a mighty warrior.
- Similar to the Star Wars scout walker examples above are Imperial Sentinels and Eldar War Walkers, both of which are open-topped, though the former has an enclosed crew compartment in its heavier version while the latter's pilot is protected by a force field.
- Tau Battlesuits are the smallest of 40k's Mini Mecha, and range in size from just large enough to count more accurately as power armor, to large enough to fit their pilots in the suits' chests. Since they are so much smaller compared to the other Dreadnoughts, the tabletop rules count Battlesuits as infantry rather than walker vehicles. The new XV104 "Riptide" model is a much bigger example than the other XV suits.
- Imperial Knights, which aren't as big as Titans but much bigger than Dreadnoughts and Battlesuits.
- Mekton has these in the Roadstriker scale - while small Roadstrikers are worn as Powered Armor, larger ones (starting at about Medium Weight size) have enough room in their torsos to carry a full cockpit and have the limbs wholly mechanically actuated, though to get equipment in the torso other than the cockpit, it will either have to be built for a particularly small pilot, or else be a particularly large Roadstriker.
- Rifts is the purveyor of countless examples, including many Triax half-and-halfs that seem inspired by Appleseed to the fully piloted Ultimax and Terror Trooper.
- The later eras of BattleTech include Clan Protomechs, which are two- to ten-ton vehicles intended to fill a tactical gap between battle armors and light 'Mechs. They deploy in the same manner as Clan Elementals, but are piloted by warriors of the short, slight-built aerospace fighter pilot phenotype.
- After the Jihad, ten to fifteen (as opposed to two to nine) ton "Ultra protos" appeared, as well as alternate glider and quadrapedal chassis types. Their piloting systems are less cramped; according to the description of the Svartalfa, they can accomodate the extremely tall and bulky "Elemental" super-infantry phenotype. However, most pilots are still the fighter pilots.
- Several notional battle armor designs also straddle the line due to their sheer size (an "assault" class suit can mass up to two metric tons) or quadrupedal configuration.
- In Exalted, Warstriders are either this or Humongous Mecha, depending on the exact type.
- Heavy Gear focuses on the piloting of such mecha.
- As does Gear Krieg, albeit with armored car and small tanks that turn into walkers (still far smaller than the BattleTech style mecha).
- Warjacks tend to be about this size, though being remote-controlled Magitek weapons, they lack the pilot.
- According to the informal mech-weight guide, Giant Guardian Generation's Eagle-class mechs.
- LEGO Exo-Force contained two of these each year to complement the predominant Humongous Mecha, owing to the need to have sets available for a wide range of prices with these obviously fitting the "impulse" low-cost range.
- LEGO also had an example in BIONICLE; the Exo-Toa are the kind that are like Powered Armor, but oversized.
- Likewise the Boxors, which were so compact that the pilots had to sit at the very front, completely exposed.
- LEGO Ninjago has Samurai X's katana-wielding mech, which in spite of its imposing build is no larger than any of the ninja's vehicles.
- As of 2014, this also applies to the Invasion From Below series of Hero Factory, where the previously standard size models are minimechs, with minifigure-sized characters functioning as pilots.
- Xenosaga has a mini mecha used by the players and some baddies known as A.G.W.S. They are amount 4-6 meters tall.
- The Custom Robo series. The highly destructive mecha are between eight to ten inches high, but are still piloted by humans - psychically.
- The Empire's Magitek Armor from Final Fantasy VI.
- The President of the United States has one in Metal Wolf Chaos. It even has the Presidential Seal on one of the rocket launchers.
- The titular Armored Cores of Armored Core 5 are said to be only 5 meters tall.
- In the trailer, the Cores seem to be only a bit taller than tanks. So either this is true or those are some big tanks.
- The Assault Suits of Assault Suits Valken
- The goddamned Raptors in Razing Storm. They jump around like mad while firing out Beam Spam and rockets.
- Steve from Dark Cloud 2 is essentially a barrel with limbs that Max controls from a seat on top of the barrel.
- The Bunyips from the Ty the Tasmanian Tiger sequels are larger than most, but small enough that the cockpit amounts to a seat where the head should be.
