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"Original Wargame and Miniatures Retail Shops" Topic

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NedZed02 Feb 2016 12:56 p.m. PST

I read this posting on the WDDG site and thought I'd share it, in case anyone would like to contact John directly:

"I get questions about the history of wargaming every month, but this one is outside my knowledge

"I'm a Master's student writing thesis about wargames and I have question for you – I need to know how the first hobbystores with wargames (and miniature wargames) looked like at the beginning – did they offer a space for playing? Were the Games Workshop shops different? If so, how then? "

So, it is a question for the more mature wargamers amongst us. Does anyone have any ideas?


John Curry
Editor of The History of Wargaming Project
Twitter "

Grelber02 Feb 2016 1:29 p.m. PST

I don't believe Bonnie Brae Hobbies in Denver had gaming tables the first time I visited them back in December 1974. Prior to then, I'd gone to stores that sold model airplanes, electric trains, and other things in addition to figures and games, and they certainly didn't have gaming tables.


PJ ONeill02 Feb 2016 1:31 p.m. PST

The only excuse I have for adding my 2 cents here is that I'm relatively old (63)
I think wargame shops pre-date anything GW had done by a number of years.
The first hobby shop that I ever saw that had anything to do with gaming was the toy soldier shop (can't remember the name) outside of the West Point Military Academy in NY, probably in the late '60s. It specialized in 54mm "Britans" with a few smaller scale (25mm, no gaming space.
Then there was the Complete Strategist (at 1 time 3 stores)in NYC, it sold mostly boardgames during the '70 and '80s, and each had some gaming space in the back. It specialized in Avalon Hill and SPI games. That was my first introduction to gaming.

21eRegt02 Feb 2016 1:40 p.m. PST

In the early 70s Chick Bartlett's Hobby Town in Lincoln, NE was the source for models, trains and the limited miniatures available. Being a college town and right next to the university campus he kept a wide range of things. It was there I got my first Airfix Napoleonics and some GHQ(?) metal figures with interchangeable heads.

After Chick retired Merle Hayes took over and turned into a gaming center, catered to miniature players as well as modelers, and set up a small gaming area. He opened a second, larger shop that had dedicated gaming area. So by the later part of 70s there were two Hobby Lobbys in town and franchises were expanding all over following the formula. Around 100 nation-wide at one time. Certainly Hobby Lobby was a pioneering place at the time.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 1:47 p.m. PST

I think you meant Hobby Town in the second paragraph, not Hobby Lobby. Two completely different types of stores with Hobby Town being the one that would have gaming space.


Calico Bill02 Feb 2016 1:48 p.m. PST

I first saw games like Avalon Hill Tactics II and Blitzkrieg at "Colonial Photo & Hobby",Orlando, FL in 1963. They had lots of kits, models, and cameras. The AH games were on a bottom shelf near other boardgames. No gaming area obviously!

Richard Brooks Sponsoring Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 2:10 p.m. PST

I frequented several hobby shops that sold figures:
Packard-Bambergers, Hackensack, NJ,
Davis Toys, Teaneck, NJ
Hiway Hobbies, Ramsey, NJ
another one in Hackensack, NJ
Polk Hobbies in NYC
None of these stores had tables for gaming. This is all pre-1964. The first place I remember seeing that sold figures and had a table or two was Rusty Scabbard in Lexington, KY in the mid to late-1970s.

Hafen von Schlockenberg02 Feb 2016 2:16 p.m. PST

First dedicated miniatures wargames store I ever visited was The Little Soldier, Ed Konstant's second floor shop in Wheaton,MD. Would have been 73 or so. Two small rooms,but there was a small games table. The first time I was there,a 15mm napoleonics game was going on. I was hooked.

Something you'd never see today:Ed had home-made cardboard trays,divided and labeled on metal shelves,into which he emptied the boxes of Hinchliffe and Minifigs,so you could buy exactly the number you needed. He even provided a pair of diagonals,to snip off however many of the Minifigs 15mm strip figures you wanted.

I won't say "those were the days", but some things have definitely been lost.

