Metal Gear REX
Review by Rob
… Okay, now that I got that out of my system…
This sample was generously provided by Kotobukiya and is available now at most online retailers.
The 1/100 scale Metal Gear REX by Kotobukiya is an ambitious attempt in recreating one of the title mecha from the Metal Gear Solid video game, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary. Outside of having a scale replica at the home office of Kojima Productions and a high end collectible by Three A, there have not been any other scale models of the Metal Gear REX until now.
“It’s a game about covert military conspiracies, sneaking around with cardboard boxes, floating exclamation points, and walking nuclear assault tanks.”
Written by Hideo Kojima, Konami’s “Metal Gear” was a breakout title for the MSX2 home computer in 1987 in Japan, later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1988 for the US. Metal Gear’ took a dynamic shift in game design of its era with the slogan “Tactical Espionage Action.” The focus in playing was not about openly fighting every in-game enemy, but covert navigation to reach the objective without being detected utilizing a variety of resources and weapons.
The story followed the war hero code-named “Solid Snake” whose mission was to stealthily infiltrate the terrorist stronghold of Outer Heaven led by the legendary mercenary ‘Big Boss,’ and uncover the mystery surrounding the unknown weapon called a “Metal Gear.” The game spawned two sequels, “Snake’s Revenge” for the audiences in the US on NES, and Hideo Kojima’s in canon sequel “Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake” which was exclusive to the MSX2 in Japan.
The series went dormant until it debuted on the Sony PlayStation video game console in 1999 with “Metal Gear Solid” (later subtitled “The Twin Snakes” for its 2004 remake on the Nintendo GameCube). Taking advantage of the advances in video game technology, Kojima’s image for the game’s presentation transformed Metal Gear. What was once a top-down dungeon crawler style game with hand guns and guard dogs became a three dimensional cinematic experience more notorious for its longwinded character dialogue and movie length cut scenes.
Since its return, Metal Gear Solid has become a title with an ever increasing number of sequels (and upgraded versions of said sequels) and a questionable variety of spinoffs to its brand name. I had the chance to play the first two ’Solid’ titles myself, but I let the rest of the series slip from my interest…
I discovered “Halo,” sue me.
While stealth action is the core gameplay mechanic of the game, the plot still focuses on the conflict surrounding the mechanized weaponry called “Metal Gear.”
Metal Gear REX was developed in a secretly funded project for the US Army by the private sector weapons contractor ArmsTech, after bribing DARPA in order to capitalize from manufacturing a large scale military weapon.
The Metal Gear type mechanical weapons are bipedal walking tanks designed around a strategic military function rather than the anime-conventional type of mecha. On the other hand, in its in-game origin REX as the result of its designer Hal “Otacon” Emmerich’s love for anime. The name “REX” is an obvious reflection of the Metal Gear’s design emulating the Tyrannosaurus Rex in the way it looks and moves.
While the machine has a primal appearance and equally intimidating size in close quarters, the real threat of REX is in its long range capabilities. Armed with the rail cannon, the Metal Gear is capable of launching a nuclear warhead from anywhere in the world without leaving a ballistic trail and allows it to remain virtually untraceable.
The radome mounted on REX is a tactical solution to provide the operator with a virtual perspective of the combat area rather than relying on a line-of-sight view from inside the closed cockpit.
Before REX was to be tested at the nuclear disposal facility on Shadow Moses Island, it was hijacked by the rogue forces of FOXHOUND, the same task group Solid Snake belonged to in the first game. Their leader codenamed ‘Liquid Snake’ planned to use the facility and REX to hold the world at ransom with the demands for return of the bodily remains of Big Boss. Players were put back in the role of Solid Snake, drawn out of retirement in order to stop them.
“…is it a robot dinosaur or a walking tank? Or is it a walking robot dinosaur tank?!”
