Monday, 12 August 2013

A honor to build! Miniart Samurai

Samurai where the elite warriors of the Japanese society from about 1185 to 1867 in Japan. They where an important political factor also. The position, tasks and social development of a samurai in Japanese society has some remarkable parallels with that of European nobility in the period 1100 - 1500. The total period of 1185 to 1867 is a very long period in history and there is a lot to read about it.
The samurai emerged as a power in Japan in the Kamagura period 1185 - 1333. During this time the Mongols tried to invade Japan twice without success. The first time (1274) the Mongol fleet was destroyed by a Typhoon. Japanese called the storm 'kamikaze', meaning 'divine wind'. The second time (1281) the fleet was also destroyed by a typhoon but this was seven weeks after they landed on the beaches of Japan so they samurai and lesser famous Japanese army elements had to fight a long battle. This was no doubt there finest hour since the Japanese where the only power on earth to resist the Mongols during this time in history.

MiniArt released a model of a samurai in 1/16 scale, kit no. 16028. This kit stands out from the rest of the line because of two things: 1. The choice for a non-European subject and 2. The action full pose of the figure. I'm not an expert on Japanese armor but the figure can definitely be placed in the Kamagura period and the model might be inspired on this very uniform:

The box-art and model look quite similar:

This kind of armor looks very different from the European armor at the time. It was often made out of iron or hardened leather scales. The're kept together on large squarish like plates by rivets and laces. The laces are what gives an samurai uniform it's main colors. Samurai didn't seen to have had a need for shields, an other distinctive difference from European and actually all armor from the same period. The samurai's main weapon was a very large sword better known as a 'Katana'. But they mastered other weapons as well such as the bow.

The model from Miniart is of course made out of injection molded styrene and has 57 or 58 parts since the use of the mask is optional. The parts are made in the quality we are used too from Miniart. Sanding and cleaning them up is needed but this can be done fast and the result is very good. The parts fit quite well but I had to use some filler to fill up the seams between the two halves the arms are made out of. I also had to use filler at the ankle and wrists. I think this is my own fault because I was to enthusiast with cutting and sanding away of (what I thought was) excess plastic. The fit of the rest of the parts is simply good, even the belt which is made out of several interlocking parts.

With most figures painting is most of the work and this is no exception. Looking on the web at pictures of samurai armor I found great diversity in colors. Some seem to have one color theme such as 'yellow' with a lot of yellow-brown tints or 'blue' with different variants of blue. Others display a myriad of color and have richly decorated fabrics on the torso armor and helmet. MiniArt provides two very well full colour drawings of a samurai in colourful and richly decorated armor. It's undergarment is suggested to be painted in either red or green. You can make it as easy or difficult for yourself as you want when painting this figure. I chose to make the figure very colorfull and took a lot of inspiration from the very well done drawings by MiniArt. I painted the legs, torso and helmet of the figure separately.

The figure was painted when still broken down in main parts:


The face is largely hidden behind the mask, the mask is an optional part however:

And finally the photo's of the finished figure:

This is a very nice figure of a historic warrior that many find still fascinating today. Figures of samurai tent to be more expensive then those from European knights when they are made from metal and we it in the price of this figure too. It costs a few euro's more then MiniArt's European knights but is still a lot cheaper then a metal figure giving a builder with a small wallet also a change to build a large scale figure of a warrior of the rising sun. Highly recommended!

I also hope MiniArt will release the medieval knight (16021), Crosbow man (16023), footsoldier (16025), Archer (16027) and handgunner (16029) in action poses as seen on there possible boxart.

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