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28mm Review: Black Hat samurai range

A bunch of thugs!
A bunch of thugs!

Black Hat is a UK based miniature manufacturer with two series that might be interesting for a collector of Asian miniatures. One is an mystical themed range in 28mm with panda men and Chinese wizards, while the other one is a samurai range found in their 25mm section. Deceptively enough, they are more or less the same size. Today we'll be looking at the samurai range.


More thugs!
More thugs!

I got my Black Hat miniatures when I was planning a Seven Samurai-style participation game for a convention with a club mate. Such a game calls for plenty of disposable thugs for the heroes to... well, dispose of. But where were I to get 30 rough ronin?

I ended up with Black Hat, since their range was both affordable and very much geared toward skirmish games. Most of the options are either unarmed samurai and ninja, or haphazardly dressed in what looks like scavanged armour pieces. Perfectly suited for a bunch of medieval Japanese bandits.

The armour and armament of the sculpts make them fit quite well in any part of the Sengoku period, or even beyond, and the peasants could even be used for earlier periods.

Creative basing

Ronin with swords
Ronin with swords

Since I was painting them up for a skirmish game, I thought that round bases would look better. But what if I also wanted to use them in a system using 20mm square bases? A trip to the hardware store and a bag of washers solved this. Just make a movement tray with the proper dimensions and you can fit your models mounted on 20mm diameter washers on it!
With a solution for my basing woes in hand, I painted up two rivalling gangs, the reds and the greens, in case I wanted to add more complex scenarios later on.

Overall impression

Some of my best humble Japanese peasant miniatures yet
Some of my best humble Japanese peasant miniatures yet

I was pleasantly surprised with the miniatures. They have slightly cartoonish faces and poses compared to some other historical manufacturers, but this actually suited me perfectly. It's never wrong for the villains to look really villainous in skirmish games! Some parts needed a bit of modelling effort as gaps wouldn't glue perfectly, but nothing really upsetting.


Broken bows (they proved quite worthless in the game anyway)
Broken bows (they proved quite worthless in the game anyway)

The only big problem was that some parts just broke. The biggest offender here were the archers, as the Black Hat bows are extremely thin and prone to break. On top of the broken bows I had problems with scabbards and swords falling off, and naginatas breaking. However, this was to a certain degree because of us hosting a participation game.

As you might see, my painting of these were not the most detailed I've ever done, which made it easier to live with those casualties. The lesson here is never to bring your most fondly loved miniatures to a participation game! The Black Hat ronins served me well as Red Shirts. I even gave them some touch-ups when we got home as reward.

Final verdict

Ronin with naginata
Ronin with naginata

If you are looking for villains for a skirmish game, or a unit of peasants/ronins/brigands/poor ashigaru, you should really check this range out. I'd be cautious about the archers, depending on how likely your heart is to break in unison with your bows. Some of the sculpts are just a tiny bit off, but for me it is weighed up by the character of some of the other sculpts. I especially loved some of the sword armed ronin.

Comparison picture

I love that little ronin. He looks like he means business!
I love that little ronin. He looks like he means business!

Finally, the size. These are sold as 25mm, but could easily be used together with other 28mm manufacturers. From left, the picture shows a Black Hat ronin, a warrior monk from The Assault Group, a plastic ashigaru from Wargames Factory and an ashigaru from Perry Miniatures.


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Did you know...

Jimmu, meaning "the Divine Warrior", was according to legends the first Emperor of Japan around 600 B.C.
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