Toysoldiers for Dummies – Part 1 (History)

History of Wargaming

Have you seen this?

HG Wells playing Little Wars

It’s H.G. Wells playing his wargame, Little Wars (or, to use the full title Little Wars: a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books.)

Wargaming really got started at the beginning of the 20th Century. Interestingly, it wasn’t just the H.G. Wells’ Little Wars rule set entirely responsible for the growth of Wargaming. Fred T. Jane published his set of naval war rules Jane’s Fighting Ships in 1898 that also helped spark interest in table top wargaming.

However, it was the efforts of John Edwin “Jack” Scruby who began producing historically accurate, inexpensive miniatures in 1955 that interest began to grow again. The first products he made were from type metal, typically used in refers to the metal alloys used in traditional type founding and hot metal type setting.

Scruby produced figures using rubber molds and sold the cast figures from his ship in central California. In 1958 he began selling figures of his own design for 15 cents(!) apiece. Most amazing of all, in 1963 Scruby began casting his figures in the 50/50 alloy of tin/lead that remained a practice of manufacturers well into the 1990s.

Scruby also organised the first US convention for miniatures and, in 1957, launched the first publication devoted to military miniatures gaming, called War Game Digest.

In 1975 Scruby introduced a line of fantasy figures using the 30mm scale advocated by Gary Gygax in Chainmail and appropriate for use with Dungeons & Dragons.

Jack Scruby Chainmail miniatures

So, as much as H.G. Wells is widely touted as the father of modern wargaming, it was really Jack Scruby who birthed the monster that we all know and love today.