Guthroth02 Feb 2016 2:18 p.m. PST

Here in the UK, in the 1970s I frequented 3 shops where 25mm Hinchcliffe figures were sold alongside other 'toys'. At least two of them catered for everything from pre-school to radio controlled aircraft. There were no gaming tables at all.

I was also a regular patron of the first two Games Workshop establishments. The first was – literally – a pair of offices behind an estate agent (Realtor). The second premises was in Dalling Road (shown in a photo on this webpage – link ).

That was where I saw the first shop gaming table ever.

Wackmole9 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 2:24 p.m. PST

My 1st game store was Downtown Hobbies in Denver, Co in 1971. I was 10 years old and my brother dragged me on the bus to go there. It was a classic packed to the ceiling Hobby store and I was hooked. I spent all my $$$ on Airfix Civil war figures and went home and came up with my first Miniatures game. At the time Denver had manyl great Shops like Thompsons Hobbies, Judson's, Jimbo's world of Miniatures, and Bonnie Brea.

ironicon02 Feb 2016 2:59 p.m. PST

Korr's Hobby shop in D.C. 1964.No gaming of course.

chuck05 Fezian02 Feb 2016 3:00 p.m. PST

The first hobby shop I went into was in the late 70's in the mall near my home. I was probably seven years old. It was mostly a model shop but he sold some of the early Grenadier and Ral Partha figures as well as D&D modules. Later on he ditched much of the hobby products in favor of renting VHS videos. He still carried D&d modules and brought in some other games Like Chill and Marvel Super Heroes.

The first dedicated game sore I went into was around 1988. It was a small shop near the local city college. They had one gaming table in a cramped basement. The place was heaven though. They had a great selection of Sci Fi and Fantasy figures form a variety of manufacturers. They also carried a healthy selection of Roleplaying, board games, and historical figures.

DisasterWargamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 3:04 p.m. PST

In the early 70s came across several that had a table where there was a game laid out – usually something the owner was playing – One in Hyannis, MA, one in ME and another in London – though I don't remember their names.

Edwulf02 Feb 2016 3:38 p.m. PST

I don't rember the pre-GW days.

I remember Beatties in Birmingham had a section of plastic wargaming figures in the mid to late 80s with osprey books and later metal wargaming figures.

Tamworth used to have a model shop which sold tons of plastic soldier kits. No table though.

First purely wargaming shops I found were on holiday in Plymouth or Portsmouth and they had more metal non GW figures than Id over seen in my life. I picked up some mini figs there. No wargaming table. There was a market seller in Sutton Coldfield who sold GW, other fantasy ranges and 2nd hand video games. He don't have a table but when he relocated to lichfield he had a small table.

John Leahy02 Feb 2016 3:48 p.m. PST

I first went into the Tin Soldier near Dayton, OHIO in 74-75. They carried Custom Cast and Hinchcliffe figs. Books, paints, Ospreys, other books, Ral Partha and Minifigs.

I walked in and saw 2 tables loaded with Custom Cast and Hinchcliffe LOTR figs. Lonely Mountain and Smaug were on the table. All figs were painted. I was blown away. Bought figs, etc. that day and have never looked back.

lloydthegamer Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 4:16 p.m. PST

I first visited American Eagles in Seattle in 1969. If memory serves me, they catered to modelers and Wargamers with table spaces set up for gaming. It was a great shop and lasted for quite a few years, just within the last 5 years finally going out of business.

Personal logo Gonsalvo Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 4:18 p.m. PST

The Soldier Shop in NYC – more militaria, but carried collector and wargames figures, painrs, rules – no tables.

