This is the first of the Art of Tactic game pieces for the Japanese Samurai game system. As can be seen there are four poses, all with one figure apart from the kneeling man, of which there are two. Each figure has their own base as shown above, so can be used for any modelling purpose, although the bases have a loop at the back (presumably for some game marker) which makes the base quite large. As a game piece the figures are intended to be grouped together to represent one unit as shown here, although unlike the World War II pieces, here the figures and their individual bases sit in the large base, and do so quite loosely so they can be removed readily.
All the figures are beautifully sculpted and produced with no flash or other imperfections. All have some element of assembly as might be expected of men with long bladed weapons, but everything goes together with a tight precision that requires no glue. As the title of the set suggests, these are all ashigaru who are armed with the most common ashigaru weapon - the spear or yari. This weapon could vary in characteristics, but the one here is about 40mm in length (about three metres), which is fine. Like the men this is beautifully produced - nice and slender (and therefore prone to bending). The men all wear body armour that was standard by the end of the 16th century, and two wear the jingasa hat while the others are bare-headed. All carry a sword and all are perfectly accurate and typical.
The set includes some plastic pieces that look like Japanese coins, and some other flags, which are presumably part of the wider game. Our photographs of the unpainted figures show all the men with a bright yellow sashimono (back flag) on them, but from viewing the sprue it can be seen that Zvezda also provide such flags on a bright red sprue. This is presumably to distinguish sides in the game - reds versus yellows. Also included are some wet transfer decals for the mon (badge) that would be on the sashimono.
These are lovely figures if much too tall for a medieval Japanese foot soldier at the stated scale of 1/72, but promised much for the rest of the game pieces in this series, a promise that was largely fulfilled as it turned out.