15mm Wargaming Figures to use for Samurai armies of the Sengoku period 1467-1603

The fact that the Portuguese were in Japan is sufficient excuse for me to consider getting Samurai armies for the the Sengoku period. I thought I’d look at what 15mm figures are available. I found five ranges of figures available and one set of transfers/decals for Sashimono banners. Before I do a (brief) review of the figures I explain what is distinctive about the period I’m interested in.

Japan 1542-1639

My interest is the period where the Portuguese were in Japan. Basically 1542-1639. This spans three overlapping periods of Japanese history:

  • 1392–1573 Muromachi period
  • 1573–1603 Azuchi-Momoyama period
  • 1603–1867 Edo period

However the period from about 1467 to about 1603 is also referred to as the Sengoku period and, due to the violent turmoil in Japan, was known as the “Age of Warring States”.

As it happens the Sengoku period is popular for 15mm figures. Several features distinguish this period:

  • Samurai with melee weapons
  • Ashiguaru
  • Firearms including arquebus and cannon
  • Sashimono banners
  • Warrior monks including Ikkō-ikki

Although more widely used, Sashimono banners were most prominent during the Sengoku period. The banners resembled small flags and bore clan symbols.

The Sōhei were Buddhist warrior monks of feudal and medieval Japan. They were active throughout the Sengoku period (and much earlier), fighting for their own interests and those of the major national actors. Sōhei are mainly associated with the naginata, however could also be archers or swordsmen. Many were mounted and many wore samurai armour. Warrior monks wore layers of kimono-like robes with a tan or saffron yellow layer on top. Footwear traditionally consisted of tabi socks and geta (wooden clogs), or waraji (straw sandals). Warrior monks would often fold and tie the white headcowl to cover more of their head, or would substitute a hachimaki headband. Finally, many warrior monks would wear some form of samurai armor.

Ikkō-ikki were mobs of peasant farmers, Buddhist monks, Shinto priests and local nobles who rose up against daimyō rule. The the first violent uprising was about 1486 and the movement crushed in 1586. The Ikkō-ikki, due largely to their origins as countryside mobs, were far more varied in their armor and armament than other Sōhei.

Old Glory 15s Samurai

Old Glory 15s Samurai Armies 1530-1615 are exactly in the Sengoku period. I quite like these figures. Nice dynamic poses and, judging from the photos, clean sculpting. They come in big packs so would probably form the basis on any army I created.

Old Glory 15s SM7 Dismounted Samurai
Old Glory 15s SM7 Dismounted Samurai

The range includes:

  • samurai, ashigaru, warrior monks, peasants, ninja, and female samurai.
  • unarmoured samurai which might be appropriate for Ronin.
  • Sashimono banners in every pack that needs them
  • different ashigaru figures for early and late in the period; early figures have straw hat and late figures (SM12) have helmet; this applies to spearmen and pikemen.
  • named characters of the period i.e. Takeda, Shingen, Uesugi Kenshin, Imagawa, Yoshimoto, Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Date Masamune, Shimazu Yoshihiro, Ii Naomasa, Ishida Mitsunari, Hojo Ujiyasu, Kato Kiyomasa, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (code SM3)
  • options for Samurai in western armour
  • a cool “Command Conclave (Honjin)” (code SM2) including curtained screens, three generals, four guards, and four messengers.

Peter Pig Samurai

Peter Pig Range 24 Samurai are explicitly for the Sengoku Period. I quite like this range and, coming in small packs, would be great to flesh out units.

Peter Pig Samurai Heroes
Peter Pig Samurai Heroes

The range includes:

  • samurai, ashigaru, warrior monks, and peasants.
  • cool samurai hero figures
  • figures with chopped heads on platters or on sticks
  • levy packs, i.e. troops with bamboo armour
  • Extra ammunition figures (bow and arquebus)
  • Signallers with drums and conch shells.
  • a “Torrii Gate” used at the entrances to sacred areas or used to mark a sacred spot.

Museum Miniatures “Kawanakajima” Samurai

The Museum Miniatures Samurai are labeled as “Kawanakajima” where the Battles of Kawanakajima were a major event in the Sengoku Period. It looks another good range and I’d use this alongside the ranges above.

