Help support TMP

"Original Wargame and Miniatures Retail Shops" Topic

121 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the History of Wargaming Message Board

Back to the Wargaming in the USA Message Board

Back to the WWII Discussion Message Board

Back to the Ancients Discussion Message Board

Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board

Back to the Hobby Industry Message Board

Action Log

27 Jun 2016 8:08 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Crossposted to History of Wargaming board

Areas of Interest

World War Two on the Land

Featured Hobby News Article

Featured Ruleset

10,484 hits since 2 Feb 2016
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 3 

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Jun 2016 9:30 a.m. PST

This is excellent. A long thread about wargaming! A lot of my early wargaming education came from the airfix and military modelling magazines. There was also a big hard backed book that used wargames figures to illustrate famous battles. Soldiers of 36 Kennington street near the IWM??
Always intended to go to the Hinton hunt ship in London…anyone go?


GlacierMI28 Jun 2016 12:17 p.m. PST

Indianapolis, 1973,

Tom Metzler's Hobby Center. He had models, ROCO tanks, Heritage and Hinchcliffe miniatures. He also had a selection of wargames, SPI and AH. There was no gaming area. The store was popular for Radio Controlled Airplanes, and Model Railroading.

The Boardroom, first game/wargame specific store in Indianapolis, no gaming area.

The Game Preserve, still there, primarily games from what I recall.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP29 Jun 2016 5:16 a.m. PST

Thinking about parts of the original question in the first post –

Games Workshop was very different – I used to trek out to the Dalling Road shop in order to pick up new releases from TSR and SPI. Whilst there, if I had some money left over, I'd buy some Garrison fantasy and SF figures, and maybe some Der Kroegspieler Fantastique. I used to get my Ral Partha fantasy figures from Minifigs/Skytrex so I didn't need to get them from GW.

As I recall there was no room at all in the shop for a gaming table. But it was an Aladdin's Cave for everything else.

Minifigs/Skytrex also were pushed for space – I don't think they did more than have the occasional after-hours skirmish game for the invited few.

Artorius30 Aug 2019 8:38 a.m. PST

Three years late jumping on this thread…

My first miniature gaming was all at The Gametable in Campbell, CA (near San Jose). I was in my senior year in high school. Finding it was like nirvana. I worked at D&J Hobby in Campbell, but also frequented San Antonio Hobby in Mountain View, CA (its former location now just a stones throw from Google's world HQ).

I never got up to San Carlos to see The Outpost. I think it was defunct by the time I had the wheels to effectively get around in the Bay Area. But I'd seen the adverts and knew it was there. Pity I missed it.

Artorius30 Aug 2019 8:58 a.m. PST

This confirms that Larry opened in 1976. Larry played all wargames and RPG games as well and carried all genres of figures, games, paints, etc, but historical wargaming was his own main interest initially. (He wrote a set of rules called The Complete Brigadier). He had tables for playing miniature games set up, so it is plausible that his was one of the earliest war-game establishments to have gaming tables, which allowed local miniatures gamers to make contact. Some of the local miniatures players' names I remember seeing there were Bob Bergman who liked Napoleonics, Dave Hinckley who was into modern armor, and Pete Flynn who wrote a clever set of Ancient rules. Merlin Woods bought my 25mm Napoleonic figures when I mover to 15mm. Richard Burnett may have been umpiring SUTC games there, as well.

This brings back memories. I gamed and socialized with many of those names.

Larry's rules were called "Brigadier!" – not to be confused with "The Complete Brigadier," which was another set of rules altogether. Brigadier! had some innovative ideas at the time. We played a lot of Napoleonic and ACW with them. I still have my copy.

Larry sold The Gametable in the early 80s and went to study at a Lutheran seminary. I don't think he was ever ordained. He's now running LPD Games in Fort Bragg, CA. I have a few of his games. I'm not sure if LPD Games is still doing business. The website hasn't been updated since 2008.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP30 Aug 2019 9:07 a.m. PST

This all started out with a request from a student writing a Master's Thesis on Wargaming back in 2016.

I wonder did he/she ever finish it and if so, was it ever published?

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2019 1:52 a.m. PST

Going back to the 70s , I was mainly into WW2 ( sill am ) but with Naps and ACW these days. Local to me there was a shop at Walkden Nr Manchester . I think it was called Command Post but I may be corrected on that as it was in its last days when I visited it. For my WW2 stuff it was mainly Boydells in Bolton who had a "Model Depot" within the shop. Here I could by Airfix and Matchbox AFVs. Beaties in Manchester became rich pickings for Esci ,Nitto and Hasegawa. Then it was trips to London for the really exotic stuff like Hinchcliffe.

We still have a local Wargames shop in my home town of Bolton called Porcullis Waragmes Emporioium . If you are in the area Brian's shop is well worth a visit and he serves refreshments as well . The gaming area is upstairs.

I think its fair to say that the Net has made things much easier these days when it comes to ordering those Austrian Uhlans .

