by Mike Hughes
Soda Pop Miniatures were kind enough to send along four models from their Relic Knights line for us to review on TGN. This is Soda Pop’s sci-fi line and all of the models are strongly influenced by Japanese anime style (I happen to live in Japan so I have been bombarded by this style of comic for years now). The four figures I’ll be looking at are Squall, Rin Farrah, Kenobo, and the Relic Knight Sebastian Cross. The first three I mentioned all come in clamshell blister packs while Sebastian Cross, being the massive, mech riding model that he is, comes in a box set. The box is just plain white cardboard, but it does have a sticker on it that shows the full color character concept art on the front and a bit of Sebastian’s background on the side.
$12.95 USD MSRP
I’m going to start out by taking a more in-depth look at Squall since she is one of the newest releases from Soda Pop. Squall comes in four parts: the main body, cape, head, and staff with forearms attached. She also comes with a 30 mm round lipped base. Once assembled she measures 32 mm from foot to eye. The assembly and cleanup were very simple. The only real mould lines were along the inside of the legs and on the edges of the staff. The way the staff attaches is very novel. It is usually difficult to line up two arms to sockets at each elbow, but the way Squall is assembled the staff locks into her cleavage thereby allowing you to line up the arms without difficulty.
My only problem with Squall is what makes this model my least favourite of the four. If you look at Squall’s face from the front it looks pretty good. The nose is a little flat and she has chipmunk cheeks, but it’s nothing overly distracting. The problem is when you look at Squall in profile. Above her upper lip the face looks like it’s been pressed in. That said, she has quite a few positives as well. Her staff is really interesting. It’s like a spear at one end and an axe at the other. The armor and clothing is nice as well, if a bit over sexualized in traditional anime style. For me it’s not a negative as Soda Pop is staying true to their source material. I like her goggles. The knot at the back of the head where the goggles tie on is a nice touch.
- Good anime design
- Construction was intuitive
- Staff is a very interesting weapon
- The head/face looks off in profile
- Anime style, over sexualized outfit could put off some
$12.95 USD MSRP
The second model provided was Rin Farrah. She comes in four pieces: the main body, left arm, gun with right hand attached, and her head which also has the right arm down to the wrist. She also comes with a 30 mm round lipped base. Just like Squall, Rin is 32 mm from foot to eye. Also just like Squall, construction and clean up were very simple. The mould lines on Rin were almost non-existent. I had to clean some casting flash off the butt of her gun, but that was it. The only assembly problem came from the barrel of Rin’s gun. I spent a good 15 minutes bending it back into a straight line. Her gun is pewter and the barrel is about .8 mm thick, so when I took the gun out of the clam shell it looked vaguely like a limp piece of spaghetti. It wasn’t hard to put back, but it was time consuming epecially because I had to physically twist the barrel as well.
The sight at the end of the rifle was at a roughly 90 degree twist to the stock of the gun. I had to take it slowly because with such a thin piece of pewter if you aren’t very careful it will snap. Transporting Rin for gaming purposes would be difficult because of the gun. I can’t see how you’d keep it straight as the thinness of the pewter means pretty much any pressure is going to bend it. I would see her more as a display piece.
And, on that note, she will make a lovely display piece. Even more so than Squall, Rin takes a lot of cues from the anime characters you’d find here in Japan. She has the overly large eyes that don’t look so good in bare metal, but provide an expansive canvas for really getting in there and putting in full corneas instead of simple dot pupils (this is still an advanced painting technique, but the eyes here make it simpler to pull off). Her hair style is also a nice homage to Japanese figure style. Instead of trying to sculpt hair that looks like normal human hair, this hair is rendered in large waves. It flows off to her right which matches with the flow of the sniper rifle strap and also the twist of her hips. The pose seems to indicate that she’s just snapped around to point out a target. Again, the outfit is overly sexual, but it’s not as extreme as Squall’s.
- Excellent, dynamic pose
- Anime styling is very well executed
- The flexibility of the gun barrel will make transportation extremely difficult
- For those who aren’t fans of anime the eyes and hair could be a problem although, if that’s the case, this probably isn’t the range for you in the first place
$17.95 USD MSRP
Unlike Squall and Rin Farrah, Kenobo is a larger model. He measures 48 mm from foot to eye and he comes on a 40 mm round lipped base. Kenobo is composed of six pieces: legs with the lower half of his coat, torso with his right arm to the elbow, right forearm with sword, left arm, head, and a rope bow that attaches to his belt. All of these parts go together very well. I had no problems with excessive flash or mould lines. The only issue was in the socket where his left arm attaches to his body. Inside the socket was a little glob of rough metal. I had to grind it out with a file before I could get the arm to fit flush in the socket.
For those of you who don’t know your Japanese mythological creatures, Kenobo is based on a Tengu. This is a creature that shares both human and avian characteristics. They used to be more avian than human, but that has shifted to where a Tengu is largely human with only small bits of avian influence. The one characteristic shared by all Tengu is their giant nose and Kenobo is right on in this respect. In fact, his face is extremely well done. Looking at him is just like looking at a real Tengu mask you’d find here in Japan.
