I’ve always been fascinated with miniatures - not only military ones. When I was about 10 years old, I had a model train table with a simple track layout, model houses and trees (some of which are still being used on my wargaming table), and later on ventured into model building (mostly planes), before properly settling down on toy soldiers and wargames.
Recently, I cleaned out some old closets in the elderly house (my mom never throws anything out, so there are still toys to find from 30+ years ago), and found a box of plastic miniature animals. These are the cheap kind, 1 euro for a bag of multi-scaled, badly painted, barely recognizable animals. However, I did re-use them before, because some of them were missing heads and legs, which now appear on some of my chaos beastman units — careful converted models when I was a GW-junkie.
Anyway, always looking for weird and unusual games, I was wondering whether miniature animals could be used in a proper miniature game. I’m not talking about putting the occasional pig, goat or horse on the battlefield as a scenery element, but a game about the animals themselves.
Several things are spiking my curiousity: There are of course plenty of cheap toy animals available, making a game with zillions of miniatures possible. But also, there are some very high quality ranges (e.g. Schleich), various 25mm manufacturers make animals as well, there are collectors (e.g. The Zooman), and even flats (e.g. at Berliner Zinnfiguren). And I’m a big fan of Zoo Tycoon, an excellent computer game about managing your own zoo.
So, the question is not, whether an interesting game can be built around miniature toy animals in a zoo (I already have some cunning ideas ;-)), but whether this would still be considered part of the hobby we love?
After all, it would still be miniature gaming, although not wargaming. But is playing with miniatures not the main thing in our hobby? And does it matter whether these miniatures are soldiers, animals or matchbox cars?