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An Introduction to Wargaming Miniatures


Broup of Britains Toy Soldiers

Well Loved Britain's Toy Soldiers

Lesley Shepherd


A wargame is a game that represents a military simulation now including fantasy situations. In the military world wargame, means a game, and war game (words separated) means the practice of war as carried out in a military training exercises.

A Brief History:

Die cast, metal toy soldiers were first used to teach battle scenarios. Non military wargaming began in 1898 with F. Jane’s set of rules for recreating famous sea battles.

The high cost of assembling complete armies of lead or tin soldiers meant early figures were collectibles, used to model famous battles.

The arrival of hex board wargames in the early 1960’s revived an interest in wargames. In the 70's and 80's the development of miniature figurines for fantasy games combined with other forms of gaming and the field of miniature wargames expanded to include science fiction and fantasy scenarios.

Popular Types of Wargames:

There are now three main groups of wargaming activity.

  • Fantasy miniature wargames: These include the popular Warhammer, Warmachine and The Lord of the Rings.

  • Historical Battlefield Wargames: traditional battlefield games include the Napoleonic wars, the American Civil War and ancient armies, such as Romans and Greeks.

  • Miniature naval wargames:recreate famous battles like Trafalgar and Jutland.

Skills Needed to Assemble a Collection:

In addition to the skills involved in playing the games and following fairly complicated rule structures, gamers create their own terrain using skills and materials similar to scale model railroading. They research historical periods and paint their tiny soldiers in accurate uniforms. Figures are usually made of plastic, lead (antiques), white metal or pewter. Many people will create and cast their own models. Others develop historically realistic rules.

Traditional Scales Used in Wargaming Miniatures:

In gaming, the scale isn't usually a scale but often denotes the height of the majority of the figures in the series.

  • 1:72 scale, most figures are 1 inch or 25 mm high.
  • 1:32 scale figures are 2 3/8 in. high (54-56mm).
  • 1:48 scale figures are 30mm high.

1:32 scale is the scale of Britain’s popular toy soldiers, vehicles and plastic farm animals. Many traditional sets of soldiers are this scale. Generally plastic toy soldiers are sold in 1:32 scale and 1:72 scale although the size may range to 1:35 scale for some brands.

Modern Minature Scales:

The smaller the figure, the larger the battle which can be recreated.

  • 1:285 scale (6mm) is the smallest, often called microarmour.
  • 5/8 in. or 15mm is the scale of some early Dungeons and Dragons figurines.
  • 1:80.5 7/8 in. or 20mm is commonly used for modern skirmish wargaming and science fiction games.
  • 1:64 1 1/4 in. or 25mm, (railway S scale) is popular for skirmish, historical, fantasy and role playing games (Dungeons and Dragons, WarHammer)and there are 28mm figures used for heroic or slightly larger than normal models in these sets which are becoming increasingly popular.

Model Ship wargaming is usually done with ships in scales of 1:1250 or 1:1200

Size Rather Than Scale:

Modern gaming miniature figures are mainly measured by height rather than scale, with all figures roughly equivalent to a standardized male height in size. Some companies produce their figures measured from the feet to the bridge of the nose, rather than from the feet to the top of the head as many figures have large headgear which distorts the size. For some manufacturers, height will be measured from the feet to the eyes, rather than feet to the top of the head. Ground or terrain is often not built to scale, with the figure being larger than the ground scale depending on the game. Ground or terrain scale is determined by the rule set.
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