Listening to Peter Berry of Bacchus Miniatures blog has made me think a bit about figure scales for wargames. I remember starting with Airfix 1/72 and 1/32 scale plastics and Britains' 54mm Deetail figures before looking at metal figures. With metals it was mainly Miniature Figurines (Minifigs) 25mm and 15mm and Lamming and Garrison 25mm, mainly for medievals or fantasy.
The 25mm from those days look tiny compared to today's 28mm+ figures. For example the Reaper fantasy range that I like a lot has a real compatibility problem with my old fantasy figures from Minifigs and Ral Partha. The jump to 40mm could just be seen as the evolutionary path from the growing 28mm (many really 30mm+ in reality) ranges.
I think that Peter Berry is right about the growth of the military modeller approach to the hobby, though it was always present to a degree as the wargaming and military modelling hobbies have always overlapped to a great degree. The nice aspects in wargaming have been better miniatures in terms of detail and design, vastly improved terrain at shows and so on, but it can be a bit of a deterrent to newcomers who see all these things and wonder how they can ever do it. It also tends to imply much more time on the painting and collecting side rather than playing games which is ultimately what the hobby is really about.
One attraction of board games and block games has to be the lack of time that needs to be devoted to making the figures and terrain ready to game with, but I think clubs need to be able to accept armies of undercoated figures being used if it means players game more regularly. At least that is my feeling on this.
I'll be posting a review of Peter's podcasts soon, but might wait for a couple more to be released.