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Zvezda

Set 8029

Samurai Army Headquarters

Click for larger image
All figures are supplied unpainted    (Numbers of each pose in brackets)
Stats
Date Released 2005
Contents 28 figures and 3 horses
Poses 9 poses, 1 horse pose
Material Plastic (Fairly Hard)
Colours Brick Red/Grey
Average Height 22 mm (= 1.58 m)

Review

This camp set complements the existing Zvezda sets of Samurai Infantry and Cavalry, and continues the focus on the heyday of the samurai, the 16th and 17th centuries.

The first figure is the most important - the commander. Labelled on the box as a daimyo, which was a feudal lord, this figure could actually be any sort of commander, resplendent in his full armour and holding his saihai. Beside him is a samurai acting as his bodyguard.

Next we have some pairings of servants carrying a box and a pole with severed heads suspended from it. The servant is just one pose, but the pole slips easily onto the shoulder and into the hands from either front or back, making a very nice model.

The next man and his mounted comrade on the following row are part of the tsukai ban, messengers who acted as aides-de-camp during a battle. They wear an approximation of a horo on their backs, which was a light wooden or bamboo framework covered by a cloak. This helped make them more visible in battle, and was usually decorated with the mon (emblem) of the lord or otherwise brightly coloured. In this set the horo is a separate piece, attaching to the back of the man via pegs, so it can be omitted if desired.

Between the messengers is an ashigaru guard. As well as part of the commander's retinue, this figure will be very useful to swell the ranks of the ashigaru in the army as ashigaru figures are still fairly few and far between.

Row three ends with a very nice drummer and his drum, and row four contains the two ninja poses. Ninja were used in many ways, but both these figures are clearly clothed for concealment, making them particularly suitable for spying or assassination tasks. The crawling figure could be observing or stalking prey, while the other, weapons drawn, is already involved in a fight.

The penultimate row contains the various standards included in this set, all of which are of authentic design. Each comes with a separate base (into which they fit securely), but the middle flag has not been given a substantial enough base and is inclined to fall over at the least provocation.

Finally we come to the major piece in the set, the honjin. This was an enclosure surrounded by curtained screens from which the commander directed operations. In this set it is made up of four pieces - one for each side, and creates a space approximately 137mm (nearly 10 metres) square with a screen about 30-35mm (2 metres or more) high. The pieces show the design of the screen correctly, but they do not slot together securely and need to be glued. Although it is a fair size it is probably a rather small example of the real thing, but the nature of the design means larger enclosures can be created easily by simply combining pieces from multiple sets. It seems that such encloses were usually simply curtained on all sides, but this model includes a wooden entrance. There is evidence to confirm this feature, although how common it was we cannot say as Japanese armies travelled extremely lightly, and such an affectation as this entrance would seem very unusual on campaign.

All these components make for a really nice command centre, and as can be seen from the pictures the quality of sculpting is every bit as good as the other samurai sets from Zvezda. Flash is minimal and all pieces fit together really well. One fly in the ointment is the mounted messenger, who has pegs in his legs which makes it impossible to mount him on his horse. This is a really bad mistake which Zvezda has made recently, the worse because their previous method worked very well, and they seem to be slow to rectify it. It is necessary to cut the pegs off in order to get the man on his horse, although that still leaves ugly holes in the horse's side. Also the man does not grip his horse, and with the large horo on his back he is not balanced and will need gluing to the saddle.

This set makes for a very attractive addition to the Zvezda Samurai range. The various severed heads allow a recreation of the post-battle head presentation ceremony, while the commander and his staff make an excellent scene in their enclosure. The problems with the rider could and should have been identified and resolved before going into production, but otherwise this is another first rate product.


Ratings

Historical Accuracy 9
Pose Quality 10
Pose Number 10
Sculpting 9
Mould 9

Further Reading
Books
"Ashigaru 1467-1649" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.29) - Stephen Turnbull - 9781841761497
"Fighting Techniques Of The Oriental World 1200-1860" - Thomas Dunne - Michael Haskew - 9780312386962
"Ninja AD 1460-1650" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.64) - Stephen Turnbull - 9781841765259
"Samurai 1550-1600" - Osprey (Warrior Series No.7) - Anthony Bryant - 9781855323452
"Samurai Armies 1550-1615" - Osprey (Men-at-Arms Series No.86) - Stephen Turnbull - 9780850453027
"Samurai Commanders (1) 940-1576" - Osprey (Elite Series No.125) - Stephen Turnbull - 9781841767437
"Samurai Commanders (2) 1577-1638" - Osprey (Elite Series No.128) - Stephen Turnbull - 9781841767444
"Samurai Heraldry" - Osprey (Elite Series No.82) - Stephen Turnbull - 9781841763040
"Samurai: An Illustrated History" - Tuttle - Mitsuo Kure - 9780804832878
"The Book of the Samurai" - Arms and Armour Press - Stephen Turnbull - 9780948509308
"The Samurai" - Osprey (Elite Series No.23) - Anthony Bryant - 9780850458978
"The Samurai Recreated in Colour Photographs" - Crowood (Europa Militaria Special Series No.14) - Mitsuo Kure & Ghislaine Kruit - 9781861263353

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