Jul 2nd 2020THE FIRMS that are doing well out of the pandemic are, by and large, high-tech ones, helping people to live virtually. But an industry a
THE FIRMS that are doing well out of the pandemic are, by and large, high-tech ones, helping people to live virtually. But an industry about as unlike Zoom as possible is also flourishing. “It’s like two Christmases’ worth of demand,” according to Alan Perry of Perry miniatures.
Wargaming—collecting and painting toy soldiers before fighting battles using dice, tape measures and often complicated rules—is surprisingly big business in Britain. The share price of Games Workshop, the best-known and biggest player in the industry, has risen 1,500% over the past five years, making it the best-performing British listed share over the period. With a market capitalisation of around £2.7bn ($3.4bn), it has overtaken Centrica, owner of British Gas, and Marks & Spencer.
Games Workshop’s science-fiction and Tolkienesque figures are designed at its headquarters in Nottingham, centre of the “lead belt”—although the figures have not been made from lead since the 1990s. Miniatures are sculpted by hand, and moulds then created. The industry norm is to cast to order rather than carry large inventories, so figures are mostly produced in Britain to reduce delivery times.
Games Workshop’s presence in Nottingham has spawned a local cluster. Many of the city’s figure designers, manufacturers and rules-publishing firms are run by ex-Games Workshop staff. The wider industry…