Pendraken, AIM and Irregular all make 10mm samurai figures suitable for the Sengoku period.
Available 10mm infantry figures are comparable in size; your army will get the best visuals if you mix them all. There are some differences, though, and somewhat different areas of usefulness.
|Pendraken||Very active, often running||Extensive||Very well sculpted, little flash, fine featured figures||Essential as go-kenin (attendants to mounted samurai) and early sengoku (Onin war-style) ashigaru|
|AIM||Semi-active||Very extensive||Very well sculpted, little flash, large featured figures||Essential as late ashigaru with standard-issue equipment (esp. nagae-yari wielders)|
|Irregular||Quite static||Limited||Well sculpted, limited flash||Their figures all have variations in headgear, some have straw raincoats etc. Useful for all types that should look relaxed.|
Pendraken and AIM form the backbone of my infantry; Irregular fill them out. Some notes on usage:
Several of Pendraken's figures have an earlyish sengoku feeling; e.g. their ashigaru bowman has no armour, and their Ashigaru Spear has no jingasa helmet, just a hachimaki head band. All samurai cavalry were attended by go-kenin; these are probably best made with Pendraken's running figures, though I mix in some AIM for variety. Pendraken's "SAM8 Ashigaru Naginata" is very useful; with a straightened weapon it is a charging yari-wielding ashigaru in standard-issue ashigaru kit. Their armed peasants make for great variety.
AIM's ashigaru all have standard-issue ashigaru kit (with jingasa "lamp shade" helmet and armour). This makes them very useful, especally for later Sengoku armies. Beware that some packs contain the same figure; e.g. the two figures in their "Ashigaru w/Yari" pack are two of the four figures in their "Ashigaru w/Various Weapons". My units of nagae-yari are made with AIM's figures, with a back rank of Irregular's TSAM6 or TSAM7 (with long spears modified by me). AIMs figures are more "chunky" both in armour style and facial features than Pendraken, but not enough to be a problem.
Although Irregular has the weakest range, their figures will enhance the visuals of your army when complementing the other brands. I like the variety their straw raincoats can provide. None of Irregular's figures have yari, just naginata. This is unfortunate. TSAM6 is possibly the most useful 10mm samurai figure on the market (naginata-wielding ashigaru in standard-issue kit, standing at attention), doing time as nagae-yari wielder or banner bearer (I exchange his short naginata for a long piano wire) and a host of "standing around"-related tasks.
Samurai on foot should be a mix of all brands. All brands have good missile-armed figures.
The ranges seem well researched, though there are some historical problems.
AIM's "Samurai w/Long Yari" is strange; samurai never fought in drilled formations using that long weapon. The figures look good with cut-down spears, though, or as standard bearers.
Pendraken's archer and some of AIM's archers draw their arrows over the shoulder. This is incorrect; arrows were drawn directly from the short holster by reaching under the armpit.
Samurai only wore one sword when in armour. AIM has them with two swords.
The gun carriage Irregular has is clearly European and should be modified.
IMO the "Samurai w/Long Yari" is not acceptable to use without cutting down the weapon. I have also modified the Irregular gun carriage, but ignore the other issues.
Pendraken and AIM cavalry don't mix at all; Pendraken horses are small while AIM horses are big. I use Pendraken and Irregular cavalry together; this gives a good choice between active and passive poses. Samurai horses were small (130cm to the shoulder) so it can't be that bad. As I don't own many horses of the third brand I think it's unfair of me to comment much on mounted figures; buy samples from all and take it from there. I have a few AIM horse which I use mixed in with Irregular horse, this is OK.
There are few manufacturers of suitable 10mm samurai buildings on the market.
Seeing an unfulfilled need, I designed some buildings and started Orten Miniatures which sells a few houses and a small hirajiro plains castle through Shapeways. The buildings are IMO very nice and historically accurate. If you need buildings I do not have, send me a note - I'll design it for you if I can use it myself.