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TAG Gempei Wars Miniatures Review - part 1

Let's start this review with the troop type that will appeal the most to those interested in feudal Japan, the Samurai. The initial release offers 4 packs of 4 samurai warriors, with no doubles.

Samurai with Katana

The first figures here are Samurai with katana (GEM-007). Click on the image for a full view. They are all wearing yoroi*, two of them have helmets, one is sculpted with eboshi** (second from the left). One of the first things to notice on these figures is the poses. These warriors aren't rank & file troopers but each one an individual, as befits the honourable Samurai. The one drawing his katana is one of my favourites in the whole range. Sculpting is very nice, with crisp and fine details. The attention put to detailing the different yoroi segments is commendable (also see bottom of the page). As mentioned before, the swords (katana) are very thin and look more like the elegant weapons they should be. Most figures come with a separate sheath or sheathed weapon (where appropriate) which must be glued to a small hole in the armour to the side of the figure. These can also be purcased separately in TAG's weapon packs, among others. The empty sheaths look slightly too short to accept the weapons the figures are holding, but this does not affect the appearance of the assembled miniature.

Now for the faces, the bareheaded figures look very good, with strong, characterful expressions, some of them with moustaches and a short beard, a practice that was common prior to the Edo Period (as a show of manliness). The ones with helmets at first looked like their heads were somewhat too large, giving them somewhat of a stunted appearance. This impression is however purely caused by the dimensions of the (historically accurate) helmet. Along with the wear of the yoroi, this makes these miniatures somewhat on the bulky side, especially compared to the followers (see part 3).

* O-Yoroi (great armour) is the archetypical Samurai armour. The O-Yoroi was made from small scales of leather or metal laced into plates with cord and lacquered. Then each plate was laced together to form the armour. It first appeared in the 10th century and saw common use from the 12th century during the Gempei wars.

** A cap of black silk gauze stiffened with a black lacquered paper lining. The cap was held in place either by a white cord, or was pinned to the samurai's topknot. The size and shape of the cap was largely dependant on the samurai's rank.

Samurai with Tachi

The next figures are dressed in the same fashion, but are equipped with tachi* instead (GEM-001). Three are wearing a helmet, one is bareheaded. The same comments as above apply to these figures. These look like they would rank up slightly easier than their katana-wielding counterparts. The poses look natural and are all different from eachother. The armour section on the left arm on the third figure has a slight curl at the bottom (if we're looking for things too criticise, barely worth mentioning actually), it also seems this same part is slightly in the way to attach the weapon sheath to the hole, so I'll remove the pin and glue it in place that way.

* Tachi Koshiarae: Not all that different from the Katana, the Tachi was an ancient style of long sword, worn with the cutting edge down as it was originally designed for combat whilst mounted on horseback. This would make it easier to be carried and drawn by a mounted man as drawing a katana, which was worn edge up, would require an overhand move and risk interference form the horse's head.

Samurai with bows

There are currently two packs of Samurai archers in the range (GEM-002 & GEM-008), making for eight different figures (only four shown). All archers are in yoroi, 5 have helmets, two are bareheaded and one is wearing the eboshi (see above). There is a good mix of poses. The figure to the far right had the most flash of the lot, although I don't know if there's a reason for that or whether it is a coincidence. As can be seen in the pictures, the bow aren't held in the center. This is correct from a historical point of view although the reason for this peculiarity is subject of debate. One of the archers has a similar issue with the sheathed weapon as described earlier, where his arm get's in the way to fit the pin in the hole. Another one does'n't seem to have a hole to attach a sheathed weapon at all. It's a small price to pay for the resulting variety in poses.

As I said before, there is a great care to detail in sculpting these figures as is illustrated in a few random closeups below. Click on the images for a full view.

Armour - back - click to enlarge
Armour - front - click to enlarge

Click here to return to the main page of the TAG Gempei Wars miniatures review.

Click here to go to the mounted samurai review.

Click here to go to the monks, followers and special offer figures review.



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