In reality, Metal Gear REX is the creation of designer Yoji Shinkawa, the lead artist for Kojima Productions. His later works include the Orbital Frames from another Konami game, “Zone of the Enders,” otherwise known as “the game that came with the demo for “Metal Gear Solid 2.”
Metal Gear REX comes packaged in a large box with artwork illustrated by Shinkawa himself. The machine’s name and the brief story introduction to Metal Gear Solid are clearly printed in English. The text on the sides of the box and the construction manual however are still printed in Japanese.
While the model is geared for all audiences of skill level to build it, REX is really targeted at the more experienced builders with the Do-It-Yourself task of recreating its camouflage paint scheme. Nevertheless, REX is a model that can be accomplished with just the bare paint needs and still look outstanding for an out of the box build.
The model kit is priced more for its parts volume than its scale. Out of the box, Metal Gear REX is comprised of 17 unique parts runners with four duplicate sets. The bulk of the parts come molded in REX’s drab military-style color scheme in three shades of light and dark gray plastics with the additional detail parts molded in gold and clear plastic.
As a full-action model, REX uses a set of polycap parts designed for linking the main sections of its body together and improve its articulation.
On the completed model, the plastic’s color pallet blends across REX much like a lizard’s skin with the darker upper body overlapping the lighter colored underbelly, while the darkest of the colors being used at the mechanical hard-points underneath.
The clear parts are modeled to be the optical sight piece for the rail cannon and the four lamps on the front of the tank body. For these, I did some quick painting with ‘Clear Blue’ paint to help make them stand out from the armor color or else they would have disappeared.
The gold parts are used on the main weapons module mounted on the back of REX, which look like they are designed to be exposed energy conductors for REX’s weapons.
The model also comes with four unpainted 1/100 scale figurines from REX’s debut battle. Series regulars will recognize them instantly as Solid Snake holding the Stinger missile launcher, Liquid Snake molded to fit in REX’s cockpit, and two different figures of the Cyborg Ninja “Gray Fox.”
Painting and detailing the 1/100 scale cast members was a step I handled between phases of the Metal Gear’s assembly since Liquid is a required part for building the cockpit.
The figures come molded in a flesh tone plastic, leaving Solid and the Ninja in need of the most paint work compared to the bare chested Liquid. I used my usual Testors Model Master Acryl paints since they dry fast and adhere to the soft plastic easily. In order to detail them, I went with the same technique I used on Kotobukiya’s Proto Man model.
With Liquid’s bare flesh, I used a (GM03) brown Gundammarker and a burnishing swab with some solvent to rub the ink into the folds in his skin and wipe away the excess.
I used this same technique with Solid and the Ninja, but used a GM01 and GM02 (black and gray) because of their respective fabric and armor colors.
The first figurine of the Ninja is a generic ‘in-scale’ figure while the second one is…
related to the character’s graphic,
drawn out death scene.
(END OF SPOILERS)
Comparing the machine’s 1999 video game form to its 2013 model kit almost seems unfair for talking about REX. The Metal Gear has a lot more detail in model kit form than its digital counterpart gives one a chance to observe and appreciate.
I had fun working on this kit, plain and simple. Regardless of one's skill with paint, building the Metal Gear REX is a true testament of Kotobukiya’s standards of engineering quality. Constructing REX is somewhere between assembling a robot dinosaur and a tank, much like its concept design.
The most of REX’s body is built in layers, with a structural inner body covered by an outer shell of tank armor. Kotobukiya’s modeling design for REX hides most of the seams between parts in the way they intersect along the panel lines. Filling in these panel lines with a Gundammarker or another detailing pen really adds a level of depth to the completed model.
Contrary to my first impression when I got started, REX is a model that seemed to get bigger the more I worked on it. The Metal Gear is not as massive as I had first expected, but the model is large by scale comparison.
When the legs are fully extended, the maximum height of REX is 9 inches (to the top of the tank body). In its default, more relaxed state REX stands just over 7 inches. Remember, the extending action in the legs is based on how the machine moves, not its size.
