The Mongol are quite (in)famous for conquering and terrorising a large part of the Eurasian landmass during the thirteenth century. Almost equally famous is the failure to capture Japan because the fleet build to ship the Mongol armies across the sea where destroyed by a typhoon. During the second invasion this happened 7 weeks after the Mongol landed so the Japanese had to do some serious fighting to repel them. The destruction of the Mongol ships deprived them of support and sealed the fate of the invasion. The samurai are of course the elite Japanese warriors of this time, called 'Kamagura period' in Japanese history.
Several sets of Mongol and Samurai have been made most noticeably by Zvezda. Their set 'golden horde' product No. 8076 being the latest. A complete review of this set can be seen at plastic soldier review. The pastic is of a type where acrylic paint doesn't stick so well on so a priming with oil based paint is important.
Zvezda have also produced a number of sets involving the Samurai. Their latest sets are very small and cheap involving a few figures of a specific unit type. The figures are made from a few parts of styrene making it easy to sand away the moulding seams. The parts fit together without glue. At some places the fit is a bit to tight causing the parts with the cavity to break so I recommend thinning the pegs of the parts to be inserted in an other part and use glue anyway.
Although very differently produced both sets have splendid detail. The sets of samurai also have the benefit of having almost no duplicate figures so you can easily make an army with uniquely posed figures. For this diorama I bought the 'Mounted Samurai' Product No. 6407.
I made and painted both figures and placed them on small base de depicting the shoreline at a beach. The Mongol is slightly on seaside 'symbolising' it is an overseas invader. The samurai is slightly on the beach side 'symbolising' it is a defender from the land. The only problem with this scene is that the samurai has armour and a flag on his back seen only during the Edo period two centuries later. I could not get a 1/72 figure with the right armour style so this will have to do. For an accurate depiction of a samurai from the Kamagura period and a discussion of their armour see the review of the 1/16 Mini Art model.
Both sets have splendid figures despite being quite differently moulded. Both highly recommended.