War and Pieces, West Hartford CT, 1970's to ? 2000, had tables in the basement by the late 1970's at least.

d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 5:22 p.m. PST

Wow. The 70s In Jan, 1971 I had just gotten out of the Army, after 3 years and a tour of Viet Nam. I wondered about America going to colleges and universities doing interesting jobs.
Brookhurst Hobbies, in L.A. was crammed to the cieling with the neatest, cutting edge models and miniatures anywhere. There were 5 or 6 others specializing in Roco (I remember the first Stuarts and Opel blitzes), or scenery, or Esci, or roll-playing (just taking hold.
Oh, and Valley Plaza Hobbies up in North Hollywood was always featured in the model magazines (whose offices were just down the road).
In San Francisco, the Last Grenadier was hard to beat. I saw the first miniature 'trees' (the ones that spin). It was like a forest. I knew that I had to become rich someday to afford all of the choice stuff. Almost all wargames here and I think there was at least one table in the back. I never got past the forest…
I worked at Polk's Hobbies in '72 or '73. I at first auditioned for the train floor, but didn't know the difference from a 0-4-0 and a caboose. About 3 weeks later an opening on the 3rd floor, military miniatures, and I got it. I had to weer a bow tie! There was no gaming, but clubs liked to meet there on new product night. There was a board for posting stuff and I met a couple of board gamers there.
I was in Loveland Colo for a while and they had a neat little toy store that had a small 'gaming' section. Models and roleplaying competing for the same shelf space. Fort Collins had a good hobby shop with some wargaming stuff, but again no tables. Way out in Greely, Colo, there was a nice train shop that carried a lot of Roco. Well worth the drive. I vaguely remember a couple of Denver hobby shops.
It seems a lot of the action in the 70s was conventions. Orc Con had great boardgame tournaments and miniature demos, but role-playing eventually dominated the convention and sapped my interest.
There were more but the foggy memories will have to rise up…

FusilierDan02 Feb 2016 5:33 p.m. PST

As a kid the stores I bought from were, Woolworths for Aifix
Duane's Toyland had Chainmail, Hardtack and some other rules and another store whose name I forget had Wargamers Newsletter. No gaming space. This was in the late '60s-'70s.

In the mid '80s in VA there was The Little Soldier and another store out near Chantilly they both carried lot's of figures and rules and also had table space in the store.

john lacour02 Feb 2016 5:36 p.m. PST

Hobby Hangout in easton, pa. My father would take me there in the mid '70's for airfix soldiers.
They had a 6x4 table for naps. That was about '77.

DuckanCover02 Feb 2016 5:40 p.m. PST

Spotswood Hobbies in New Jersey was carrying Airfix HO/OO scale figures in 1968, along with the predictable variety of other hobby goodies. No gaming space then.

Bergs Hobbies in Parramatta had Roco Minitanks and Airfix figures in 1972…. no gaming space there either(or since).

Fantastic Toys and Hobbies in the Angel Arcade in Sydney had CinC micro armor and, I believe, Avalon Hill Boardgames, in 1972. No playing area though.

Hobbyco didn't have space for game play back in the day but, strangely, I can't recall how much miniatures related product they carried……

Unless it occurred during their sunset years, I don't think Tin Soldier in Sydney ever had gaming space. I reserve comment on their last ten years or so, since I rarely visited in that time.

In Sydney anyway, I was under the impression that playing areas in retail spaces emerged in the mid to late eighties.


jdpintex02 Feb 2016 5:41 p.m. PST

Got my first war game in the early 70s from a game store in the mall in Houston. No in store gaming.

My first miniatures were seen at a model/hobby store in Austin in the early 80s. No in store gaming.

First time I saw in store gaming was at the Lasr Grenadier in Burbank around 1990.

Extrabio1947 Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 6:00 p.m. PST

Yes, The Soldier Shop. It's where I bought my copy of "Charge, Or How To Play Wargames." They also had a nice selection of Suren's Willie Figures.

Russ Lockwood02 Feb 2016 6:00 p.m. PST

Back in the fall of 1977, there was a store in Syracuse, NY that had a table or two in the back for role-playing. At the time, we didn't play with miniatures, but the DM's girlfriend was an artist and would show pictures of the monsters and so on.

The Complete Strategist in NYC, call in mid 1980s(?) had piles and piles of board wargames and probably miniatures. The store in Montclair, opened, er, um, late 1980s or early 1990s, had miniatures, where I bought two boxed armies that needed to be painted and what turned out to be unfathomable rules called Shock of Impact.