The bulk of the model’s weight of course is in its lower half. The legs are comprised of the duplicate runner sets supplied, and building both legs at the same time is recommended to better speed up the project.
Compared to other models in my collection of robots, REX is the most “mechanical” of the ones I have built in recent memory. REX’s legs are not as sophisticated in terms of mechanical engineering compared to a (high level) Master Grade Gundam by Bandai, but the model uses an excellent masking technique for hiding the real moving parts underneath decorative piston mechanics.
The ‘jaw’ of REX is the cockpit, and it opens using a double jointed hinge that mounts into the roof of the upper tank body. Kotobukiya uses a set of decorative pistons that are built into the sides of the jaw that float freely inside the cavity space and slide back and forth in open grooves in relation to the jaw’s position. This gives REX an authentic functional look while hiding the actual mechanism that controls it.
The ideal method for manipulating REX is to strip it down to its primary sections and rearrange them separately rather than doing it all while on the completed model. Doing it this way will spare REX from losing parts due to mishandling and prevent breaking the model with Gravity.
REX can take a resting position when the leg joints are compressed and REX’s tank body hugs the ground.
Functionally, this puts the cockpit at a more accessible height for its pilot to board the craft.
Standing REX upright from there will put it into the launch position, which is defined by the heel strut which unfolds from the back of the leg that rests against the ground.
Theoretically, this would be the ideal posture in order to fire the Rail Cannon.
The Metal Gear’s full-upright walking configuration is very top heavy, making the model incapable of standing on its own.
To solve this problem, the model comes with a display base with a crane arm that pegs into the Metal Gear’s pelvis. The arm is sturdy enough to balance the weight of the model and give it the freedom to move virtually unencumbered.
The base plate is molded with the details of a hangar floor and features interlocking tabs on the sides that can allow it to connect with Kotobukiya’s Mechanical Chain Base to expand on that display style.
Although the rail cannon mounted to the side and the laser weapon fixed onto the pelvis are its prominent weapon components, Kotobukiya pulls off REX’s auxiliary weapons through assembled parts and the builder’s paint skills.
The missile pods on REX’s legs and back unit are constructed with fine scale parts that include hinged plates which can open individually.
Meanwhile the Vulcan machine guns on REX’s tank body are only made clear through detailed painting, otherwise they would just look like blank canisters next to the headlights.
If it looks like a dinosaur, and moves like a dinosaur, but has the nuclear launch capabilities of a tank, then it is obviously a Chicken.
The model is not without its flaws, and REX has the few that come with the nature of its parts.
For the most part, the model is a snap-together affair, but when it comes to the finer detail parts I would recommend using glue. Otherwise some of these parts can fall out or break if not careful.
On the subject of parts breaking, I want to bring to the floor the subject of part J-3, the part that creates the control console in the cockpit. I had discovered that it was already broken on the runner and although the fractured piece is nearly invisible on the finished model, I wanted to repair it. Fortunately it was a clean fix with some glue.
Some of the parts in the REX had some excess skin hanging from their edges, which is common occurrence in the molding process. This is something that I’ve noticed before in other Kotobukiya models, and was the only minor problem I found myself contending with. By shaving against the edges of these parts with an x-acto knife not only cleans the parts better, but in some regions helped parts fit together properly.
“I’ve got it! I’m going to call it a Tankranosaurus REX!”
To its credit, REX is an excellent follow up to Kotobukiya’s handling of Konami licenses after their Zone of the Enders model kits.
Metal Gear REX is like its game title: a Solid model even with its minor flaws. It was a fun, unique build although I would still recommend REX as a kit geared for more advanced builders. Even so, it remains a model that fans of the Metal Gear series can build. Considering its price and Kotobukiya’s nature for limited availability can hamper one’s motivation, the model is still an outstanding piece that is worth building.
|Posted 28 January, 2013 - 18:48 by Rob|