Review: Japanese basing elements by Darkmessiah Bases

Darkmessiah bases logo

I’ll say it now, I have ‘a thing’ for basing, I love it, creating the worlds, scenes and stories of the models I enjoy painting is as satisfying to me as the painting itself.

Recently I’ve had a hankering for some reasonably traditional Japanese scenic elements that I could use with Infinity figures. (I don’t play Infinity but I do enjoy their mecha and heavily Japanese styled troops)

In a happy coincidence, John from Darkmessiah Bases got in touch and suggested I give their new Japanese Basing Elements a go. I’d seen the work in progress shots earlier in the year and they looked excellent, but me being me, I totally forgot (I have a pretty terrible memory brought on by a car accident many years ago, apparently they’re not really supposed to be driven upside down), but the finished items looked even better, so I ordered a set.

So what’s this set like then? Well, according to the website it includes:

  • 1 x 28mm Japanese Doors
  • 1 x 28mm Japanese Floors
  • 1 x Japanese Jizo Statues
  • 1 x Japanese Daruma Dolls
  • 1 x Japanese Fox Statues
  • 1 x Japanese Lanterns
  • 1 x Japanese Gravestones
  •  1x Fantasy Koi Fish

But this doesn’t really tell the full story, even checking out what each individual piece on the website is, doesn’t really prepare you for the healthy stack of resin that’s included in the set,

Darkmessiah box

It’s a decent sized box, and as I’ve mentioned in a previous post I’m quite used to receiving scenery & basing pieces arriving in plastic bags, so having a box to store them in was a welcome change.

Contents of the box

thanks to some clever organisation and casting of the sprues there’s a lot of stuff in the box without it being packed so tight it gets damaged. I would like to draw attention to the stack of white foam-core in the bottom left too….that’s the fantasy Koi fish, and having them protected like that is a superb touch because they are quite delicate. I’ve seen far more delicate things that didn’t have any kind of protection and the results can be disastrous.

Before I go into the details of each piece, a quick note about the casting, it is very very good, I only found a couple of bubbles on the lanterns, mostly on corners which wouldn’t be too difficult to fix. As with any resin casts, it is not unusual to get bubbles, especially on complex shapes like these. Had the same small bubbles been on all the other parts the set would still be great, that’s how small they are.

But the best news is this….all the other parts are flawless, I couldn’t find a single bubble on any of the other parts (and believe me I looked hard, A good review should cover both good and bad in an objective manner), in fact the only casting flaw I could find on any of the other pieces, was a tiny bit of mould slip on the wall sections, even then its on a flat , non-detailed edge of the piece, something a quick sand will get rid of in short order.

Japanese lanterns

Right, now let’s get to the meat of this review, what are the pieces and what are they like?

First off we have the door set, which includes 4 doors. they come mounted on a sturdy resin peg  (Darkmessiah has used this throughout the set, using a bit of extra resin to ensure everything is solid and won’t detach from its peg whilst being posted (I’m sure my local sorting office is staffed by the Miami Dolphins American football team judging from the state of some parcels).

Japanese doors

the designs on the doors are crisp and well detailed. And befitting the theme they are free of any sculpted damage, with some really nicely designed elements to them such as a demons head (an ‘Oni’ in Japanese, which can be anything from a demon to an ogre) and geometric shapes. The doors themselves are quite thick so they could easily be used as the back wall of a plinth display

Door on plinth example

I only had a 50mm plinth handy (the doors are 40mm wide and 50mm tall) but you can already see how they could be used to create a nice scene with the door as an extension of the plinth

the idea that you can combine these parts to form a display is echoed in the floor panels, which are 40mm square so that they match the width of the door piece, they’re also not quite as intricately detailed as the doors, which is perfect, if they were too detailed the pieces wouldn’t look as good as they do when matched with the doors.

Japanese floors

plinth example 2

The Jizo Statues and Daruma Dolls (which look quite similar to a Matryoshka doll from Russia) come in two different sizes (four of each size on the sprue). interestingly the sculpts for the two sizes are different and in this age of 3d printing everything it’s nice to see high-quality hand sculpted items.

Jizo Statues

Daruma Dolls


My personal favourite is the gravestones, they are very realistic with lovely crisp detail on the text, there are 8 in the set and all are different, so creating something like a graveyard scene would be very easy to do with no duplicate headstones.

Japanese headstones

The final pieces in the set, the fox statues and the fantasy Koi are also of excellent quality, although the foxes will require a saw to remove them from the resin sprue (not a huge deal but worth mentioning). The Koi look like they could be very fiddly to work with, but this is in no way a reflection of the sculpting or casting quality. Let’s face it if you’ve ordered a scale fish for a 28mm scene, fiddly is exactly what you should be expecting. There are 3 fish in the set, again, all different sculpts, which are smooth too which I like, had the sculptor tried to put the scale pattern on, I think it would have ruined the look of the fish and made it harder to apply paint.

Fox Statues

Fantasy Koi Fish


In conclusion

Overall I was really very pleased with the Japanese basing elements set, excellent quality, great casting and a very interesting subject. With lots of Japanese themed miniatures on the market at the moment, this is a must-have for those of us wanting to do displays, and for the wargamers amongst us, they could easily be used as nice scenery for a Japanese themed board.

I hope you enjoyed my review, until next time!






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