An independent store opened up in the mid 1990s on Rt3 46 in Clifton, NJ (?) that had tables, but as I recall, it was all board wargames.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 7:02 p.m. PST

My first was probably Hobby Chest in Skokie, and a couple of hobby and card shops in downtown Glen Ellyn IL. Hobby Chest had real metal, which I couldn't afford, the others had Airfix figures and Roco Mini-Tanks which I could barely afford. None of these had gaming space.

The first store I knew where you could game was Charlie Prosek's shop in Winfield, IL. It was in a green house operation and had a huge sand table. That place was great, and so was Charlie (USMC in Korea).

I also got to visit a wonderful shop in London in the mid-1970s, just down from the Imperial War Museum. It was there I learned that Der Kriegspieler Napoleonics were Hinton Hunt knock-offs, from a shopkeeper who was quite animated about the subject. It's also where I found my first pair of averaging dice.

I think wargame shops pre-date anything GW had done by a number of years.

I know that to be true – GW came around in the 1980s, I'd been going to gaming stores since the 1960s (tagging along with my older brothers).

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian02 Feb 2016 7:38 p.m. PST

1968, Berkeley Hardware in Berkeley CA, Airfix and RoCo in quantity. 1974, San Antonio Hobbies in Santa Clara for my first Micro Armor. Later Centurion Hobbies opened in Concord CA (SPI, TSR and the rest of the model and gaming world

Personal logo gamertom Supporting Member of TMP02 Feb 2016 8:02 p.m. PST

The first store I recall with a gaming table was The Yankee Peddler in Knoxville, TN (actually it was in the western suburbs of Knoxville, but close enough). it originally opened as a general hobby store and then gradually changed into a gaming store. The owner placed a gaming table in the back around 1977 and soon a regular group met there on weekends. Later space was rented in an adjacent space to expand the gaming area. I have no idea if it is still around or not.

I was going to mention Charlie Prosek's shop and see that Mserafin has already done so. It was a wonderful store and he was one great guy.

rmaker02 Feb 2016 8:31 p.m. PST

The first gaming store in the Twin Cities (mid-60's) was actually the back end of a music store! RW Music Supply. The owner was a figure collector and started carrying gaming books and figures as well as 54's. No in-store gaming, but you could listen to customers trying out instruments in the other half of the store.

snurl102 Feb 2016 9:52 p.m. PST

The Hobby shops around Lancaster used to carry model kits, trains, RC cars, and Avalon Hill Games with no game space in the store, unless you dared to use the model railroad. Figures were added to their lineup, first Airfix, then some micro armor and Confederals. Figures really boomed in the later '70s with the D&D stuff.
The first time I saw a dedicated gaming table in a store was at a Comic Store, which happened to sell figures and games too.

TMPWargamerabbit02 Feb 2016 10:21 p.m. PST

I remember Brookhurst hobbies ( Garden Grove CA) and San Antonio hobbies (Santa Clara?) back in the mid seventies as visited places. They had been around for years before that. Also Valley Plaza hobbies (North Hollywood) had miniatures in 1974. Mentioned by d88mm1940 above also.

My first painted Airfix miniatures date from 1971.

BattlerBritain03 Feb 2016 4:43 a.m. PST

Where's Leon Adler?

Leon ran a shop called 'Gamer' in Sydney Street in Brighton, UK, when I was growing up there, back in 1976 I think.

My mates and I used to go there and pick up miniatures and boardgames and it was bliss.

On a Saturday there would be queues out the door and Leon and his colleagues would be hemmed in behind the till in the corner. I doubt they could even get a 'comfort' break for all the people in the shop – you couldn't move.

I got my first GHQ figures there (Chieftains) and my first boardgame: SPI's Air War. What a game to start with.

My mates were into D&D and they could do some of that stood in the store, but really there wasn't room to swing a cat due to the number of people.

