Now available for pre-order! The first 10 suits will be available to ship by February 15th 2022, with production of 10 suits per month as of March 2022.
The ARCEM Mark 1 synthetic armour is designed to improve access to armoured HEMA practice.
We've built this set as a "generic" mid-15th century field armour (for combat on foot). It is designed and built as closely as possible to historical models, with a few "modern" twists to allow it to be adapted to as many people as possible "off the shelf".
Note : at release, the sizing is limited, especially as regards the cuirasse. We're quickly working to add additional sizes, but currently you should assume it to be a size "medium" when it comes to girth. Wider and larger sizes will be available by the second quarter of 2022.
Height is less of an issue, as we've designed the limb length to be adjustable (with lacing options) and have leg length extenders included with every suit. Arm extenders, which should not be as need, will be offered separately in February 2022.
The set includes :
- A full cuirasse, with breast and back plates, faulds and culet (armoured skirt), tassets and stop-rib.
- Full arms with articulated spaulder, besagew, upper canon, winged couter and lower canon.
- Full legs with cuisse, winged poleyn, and greave. Plus a set of four extension lames for taller users.
- A full set of basic synthetic laces for historical assembly of the armour (higher end points with brass aiglets as shown in the photos will be available as an additional option).
- ARCEM Arming Harness to allow wearing the armour without a pourpoint or arming doublet, over a standard HEMA jacket.
Additional options (heavy pauldron, gorget and others) are already being tested and will be released in the first half of 2022.
For several reasons :
While a full synthetic harness is not cheap, it is still half the price of poorly made steel harness (which rarely articulates well and often doesn't stand up to sparring). A properly built steel harness for sparring use starts at five to six times the price we can offer for the synthetic.
This is both an advantage, and a disadvantage of synthetic. Our harness (without head, hand and foot armour, see below) weighs just over 7 kg. The same set in steel would weigh about 25 kg. This means that our harness cannot simulate the full experience of armoured combat. And some techniques, especially wrestling techniques, will be skewed by the light weight. But it also means that more people will be able to practice armoured combat techniques without the physical conditioning that steel harness requires. This is a big plus for beginners, occasional practitioners and club settings.
For those who worry that the lack of weight means that the combat techniques will be completely "off", don't. The weight factor of steel harness mostly affects stamina. A properly constructed harness will offer the same movement freedoms and constraints, regardless of materials used. Lighter harness just means you can train longer!
The lighter weight also decreases the time it takes to don the armour. The weight of steel means that it must be nearly entirely disassembled and reassembled, piece by piece, at every use. Synthetic is light enough that each full arm and leg can remain laced and donned as a unit, saving a lot of time before and after your training sessions.
And finally, HEMA is about travel. Across town on the bus, or to an event by train or plane, we spend a lot of time lugging gear around. A full synthetic harness is light enough to carry on your back, or check-in to luggage with weight to spare.
Save the floor
Many of our schools, salles and clubs train indoors in gymnasiums and other spaces with expensive wood or synthetic floors. Eventually an armoured practitioner will eventually fall (or often if you're training the techniques to their fullest)... Synthetic harness will most definitely do less damage to these floors than steel. We do however still recommend training on mats when possible.
This is a big plus : synthetic harness does not rust. Anyone who owns and fights in steel harness can tell you, keeping it clean and polished is a lot of work. Which includes a full wipe down of all the steel parts after every session. Synthetic armour will require maintenance and repair eventually. But it will save literally hours of work, polish and oil.
How do I wear it? Do I need an arming doublet?
The pourpoint or arming doublet is the historical garnet to which the armour elements are laced. Using one under your armour will give you the best fit of the armour, and will most accurately replicate the mobility of the historical pieces. So ideally, yes. And we are launching our ARCEM Pourpoint, designed specifically for our armour line, in March 2022.
But, no it is not required. There are other options.
Our ARCEM arming harness is one. It is designed to wear over a standard HEMA jacket and provides the missing attachment points for the legs and shoulders. The arming harness is included with every suit.
Another option, not as good as a specific doublet but adequate, is to sew lacing points to an older HEMA jacket at the proper spots. We'll put up a tutorial on how to do that soon.
Why not include helmet, gauntlets and sabotons?
Because they are very difficult and expensive to make properly, and because there are plenty of viable options for head and hands already on the market. Most HEMA practitioners already own a HEMA mask and Overlay and heavy sparring gloves, which are fine to start. So we decided to keep them separate and keep the price of the set under 1000€.
That said, here are some suggestions :
Our ARCEM GRILLED HEMA HELMET is a very good option for use with the synthetic harness. More details soon!
SPES Heavy (Lobster) gloves are very similar to 15th century mitten gauntlets, Sparring Gloves with Hour Glass cuffs are another good alternative. As are Kvetun gauntlets, and of course, ProGauntlets.
We may build a gauntlet for the harness later.
IMPORTANT : While our ARCEM Armour is made from the same materials and to the same high standards as our HEMA Protectors, it should NOT be used with steel weapon simulators. Why not? Because while the armour itself will stand up to steel sparring and offers good protection, armoured combat techniques are designed to exploit the gaps in armoured defences. It's largely about intentionally aiming at the bits that are NOT covered by the armour. The last thing anyone wants is to seriously injure a training partner by thrusting at the half-sword into the armpit with a steel longsword. Or ripping a tendon behind the knee with a correctly executed poleaxe technique. Please, use synthetics, a lot of good sense and the supervision of an experienced instructor... our ARCEM synthetics can still sting or injure, but they are designed with enough give to be substantially less dangerous with proper use.----
This range of replica armour was developed for HEMA.
Designed by Michael Zavatskyi and Anthony Rischard and produced exclusively for ARCEM by AUDEO in Ukraine.
The synthetic material allows for safe use of the item while offering many customisation possibilities (painting, dressing, etc.), making these products excellent for other uses: reenactment, theatre, cinema, or cosplay.
(Pourpoint or doublet sold separately)
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