Few can match the long and colourful tradition of the Japanese samurai, yet until relatively recently there were no figures of these warriors in 1/72 scale plastic. Happily the sudden growth of the hobby in the early part of this century and the explosion of new products brought with it several such sets, including this one from LW. The figures are advertised as being for the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, which is the best known era in samurai history.
As so often, this set tries to cover a large and complex subject with one collection of figures, so there is little variety within each troop type. Although the bow was an important weapon there is only one such figure, although the growth in the use of firearms during the period is reflected in the presence of two arquebusiers. The two men with spears are good, and the two with swords are fine, but the figure with a hammer is something a bit different. He is unarmoured, which for a samurai suggests he is not on campaign, and he carries just a short sword (wakizashi), which is only likely if he is indoors. However he may be some sort of peasant sapper, not a samurai, and is perhaps breaking down some door or gate with that large hammer.
Apart from the hammer-bearer, all the men are armoured in appropriate fashion, although those without helmets are a surprise. The complex Japanese suits of armour have been fairly well realised, and for the most part equipment is also properly rendered. The bowman is an ashigaru and wears the very common jingasa hat, but this is impeding the string on his bow (in reality the hat was usually removed for this very reason). He is also holding the bow at the mid point, whereas Japanese bows were held well below the centre. One of the swordsmen (first row, third figure) is using an immensely long sword - around 2 metres in length. This is much longer than the normal katana sword, and although correct it would not be used in the traditional samurai way.
The two mounted men are both armed and armoured in the traditional manner, but here the problem is that they fail to sit on their horses - their legs are just too close together to fit. The man wearing a jinbaori surcoat has his scabbard hanging down in the European fashion, which is incorrect. The horses themselves are unarmoured and correctly saddled and decorated with tassels and the like.
There is a noticeable amount of flash on these figures, particularly so on the horses. The detail is pretty good but not as clear or sharp as the sets from Zvezda, for example. They are well proportioned and quite chunky, which is appropriate for such heavily armoured men, but despite that the poses themselves are quite flat. Flags and banners were very important in Japanese armies of this time, yet we were disappointed to find no such items in this set. Even the personal sashimono banner, first introduced in the sixteenth century, is missing here despite its frequency on the battlefield. In fairness however LW may have felt that their inability to produced well engineered parts in the past may have decided them against including them here.
So, a fair set with usable figures that can best be seen as supplementing figures already available.