Museum Miniatures Samurai and Ashigaru
Museum Miniatures Samurai and Ashigaru

The range includes:

  • samurai, ashigaru, warrior monks, and peasants.
  • field defences, camp equipment including racked weapons
  • Sashimono banners listed in separate packs

Eureka Miniatures

The range includes:

  • Peasants, early followers, late followers / ashiguaru, samurai, warrior monks
  • Mounted samurai
  • Magic users, both mounted and dismounted
  • Sashimono banners listed in separate packs

Two Dragons Samurai

Two Dragons Productions Catalogue – 15mm Samurai are also for the Sengoku Period judging by the fact the range features fire arms and named characters of the period (e.g. Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga). The sculpting on the figures appear a bit course compared to the ranges above. So I’d consider using them but only after exploring the ranges above.

The range inclues:

  • samurai, ashigaru, peasants, warrior monks, peasants, ninja, and ronin.
  • named characters of the period (e.g. Tokugawa Ieyasu and Oda Nobunaga)
  • Sashimono banners listed in separate packs

Essex Miniatures Samurai

Essex Miniatures 15mm Samurai are for the period 900-1450AD so earlier than the Sengoku Period. The range emphasises bowmen which is not a very Sengoku thing. However, it has the Warrior Monks (Sōhei) and Sashimono banners. The range lacks firearms. I might consider using this range to fill in any gaps remaining after exploring all of the above ranges.

Essex Miniatures sam20 Samurai Swordsmen Ronin
Essex Miniatures sam20 Samurai Swordsmen Ronin

Alternative Armies Sengoku 15mm Fantasy

Alternative Armies Sengoku 15mm Fantasy Miniature Range will enable me to spread into fantasy realms. it includes Tengu, Oni, Goblins, Kappa, Spider and Centipede and Snake Monsters, Ghosts, Monks, Miko, Tanuki and Spirits.

Alternative Armies Sengoku Wave5
Alternative Armies Sengoku Wave5

Veni Vidi Vici Sashimono

Given you need the Sashimono banners to be consistent across masses of figures having transfers/decals would be very convenient. As it happens Veni Vidi Vici has some transfers/decals of the most common Samurai sashimono in 15mm. Each sheet normally does 20 banners. The transfers are available in white, black, red or yellow; but I think black and white were the most common colours for Sashimono.

A1 Takeda Mon. 4 diamond designs
A2 Sanada Mon. 6 circles with square holes
A3 Fujiwara Mon. 6 circles around circle
A4 Minamoto Mon. Bar with dots above/below
A5 Takeda generals. 4 diff designs
A6 Uesugi generals. 2 diff designs
A7 Uesugi generals II. 4 diff designs.

New Project

Ooops, if you’ve read my 2018 Confessions of a Megalomaniac Wargamer and Amateur Historian, you’ll notice that Samurai doesn’t even appear on my list of projects. Deep breath Steven. Relax. Repeat the mantra “I don’t need a new project. I don’t need a new project. I don’t need a new project.”

9 thoughts on “15mm Wargaming Figures to use for Samurai armies of the Sengoku period 1467-1603”

  1. By the way, as far as I can tell the Two Dragon line has occasionally been owned by Dixon. The ranges are identical.

  2. I love the Sengoku Jidai period and, in fact, anything from feudal Japan. The problem I see is that you really need massive armies for the period. In contrast, Crossfire is very forgiving: you need to paint few soldiers in order to have a playable force (and the level of abstraction helps!), but this simply won’t do for Sengoku armies: you really need the look of massed battles. And I know I just can’t collect, paint and store so many miniatures 🙁

    • For the type of games I’m likely to play, Big Base DBA type stuff, I’m likely to need 144 figures in each army.

    • “I just can’t collect, paint and store so many miniatures” Huh? They are 15mm and that’s the point, they are easy to paint, and store! 2 large armies fit in a medium size tool box and unless you live in your car we all have room for that…lol!

    • I was bought Ronin by Osprey a couple of years back and I want to use minis, so this has been very helpful. However my needs are much smaller than yours since if I wargame I use Advanced Song of Blades & Heroes, so 30-40 minis tops.


Leave a Reply