This attention to detail is what makes Kenobo my favourite of the four miniatures. It’s obvious that the concept artist and sculptor did their research before making this figure. It’s not just his face that’s spot on. He has a very traditional Japanese wardrobe as well. From his topknot right down to his wooden sandals, (called “geta” in Japanese,) he’s got a very authentic feel to him. I think his leaping strike pose even captures a little bit of the avian roots of the character. The only thing off is his sword. The weapon is very much anime inspired and not historical. While Kenobo is not the more typical Soda Pop model, I think it’s a fantastic piece that will be finding a permanent home in my painted model cabinet.
- Excellent posing that really draws on the creature’s mythological roots
- Overall great level of sculpting, especially in the face
- Required a little filing to attach the left arm
$59.95 USD MSRP
The last model up for review is the Relic Knight, Sebastian Cross. This is a very large model that, unlike the other three models I’ve looked at so far, comes in a mix of resin and metal pieces. There’s a total of 22 pieces in the box, one large, 80 mm round resin base, and a small 30 mm round lipped plastic base. 14 of the 22 pieces are resin, and these are entirely from the “Relic” (Relics are the mecha like robots ridden by some of the characters in Soda Pop’s Relic Knights universe). The resin parts are highly detailed. I was especially impressed by the text and scrollwork on the legs and arms. It’s extremely fine work and my only worry would be the primer filling it in. That said, the resin did require a lot of clean up work.
The mould lines were not bad, but they ran right over the scrollwork in some places that made it difficult to remove the lines without damaging the details. Also, there was a great deal of flash from the casting process. Big chunks of excess resin that need to be cut away. Ideally you want to do this with a jeweller’s saw. You could use a pair of clippers, but with clippers you run the risk of cracking the resin at the break point. The other eight pieces of the model are metal. These pieces are the Relic’s weapons, shield, three tabards, Sebastian Cross, and the Cypher, Rook. (see later on for a short bit of brackground on Cypher’s and Relics.) Again, these pieces are well cast and, unlike the resin parts, had no excess flash to speak of.
Construction was simple as all of the parts go together in an intuitive fashion. The only exception was a pair of side panels that sort of wrap the platform Sebastian Cross stands on in his Relic. You need to connect them to the back of this platform before you attach the control panel that sits in front of his feet. I was lucky because I dry fitted everything first, but if you didn’t this would cause some headaches. Another problem was attaching the tabards. Unlike the weapon hands, the tabards didn’t have a nice peg and socket to attach them to the body. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I’ve always had trouble attaching metal to resin with my standard cyanoacrylate glue. They did eventually stick, but I had to hold the parts for a minute or two as I don’t use any drying accelerants. Then, the very last part, was the Cypher, Rook who is just a single piece figure who sits on the 30 mm round base. As a tip, I wouldn’t glue Sebastian Cross in place before painting. Trying to paint him when he’s attached to the Relic would be a nightmare in my opinion. This isn’t a problem either as he’s very easy to slide in or out of the pilot platform even after the Relic is fully built.
This is a model that is very easy to be impressed by. It’s going to be a centrepiece model whether it’s in a painting cabinet or on the battlefield. I think my favourite part of the model is the contrast between Sebastian Cross and his Relic. The Relic is striding forward, sword pointed out in a challenge while the three tabards are billowing around the mecha. Sebastian, on the other hand, is in an extremely static pose. He is standing stock-still, head bowed, and arms perpendicular to the ground with his hands pressed together in prayer. He seems to require no physical interaction with his Relic to make it work. Sebastian looks as though he in some kind of communion with the Relic and commands it mentally through prayer. It’s a fantastic bit of narrative to work into the model. The only thing confusing is that, down by his feet, there is what seems to be a control panel. If he is indeed controlling the Relic with his mind I’m not sure what the more mundane interface is used for.
I suppose the Relic Knight fluff could potentially offer an explanation. From what I’ve been able to piece together from the Soda Pop website it seems these Relics are not property of their pilots. First a Relic Knight has to find and befriend a Cypher. In Sebastian’s case this is Rook. The Cypher seems like a hyper sci-fi version of a witch’s familiar. They help their master and, eventually, guide them to the Relic they are meant to pilot. As such, it seems the Relics are more property of, or at least attached in some fashion, to the Cypher. So, to get back to my wild speculation, it might be that a previous pilot of this Relic used the manual interface while Sebastian has transcended that need.
- Absolutely amazing model that will be a centrepiece no matter how you use it
- The contrast between Sebastian and his Relic’s poses lend some great narrative to the figure
- The resin parts require a fair bit of cleaning to take off all the flash
- You’ll need to be careful taking off the mould lines as a small slip in some places could ruin the very fine text and scrollwork on the resin