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I Need Sources For The History of Wargaming and Roleplay Miniatures

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Hello, compatriots! I am a college student in desperate need of useful sources of information! I have taken upon the task of writing my final project in my composition class on the history of wargaming and tabletop miniatures. Painting miniatures is potentially my biggest hobby, and it seemed like an excellent topic for a paper. I need to do a 12-minute elevator pitch of my paper next Friday, and the paper itself must be 2,500 words and is due at the end of the semester (May 5th).


The issue is, I'm having difficulty finding sources that I can cite. I'd go hunting for books, but I don't have a whole ton of time to wait for shipping. So, I've come to you folks. If there are any sources that you are aware of that will help me in my journey, please post them here. If there are important people I could potentially email and ask questions of, that would be cool, too. I already have some info with W. Britain beginning production of hollow lead toy soldiers and the publication of H.G. Welles' "Little Wars". I'd like to know more about when and how painting miniatures for wargames became a hobby of its own, major changes in the miniature manufacturing industry, key players, where we are today, etc.

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Not really much I know of in the way of books about the subject.


There are histories on the web, but I can't vouch for them.


If you Google histories of various company names you can find things.





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Ok, so basically you want Henry Hyde’s Wargaming Compendium chapter 2 and all of its footnoted bibliography.


You also want Jon Peterson’s Playing at the World, Chapters 3.1.5 through 3.1.7 and all of those footnotes.



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Might as well take a look at the very early Little Wars by Herbert George Wells.

"LITTLE WARS" is the game of kings—for players in an inferior social position. It can be played by boys of every age from twelve to one hundred and fifty—and even later if the limbs remain sufficiently supple—by girls of the better sort, and by a few rare and gifted women. This is to be a full History of Little Wars from its recorded and authenticated beginning until the present time, an account of how to make little warfare, and hints of the most priceless sort for the recumbent strategist....

But first let it be noted in passing that there were prehistoric "Little Wars." This is no new thing, no crude novelty; but a thing tested by time, ancient and ripe in its essentials for all its perennial freshness—like spring. There was a Someone who fought Little Wars in the days of Queen Anne; a garden Napoleon. His game was inaccurately observed and insufficiently recorded by Laurence Sterne. It is clear that Uncle Toby and Corporal Trim were playing Little Wars on a scale and with an elaboration exceeding even the richness and beauty of the contemporary game. But the curtain is drawn back only to tantalise us. It is scarcely conceivable that anywhere now on earth the Shandean Rules remain on record. Perhaps they were never committed to paper....

And in all ages a certain barbaric warfare has been waged with soldiers of tin and lead and wood, with the weapons of the wild, with the catapult, the elastic circular garter, the peashooter, the rubber ball, and such-like appliances—a mere setting up and knocking down of men. Tin murder. The advance of civilisation has swept such rude contests altogether from the playroom. We know them no more....


The Auld Grump

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 Peter cushing needed to work on his terrain skills ... a frankly under appreciate skill that makes any army on the table look better ..


 And yes, I have little wars downloaded to my phone , it was my first reference when I started writing a sci-fi tabletop game of my own ... it is well worth looking into.


 I would also take a hard look at war hammer 2nd edition , it was a major game changer in the market and helped get the industry to the point it is today ..

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For the origins of wargaming (as opposed to miniature painting/collecting) I would suggest that you follow links and research into Kreigspiel; the system used to teach Prussian officers the rudiments of tactics during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. A lot of modern wargaming and board games trace their ancestry back to this system. 

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So, looking over the advice that I posted, I was leaning more toward the history of the gaming side...but...


Most of the early books (1960s) spend a fair amount of time discussing the hobbying aspects of this;  so War Games (Donald Featherstone, 1962) has a section on how to make a mold to cast your own figures, and both War Games and How to Play War Games in Miniature (Morschauser, 1962) list Bob Bard's Making and Collecting Military Miniatures (1959, rev. 1962) in their bibliographies.  From the description (I don't hav a copy), that was likely the handbook for what you needed to know about painting and modeling at the dawn of modern wargaming history.  Most of the early books also had lists of miniatures manufacturers, so you could organize the books by date and scan the lists to see when players pop up and disappear.


Early sources of miniatures included Jack Scruby, SAE ("Swedish African Engineers"; sculpted by Holger Eriksson, who also sculpted the Spencer Smiths, at least the 18th century figures, and the 40mm semi flats still sold as molds by Prince August), Elastolin (plastic 40mm figures used for the earliest games that grew into D&D), Airfix 1/72 scale plastics, and various German Zinnfiguren (or "flats") manufacturers.  War Games included three sample games played out in some detail, an ancients game played with Tony Bath's collection of German flats, an American Civil War game which the author helpfully notes that the figures are a mix of SAEs, Scrubys, and Spencer-Smith plastics, and a WWII game with Airfix infantry and an eclectic selection of vehicles including an Airfix kit, a plaster cast home conversion, and a Matchbox halftrack.


The first officially "fantasy" line of miniatures produced was from Minifigs (Miniature Figurines, Ltd.). Their "ME" (Mythical Earth) range was introduced in 1972. http://www.miniatures-workshop.com/lostminiswiki/index.php?title=Mythical_Earth  I have been painting a bunch of them lately, in a retro project revisiting my start in the hobby:



Once you get to the start of fantasy (that is, once D&D took off starting in 1974), companies and sculptors were popping up all over.  Tom Meier was an the powerhouse behind early Ral Partha, "Duke" Seifried had his hand in several companies, particularly Heritage (and Heritage recasts were among the earliest Reaper products, btw), which had great influence on the rest of the particularly fantasy hobby.  Duke introduced a lot of what Games Workshop eventually perfected in terms of selling an integrated line of scenics, paint (some of the first acrylics I saw), miniatures, and rules.


I could write 2500 words off the top of my head ::D:, but footnoting it would be the hard part...

Edited by Rob Dean
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