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Designing and printing the samurai street fish ponds

2023-11-28 by David

Research trips are great fun, and great sources of inspiration! I recently took a trip to a historical samurai town to take plenty of reference photos for the new [...TOP SECRET PROJECT!!...] design I'm working on, and nearby I came across a truly unique feature of old towns, and just had to try and recreate those for the tabletop!


So here's a little explanation and background....


▲ Old Japanese samurai towns quite often had narrow water channels running alongside the streets in residential areas, and these were typically used for drainage from nearby farming and also as a convenient water source in case of fires.

▲ Some of those water channels are very clean and attractive features of the towns, and some tourism boards in historical towns have recently started repopulating the channels with koi carp, as in the photo above. The channels themselves are usually quite shallow (30cm or so), but enough to support large numbers of the colourful fish so popular with tourists.



So before I cracked on with test prints for the main [TOP SECRET] project, I got a little sidetracked with designing some modular sections of these water channels....

▲ Each section features a 25mm-wide shallow water channel, with edging stones on both sides. The water channel is only about 4-5mm deep, but is ideal for a thin layer of clear resin or thick gloss varnish. To make pouring resin a little easier, each section also has a thin 3mm-high lip at each end to contain liquid.


For anybody who would prefer not to have those lips on their water channels, they can be easily removed with a couple of quick cuts and then snapped out using pliers, as in the photo above.

▲ Here's a straight section where the end wall has been removed. Nice and neat!

▲ All of the sections are included with two versions - with and without a low railing. This low bamboo railing has been carefully designed to connect up with adjoining sections, and also to print without additional slicer supports.


You can simply print the file as is, and then cut out the built-in print supports circled in red in the photo above.

▲ Here's a selection of pieces I printed out for my town board. We've got straight sections (120mm long), some other straight sections featuring wider ponds (you can mirror these for more variety!), all 3 sizes of corner section, several wooden bridge pieces, a few end stones, and plenty of fish.


In addition to the individual koi carp models, the set also includes an easy-to-print 25mm circle of fish, which is ideal for showing the fish frenzy you'll sometimes see at feeding time! I even printed some of those circle groups at 35mm size, to be used in the wider pond sections.

▲ This photo shows the sections as they could be used alongside a residential street. The water channels would connect underground between each section, with small bridges over them leading to each house. I chose to print mostly the versions with the bamboo railing, purely for aesthetic reasons.


Don't worry! This layout will make SO much more sense when you see it painted and combined with other terrain!

▲ 3 sizes of corner section are included in the set. The smallest is just a 35mm square of water channel, which can be combined with other 120mm straight or pond sections to fit the corner sections from the Castle Walls set, as shown in the photo above.


These will also fit directly up against building walls such as the 120mm-long shop buildings.

▲ The biggest corner sections of the water channel (100mm) are designed to fit the corner sections from the Stone Walls set, so they can run alongside many types of residential walls.

▲ The middle size of corner section is designed to fit the corner pieces from the canal set, as shown in the photo above. Just in case you didn't already know, these canal pieces can also be used on dry land, as low platforms to lift up buildings, gardens and walkways.


The Samurai Street Fish Ponds set is just about to hit the paint desk, and will be ready for release in a few days! Get ready to enhance your tabletops!


Tags: samurai  printing  assembly 

Customer pics - a rural village shrine

2023-11-16 by David

Today we have some awesome customer pics to show you! This wonderfully natural and overgrown board was put together by Rob Didur, and shows great use of moss and lichen on pathways and buildings, to add a real sense of age.

▲ This is an overview of the board, on a plain green battlemat.

▲ Rows of rice paddies lie alongside the mossy and overgrown path.

▲ He's used multiple stone lanterns from the zen garden set, and carefully added moss to each one.

▲ Rob has also printed and combined multiple bamboo forest bases (from the big shrine set).

▲ That big rock is from the teahouse set, and again Rob has covered it in ancient moss.

▲ The green-hued pond is a good focal point for the torii gate entrance.

▲ The wood and rock roof for this old farmhouse building also looks fabulous with plenty of moss and lichen growing there.

▲ Rob has also modelled a couple of ponds, which look suitably grimy and murky.

