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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Review: Battlefront's Japanese Cavalry Box Set (JBX04)

by Jeff Flint

One of the lists in Rising Sun that caught my eye was the Kihei Chutai....the Japanese Cavalry Company.  Though small, in comparison to a Cossack Battalion, they still have the cool factor.  Battlefront's latest release of JBX04 Japanese Cavalry Platoon brings this to the table. I was very pleased when Dirty Jon sent me the box to review.

So does Battlefront's boxset hit the mark?

Accuracy:  Again we have the little accuracy ding for the Heroic 15mm is the Battlefront style, but not 100% accurate.  Now, within that Heroic scale, were the troopers and horses proportional?

Let's get a historical baseline first:
Credit to "Tanaka" on

Credit to "Tanaka" on
No, I didn't model the horse hat....but I was Soooooo tempted to  :-)

Credit to "Tanaka" on
From these pictures we see that the horses were a mixed size...some being the "Steppe" pony size and maybe only a little shorter at the shoulder than the rider.  The horses in this set are of the Steppe pony size and fit nicely with the size of the trooper riding them.  Even when mixed with dismounts, the size of the riders and horse fit nicely.

The actual figures are also spot on proportionally to over sized hands, arms, etc... (am I sensing a pattern?)

One thing that worried me at first glance was the rifle.  In all the pictures above, the rifle barrel is sitting a little than the trooper's head.  Several of the figures have the rifle barrel hanging around shoulder high.  My warning bells were going off.  There are two trooper sculpts that have the rifle barrel up high and one that has it at shoulder high.  Looking closely you will see that the rifles are all the same length and the one rifle is just being carried lower and the trooper is actually adjusting the position of the rifle.

The other rifle worry is that this rifle looks a lot shorter than the Arisaka the Hohei infantry carried.  I was surprised to learn that his too is on the mark.  The Type 44 Arisaka the Cav troopers carried at this time was a shorter carbine and had a fold out bayonet (gotta have the pigsticker!).  The Type 38 Arisaka the infantry carried was 50.4 inches long and the Type 44 was only 38.03 inches. 
Credit to "Tanaka" on
Accuracy Rating:  10/10 within the Heroic 15mm scale.  These are some of the most accurate figures I have seen yet.  Even the tack, saddles, etc...are on the mark from what I could find.  Well done BF!

Quality:  Here, we had a few issues.  The riders had just a little flash and mold lines...especially on elbows, where on over half the figures there was a little "whisker" of metal that had to be filed down and minor mold line on the helmets.  Not TOO hard to take care of.  The horses, on the other hand, were in a bad way.  It wouldn't be a far stretch to say that I could have made an extra horse from all the flash I had to cut away....OK maybe it is a stretch to say that, but that is exactly what it felt like as I whittled away flash on EVERY horse...and I mean EVERY horse.  These had heavy flash either between the rear legs at the "crotch" of the horse or between the front legs at the chest...6 of the 22 horses had it at both locations.  And, it was just a little sliver of flash, some went down to the horses knees. Yes, it could be cut and filed away fairly easily, but it took extra time.  The reason this is such an issue with me is that my Polish Kawalierii didn't have the flash issue to this great extent.  With the 5 Polish horse sculpts, 4/5 are the same sculpts as the of the Japanese horses, the flash was very spotty and didn't touch both rear or both front legs.  For the Poles, it was only a little wisp of metal on the inside of a leg.  Could be, since the horses are sculpts already in use, the molds might have an issue?

Its a little hard to see but runs from chest to knee

When cutting the tail be careful or you will have a bob tail nag....I found that starting by cutting the bottom piece first worked best.

The other issue was a poor fit of some of the riders and the mounts.  I really had to file down the horses' backs and the cinches, as well as open up the legs of some riders to get a smooth fit where the saddle and blanket would ride flush to the horses back.  On one mount and horse, try as I might I couldn't get the fit right, so there is a little gap....I blame it on a bad bump the rider had and the blanket and saddle are shifting.  The story adds realism to the unit...yeah, that's adds REALISM to the story.  That's the ticket.

Quality Rating:  6/10  flash and mold lines were horrendous.  The poor fit of the riders on the horses also knocked the score down.

Versatility:  The set gives a very good mix of options to mix and match.  You get 2 command stands, 1 regimental banner stand and 4 cavalry stands.  You have a trooper with MG, 2 Troopers with rifles high and 1 trooper with rifle low as your standard mix per cavalry stand.  To mix that up a bit there are 2 other trooper poses (port arms in a soft cap) and trooper pointing.  Of these I had 3 and you will need one for your command stands, unless you use one of the 4 extra generic riders that were also in the set.  Command stands you have two of the guy with sword drawn, two with guy drawing sword and one of the regimental banner carrier.  So if this a second or third box set, you could mix this sculpts into the rank and file for further diversity.

Single MG Sculpt
To add to the mix you have four different horse sculpts... one pose that is standing, two that are trotting, and one that is galloping.

You can also use this box set to represent 2 squads and the command element of a Manchurian Cavalry Platoon.  A full platoon of these guys has 4 squads of 2 cavalry stands each.

Versatility Rating: 8/10.  Not too bad....but just 1 MG gunner pose when you get 2 different poses in the Hohei set?  For the rifle troopers, you can get up to 5 different poses and mix up the stands pretty well.

Paintability:  The strong pattern I have seen recently continues....deep crisp detail (even once all the flash and mold lines are removed).  I painted the troopers exactly as the Hohei except for the color tab that I painted 969 Park Green.  The tack and saddle are pretty basic...Vallejo 984 Flat Brown and the blanket is 914 Green Ochre.  The little bedroll at the back of the saddle I did to match the canvas straps and bread bag....830 German Fieldgrey.

Now, what color were the horsies they had....were they all browns?

From these pictures we can see we have several shades of brown, a white/grey, and even a black.  To match these colors I used 989 Sky Grey, 995 German Grey, 872 Chocolate Brown, 873 US Field Drab, 921 English Uniform, and 871 Leather Brown.  The different shades of brown help add to the diversity of the units.

Paintability Rating:  10/10  Excellent pattern...keep it up!

Overall Rating:  8.5/10.  The heavy flash brought the score way down.  If the quality was the average I have seen from Battlefront, it would have earned at least an 8 score which would have brought this set up to a 9/10.  The flash wasn't bad enough to the point these were miscasts and I had to call BF Customer Service, and I would have had replacements in less than a week; but, was bad enough to bring this particular review score down.  This also shows that the review copies we get aren't special "high quality runs" (if there is such a thing) just for reviews.  Big question is...."Will I buy another box set?" and the answer is least one to allow me to run the Manchurian Cav Platoon.... MAYBE 2 more to run 3 full platoons in a Kihei Chutai.

OK, now what do these look like....HIT IT....PICTURE TIME!

Company Commander and 2iC Regimental Banner:

1st Platoon:

Special thanks The Foundry in Huntsville, Alabama for allowing me to use their tables and terrain to take these pictures.  I have been remiss in several of my past reviews for failing to mention their support.

SonBae (AKA Jeff Flint) is a long time gamer and painter and runs a blog at Journey Back To The Table where he posts photos of his work, reviews, BatReps and the “Painting Miniatures Declassified” modeling and painting tutorials.

Models provided by Battlefront Miniatures

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