It's been a while since I wrote an article about any of my models. Indeed, I haven't been blogging very frequently for some months now. At least in part, that's because much of my hobby effort has been diverted towards preparing forces with which to play Test of Honour.
For anyone who hasn't heard of this, it's a simple, fast-play game of heroic skirmishes, set in feudal Japan. This is aimed at recreating scenes from classic films such as "Seven Samurai", rather than necessarily being historically accurate. As such, it promises to be great fun and very much the kind of thing I enjoy!
The Test of Honour box set put out by Warlord Games contains enough figures for 2 basic forces of 2 or 3 Samurai backed by Ashigaru (peasant) troopers. I've painted up half of the box set with a black-and-white livery and given them "mon" (Japanese heraldic icons) that indicate they belong to the Oda family. A few other, metal figures have been added to give a little more variety.
A Test of Honour force is led by 1 hero and can have up to 2 other samurai in it. The 2 figures in the middle armed with katanas are plastic figures from the ToH starter set. However, I wanted some variety and so there are 3 metal samurai with alternate weapons also in this band.
The metal clubman, spearman and archer all come from Footsore Miniatures. They're a little bigger and bulkier than the Warlord plastics, but not enough to bother me.
As well as the leaders, my warband includes some troopers for them to lead. I built the 15 ashigaru in this force as follows:
- 4 archers
- 1 musician (conch player)
- 1 ammunition carrier (he can be the "3rd man" in an archer group - ToH allows "units" of 3 commoners as well as single figures)
- 1 standard bearer
- 1 sergeant
- 7 spearmen
I felt that I wanted a geisha as well, partly because they are such an iconic part of Japanese history and partly so that she could act as a spy or other scenario-specific objective.
This geisha model is from Hasslefree Miniatures, although (oddly) she's listed amongst their Modern martial artists. Still, her costume seems traditional enough to me. This was a refreshingly different model to paint; I enjoyed doing so very much and I'm immensely pleased with the result!
A Word on the Figures
I can't really finish this description without saying at least something about the models involved:
These are the plastics that were originally produced by the now-defunct Wargames Factory.
- They're cheap!
- They can be built into some very nice models.
- These are the most fiddly, fragile plastic models I've ever built. Most have 10+ separate parts (for example 2 legs, 2 body, head, 2 arms, spear, sashimono, swords) and many of these are extremely thin and delicate. No doubt they're scaled very accurately and are in "real world" proportions, but I have grave doubts about their durability on the wargames table.
- Matching arms to spears is something of a nightmare; not all combinations work properly and you need to use trial and error to figure it out.
I've only bought a few metal samurai from Footsore and cannot therefore comment on the rest of their range. However, here are some observations on the figures I've built.
- The models available cover exactly the weapons options from Test of Honour. That's hardly surprising, since they were (I believe) made for the game, or the game was made for this range or something like that.
- They're nicely-detailed, solid models; I'm not particularly worried about them breaking with normal use.
- I found that several of the Footsore models didn't fit together at all well and needed quite a bit of adjustment.
- They're a bit more expensive than the Warlord models, or other ranges such as the excellent Perry Miniatures samurai.
Here's the entire clan so far. In this picture you can also see my first piece of Japanese-themed scenery (who'd have thought it - a bridge!).
I do have plans to add some arquebuses to the Oda, but these may have to take their turn. After all, I'm also working on the red/yellow Takeda clan as well as bandit and ninja warbands. And more scenery. And some ronin. And it might be nice to get some warrior monks. Perhaps some horsemen too...