Well, it turns out that have I succumbed to my urge for something different and my Easter present to myself was a copy of the new Test of Honour game. I am not an ‘early adopter’ by any means and get far more pleasure from deferring a purchase than actually making one! However, I had played a couple of games and had really enjoyed the simplicity of the game mechanics. The fact that I had a great deal of fun playing the game also helped – I don’t remember laughing so much in a wargame but that may have had more to do with the poor Japanese movie impersonations that were being carried out as each Samurai moved…
I had also been slightly put off by the chatter on some social media pages by the apparent problems with the Wargames Factory/Warlord plastic figures. Having seen the completed figures for myself, I thought that they looked pretty good and the painted ones that I had seen had convinced me that I could work with the figures in the set. So I grabbed a box whilst I still could and spent some of my spare time over Easter building and painting Samurai.
I wont do a full unboxing review – there are plenty on You tube and other forums but here are my general thoughts. First of all, I think you get a good deal for your money. In effect, you have a complete game for £35, including, albeit 2D, card board scenery. As well as all of the cards, tokens, rules, and markers that you will need to play, you also have the sprues & parts to make 35 Samurai and Ashigaru miniatures. All you need to supply is a Tape measure and a 3 foot playing surface. You do have to assemble those plastic figures though…
So first things first, yes the figures are plastic! If you don’t like plastic figures then jog on son, you’re in the wrong aisle! Metal figures are available from other suppliers and may just cost a tad more than those figures included in the game. Are they complicated to put together? I don’t think so, you’re not going to be building the Battleship Yamato. Each figure has about 7-8 pieces and there are some clear assembly sheets included in the game. You just need to take some time to look at them.
Are they fiddly to put together? Hell! Yes! I lost count of the number of heads that I dropped and even with my small fingers, the parts are a challenge to handle. Don’t even try to rush the assembly, you will get into a mess. Here’s my best advise on how to proceed.
First of all, you need to be seated comfortably, at a decent work station with a nice cup of tea and plenty of time – don’t rush!
Study the assembly sheets and match them up with the correct sprues – Spearmen, Archers and Samurai.
You need a good sharp pair of clippers, A good scalpel and a sanding sheet, whether it’s an emery board or something similar, what ever suits your budget!
For assembly, use a good polystyrene glue – I prefer the Revell Contacta glue with a needle applicator. Don’t use super glue – it may be faster but the beauty of polystyrene glue is that you will have some working time to position those fiddly parts. Because the glue melts the surfaces you will get a bit of ‘Fill’ to hide the joints and actually the bond will be better than superglue once the glue has dried. Here’s a tip, when you put the glue onto a piece, don’t immediately slap it onto the model. Wait a few moments to let the glue start to melt the plastic and then put the part into position. It will stick into place but you will still have some working time to position it to your preference.
Start with one of the simpler models. Either a spearman or bowman using the one piece torso. Once you get the hang of assembly and become familiar with the pieces you can be more ambitious and start to try different poses and combinations.
I found that the best assembly method was to stick a pair of legs together. Then attach these to a base. From there it was easier to handle the model and build the figure from the waist up.
Once you have built a few of the models, you will find that it becomes easier & faster as you become familiar with the process. The real joy of plastics though is that you will be able to customise and convert your models to make a really unique warband.
It took me about a couple of hours to assemble my first 12 models. In fairness, I was taking my time and as I became familiar with the different pieces I started to change the poses and think about conversions.
I also wanted to start to paint the models. Once again, they look to be a challenge but I am going to opt for a simple approach. For a start I don’t intend to spend too much time on research. I have one book on Samurai in my home library ( The Book of the Samurai by Stephen Turnbull) that I have been flicking through and the rest of my information has come from the Test Of Honour Face Book Group. If you haven’t joined , then it is worth it just for the pinned post at the top of the page which has some fantastic links to resources.
For me the process of painting will be just to produce some gaming figures and not to get too involved in historical accuracy. If I really get bitten by the Samurai bug, I may revisit that statement but for now, my intention is to produce a couple of small warbands that I can use at the club to take a break from my Napoleonic Games. So at the moment, my ambition goes as far as painting the 35 figures in the box and perhaps building a few nice scenery pieces.
You can see my progress so far. I’ll use these test models to see how I get on and to figure out the best way for me to paint the models as a batch. At the moment I have simply primed them with Army painter black, dry brushed them with neutral grey, Faces and hands are dark Flesh and red for the Trousers(?). There’s a way to go yet so I’ll return to these in a future blog. In the meantime, I’ll finish this entry with a picture of the limited Edition Samurai that came with the set. I really enjoyed painting him and his ninja mates….
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