Since we got an idea of the rules now, let’s look for some Ronin miniatures!
Miniatures fit for playing Ronin are available from several manufacturers. I got mine from the Perrys who offer excellent ranges for all possibly Buntais (bar for Ming Chinese) including Koreans(!). The only downside is that any kind of troop comes in packs of six. What I did was split the packs with a friend.
Some of them might be a bit rough around the fingers due to the molds having gotten worn over the years. I heard that the Samurai range was mostly done right after the Perrys had left Foundry. But they are still Perry sculpts so they’re top of the line stuff.
Ming Chinese are available from Forlorn Hope Games. The models are alright. Nothing special but if you’re looking for Ming Chinese in 28mm you can’t be a fussy.
Northstar‘s specifically released Ronin line has the advantage of having almost each model from their packs armed differently. The downside is the limited choice of buntai, the fact that models are only sold as full warband packages and that the models are not too cheap. I also heard that the casting quality isn’t all that impressive.
Museum Miniatures have some interesting models to offer, including such things as baggage mules and a wide variety of Ashigaru.
If you want to go plastic, Wargames Factory released several boxes of multi-part plastics for the period. However, they were released a few years ago, so they are in part from Wargames Factory’s “very inexpensive but not too stunning quality” phase. However, if you want to do a 28mm Bushi warband as part of a larger army I strongly suggest looking into getting these sets. If it’s worth buying into these boxes for six to twelve models in total is up to you.
If you are looking beyond the limits that are imposed by 28mm, going 1/72nd or 20mm is a very attractive choice. There are several different sets available for little money by Zvezda and many other manufacturers.
While I wouldn’t suggest going any smaller in scale for this kind of game, there certainly is no reason not to go bigger. Steve Barber miniatures offers a comprehensive range of 42mm figures.
There are several kits for plastic and resin Samurai in 1/35 scale around and for people who like to play with the big boys, First Legion offer a variety of 62mm scale figures.
A fellow poster on Warseer told me that he likes to play Ronin with 15mm figures on multi-bases (= a number of models on each base) for a little more “epic” feel as he put it. I can see that work really well actually. You can get 15mm Samurai figures from the likes of Peter Pig, Essex, Old Glory, Minifigs, Eureka Miniatures. 15mm is an excellent choice for skirmish wargaming if you’re strapped for cash or space.
This article has no aspirations to compeleteness, it merely is there to point out a few manufacturers of models I happened across and on which I could form an opinion. Feel free to add to the list in the comments section or on the forums!
Feudal Japan offers incredible possibilities for painters, so there is no reason not to go for pretty miniatures, do a bunch of research and get going on your warband. Alternatively you can always hire a professional painter to do the work for you. The main thing is that in the end you own a warband to be proud of. Remember, “When the character of a man is not clear to you, look at his miniatures.” as the ancient Japanese proverb goes.