When Computer games came along Leon had to move to a bigger shop but the shop wasn't as busy. It was still good though :)

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2016 5:34 a.m. PST

In Raleigh, NC, USA there was opened in 1968 a shop called
the Armory. It was primarily a way for the owner to get
1/35th armor and aircraft models which otherwise were
not available anywhere between Washington DC and
Atlanta Ga.

He was also a figure collector (54's) and I prevailed upon
him to run games in the hallway (no room in the shop) on

These proved very popular and after about 6 months, he
rented an additional room, installed a 6' x 10' sandtable
and ran games w/e and nights.

As the shop prospered, he was able to rent the entire
(basement) floor and provide rooms for boardgames, RPG's
and of course miniatures. This was in the early 70's
but the genesis was in 1968.

The shop finally closed in 1983 (the building's owner
kept raising the rent), but others followed and now there
are in the metro area a half-dozen gaming shops with
tables and BG/RPG space.

davbenbak03 Feb 2016 6:27 a.m. PST

Early 70's was Village Hobby in the Village Shopping Center in Victoria, TX. No tables but lots of trains and models and Airfix 1/72's

Late 70's was King's Hobby in Austin, which is still there, same location. Still no tables but tons of games, trains, models and mini's. If only I had thought to buy out their Minifigs when they went on clearance!

Ashurman03 Feb 2016 6:28 a.m. PST

At first (1965-ish), outside of Philadelphia Avalon Hill, Airfix, and Roco, plus models could be found in almost any variety store, plus many toy stores. Woolworth's springs to mind…hobby stores rarely had gaming-related stuff except models and Airfix, but then started adding AH, the few magazines available, and sometimes metals. By the mid-70's bigger hobby stores sometimes had lots of gaming stock of various times, and a few gaming-specific stores were opening in major metro areas. The first times I saw gaming in stores was probably about then, usually a small table in the back. With the popularity of D&D and RPG, more stores with gaming space opened, including one (might have been a Compleat Strategist) in King of Prussia, PA in 1978. By the early 80's they were popping up all over.

badger2203 Feb 2016 6:33 a.m. PST

In 1976 in spokane WA there was a shop called the bunker. well named as it wasnt much bigger than that. But they had a table. And something was always going on.


18CTEXAN03 Feb 2016 6:47 a.m. PST

1). Early 70s, Mall Hobbies – Houston – gaming figures and gaming tables. We had many great "campaigns" and "one of" games. Closed late 70s.
2). Early 70s, Minfigs USA – Dallas- Miniature Figurines for sale and gaming tables. Closed in 70's
3). 70's (still open), Dibbles Hobbies and Trains, San Antonio -gaming figures, no tables.
4).70's Grenadier Shop, Dallas – 15mm Napoleonetts (check spelling) figures, gaming tables, WRG tournaments, and frequent visits from Scotty Bowden. Closed late 70's

kodiakblair03 Feb 2016 7:14 a.m. PST

Never saw any gaming going on in a shop,the Toy Tub in Edinburgh was far to small for that.The local model shop in Falkirk was smaller than my current living room say 17' x 12'.Shelves stacked floor to ceiling.

Until I heard about it from Americans on the internet the idea never occurred to me,does this mean the set ups in GW shops aren't just for demo purposes ?

TKindred Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2016 7:40 a.m. PST

Up in Bath, Maine, from 1976 we had the Toy Soldier for more than 20 years. Peter Rice owned and operated it, having earlier produced some wargames rules with Don Lowry. We had some folks there who later became more "famous". Allen Curtis was a frequent gamer until the Army moved him away. John Wheeler and Peter Rice formed "The Companions" and produced fantasy modules for a variety of systems, as well as a rewrite of FASA's "Behind Enemy Lines". John later moved on to FASA and worked there until he passed away, IIRC.

The shop had two gaming areas. One up front for a 4X8 table, and another area in back for a similar one. We (the club) had regular games on Wednesday nights and Sunday afternoons. Saturdays were the "Kiddie hack & slash" games.