▲ He's added a stone lantern and this bamboo deer-scarer to his second version of the pond.

▲ This last pic shows a brilliant idea Rob has come up with. Rather than individually print and assemble 10 moss-covered stone monuments, he has first combined all the individual pieces into one long row of monuments, and printing them in one go!


An excellent idea, and very easy to do in either modelling software such as 3DBuilder, or even in slicer software such as Cura.


A big round of applause for Rob, please, for this fantastic table!


Tags: samurai  painting 

Samurai Town Pics

2023-07-02 by David

We have a new display board in the studio, featuring our dojo, sumo ring, market stalls and shops. It makes a quaint little scene, so I thought you might be interested in taking a look at some of the pics....

▲ Lots of 'life' in this board, with all the market stalls along the town's streets.

▲ A local priest practices some archery outside the dojo.

▲ Looking down the main street.

▲ A thirsty local, sneaking a little drink outside the sake shop.

▲ Spectators for the sumo wrestling.

▲ A moment of thoughtful contemplation.


Tags: samurai 

Samurai battle report - Mayhem at the Market

2023-05-07 by David

Time for a game of Test of Honour!


Still my favourite ruleset for skirmish games in a samurai setting, this time we decided to play the "Unexpected Clash" scenario from the rulebook. The temple and market board currently on display downstairs in the studio was the perfect place to play this game, where the two forces start the game randomly scattered throughout the board.

▲ The setting for this game would be the main street outside the town temple, with a variety of great market stalls dotted along the road.

▲ Lord Nobu's forces would be the troops disturbing the peace. As always, Lord Nobu was accompanied by his deadly geisha consort Tomoko, this time supported by a 3-member team of onna-bugeisha warriors.


A samurai marksman was a new troop type that I was keen to test out. He's quite an investment in points (7 points, compared to the normal 4 for a lieutenant), but does have a useful skill allowing him to boost the skills of other musketmen firing at the same target. To make the most of that skill, he was supported by 2 regular musketmen.

▲ The temple forces were led by a head priest (in the white hood) and backed up by 3 guards with naginata, and 3 archers. They were also supported by the calming presence of a kneeling priest, who acts as a banner bearer for the troops.


The lieutenants were a rather angry shrine maiden named Reiko, and a mounted samurai. Perhaps his extra speed would aid in getting him back to the fight, wherever he was needed?

▲ The two forces are randomly scattered across the board at the start of the game.


Lord Nobu's forces are circled in red. There was a concentration of his troops on the street outside the pagoda (Lord Nobu himself is the double circle), with the samurai marksman on his own at the other end of the street.


The temple forces are circled in white, and were split into two main areas - the head priest and his archers were in the top corner behind the pagoda, and the rest of the troops were near the bridge. The ever-angry Reiko was on her own underneath the temple gate building, and would have some serious ground to make up to get in the fight!


The victory conditions were simple - the first force to inflict 12 points of damage wins the game!

▲ Lord Nobu's samurai marksman immediately opened fire on the temple guards, but failed to take one down. His supporting musketmen, seeing his intended target, also fired down from the far side of the board, and managed to blast one temple guard from his feet. Obviously, the wide lines of sight from the pagoda roof were helping!


The surviving guards panicked from this explosion of noise, and almost ran off the board before gathering themselves to return to the fight.

▲ The mounted samurai charged his horse forward across the market street and attempted to skewer that deadly marksman. But even with an extra dice bonus from facing an enemy armed only with a dagger, he failed to even hit him!


▲ The nearby temple guards, angered by the death of their friend moments ago, also charged in to attack the outnumbered marksman, and successfully cut him down! 


Lord Nobu : 0 points

Temple forces : 7 points

▲ At the other end of the table, the temple's head priest had charged over to the fish stall to quickly take care of one of those troublesome musketmen, but in his haste he slipped on the wet stones and managed to injure himself - Oops!


Lord Nobu jumped down from the pagoda's steps and quickly charged in on full attack against the head priest. Swords flashed faster than the eye could follow, but he was unable to penetrate the priest's defences.

