Zvezda always had several sets of samurai in there catalog. In the last years they released new sets of samurai figures in hard plastic made from several parts. These figures are of a stunning quality and sold in (very) small boxes with about 5 figures on foot or 2 when it is a set of mounted figures. The following sets are available: 6401 Ashigaru-Yari, 6402 Ashigaru-Arquebus, 6404 Samurai Archers, 6405 Samurai No Dati, 6406 Ninja, 6411 Samurai Commanders, 6414 Ashigaru Archers, 6415 Peasants with Ammo supply, 6416 Mounted Samurai Archers. Like the previous sets these are samurai from the Sengoku or 'warring states' period 1500/1600. The samurai had reached the top of the societal ladder. There armies increasingly included a large number of warriors of lower status or 'foot warriors' these are the Ashigaru. There armor was mass produced, an army could include no less then 100.000 Ashigaru. I made a 'symbolic' army with a command unit (6411), cavalry, foot warriors (6401), archers (6414), logistics support (6415). One of the commanders is the 'hero unit' or special forces. I found buying a set of ninja's gave a relative to large section of special forces. There is one thing to take in consideration when building these figures: They can be assembled without glue, in order to get a tight fit between the parts the pegs are slighty larger then the holes. The plastic can split when you assemble the figur, especially when yu use glue aswell because the glue softens the plastic before evaporating. I trimmed the pegs down and glued the figures. The pictures, the fact that every unit has an individual flag on it's back give the army a very busy look:
The ashigaru with bow, yari and logistic support forming the backbone of the army:
The command unit:
In red the hero/special forces (This figure is from the commander set):
I think it is great Zvezda makes these sets of hard plastic figures. They are easy to assemble and have great detail because the whole figure doesn't have to be releasable by a mold at once. Releasing multiple, very cheap sets with very specific figures is a interesting concept too. It makes it easy to build large army with specific ratio's of units (relatively lot of infantry just to name an example) when you play to Zvezda wargame but doesn't leave you with a lot of unused figures. I especially like many different kinds of 'special units' such as ninja and peasant support, there equivalents from other armies are hard if not impossible to find. Every set comes with a tactical cards, flags, individual bases and an extra base for the whole unit. At just €3,50 the sets are very cheap. Building an army as I did is slightly more expensive then buying two sets (cavalry and infantry) of 'normal' figures. the fact that you have a proper command unit and a support unit make it worth while however. Zvezda makes these smaller sets also with Napoloanic, WII and modern soldiers. The WII range is by far the most elaborated.