It was a great time and place. Anyone who walked through the door could play, and we welcomed all ages and skill levels. Each gaming day saw a different game and we ran everything from ancients to science fiction.

rampantlion03 Feb 2016 7:46 a.m. PST

Wow, I don't feel quite as old today. My first game store experience was "The Wizard's Keep" in Muncie, IN. That was in the mid 80's. They originally had one sand table and may have had another table, I don't remember now, but that is where I eventually met my friends which have been buddies now since then.

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2016 8:09 a.m. PST

In the mid 1970's the was a store in Oklahoma City that had product and several gaming tables. I think the name was Metalmen.


TMPWargamerabbit03 Feb 2016 8:47 a.m. PST

Well, apart from my earlier comment on Brookhurst, San Antonio, and Valley Plaza Hobby stores (in California) we had in late 1975 the small gaming store with large surface area tables (20x6), called the Le Maison du Guerre in San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles). From that store opening we still have our local core gaming group of 6-8 old timers who game 25/28mm napoleonics, 25/28mm ancients, have board game nights, almost every month (3rd saturday typically) and use basically the same home grown napoleonic club rules since 1977. Le Maison du Guerre closed back in the late 80's… but the gaming group has grown. Thats almost 40 years.

Marcel180903 Feb 2016 8:55 a.m. PST

In the mid '70's to the mid '80's we had a marvellous wargames shop in Sint Niklaas Belgium, called The Tin Soldier. I sold mainly Minifigs (lots of them) and some books and boardgames (SPI). It was a marvellous place with a large gaming table in the middle of the store and some smaller ones upstairs. the owner actively encouraged, playing games in the store and would join in on the quiet moments (I fought my very first battle with my minifigs French against his far superior Wurtemberg forces in the store many years ago). It was only open on saturdays though.
A store in Brussels run by Patrice Courcelle (the famous artist) was to small to have a wargames table but the local club was in the same street.

DaleWill Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2016 9:48 a.m. PST

Back in the late 70's in Watertown, NY there was a small gaming shop outside the city. No gaming on site. We would play at someones house or for big games and conventions we would rent out the local Masonic Temple. Sometimes we would play Modern against the soldiers at Fort Drum (pre-10th Mountain).

In Rochester, NY in the late 70's/early 80's had a couple of stores, 'Campaign HQ' and 'Dungeons & Dragoons' with no on site gaming.

Russ Lockwood – I live in Syracuse now for the past 25+ years. Most comic books stores here have at least one table for gaming, some have large rooms even though they care on a GW and some FOW. We play at Walt's Hobby Lobby and they have only a small amount of GW stuff.

zoneofcontrol03 Feb 2016 9:55 a.m. PST

It looks to me like large cities and the larger urban areas were the places with the best chance to find gaming space onsite in a hobby store. I was born and raised in a much smaller town (pop. around 25,000) and we had several toy/hobby shops over the years but nothing with gaming space. Some of the local dept. stores offered board games and plastic figures but no "lead". We had a mom& pop toy store that carried much more product but not any metal figures. Mom & pops were replaced in the 80/90s by chain "toy store" operations that carried much the same line of board games and plastic, but still no metal. I don't remember any open gaming space until around 2000.

We did have a few private persons that did gaming with friends that would combine orders for bulk pricing or to save on shipping. I remember a similar operation for a local bunch of HO slot car enthusiasts.

It is only in the past 5 to 10 years that we have 2 or 3 shops that offer some incarnation of gaming supplies and gaming space. None are/were large operations and some of them opened and closed a few times.

All that being said it looks like the retail & gaming type of establishments are/were primarily located in larger more densely populated areas. That would seem to make sense for a niche hobby.

Huscarle03 Feb 2016 10:21 a.m. PST

No, there were no gaming tables in the 1st games shops that I went to, although they were generally linked with a club (normally in a pub where you could game).
In the 70s, Tangley (Guildford, UK), had a real mix of figures, Minifigs, Garrison & Hinchcliffe, etc.
1980 onwards the 1st GW (Hammersmith) for my fantasy/sci-fi fix, and another shop (can't recollect the name) in Notting Hill for my historicals. From memory, I think it was GW that 1st brought in gaming tables.

