Case Study The Wargames Market
The case study looks at the possibility of developing a competitive small business for the manufacture of military miniatures in various scales for the ‘wargames’ and toy soldiers markets worldwide and also to consider the possible development of the market in China (the hobby is already well established in Hong Kong). • 1. The hobby began in the UK at the turn of the 19th and twentieth centuries with the publication of H G Wells Little Wars. The same author has written other famous early science fiction novels such as The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. • 2. The hobby began to take off on a larger scale in the mid 1960s and has spread (rather like football and cricket) to many parts of the world. It has continued to grow since, spreading to more developed parts of the Commonwealth such as Canada and Australia and more recently the USA and several countries in Western Europe.
3. The worldwide market is estimated as circa 25% larger than the market for model railways and (including the market for Military ‘Toy Soldiers’) is estimated to be worth in excess of £500,000,000 annually and continues to grow. • 4. In the 1960s many wargamers relied on the 1/72nd scale plastics figures produced by Airfix which also produced model plastic kits of military and civilian aircraft, vehicles ships and other toys. However, Airfix failed to spot the potential of the historical and later ‘fantasy’ wargames market and eventually went out of business after making strategic mistakes in its marketing methods. • 5. This allowed small specialist businesses who had already started manufacturing historical wargames figures in white metal to dominate the market (in the early days ‘white metal’ was an alloy of lead and tin with small quantities of other added metals, though more recently a lead free ‘white metal’ has been developed).
These manufacturers also began to manufacture ‘fantasy’ figures for wargaming such as figures for The Lord of the Rings and other fantasy and science fiction based games. Whilst other manufacturers produce boxes of small plastic figures based on historical armies (eg Italieri and Armati) most manufacturers are producing figures in a variety of white metal scales such as 25/28mm, 15/18mm, 10mm and 6mm. 6) The wargames market and interest in military history has helped several related business also to flourish. These include: • - terrain manufacturers (including trees and bridges and buildings etc to a variety of scales); • - paint manufacturers (for painting the figures – these used to be enamel based but these have largely been replaced by acrylic based paints); • - publishers of military history and related products eg wargames rules have also expanded over the last 30-40 years. • - some small business specialise in painting services - high quality figures professionally painted can command high prices as ‘collectors’ pieces. (See for example Ebay UK - click ‘Toys and Games’ then Wargaming and browse the 15mm; 25mm and 28mm sites).
7) Size of Businesses in the Industry - Most businesses are small but some are medium sized and a few are large, in particular: • Games Workshop – this UK based business has grown to be a public listed company with outlets in several countries. About four years ago it acquired one of the most successful and largest manufacturers of 25 mm historical figures Wargames Foundary and has reinvented itself with the ‘Warhammer’ series of historical wargames. This has successfully attracted many young people into the hobby – further expanding the market. From its origins as Citadel Miniatures 40 years ago this company has seen quite spectacular growth as it has continually re-invented itself. • Old Glory Corp Inc – a US manufacturer of a large range of 25mm figures (it recently sold its 15mm ranges to another company Battle Honours and has commenced manufacturing a large range 10mm figures. • Perry Miniatures – This a new high quality manufacturer founded 5 years ago by the Perry twins who had become millionaires long before they sold their Wargames Foundaryto Games Workshop.
Other Examples: • Irregular Miniatures: A small business over 35 years old which produces a wide range of figures in various scales see www.irregularminiatures.co.uk • Gripping Beast: A relatively recent business which has made a successful entrance to the market circa 15 years ago specialising in ‘ancient’ and ‘dark ages’ armies in the 25/28mm scale of a high quality, see www.grippingbeast.com • Essex Miniatures: One of the older manufacturers in existence for 30+ years producing a wide range of 25mm and 15mm figures, see www.essexminaitures.co.uk • businesses which has been around for over 40 years producing a wide range of 25 and 15 mm figures. • There are over 60 manufacturers of wargames and fantasy gaming figures in the UK. They regularly advertise in the two leading wargames hobby magazines ‘Wargames Illustrated’ and ‘Miniature Wargames’.