▲ Before the shrine maiden Reiko could rush in to help the head priest, he was quickly surrounded by enemy forces. Lord Nobu seized his moment and grabbed a bucket of fish guts from the nearby stall (gaining an extra dice from this dishonourable act!), before throwing it all over the priest and rushing in to attack once more.


With the stinky fish guts splattered across his eyes, the priest was left defenseless and was mercilessly cut down! The victory points were evening up again....


Lord Nobu : 6 points

Temple forces : 7 points

▲ Lord Nobu, however, had underestimated the effect this disgraceful act would have on his troops! All that delicious food wasted!


His dishonourable action forced every model in his force to test their honour, and every single one of them failed their tests! They all fled directly away from the shameful act, and the closest musketman even ran off the board, never to return! This might cost Lord Nobu dearly....


Lord Nobu : 6 points

Temple forces : 9 points

▲ Lord Nobu's forces reined themselves in after their shamefaced flight, but this had brought them within range of the fast-moving samurai knight. He immediately charged the closest target, a lone ashigaru deserter, but failed to cut him down.


Meanwhile, the 3 onna-bugeisha warriors were moving up to charge the horse from the side!

▲ Next to the pagoda, the deadly geisha Tomoko suddenly halted in her flight from the atrocity at the fish stall, and spun around to charge into the shrine maiden Reiko. It had all been a sneaky trick!


Before Reiko could prepare herself, she found Tomoko's dagger stabbing out to slash across her arm. Ouch!


▲ The desperate fight at the other end of the street was hotting up, as supporting troops poured in to lend their aid. Even the normally calm priest tried a couple of charges on the onna-bugeisha, hoping to grab the 3 points needed to claim victory.


▲ But for now, things seemed to be locked in a stalemate of flashing blades and stamping hooves, as the two warbands slashed and parried.

▲ Instead it was the shrine maiden Reiko who finally broke the deadlock, by launching herself at the ever-sneaky Tomoko! Letting out all her anger at the disgraceful mistreatment of her master, she made a blistering attack on the geisha.... leaving Tomoko lying in a spreading pool of her own blood!


With that, victory belonged to the temple defenders!


Lord Nobu : 6 points

Temple forces : 13 points

▲ What a great game! After the early deaths of the expensive samurai marksman and the head priest, both sides were within sight of a victory, and it was then quite a struggle to inflict enough casualties while simultaneously keeping their own troops safe from harm.


Lord Nobu is no doubt looking forward to a rematch, especially now that the temple's head priest has been removed in such a callous manner. The defenders will surely fail next time?

      But more importantly, will Lord Nobu ever learn to fight honourably? His underhanded tactics had certainly cost him dearly this time!


Tags: battlereport 

Wiring the LED shop lantern

2023-05-06 by David

The Samurai Shop Set contains a new version of the LED lantern, which is in fact the 4th version we've produced. The first Wooden Lantern used a 20mm coin battery, as did the second lantern - the stone lantern from the Teahouse Set.


For the third version, the tall post lanterns from the Shrine Set, and this new shop sign version, we managed to switch out the size for a smaller 16mm coin battery. This meant that the size of the model required to conceal the battery was considerably reduced, as you can see in the next photo:



▲ You'll be happy to hear that the base of the new smaller lantern is interchangeable with the larger wooden lantern (it will need a smaller battery, though!), so you can choose to model a larger shop sign if you prefer, or add the roofed top to the smaller lantern base if you prefer.



▲ Here's what you'll need for wiring the shop sign lantern with an LED:


  • The 3D-printed body and top of the lantern
  • C1632 button battery (3V)
  • Small LED suitable for 3V


You'll find these in super cheap LED tealights, and if you're lucky you can get one that flickers! I bought a bag of 100 very cheaply ($6) here:


Simply slot the bulb's two wires into the holes, and then slot the battery into the underside of the lantern. That's it!





Note that the bulbs usually only work with the + side of the coin battery touching the longer wire. They don't seem to be reversible, so you might want to make a note underneath the lantern to show which side is the +.

▲ I've found that kitchen paper (baking sheet) is ideal for modelling the paper insert in a lantern, with the right amount of translucency. You can add the paper inside the top section, or you can glue it outside the bars, if you're adding kanji characters or illustrations.


Tags: LED  samurai  assembly 


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