Army Boxes 4: The 15mm Resistant Roosters Japanese Army Deal. | Print |  E-mail
Written by Don MacVittie   
Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Unto Death, with Honor

The Entire Japanese PBI Army (about half the supplied figures) with Artillery add-ons

While hopping the Pacific, US and allied forces gained grudging respect for the Imperial Japanese Army. Much of this respect was based on the fact that Japanese soldiers would fight to the death, viewing surrender as a personal and familial failing. With little or no armor support, these stalwart troops fought to the best of their ability time and time again, on island after island.

Because of the relatively small numbers of troops employed, the Pacific theater is often downplayed. Since casualty rates were higher in the Pacific, this is an odd phenomenon. Testament to how much more difficult the Pacific was, three US Medal of Honor recipients earned their award in the first 72 hours of the Tarawa invasion alone - and this being on the island of Betio, only about 1 mile square.

Nearly a year ago, we picked up a Japanese army from Resistant Roosters with the intent of painting them up for fighting against our US Marines. We finally pulled them out and painted them up, forming a PBI army from about half of the figures and some of the artillery from our Japanese artillery review. Though Resistant Roosters has since been purchased by Historifigs, this same army is still available, and the prices referenced at the end of this article are current prices from Historifigs.

Fist up, we need to straighten a misconception that is floating around on the Internet. Prior to the Historifigs purchase, Resistant Roosters had a Japanese Painting Guide on their website which said "Vallejo Japanese Uniform has nothing to do with actual Japanese Uniform colors". We have since heard this statement paraphrased several times. We're here to tell you that you are wrong. The Japanese tropical uniform after 1941 was nearly exactly the color Vallejo provides. In fact, after a drybrush with a lightened coat and a wash with brown, it is pretty much exactly the color of that uniform. Of course, if you want a different theater, you will want to do some research. And as with all uniforms, slightly lighter or darker is cool, material did vary, and wear and tear did occur. We just didn't want you incorrectly thinking that Vallejo had messed up the color.

The entire army on the priming block � all but the house on the back corner are from this set.

The army is a pretty complete company � three infantry platoons, an HMG platoon, and a Company Command Platoon making up a total of 90 figures. The detail of the included figures is as follows.

Command Platoon:

Our command stand. This is but a small number of the Command figures in the company.

3 Command figures

3 Tank hunters (not the ATR, but the improvised suicide tank hunters)

3 Snipers

13 Rifle and wounded figures

HMG Platoon:

The HMG Platoon as we deployed it. There are more figures � carrying ammo and riflemen � in the platoon pack to make up the large Japanese HMG teams.

Commander and two riflemen

Four HMGs, each with four figures plus gun.

(ours had an extra HMG which we're going to use along with some wounded to build an objective)

One rifle platoon as we deployed them. There are more figures in the platoon as delivered.

Rifle Platoons (3)

1 commander

3 LMG figures

3 Light Mortar figures

34 Riflemen, some with grenades

We used about half of these figures to make a Poor Bloody Infantry army, and if you use the basing and platoon composition of the Flames of War Pacific Yahoo! Group, you will find that there are enough figures here to make a company � if you pull the excess figures from the HMG and command platoons to round out the infantry platoons (which are based on three 15 man squads plus a platoon command team).

This is a hard army to score accurately. On the one hand, you can see that they paint up pretty enough, but on the other hand, there are areas that they could definitely use improvement.

The thing we like the most about these figures is the poses. For the most part, they feel right, with a wide variety making up the 34 riflemen of the rifle platoons. They are well designed, and give the impression of action.

With hats, with helmets, with camo net, with neck shade� Lots of options.

The thing we like the least about these figures is the faces. You will find that the rifles vary quite a bit in length, and that is actually accurate. Japan had three primary weapons, two short and one long, and made use of a lot of captured equipment also. That makes the different length weapons just fine, but the faces of many poses are obscured, blurred, or flash-covered. Cleanup can resolve some of this, but only some.

Those faces! So smushed!

The other issue we found was with some figures being "heroic scaled" � big meaty arms, ham fists, etc. It is only a few poses, and they paint up nice enough unless you're looking for the problem, but the Japanese army � indeed, all of Japanese civilization - was perennially short of food during WWII, meaning it is highly unlikely that there would be any Sumo wrestlers in the Imperial Japanese Army. This is not a deal-killer, we just wanted you to be aware that the sizing issue is there. We're not too worried about different sized figures, but we do like individual figures to be consistently sized.

Even with those two issues, this army deal is a deal. You get all of the infantry you'll need for most any game for one reasonable price. Sure, they require some work, but so do products from competitors, and the competitors' products do not come as a pre-built army. For Japan, this is the only pre-built army we know of.

We were a little concerned about the fact that Resistant Roosters come only as infantry, but the fact is that this works out well for you. The Japanese uniform didn't change much in the core war years (after 1938), and with the exception of winter gear, it was nearly all styled as these uniforms are. This means you can paint them up in the colors of the period you enjoy gaming and not be too far off. We added artillery and created a nice little army, you could add armor or mortars or even anti-tank rifles and fight on different battlefields with the same set of figures we're going to use for island hopping. In fact, we're looking at Japanese tanks to place with the remaining figures to make use of the other half of this army.

Our favorite figures are the Company Command figure and the light machine-gunner, while our least favorite figures are the grenade thrower (who looks great at a distance but was tough to paint and is not so pretty up-close), and the knee (light) mortar figure (who is poorly defined within the circle formed by his arms, body, mortar tube, and legs). Honorable mention for a rocking figure goes to the Sniper. If the detail was more crisp in the front of his smock, this would be our favorite figure.

The sniper figures.

If you are going to give your army AT Rifles or an anti-tank gun platoon you will probably not be a fan of the suicide tank hunters, but honestly, if you cut the explosive bundle off of the end of the pole and hang a Japanese flag on it, you've got yourself a flag bearer.

NO RR Figures in this picture. Since we're talking about the entire army, here's our favorite gun.

If you're building a Japanese army, these figures are affordable, diverse, and come in company-sized packages, making them a worthwhile investment. For us, we'll see how they stack up against some of our American and British forces, but the figures are good enough to put on the table.

Worldwide Source: Historifigs
Current Historifigs price (160 figures plus four HMGs): $80.00 USD.

Alternate US Source: Scale Creep Miniatures

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