NedZed03 Feb 2016 10:41 a.m. PST

I live in Los Gatos, next to San Jose, California, 50 miles south of San Francisco, which is now the southern end of "Silicon Valley". I bought my first Avalon Hill game "Waterloo" at Village Toys in Los Gatos around 1963-1964. It was a mainstream toy store only. Within a couple of years I bought ROCO minitanks and Airfix WWII infantry, then Airfix 1/72 "Color Guard" (maybe mail-order, I don't remember) to try to play Napoleonic miniatures game rules (maybe written by Ray Johnson?) which I read in the original Strategy & Tactics magazine, owned/edited by Christopher Wagner (this is before Dunnigan got the franchise). I bought my first Scruby metal miniature figure (literally one figure, to paint) as well as a Scruby rulebook and Michael Korns SUTC rulebooks at the "Stamp and Soldier" local shop in Santa Clara California around 1968-69. (Santa Clara is the location of the 49ers and this year's Super Bowl). It did not have a playing space for wargamers, and its main emphasis was stamps. In the mid to late 70s, I believe, a local shop opened called The GameTable was opened by Larry Duffield in Campbell, California which carried mainstream games, wargaming Board games, and miniatures, and it did have several tables for games to be played on in the store. Larry later ran the Pacificon convention for a while. In the 80s Norm Flam had a place called the Last Grenadier in Burbank, California (near Los Angeles) with a partner store called the Black Watch. Last Grenadier had large tables. I think at his peak Norm may have had three shops he owned or partnered in at one time, but they dwindled down later. I think he went to Grant's Pass, Oregon after that. In Mountain View, California (now in the heart of "Silicon Valley") San Antonio Hobbies had a huge store with lots of wargame supplies, but I don't think they had any gaming there.

fredavner Supporting Member of TMP03 Feb 2016 1:19 p.m. PST

Nor Cal
The Outpost. San Carlos( mid peninsula- south of SF) Small store well stocked with games and figs---mid 70s my first exposure to a true wargame store, run by wargamers
As Ned said… the Game Table- Another wargame store owned by a wargamer
San Antonio Hobbies- a megastore for models, games, figs, trains
Franciscan Hobby in SF- old school hobby store
Games of Berkeley- board games and figs and eventually an arm of Berkekey Game Distributors
A gamer owned store in Concord Ca in addition to game , figure and militaria oriented Centurian
The Bsy Area was blessed with lots of retail back in the day…..

49mountain03 Feb 2016 2:22 p.m. PST

I, too, got my start in miniatures at the Little Soldier shop in Wheaton, MD (Washington D.C. suburb). Ed was an interesting guy. I recall playing miniature games during the late 1960's there. We would do D&D and historical stuff. Ed wrote his own Napoleonic rules called Imperial Guard. I think he actually published them after a revision as Imperial Guard II. We had a massive Napoleonic game in the basement of one of the local libraries once. When he retired, he sold the shop to a guy who moved it to Alexandria, VA. I didn't go to any other Game shop after that.

Old Contemptibles03 Feb 2016 2:24 p.m. PST

My first introduction to history gaming was Avalon Hill games at Toys by Roy. No miniatures or gaming space. They later carried SPI games both flat and regular boxes. Early 70s, I was about 15 years old. I bought them as soon as they hit the shelf.

Miniatures were always purchased by mail. Many years later stores with miniatures came and went. This was in the 1980s to 1990s. Still no gaming space until the 2000s.

Jefthing03 Feb 2016 3:25 p.m. PST

First 'proper' (i.e. not airfix or matchbox…) wargaming shop I was aware of was John Tunstill's place in Kensington, which would be the mid 70s. Couldn't believe how much metal stuff cost, so it was back to Woolworths…
Later Aldershot became a Mecca for me when I discovered Esdevium Games (for rules) and Concorde Models (figures and vehicles) in 1982.
Otherwise it was mail order from Battle or Military Modelling. SSAE for full list and sample figure…

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