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"Historical Miniatures data" Topic

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RebelPaul26 Sep 2017 4:57 a.m. PST


Can anyone help me find modern data (statistics) on historical miniatures gaming and a view of the miniatures hobby itself?


Paul F.

RebelPaul26 Sep 2017 5:04 a.m. PST

Sorry folks! had trouble trying to crosspost. TMP was very slow this morning.

Paul F

Rudysnelson26 Sep 2017 5:46 a.m. PST

Several individuals have compiled statistics over the past. Some are no longer with us. Others have picked up the torch and moved on.
Some serious data is collected by manufacturers for their use. So they are not willing to release much of it.
GAMA used to collect data for board games, RPG and some miniatures but not extensive.
Good luck in your search.

FusilierDan26 Sep 2017 5:50 a.m. PST

Wargames Soldiers and Strategy has done a survey the last few years. I think the results are on their website.

martin goddard Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 5:54 a.m. PST

A laudable objective Paul, but unlike tennis etc there are no officiating bodies. There is the wargames survey by WSS? I suspect (I have no data!!) TMP contributors from UK are a very small minority of Uk gamers. I have spoken to many gamers in the UK and about 1 in 30 has heard of TMP.. i do prosthelytise though!
One good method might be to see how many unique customers the leading 10 manufacturers have?
Sorry to be negative but the hobby is disparate and impossible to monitor.

My claim to some knowledge is having wargamed for 45 years, attended 50 unique wargames shows(many of them for repeated times and some just once) on 3 continents and have run an historical miniatures company 35 years. Yet i still do not know the proper statistics for our hobby.

Ottoathome26 Sep 2017 6:23 a.m. PST

Dear Rebel Paul

These figures do not now nor have they ever existed, nor are they likely to ever exist.

At the most basic root cause for this is that WITHIN the hobby no one is interested, they are far more interested in playing with toy soldiers. There is also no real need or desire to compile these statistics. Among the larger clubs and organizations like HMGS which MIGHT be able to provide some of the data for at least their own organization, it has become a matter of intensely personal and acrimonious debate as to what for example is even an "attendee" at a convention, and whatever data comes out is jealously guarded and kept secret from its own members. In fact the degree of secrecy causes intense envy from the CIA, KGB, MIF the Surete and all other secret organizations.

Martin Goddard's experience is the experience of most gamers , myself included. We've been in the hobby 45 years and can tell you what our impressions and guesses are, but that's it. To give you an idea of this problem consider the following question.

Who is a wargamer.

1. A person who has and paints dozens of armies has thousands of miniatures, many copies of the rules, games constantly, makes his own terrain runs the scenarios subscribes to all the magazines, thinks about gaming constantly. Goes to all the conventions he can get to. Eats, breathes and sleeps the hobby.

2. A person who has an army or two, plays a few periods, has a game once a month, buys a lot of terrain, has a blog, thinks about gaming a lot. Goes to a convention or two

3. A person with a few units games down at the store, does boardgaming as well, thinks about gaming fairly often. Goes to a convention now and then

4.A person who comes to the club and store, has a few units, is content to game and complain about with other peoples stuff. Doesn't go to conentions.

5. A guy who is content to game so long as other people do the work, has no minis, no rules, and if they go to conventions will tag along with others.

6.A guy who wishes he could be as active as step 5.

There are by the way dozens of intermediary steps and definitions in between the six above. Bring up that topic and you will have hundreds of mopes who will give you their august opinion but it's all worthless.

There is no one, no agency, no firm, no organization that does what you want, nor have they the ability to do so. Martin said it best. The hobby is too diverse. As far as the manufacturers they'll all tell you that EVERYONE buys their stuff, and they ALL love it, and you should buy whole huge lots of it too.

My guess on this is that there are about 30,000 gamers of class 1 to 4 above worldwide. Classes 4 and 5 are irrelevant and unimportant. If the hobby shriveled up and blew away they wouldn't care, nor probably notice. They'd go pester the model railroaders.

Of this 30,000 about half are in America. About two thirds are in Fantasy and Sci-Fi. That means about 5,000 in historical miniature gaming.

But remember, very few gamers are "exclusive" that is, they are in historicals and not sci-fi, and many are in everything including board games and family games and so forth.

You see the problem. It's not like yachtsmen or road rally enthusiasts who have a major piece of equipment like a yacht or a rally car.

attilathepun4726 Sep 2017 8:58 a.m. PST

Some pretty good summaries have been given above, but I would like to add that you have to consider the origins of historical wargaming as recreation (as opposed to serious military training). Very early wargaming pioneers, such as H.G. Wells, simply used toys. As time went on, some may also have used scale models. Neither are necessarily very suitable for serious wargaming. The choices of period, nationality, and scale are pretty limited with toys, plus many are simply too crude to satisfy the more serious gamers. And scale models intended for display are really too fragile for practical wargaming use.

The result was that manufacture of miniatures intended for wargaming really originated among the hobbyists themselves, usually in somebody's basement or garage, and as a sideline rather than a full-time occupation. A great number of small operations sprang up as the hobby started to grow, but most quickly foundered because the aspiring manufacturer lacked business skills and capital. In addition, some of the early sculptors really had little artistic talent, and produced really awful looking products. Such operations probably kept few records to begin with, and discarded what they did have when the business failed. In the absence of a mass market, that tendency has remained. Small publishing and manufacturing operations have continued to come and go with depressing frequency.