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2019 3:00 a.m. PST

I'll remember that when you are back in the Premier League and WHU come to visit…not too many Wargames shops in the UK these days, other you know who…on every single high street

donlowry02 Sep 2019 8:56 a.m. PST

Did anybody else know Jack Scruby?

I did. I sold his miniatures through my mail-order catalogs, and I still have a collection of his "9 mm" (actually about 13mm) ACW figures. I visited his shop in Cambria a couple of times and managed to get into a game there one evening. (ACW of course.)

Wolfhag02 Sep 2019 2:31 p.m. PST

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

Alas, both are gone now.

End Game in Oakland had the best set up tables for games but closed this year. Black Diamond in Concord is the only place with tables and war games in my area. Their offering of traditional war games has been shrinking. The soldier Factory in Cambria is still there as is the Sierra Toy Soldier Company in Los Gatos (could qualify as a miniatures museum).

My first game (PanzerBlitz) was in the late 1960's at Orange Blossom Hobbies in Miami near the airport.


Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2019 4:10 a.m. PST

I have very fond memories of Orange Blossom from the 60s on, but it was up near Miami Jackson High School not the airport as I remember (though it could have moved there). Hit TWO high points for me. They had a wonderful selection of plastic models in all scales AND carried a fair amount of wargames, miniatures not having taken hold in mainstream at the time. You came in through those double doors and a polished wooden floored entrance with ceiling to floor, custom built glass display cases filled with the most amazing finished models flanked the entrance to the shop. Probably the nicest looking and laid out hobby store I have ever been in and have been in a lot!

Found this:

greenknight4 Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Sep 2019 6:17 p.m. PST

To ad onto TKindreds post. My friend Ray Estabrook and I opened the Toy Soldier 2 in Newburyport Mass in 1979. It is still open today in Amesbury though Ray and I are no longer involved. Ray has a game store in Belfast Maine called All About Games. Both of our stores had permanent game tables.

Excalibur Hobbies was in Arlington at least in the mid 70's under Jim Parcella who started Falcon Miniatures. John ? was manager of the Complete Strategist in Boston in the Mid 70's. I built them a sand table.

VonBlucher17 Sep 2019 7:07 p.m. PST

A few I went to in the area Like Settlers Wagon on Central Avenue in Chicago, Hobby Chest in Skokie, Prosek's in Winfield, Emperor's HDQ in Chicago, and Games Plus in Mount Prospect. Unfortunately only Games Plus is still around, but a great shop with many gaming tables in the side room.

4th Cuirassier18 Sep 2019 7:16 a.m. PST

One is apt to forget, until prompted by threads such as this, just how ubiquitous hobby stuff once was. In 1980 I was able to buy Airfix Napoleonics and Prince August moulds and casting materials in a small local toyshop in Rickmansworth, about 25 miles NW of London. It was so small that when it closed, they made it into a travel agent with two desks in it. That's how small it was, yet it found space to sell quite recherche stuff like PA (and it did sell).

WHSmith in Watford sold 54mm Waterloo figure kits and nearby another toyshop had a wide range of Airfix and Matchbox tanks. Up the old high street, Beatties sold Nitto, Fujimi, and Esci rarities I bought a couple of Panzer 35t kits there. Some of these are now hard to find and can go for silly money. It was also the go-to shop for stuff like plastic card and rod, and it stocked the Humbrol Military Colour range too.

In a way that is what I miss most about that era. If you found yourself in a new town that you didn't often visit, there was a good chance that if you went for a ramble, you'd find a hobby shop with something in it worth snapping up or a department store with a toy department that sold our stuff. I had time to kill in Harley Street a few weeks back and for old times' sake I went to Hamleys and looked at the model kits. They had the Airfix Victory at a fair price, so for the first time in probably thirty years I bought a model kit from a high street shop that wasn't specifically a model shop (I bought from Modelzone more recently, but they were an actual model shop).

On the other hand, we horse and musket aficionadi are far better served by today's suppliers than plastic kit buyers. An astonishing number of model kits on sale today are from the exact same tools as back then. To start from scratch now and build an army of 1960s Minifigs or Hinchliffes would be deeply eccentric. You can still get them but you have better-quality newer choices. In contrast, if you built a 1/72 Short Stirling, or Sunderland, or Savoia-Marchetti SM79, or O/400 as a kid in 1970, and 40 years on you fancied doing it again, the only game in town would have been the same Airfix kits. The exact same kits off the same tools.

We're spoilt in so many ways. Of course there is now a secondary hobby which is chasing down rarities you haven't seen for decades. I was delighted a few years ago to find that the Revell dinosaur kits available for cheap money in Modelzone were reboxes of the old Aurora Prehistoric Scenes kits that go for crazy prices.

Mark 118 Sep 2019 1:16 p.m. PST

End Game in Oakland had the best set up tables for games but closed this year.

Thanks for that tidbit, Wolf. I was searching for them just a couple weeks ago, and couldn't figure out what was up.

Black Diamond in Concord is the only place with tables and war games in my area.