- The Ride Armor from the Mega Man X series, despite its name, is really a mecha roughly twice the size of the average character from the franchise with the entire upper torso serving as a cockpit and the pilot poking out from between its shoulders.
- On that note, the Gustaff from the Mega Man Legends series counts as a mini-mech as well; its pilot, Tron Bonne, is notably seen piloting this machine, which is almost as famous as the Legends-era's Blue Bomber himself. In Namco × Capcom and Marvel vs. Capcom the Gustaff has an open cockpit to show Tron piloting it, whereas in the actual games the mech is larger, about the size of a minivan.
- The majority of the Vital Suits from Lost Planet fall into this category, though as the game progresses, larger and more heavily-armored models appear.
- Steambot Chronicles is set in a world where Mini Mecha called Trotmobiles have become as ubiquitous as cars.
- Speed Power Gunbike is an obscure Japanese PS1 title featuring transforming motorcycles in the vein of the Megazone23 example above.
- Saints Row IV has a robot suit that the boss rides in during a few missions. They also get to raise all kinds of hell in it during a chain of Mayhem missions in the simulation.
- The "Wolverine" units from Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun. They are described as "powered assault armor", but bulky as they are, fit this trope instead. Interestingly enough, they use the infantry sound clips instead of the vehicle ones.
- And yes, interesting size comparison, as with this◊ and this◊ (Official Artwork folks) Wolverine is large enough to accommodate a small cockpit, but the comparison to its height is strange (bordering Super-Deformed)
- The Wolverine available to the Steel Talons in the Kane's Wrath expansion is an even better example of this, as there's no question whether or not it's a piloted vehicle instead of a suit of bulky power armor.
- The Mecha Tengu and Striker VX in Red Alert 3, both can turn into aircrafts and back.
- Waffle's Police Robo and Cyan's Knight Robo from Tail Concerto.
- Most of the mecha in Super Robot Wars Spin-Off OG Saga: Endless Frontier fall into this category. They're a fair bit larger than a person, and are generally remote-controlled or autonomous rather than worn or piloted.
- They take it a little too literally too, seeing as they're really miniature versions of full-sized Humongous Mecha from the series.
- Special mention must be made for Hoover/Baby Head from Captain Commando: A human-sized mecha being piloted by a hyper-intelligent baby.
- Which, like the rest of the characters, can in turn pilot another type of mini-mecha sometimes found during the levels.
- Sonic the Hedgehog got into the act in Sonic Adventure 2 with Mini Mecha piloted by Tails and Eggman, and later allowed Shadow to use similar vehicles.
- Also the series has GUN which uses robots like this with names like "Big Dog".
- Some of the Metal Slug games feature small mecha the player can use.
- Jak II: Renegade and Jak 3: Wastelander have a couple missions where Jak gets to pilot a Mini Mecha.
- Front Mission series has their share of Mecha. Civilian Model is called Wanderung Wagen, and is used for Mundane Utility much like Manga/Patlabor example, and rarely breaching 4 meter mark. Military version, Wanderung Panzer, or Wanzer, is roughly 5-6 meter tall and weighed twenty tons or more, having notoriously dark, hot and cramped cockpit, and is more like a Walking IFV than anything else. By Evolved however, new template standard has upsized them to 8 meters, and having spacious and shiny cockpit, making them borderline Humongous Mecha.
- Giacomo's walker from Rise of Legends treads the line between this and Humongous Mecha.
- Phantom Crash's Scoobees are only slightly larger than a car.
- In Metal Gear 2, Dr. Madnar mentions the development of Metal Gear G, a small-scale, mass produced, and moderately armed walking tank designed to assist infantry by processing real-time combat data with advanced sensors and transmitting that info to the troops. Although they were cut from the game due to time constraints, its influence is seen it the unmanned Gekkos and the SOP system.
- First Encounter Assault Recon's: Elite Powered Armor, despite the name, are actually all mini mechas.
- World of Warcraft has the Goblin Shredders and Gnome Pounders, steam-powered walkers equipped with circular saws and pneumatic hammers. The player can control a shredder during several quests.
