It was a golden age for starship
miniatures in the late 1970's and into 1980's. Even before
Star Wars, there
were starship miniatures available but after the summer of
1977, they became much more popular. It is interesting
to note that nearly every line had a faction called the
"Federation" who were your basic good guys and the
componants and details on many of these miniatures were
actually bits from model railroading.
We can look
back now at an article in
Space Gamer Magazine issue 21 from Jan-Feb of 1979 to
see what was available at that time. In the article
"Spaceship Miniatures & Rules" it mentions for following
lines of miniatures:
Star Trek miniatures from
Gamescience and Lou Zocchi for use with is Star Fleet Battle
Manual and Alien Space games. These miniatures
were availabe for years through Gamescience and Amarillo Design
Bureau (Star Fleet Battles) but are hard to find
SpaceWar 2250 miniatures and rules from McEwan
Miniatures - still available from the same company which has
evolved to Reviresco at
Starfleet Wars from Superior Models (now
available as the Galactic Knights range) which is
covered below. "The models
have a lot of detail (bordering on the garish) and are
bristling with turrets, sensor modules and a variety of
other odds and ends whose purposes we can only guess at."
3000 from Valiant Enterprises (still available, see
below). "The ships are very
detailed with fuel lines, weapons, and other equipment
Space Squadrons 2998 from Grenadier
(coming soon) "the Grenadier line is a nice compromise
between the simplicity and economical price of the McEwan
line and the detail and expense of the Valiant."
Minfigs starship miniatures are also mentioned but not much
information about them and they are very hard to find today.
Another article was in
Ares Magazine issue
5 from November 1980, Miniature Spaceships: A Capsule
Summary of Models for SF Gaming. This article
covers mainly just the starship miniatures from Zocchi,
Valiant Enterprises (Stardate 3000), Superior
Models (Starfleet Wars), and Eisenwerk (later to be
known as Galaktik Taktik from Pewtercraft).
Back around 1980, I was introduced to starship miniatures by an ad in the back of a kids magazine (Boy's Life
if you are wondering). I sent in my 50 cents and got back a brochure and catalog of games and miniatures which opened up a whole new world
Starfleet Wars had it's
5 races of ships and was clearly influenced by Star Wars with the triangular
wedge ships for the Terrans and some of the fighter designs. There were also the
Stardate 3000 miniatures from Valiant and Trek
miniatures for Star Fleet Battles and much more to fuel my imagination. I got the Starfleet Wars starter box with
the rules and one Stellar Destroyer miniature from each fleet. I kept on looking at the
miniatures and wanting more but I was young and could not
afford to get everything so life went on. I did
splurge and got the rules expansions and ID sheets but that
was it. Fortunately this line of miniatures never died
and they did come back when I was able to get the miniatures
I always wanted.From that start I kept
an interest in starships and space games but they were not
always easy to find.
Starfire and Star Fleet Battles were easiest to find at game stores and
Star Trek Tactical Combat System had some great miniatures. Once we
hit the 1990's though, it seemed to dry up and many game
stores did not have anything starship based in stock.
Then I found a
reference to a game from the UK in a magazine (Vortext
Winter 1993 issue) and ordered a copy of Full Thrust
from the game store and that opened up some doors to other gamers throughout
the world as the internet and email groups connected people with similar
niche interests like nothing else could before.
I still fall back on Starfleet Wars for my favorite
Classic humans with the strong and
Dangerous bug swarm with lots and lots of cheap ships.
Advanced bird race with the best
ships available, but limited numbers.
Secretive aquatic race
who are hard to see and find unless they want you to.
predators who's only tactics are to get close to pound and attack.
Starfleet Wars miniatures are currently available from Monday Knight Productions
Galactic Knights range. They have their own
rules that are set in a similar background but I still prefer the original
background. There are also some
blogs out there that focus on Starfleet Wars and also feature some
of these other classic starship miniatures so if you are interested in
learning more about the classic miniatures of
that era, please check them out.
the galaxy there are five empires ranging from the powerful to the weak, the
numerous to the few, the conniving to the naive, the treacherous to the
unsuspecting. Two of these powers have been vying for control of the galaxy for
several centuries, the ‘Entomalians whose acknowledged ambition is complete
Galactic dominance and the Terran Federation whose wish it is to
"save" the galaxy from the other empires and bring the thousands of
wealthy independent planets under their control."
Super Galactic Dreadnought
Space Squadrons 2998
Stardate: 3000 line
of miniatures is produced by
Enterprises Ltd. who have been producing these and other
gaming and display miniatures since the 1970's and these
starship miniatures are still available.
This line of
were never tied to a specific game system but pictures of
the miniatures were used for the counters of the old game
Wichell Chung (who drew the
original OGRE tank image and he runs the awesome
Atomic Rocket site) used the Federation Orion
Heavy Cruiser (bottom ship to the right) to learn 3D
modeling with Blender and has a great gallery of the
process with images from start to end and
identifying some of the HO scale train parts that
were used to make this line of minis and others -
Battlefleet Gothic, Games Workshop released
Space Fleet in 1991. It came with 4 plastic
ships to build, 2 Imperial and 2 Eldar. The lid of
the box also was used for rolling the dice and was
divided into 9 squares and where the dice stopped would
determine if the attack hit or not.
GW followed up the release
of the big box
with articles in multiple White Dwarf magazine
issues covering the background of the game a great deal
of additional rules and stats and information on the
line of metal miniatures that were produced by Citadel.
The miniatures were quite interesting and the Imperial
fleet grew quite large with many new minis but also some
of the support ships were actually re-used miniatures
from QT Models whose ships had been aquired by Citadel
like several of the miniatures in Citadel's Space
Cruisers and C43 and C44 lines.
The Space Squadrons line of miniatures was procuded by
Grenadier Models Inc. in the late 1970's.
Grenadier Models produced miniatures this
line of starships between 1978-1982. Several other
lines of minis produced by Grenadier were sold to
other companies and are still availble but this line
has never resurfaced.
For more information on
this line, checkout to the
Space Squadrons 2998 blog with pictures and a lot
Galaktik Taktik line of miniatures from Pewtercraft
That 'Federation' Thing
Federation - 'an organization or group
within which smaller divisions have some degree of
I've noticed someting that
has to be more than just a coincidence. Going
back to the 1960's, there was the United
Federation of Planets in Star Trek,
where all the humans lived. So that is were it seems
that the connection between human space powers being
a Federation probably started
Now lets move
up to the 1970's and 1980's when we get into these
lines of Classic Starship Miniatures, and pretty
much every human space power is a 'Federation', not
an Empire, an Alliance or a Republic.
The Humans in the Universe
Star Frontiers -
It didn't contiue though, later in public media
there was the Minbari
Federation in Bablyon 5 and the Trade Federation in
the Star Wars universe but still has to be more than
a coinsidense that multiple lines of miniatures had
the Earth/Humans in a Federation.