I recently got a call from a friend who asked if he could bring his son over to look at my miniature toy soldiers. In one sense I was thinking "h*%# yes!" since I think miniature gaming is a great hobby. In another sense I had some qualms since most miniatures have sharp edges, small pieces, they're time consuming to paint and of course they contain lead. The call left me wondering about the best way to introduce younger folks into the hobby of miniatures and toy soldiers.
I'm not even sure how I stumbled upon Walkerloo Toy Soldiers. These are cardboard flat soldiers patterned after several regiments that fought at Waterloo. In one gesture you eliminate lead, sharp edges, expense, and hours of painting. Now to be sure I rather like hours of painting personally but as a gift for kids this just can't be beat.
The Walkerloo website also offers several rulesets for use in playing with your soldiers, one written by another Mike Fischer! You can buy various packs of soldiers to suit your needs ranging from squadrons of cavalry all the way to a mammoth box with hundreds of foot and several dozen cavalry figures.
There is one caveat. The illustrations are generally charming and full of character. Some of the figures are depicted in the process of being shot. To death. Parents are Highly Encouraged to consider ahead of time whether this is a level of realism that is excessive. One could pull those figures from the pack if they seem to cross the line.
I love the Walkerloo figures. In general I have an affection for "flats." They're colorful, old school, and affordable. These figures are obviously a labor of love as well as a business venture and I think they're a great introduction to tactical gaming and toy soldiers.