Various individuals have started belated efforts to chronicle the history of the modern wargaming hobby. It is possible to outline its origins, describe influential individuals, and compile lists of manufacturers, authors, and publishers. But the kind of comprehensive statistics you desire, as Otto stated above, have never really existed.
Furthermore, so many of the pioneers of the hobby are now dead that a great deal of historical detail is irretrievably lost.

goragrad26 Sep 2017 10:11 a.m. PST

I have seen one timeline on the hobby (lost somewhere in my bookmarks), but as noted by others no modern compilation of statistics.

Again, as noted, there is undoubtedly marketing data, but getting it from a manufacturer is extremely unlikely at this time and I really don't see a historian down the road as being very likely.

Although a club member once told me of a woman he knew who did her doctoral thesis on the dots used as alignment marks by copyists of Chaucer's works. Perhaps one could find a history major in need of a thesis topic…

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP26 Sep 2017 11:14 a.m. PST

WSS does an annual survey.


I've already explained on TMP why I think the true number of miniature wargamers is around half a million world-wide. Anyone interested can look up that thread. But I will note that the WSS survey keeps falling a little shy of 10,000 respondents--8-9,000, usually--and that consistently 60-70% have not taken the survey before. So in the last four years, has every wargamer in the world taken the Great Wargaming Survey?

Incidentally, 30,000 wargamers, half in the United States would mean one American in 20,000, or no more than ten in my home town. And two-thirds SF and Fantasy means three or possibly four wargamers are supporting that Flames of War display down at the local game shop. I suggest some of you do your own local math.

Hmmm. It also means that most years half or more of all the historical gamers in the US show up at Historicon. My special commendations to the Texas and California attendees. (Someone look up the numbers on turnover in convention attendance. The BOD put them out as part of the Baltimore project.)

Rudysnelson26 Sep 2017 11:31 a.m. PST

Surveys and polls are not considered hard evidence. They depend on the respondents to respond, then truthfully and accurate.
You have to get numbers from a neutral industry site. Not a magazine. For example, I had never heard of their survey until today. So my data was not included.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP27 Sep 2017 5:13 a.m. PST

Normally I'd say it would help to know what data you are looking for. But the simple fact of the matter is it pretty much doesn't exist. Aside from a few bits like the WSS survey and a few nuggets from annual reports, no one gathers any data for public use.

Gwydion27 Sep 2017 11:02 a.m. PST

You don't say exactly, or even generally,grin what data you are looking for:
Numbers of people who play wargames?

Board games, figure games, kriegsspiel, committee, map, role play, computer, console are all classed as wargames. They overlap a lot but not all of one are in another group.

You might have quick look at the membership numbers for the major forums online – then discount a (fairly large) percentage as no longer with us for various reasons, multiple identities on each site and duplication across sites and then multiply by an unspecified number (x30 Martin?) for those who never go online or at least don't join wargame forums.

Or if you are after total spend – probably commercial in confidence.

Hours spent playing, painting, researching, designing, talking, posting?

I don't think there is going to be a single or even a small number of sources for your interest, and the resultant figures for whatever data are going to be flaky at best but perhaps talking to sales people at the major magazines might be a start. There will probably be a lot of data they can't/won't disclose but they should make available circulation figures at some stage. Not perfect but worth a try for starters.

UshCha02 Oct 2017 10:57 a.m. PST

AND it gets more complicated. Me and a friend used to play Napolionics using Barkers rules with 1/4" screws painted jacket and trouser coloures with a pin flag. Cavalry was 3/8" screws. Cannon were punchings for wheels and cocktail sticks for barrels. Horses for the limbers were rough shape in paper. I would claim we were wargamers but getting statistics would be close to impossible. In early days we cast our own miniatures using Prince August moulds.
And final one man in my home town had hundreds if not thousands of napolionic figures. The horse and rider being a very severe modification of childrens cowboy and Indian toys.

It gets worse, now I make my own vehicles on a 3D printer and so there is no way to ever record what I produce as I use all non wargames specific equipment.

Plus how do you count folk that come and go. They may be avid players in their youth, then discover girls/Families and not come bacy for 20 or 30 years. Me my absence was proably only a few years.

While not directly helpful it does give you anechdotal eveidence on which you can base what you define a wargamer as. I may not be one if your narrow definition is how much commecial stuff he buy's.

To be cynical I would count as not much of a contributor, a man who spends months painting and only 4 games a year playeing. To me he is a modller not really a wargamer. (ducks and runs for cover) ;-).

HistoryWargaming14 Oct 2017 12:10 p.m. PST

I did an estimate a few years ago of 300,000 active historical miniature games who game in English, Games workshop estimate they have approximately 1 million unique customers each year. This gives a figure of 100,000-150,000 non games workshop fantasy/ SF figures.The number of role players is crudely equal to Games Workshop. Hope this helps.

deephorse14 Oct 2017 1:30 p.m. PST


kcabai24 Oct 2017 5:26 a.m. PST

Does a modification count twice?

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