- Patch 5.4 finally added a mount version that engineers can build. It's called the Sky Golem, and as the name implies, it also can fly.
- StarCraft has the Terran Goliath and the Protoss Dragoon, a rare non-human example. The sequel brings the Goliath back as a single-player extra, featuring the new Terran Viking, Protoss Stalker, and Protoss Immortal mini-mecha in starring roles.
- The Makron's Jorg mecha (in between this and Powered Armor) in Quake II, and the Strogg Walker in Quake IV.
- The Battle Armor in Red Faction II.
- A level in Killzone 2 lets you pilot a Helghan battle suit complete with arm-mounted chain gun and rocket launcher (curiously they never use anything like it against you).
- Rocket Knight Adventures has several varieties of enemies that pilot these.
- The German Exoskeletons of War Front Turning Point are these, being roughly the size of a vertical tank.
- The Silverback in Gears of War 3, which doesn't actually have a back so that Gears can climb in and out easily. It's armed with a heavy machine gun and a rocket launcher and can plant itself to the ground to provide cover for teammates. There are also civilain versions, which lack the weaponry, but still have Super Strength for close combat.
- Advanced Strategic Command has "mech troopers" that counts as light tracked vehicles (immune to razor wire and snipers, but stopped by anti-tank obstacles). They got twice weight and time and half armor of heavy infantry, fit in APC, still can conquer buildings and sprites look like weaponized power loadersnote . Several variants are armed with miniguns, better Anti-Air missiles than infantry, etc. They are no good as main combat units: slow, much more expensive than infantry yet lack its concealment and need fuel, while remain much weaker than proper vehicles; but sometimes combination of infantry and tank features as such is very useful — e.g. quickly capture a building protected by snipers without having to deal with whatever protects them first while in full view of said building.
- Blast runner in Border Break are around 4 to 5 meter high, originally use for industrial use in hazard environment
- Pac-Man pilots one as a Guest Fighter in Street Fighter X Tekken.
- Kid Icarus Uprising features a few different models, called "Cherubots".
- The Great Sacred Treasure is a transforming variant of this.
- In League of Legends, The champion Rumble pilots a machine like this, which he build himself using junk and scrap parts. It's a bit of a walking armory, equipped with a flamethrower, a harpoon launcher, a mace and a rocket launcher, but excessive use of its weaponry causes it to overheat. Interesting to note is that in this case it's a literal mini mecha due to it being built to fit yordles, who are very small.
- Cerberus ATLAS mechs in Mass Effect 3. Shepard can drive them either by finding an unmanned one or shooting out the cockpit and gundam-jacking it.
- Worn by the Giant Mooks on the third planet in Alien Hallway.
- Halo 4 has the Mantis, a 18-foot tall mech outfitted with rockets, a heavy machine gun, energy shielding, and an Shockwave Stomp that can destroy a Warthog with one hit. It can also pivot 360 degrees without moving its legs.
- Halo Wars had the Cyclops, a logistical-support mech which was based off earlier powered exoskeleton prototypes. Despite being designed for non-combat military roles, it was surprisingly effective in battle due to its arms being powerful enough to tear through starship-grade armor, to say nothing of the devastation it unleashed on Covenant ground troops.
- The HRUNTING/YGGDRASIL Mark I Prototype Armor Defense System from the Halo Legends short "Prototype" is a mix of this trope and Powered Armor. Though it was developed in the same facility as the Cyclops, it was definitely designed for combat, being equipped with a heavy machine gun, a grenade launcher, missile launchers, a recoilless rifle, Claymore mines, a jetpack, automatic bubble shielding, and a nuclear self-destruct device. It was too expensive to be mass-produced, and the UNSC had to ordered its destruction to prevent it from falling into Covenant hands; the guy assigned to do so took out a host of Covenant soldiers, aircraft, and tanks before he activated the self-destruct, which in itself resulted in a nuclear explosion visible from orbit.
- The Titans of Titanfall stand approximately 24 feet tall and serve as the bread-and-butter of both the Militia and IMC armies.
