Friday, October 31, 2014

Arena Rex

I just received a package from Red Republic Games. Inside were a handful of figures from their freshly launched skirmish game, Arena Rex. I haven't painted anything yet, but I am impressed with the resin castings they shipped to me.

Each model is rendered in a low-density, light-weight resin. I was a bit surprised by how light everything felt, but it captures detail beautifully, and it seems to hold up to the process of normal figure preparation perfectly well.

I took the time to look over what they sent and assemble the one figure you see above. I wasn't in love with all of their concept art, but I did like a lot of it, and, in spite of some unexpectedly long delays in the sculpting process, the resulting sculpts are quite impressive.

Product Line: Arena Rex
Manufacturer: Red Republic Games
Type / Scale: Fantasy Skirmish Game / 35mm
Theme: Alternate History Rome / Gladiatorial Combat
Material: Resin

I will confess that I only ordered a few miniatures from this campaign. It's enough to give you a taste for the product, but not enough to really try out the mechanics. This is a case where I was in it for the resin, not the game. If I get a chance in the future, I may decide to go back and rectify that with a demo. This review will not cover the rules themselves, although I did get the compact and simply laid out rule book with my order.

As a gladiator game, the models tend to run towards the unarmored end of the spectrum, usually with quite a bit of skin to paint. The forms look well rendered to my eye, but my anatomy background is not as strong as it could be. I'll wait to hear from the experts.

The pose for each figure is very dynamic. The majority of them are captured in extreme mid-action postures. The result is a collection of beautiful show pieces, but it also means that they had to be cast in many pieces, and that they often have rather delicate contacts with the base to support them. That style is part of what attracted me to the line for show pieces, but it might make me a bit nervous if I planned to toss them into a case and carry them off to a convention tournament.

An even more extreme case of this fragility is shown by the one monster included in my order. The unusual chimera, "Proximo" is a beautiful sculpt, combining serpentine, bovine and feline elements into a unique looking horror, but those fangs are absolutely tiny. They look amazing, but I am constantly afraid of breakage.

The super-fine details and thin parts add to the clean-up and assembly difficulty. As you can see above, thin parts can warp as they cure and are removed from the mold. There also tends to be quite a lot of thin, superficial flash to clean off. before you can assemble  a piece.

On the other hand, the deep, rich detail lavished onto the furs and other details is a cut above the average figure, and is something not really possible in metal. It's certainly not possible in injection-molded plastic. The problem is correctable with the application of hot water and patience, but it is a delicate operation.

Fit between parts is not ideal. The gladiator's arms fit reasonably will, requiring little correction, but his right leg left a substantial gap that required some green stuff to fill. The casting process also left quite a few small bubbles in the casting. Thankfully, I have not yet found any in one of the tiny detail parts that would be destroyed by such a flaw. I do not know if that is due to luck, casting skill, or good quality assurance.

Another fly in the ointment was a fairly obvious mold alignment issue on the gladiator's right shoulder guard. I had to carefully clean up each of the armor bands with a chisel and some putty to make the edges of each plate look straight and proper. (matching the left side) There was also an oddly asymmetric gap on the left side of his helmet, requiring a little more putty and sculpt work.

A review requires a score, and, even though I have not done a fully scoring review in quite a while, I thought I would bring it back here. So, how does my first experience with Arena Rex stack up?

Game Rules: n/a
Sculpt Quality: 5/5
Model Detail: 5/5
Casting Quality: 3/5
Ease of Assembly: 3/5

I am not sure I accept these products as practical game pieces for a skirmish game, but they are excellent options for show piece models, if you are willing to put a little work into preparing them.


  1. Interesting Aegyptian figure but...ummm...that's not a playing piece. Not made out of that material as I'm pretty sure it'll shatter if I look at it askance. Still a really nice figure.

    Care to sell it? :P [edited: comments can't take html tags apparently]

    1. I tend to agree, both with playing piece potential and quality. I'm sure Red Republic would be delighted to sell you one when this stuff hits retail. ;)