Sunday, 7 October 2018

Yakuza gang

Here is my Yakuza buntai (gang/group/band) for Osprey's Ronin skirmish game.  I have chosen to focus on the late Edo period for my collection - the twilight era of the Samurai, as depicted in the 'Zatoichi' & 'Sleepy Eyes of Death' films, 'Yojimbo', 'When the Last Sword is Drawn', '13 Assassins', 'Bloody Shuriken', 'Twilight Samurai', & many other classics of Japanese chanbara cinema.  So I have being painting this gang of dastardly Yakuza, who will face justice at the hands of my next buntai - a small group of swordsmen from a Koryu (weapon school).  I may also supplement this with a Peasant buntai, to be terrorised by the local Yakuza.

This is my basic 95 points Yakuza roster - at the front there are five shikaku (thugs) armed with katanas.  The bald bloke in the back row is the gashira with a katana: a lieutenant of the local boss.  He is slightly more skilled than the thugs, & has the Commander ability.  Either side of him are a pair of yotamono (ruffians) with ararebō (small clubs - I made these by trimming down spears, & molding the iron studs using tiny balls of Green Stuff putty).  These ruffians are cheap, & even less skilled than the five thugs, but useful for boosting the numbers... plus the gashira has the option to cut one down as a 'morale booster' if the gang look to be routing in the face of determined foes!  Finally, to the gashira's far left is a thug with a teppo (matchlock arquebus) & katana (although I'm trying to source a sheathed katana for his obi [belt]).

My basic Koryu buntai will also total 95pts, but for comparison, it will feature only three (very skilled) swordsmen.  I have three more figures in progress (two deadly ronin-for-hire, & another teppo gunman) which will bump the Yakuza gang up to 150pts for slightly larger skirmishes; & I can match this for the Koryu by adding three more junior swordsmen.

Here are some close-up photos, showing the patterns that I lavished on much of the clothing for the Yakuza.  I'm pleased with the results - I think it really brings them to life  :-)  I didn't want this buntai to look uniformed, but I did want to tie-them together visually on the tabletop - so I focused the palette around moody blues & purple.

Finally, I couldn't resist reworking a couple of the group shots in black-&-white, to capture the essence of those classic chanbara & Samurai films which have been such an inspiration for this little project.

Most of these figures are from North Star, while the ruffians with converted clubs & the thug with the arquebus are from Perry Miniatures.


Saturday, 6 October 2018


Nothing too exciting today, just some trees which I've based up for use in Ronin & Chain of Command games.  First I glued four 1p coins & one 2p coin on top the laser-cut ply disc bases, to make them nice & weighty on the tabletop, & then I stuck the trees on top, & textured overt he coins & between the roots with coarse paint thickener.  Then finished-off with my usual mix of flock & grass tufts, as mentioned in previous posts. 

I've had the trees a few years, so I don't remember the manufacturer, but they are particularly sturdy, & their 'leaves' don't fall off the wire bristles very easily, which means that they're nice & robust for wargaming.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Small patches of rocks

Some more scatter terrain for Chain of Command & Ronin - a couple small patches of overgrown rocks. These will be difficult ground which hampers movement, but they won't provide cover like my previous larger overgrown rocks.

Again, these are real (painted) stones, mounted on laser-cut ply discs from Fenris Games, with Gale Force Nine flocks & GamersGrass tufts & flowers.

Here are a few photos of these latest rock patches, with a 'White' Russian soldier & a dastardly Yakuza ruffian for scale.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Rickety fences

I recently finished these six sections of rickety fences, for use in Chain of Command (Russian Civil War) & Ronin (late Edo-period chanbara).  They are laser-cut pieces from Fenris Games, affixed using wood glue to large lolly sticks/tongue depressors.  After snipping the long strips of fences into six sections, they were exactly the right length for these lolly sticks (6"). First I textured the bases/strengthed the bond with the fences using ready-mix coarse paint thickener, & then painted the bases with patches of brown & green.  Then I painted the fences using basic drybrushing. Later I glued-on a variety of flock (Gale Force Nine products) & grass/plant tufts (mostly manufactured by GamersGrass).

Here are a few photos of the finished fences, with some 28mm chanbara & RCW figures for scale.  I think they will suit either tabletop battlefield at a pinch.  Which saves time & money!

There are enough strips of rickety fences in the pack to make the same quantity of these again, although I'm considering using them on a field base rather than as individually-placed items.

Monday, 27 August 2018

Russian village church

I finally got round to painting this village church for Russian Civil War games.  It's a laser-cut MDF kit from Sarissa Precision.  It was one of their more challenging kits to build because oft he multiple roofs & the crucifix orb, but nothing ridiculous.  I left the roof unglued for access, & painted the interior before gluing the walls to the base.  The building is tall but not that wide, so it's actually a little tricky to place models inside.  But the only viewpoint for those inside is out the doors anyway, so it might not happen that often.

I find these MDF buildings require a couple of spray-coats of undercoat before they're ready to paint, as the material really absorbs the initial coat.  After that they take the paint well.  I used a simple colour scheme based on a few reference photos, & I'm pretty happy with the outcome, although I may add more severe weathering the the wood cladding to 'age' the building a bit more.