- In Intrusion 2 enemies as well as the player can ride in three kinds of mech suits, some with rifles and homing missile launchers, others with machinguns and giant knives, and ones with a harpoon arm allowing them to grab enemies or objects and throw them as weapons.
- You play as these in Gatling Gears, equipped with upgradeable gatling gun, cannon and grenade launcher. You also encounter enemy versions of these, and they are very difficult to kill due to having great firepower and more health than a tank despite being smaller.
- The Heavy Guards in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay, which are basically walking tanks with a gattling gun and missile launchers. Riddick commandeers one at the end of the game.
- Face Mechon in Xenoblade.
- Hawken is a free-to-play multiplayer game that focuses solely around combat in Mini-Mecha.
- Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain: At the end of the extended E3 2013 trailer, Snake commandeers a car-sized robot.
- In XCOM: Enemy Within, The MECnote Troops are partly this trope, and partly Powered Armor. The MEC rig itself is twelve to fifteen feet tall, with the cockpit module taking up most of the torso and the operator's head remaining outside of the suit. Operators can equip helmets to match their MEC, but the effect is purely cosmetic.
- Several mechs found in Girl Genius, such as the one Dr. Silas Merlot used to try and kill Agatha in Castle Heterodyne.
- The mantis walker built by Gil (when he was a kid) and piloted by Zoing. Inscribed with "Arthropodi rule!" and "Who's the lab rat now?"
- This piece from Heterodynes Armor Museum, identified as "Ol' Vorthang's Sunday best armor" by Mamma Gkika and "two-ton mobile armored death knight suit" by Agatha. This thing even got a built-in crown.
- Tausennigan mini-tanks, found in Schlock Mercenary. Designed for O'Benn, small enough that only the shortest human crew members (or smaller non-humans) can effectively pilot them, and mounting a pair of arms that haven't yet been seen in action (plus the tank cannon), they seem to qualify. On the other hand, they fly instead of walk.
- A mid-sized mech appears in Jayden And Crusader. It's about the size of a house.
- The LIMBS of My Lifeat War qualify as mini-mechs.
- 4mb3r, in Sequential Art, pilots one starting here.
- The rank-and-file Armours used in WW1-esque Operator straddle the Mini Powered Armor line in much the same way as the Iron Monger- the pilot's head sticks out the top in a helmet structure, while the rest of their body sits in a cramped cockpit that takes up most of the [fairly bulky] torso.
- Girl Genius has Ol' Vorthang's Sunday Best, most prominently, as well as a variety of others.
- Dexter's backpack expands into one of these in Dexter's Laboratory.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) series has several of these, the main one being Cody Jones' two Turtle X mecha. Others include the Foot's Shred-naught Units, and the core mecha used by Justice Force members Dr. Dome and Ananda. The Utrom Shredder himself uses what could be described as one in the episode, Exodus, where after his main body is destroyed, he is placed into a much larger, more heavily armed (literally; he's got four of them in this thing) suit.
- The Exo-frames from the Exo Squad ranged in design and functionality from Power Armor to these.
- The Marauder suits from Roughnecks: Starship Troopers Chronicles.
- Sheldon from My Life as a Teenage Robot uses one of these called the Silver Shell.
- The Batman saw Batman build a mecha suit in order to fight a Venom'd up Bane and kept it around just in case. He later used another one against Superman when Supes was under Mind Control.
- The White Knight uses one in an episode of Generator Rex. While wearing Powered Armor under it.
- The Legend of Korra has mecha-tanks. They were built by Hiroshi Sato for the Equalists.
- They're back in Book 4 with a design overhaul, complete with fully-functional limbs and flamethrowers.
- Lance and Ilana's armor, the Manus and Corus (respectively) in Sym-Bionic Titan.
- Amazingly, the Toyota i-foot.
- Pretty much any machine that moves by walking qualifies. Considering how you stretch it, vehicles in general could qualify as well but that's not the spirit of the trope.
- The Kuratas has twin miniguns and can be piloted either directly, or remotely via a 3G connection (Instructional Video available on Youtube).