Four or five years ago I decided to buy and paint a 28mm Samurai army. I choose the excellent Perry Miniatures. Samurai proved challenging to paint up, but the results were impressive due to the quality of the animation and sculpting of the figures. I initially based them for Warhammer Ancient Battles (which I played a few times, and quite enjoyed), but I have since remounted them individually on 2p bases. I now play using the Impetus rule set, and the figures are moved on standard sized MDF movement bases. In total I have just over 600 points of troops, which splits neatly into two 300 point armies for Impetus. Unfortunately this split creates two almost identical armies, which can be rather boring. Therefore I want to add a few more units to enable more variation to be achieved. I particularly need more mounted samurai, and 12 mounted figures would allow 3 more units to be assembled. Using Perry Miniatures this would cost £34, but at the Warfare show I noticed a box of 12 Wargames Factory figures on sale for only £16.50 (less than half the price), so I bought them!
I did have some concerns because I had not been particularly impressed with the standard of Wargames Factory plastics when I had previously assembled and painted their Gallic cavalry. Anyway I thought that at the price I paid, I could not lose. I must admit to being pleasantly surprised by the figures. They assembled easily, and showed that good variation and animation could be achieved. The only problem I encountered was the horses; they had to be glued on to separate bases and often the poses had only 1 or 2 hooves in ‘flat’ contact with the base/ground. I used various methods to ‘prop’ the completed figures while they dried/hardened over night. Unfortunately by the morning a couple the horses had ‘sagged’. I did consider removing them from the base and re-gluing, but I instead decide to keep them and model them as casualty figures by the addition of arrow impacts. The box did allow for archer figures to be constructed, but as I was focussing on late period Samurai, I did not use any of these arm combinations and instead used only the yari/naganta/katana arms. I also did not use any of the ‘balloon’ type of sashimono, nor any of the non-helmeted heads.
As a wargamer I was rather slow to move from metal to plastic figures, possibly I was put off by the 40K/Warhammer genre that plastics previously catered for. I now find I like plastics more and more. I enjoy the process of constructing the figures. The ease of conversion and addition of minor variations between figures to create an individual, unique figure is rewarding. The reduced cost, and weight, is also a major attraction. I can see plastics dominating my 28mm purchases in the future, with metal figures supplying the more unique and command elements of my units and armies.
The next step was to prime the figures using black primer. By using black primer the later painting of Samurai armour is greatly simplified, especially because I decided that I would not have any figures wearing red lacquered armour, all would wear black lacquer armour. As I like to use the 3-tone method of painting for 28mm figures, the next step was to ‘block’ out the main colours, and also to paint the horses. I hate painting horses! Ideally, I would have liked to have had a good number of piebald and skewbald horses but my previous efforts at painting these types of horses have been far from convincing. I end up with horses that look more like Friesian cattle than anything equine, and even then, they are less bovine than the infamous Milton Keynes concrete cows! The sashimono flags were left white and only painted up after all the rest of the figure was completed. I decided to paint generic sashimono designs rather than use recorded, historical mons (I was being lazy!).
I find the ‘blocking’ out step to be the most time-consuming stage and the dull appearance of the figures at the end, to be most off-putting. Now comes the stage of applying the main colour and highlights. I love the way that the figure suddenly starts to come to life at this stage. I even enjoyed the task of painting the lace on the armour, although with these figures I did not repeat the multi-coloured, intricate patterns of lacing I had painted on my earlier Perry figures. Instead I used a single colour on each section of armour, which was much quicker to do and still gave the visual affect I was looking for. Finally, after vanishing and highlighting the metal areas, I based the figures in units, rather than individually, because I can only see me using them within Impetus games.
Overall, these 12 figures took just over 3 weeks to complete, from assembly to based units. I am happy with the results and plan to get a box of Ashigaru missile troops from Wargames Factory in the near future, to further expand my army. The figures do mix well with my Perry miniatures, and if I had my time again, I would have used these plastic figures to construct the entire army rather than the more expensive metal figures I have. That is not to say I am unhappy with my Perry army, because the quality of the Perry figures is top notch.