Wow. I have never heard of them before! 35 years in the SF Bay Area and there's a shop I didn't know about? Wiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, my Google-fu must be pretty d@mned weak…

If you consider that within your area, then you and I have overlapping areas! We should figure this out.

The soldier Factory in Cambria is still there as is the Sierra Toy Soldier Company in Los Gatos …

If your range extends that far, it must also encompass Fremont. Game Kastle in Fremont still has miniatures and tables. Not a big shop, but a very friendly and helpful staff. Unhappily for me they don't do 6mm, but they do have 15mm and 20mm military miniatures in stock, as well as a full range of Vallejo (and other) paints. Not too many tables, and seems to be largely dominated by Magic-the-Bothering and Mech warriors of various versions, but I'm guessing the occasional FoW game might be on the calendar as well.

(aka: Mk 1)

britishbulldog19 Sep 2019 10:14 a.m. PST

I started wrgaming in the early 70,s when I lived in Torquay (UK). If I recall correctly all that was available in the town were the Hinchcliffe 25 mm figues available from Victoria Models and the 25mm Airfix from W,H,Smith. I bought Bruce Quarrie's Napoleonic Wargaming and made a start using the Humbrol Authentic Colours and the Airfix box art along with articles from the Military Modelling magazine, (before Dungeons and Dragons). There were no tables to have a go in either store.I had a French Army and a workmate had the British. We played on the lounge floor on an old Billiard/Snooker Table cloth scrounged from a local coservative club. Happy days!

wmyers In the TMP Dawghouse20 Sep 2019 10:26 a.m. PST

One is apt to forget, until prompted by threads such as this, just how ubiquitous hobby stuff once was.

Very true. I can recall Hudson's Bay Company department stores had very large model sections as part of the toy department with Esci, Airfix, Atlantic armour and figure sets.

Convenience stores sold Airfix figures. Every mall had an hobby shop. Some more than one. All department and hardware shops also sold miniatures (generally 1/72 plastic) and military models like Airfix and Esci. This was the 1980's.

As for game shops, booksellers would sell various Bookshelf games (ie Avalon Hill, etc). They also sold the main rpg books and figures.

There was only one dedicated game store in the town I lived in 'The Wizard's Corner' on Broadway Ave in Saskatoon. I don't remember the name of the gentleman who ran it, but he was obviously an older hippy. Ads for the shop were in all the old 'Dragon' magazines, so they may have done a lot of mail order, as well.

The shop carried an huge variety of both fantasy rpg's and historical games. Board, boxed, book and miniatures. Huge, varied inventory. You could browse for hours and still find stuff you hadn't seen before. New stock was continually added. Prices were reasonable.

There were no gaming tables that I remember, though. It was never packed with customers that I remember, but having tables probably would have been a good idea. There is only so much room, though and it would have taken away from stock.

RudyNelson20 Sep 2019 7:46 p.m. PST

I had gaming tables in my store in Auburn from 1984-86. It was above Toomers Corner store. I got bought out and moved away.

I set up another store in Anniston near Fort McCellan but after a year, a retiring Sgt Major bought me out. He wanted to expand to include baseball cards and paint ball items. I had gaming space there too.
At my current location, no gaming though I heave the space.
Time Portal Hobbies
In business since 1983.
Not many are older than I am. Lol.

khanscom21 Sep 2019 10:06 a.m. PST

"I went into my first wargaming store in the late 1970's. It was Jack Scruby's store "The Soldier Factory" in Cambria, California… Did anybody else know Jack Scruby?"

@John Tyson-- I worked for Jack for a few years in the early '70s casting, assembling and finishing gift items, order completion, and shipping-- a great experience. The front end of the store may have been small by some standards, but the back room was a terrific promotion for wargaming. One wall contained Jack's history and gaming "library" (great for browsing on lunch breaks), the opposite one had a display of classic early figures (lots of 54mm Scruby originals) backed by a panoramic backdrop painted by Jack's wife, Wanda. In the center of the room was a large set of gaming tables, usually arranged with a setpiece wargaming display, but taken over for large monthly games in periods ranging from Napoleonic to Colonial.

If you lived in the area there was also a small gaming shop in San Luis Obispo called "The Wee Warrior" owned by Pete and Judy Kerestan. This one was tiny and was heavily oriented toward fantasy, but did carry a variety of gaming rules and a few historical items. The second story was set up with a gaming table, though not part of the public area.

Jeffers01 Oct 2019 2:59 p.m. PST

I'm always up for a spot of nostalgia, so I posted this on my blog a few weeks back:


It's basically a line of shops from Middlesex to Dorset but all featured in my pre-metal gaming days.

4th Cuirassier02 Oct 2019 4:58 a.m. PST

Nearly 40 years after I last ordered anything from there I can still remember the address of Hinchliffe Models:

Station Street

I've a feeling it was at 21 Station Street. Did anyone ever go there? Was it possible to do so? I've looked it up on Streetview and it not obvious which building Hinchliffe were in. There is a supermarket now so maybe it got demolished?

Pages: 1 2 3 

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.