I went with a 'gold' theme to highlight the importance the church would have in a village, & because it'll be the centrepiece of many RCW tabletops.  Should make an inspiring focus point for the Whites defending Mother Russia from revolution, whilst the iconoclastic  Reds & Blacks will have less respect for it!

Thursday, 23 August 2018

Overgrown rocks

I finished some more scatter terrain for use in Samurai or Russian Civil War games - a couple piles of overgrown rocks.  These are simple stones glued onto some laser-cut ply discs from Fenris Games, with gaps & earth added using coarse paint thickener, then drybrushed & weathered, before painting the areas that were to be dirt & plants in dark brown & khaki green respectively. I then used PVA to affix various flock mixtures & GamersGrass tufts, moss, & wildflowers.  I think the latter really bring the pieces to life.  Makes miniature basing so much easier!

I have very nearly finished painting my first buntai (band/group) for 'Ronin' now - some villainous Edo-period Yakuza.  I'm just trying to find the best way to model a few sheathed katanas to a handful of models that should be equipped with them - it's surprisingly difficult to source non-sci-fi 28mm scale katanas :-s  I'd appreciate any tips of where I might be able to order some, cheers!

My back-up plan is that I have a few leftover empty wakizashi scabbards that I might be able to Green Stuff hilts onto - but my first attempt at this was a mess.

Sunday, 19 August 2018

Wooden barrels & boxes

Last week I painted some 28mm scatter terrain - 3 sets of wooden barrels & boxes.  These will be suitable both for my 'Ronin' (chanbara skirmish games) & my 'Chain of Command' Russian Civil War collection.  The pieces are a mix of resin barrels & boxes from Fenris Games, & 2-piece plastic barrels in 2 sizes manufactured by Renedra (I purchased through Perry Miniatures as part of a Samurai figures order).  Both were easy to prepare (the resin pieces merely needed a quick scrub with soapy water to remove casting residue; whilst the 2-piece plastic barrels required clipping from their sprues & gluing together.

A nice touch to the Renedra plastic barrels is that they are cast in brown plastic, so could be table ready in a basic manner very quickly.  They also look a lot like traditional Japanese barrels.  However, not all of their joins fitted perfectly during assembly.  I used basic drying brushing to paint mine in a variety of wooden hues.  I'd been trying to decide what to do for the basing for a while, reasoning that my usual 'wilderness' look of grass & moss tufts would seem a bit out of place for barrels - they would be in a street or yard, not laying in a field or wood.  Then I stumbled on a very old bag of fawny-coloured flock (from the first few years of my miniatures hobbying, nearly 2 decades ago!), & found that mixing it 3-to-2 with my dark earth flock of choice made for a pleasant 'compacted/dusty earthen street' look, as seen in many chanbara films (e.g. the Zatoichi & Sleepy Eyes of Death series).  I added a sprinkle of small dark green flock plants for variety, & the look was complete.

Friday, 20 July 2018

Great lizards

Some more creatures for my Lustrian Warhammer Quest set - 1D3 'great lizards'.  These cheap hard rubber toys have a surprisingly good level of detail & texture, & painted-up really easily.  They are slightly too big to count as the 'giant lizards' from the Lustrian bestiary, so I'll cook-up some rules for 'great lizards', in a similar vein to great wolves & the great spiders that forest Goblins ride - I'm thinking slower but tougher than a great wolf, & without any special abilities.  Except maybe Poison... Everything in Lustria seems to be poisonous...

I based the colour schemes on real lizards, with a bit of artistic licence - e.g. a Serengeti Agama for the one with a neck-frill, a leopard gecko for the orange/yellow/purple one, & various monitor lizard patterns for the camouflaged one; whilst tying them together as a group with purple on each.  I'm really pleased with how they turned out, & have another nine of these to paint.  However,  I am wondering whether to add a horn or a few spikes to them, to match the more fantastical look of the GW Lustrian snakes.  Any thoughts on this? Cheers!

Sunday, 15 July 2018


Another creature for my Lustria Warhammer Quest collection finished - a crocodile (yeah, I know it's actually a caiman, but I've had this toy in my bits box for many years, & thought it'd look great in this role).  I repainted the model based on real-life reference photos, giving it more camouflaged tones like I did with the gigantic scorpion, to offer a contrast to my garish Lizardmen warriors.  Meanwhile I prepared a Ø60mm base using my usual jungle recipe of coarse paint thickener for texture, with card flagstone pieces & resin blocks pressed in.  Then I added various Gale Force Nine flock, static grass, & Gamers Grass tufts.  The finishing touches, after I glued the crocodile into place were to drill a few holes for some carefully positioned snippets of plastic aquarium plants.

Here are a few photos of the finished crocodile, with a Lizardman Saurus for scale, & also battling a gigantic scorpion.  Both of these beasties take up a 2x2 squares on a Warhammer Quest dungeon tile, given their large bases.  However, the gigantic scorpion is the more deadly, being tougher & causing more damage - it's worth 450 gold for slaying, compared to 140 gold for the crocodile (I found stats for it on the excellent Chronicles of the Old World & Beyond).  I think I'd add the Ambush ability to the crocodile's stats though - at least on a dungeon tile that has a water feature...