No, those are not the names of two new teletubbies. The Ashigaru are the footsoldiers of the ancient Japanese Shogunate. Well, I say ancient, they were still exactly the same in the 1600's! The Ikko Ikki were the name of peasant bands using farming implements and stolen armour to try to fight back against the more oppressive of the Samurai warlords. Why am I giving you this history lesson? Because I've painted some:
Now I don't recommend zooming all of the way in on these lads. The reason is twofold, one, the client just wanted a quick basic job and two, something that upset me greatly. The casting is awful. Seriously, it's so bad that I initially thought that the sculpting was at fault. But having remembered that these were from the Perry Samurai range I gave that a rethink. The hands and toes have a tendency to blur into flat plates, the faces are lopsided on some models (that is why there are no painted eyes, it would call attention to the problems). Worst of all, the bare arms are mangled and means that no matter how much silk purse painting you do you will be left with a sows ear. Caveat Emptor dear readers...
But enough whinging. These Ashigaru are for a fantasy asian kingdom called the Five Thunders and thus could be painted however I liked. I went for a dark green on the armour - Orkhide Shade with a Badab Black wash - which was given a gloss varnish to shine it into a lacquer. The clothing was base coated with Vermin Brown and highlighted with Bleached Bone in order to make a pastel brown-orange. The Sashimono back banners were detailed with the kanji for Thunder and a simple diamond Kamon to indicate a household. The same mon was used on the helmets to link the imagery.
So with the regulars out of the way, let's take a look at some troops that could not be more irregular if they tried. All of them are wearing a mixture of traditional Japanese farming clothing and as a result look a little weird to our western eyes! Most of the feel of the models came from this clothing so I went to town a little on the patterns and colours. The two furry looking ones are actually wearing traditional straw rain capes. You literally wear a thatch cloak.
The chap pictured above is wearing clothing suitable for rice farming. You want bare legs in the flooded paddy fields. The pink crysanthanum pattern on the shirt was just Red Gore and white mixed.
Its tough to see in the picture but the minty green shirt has a sort of brickwork pattern in the fabric, this is another traditional pattern, the internet is a wonderful tool for this sort of research.
I've left my favourite outfit till last. This is a perfectly sculpted and researched rough peasant kimono, bound with a strip of fabric to keep the sleeves out of the way and thrust into the hakima trousers. The gap in the side is perfect. I know this because I own several from my days doing Iajitsu (Japanese Samurai sword). It was this that finally convinced me that the sculpting wasn't at fault but rather the casting for the problems.
These were fun but have convinced me that I will not be doing a full Samurai army for myself! A serious advantage of commission work is that you can get a taster of models and determine whether or not you want them for yourself! Until next time folks.