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A Hanks Brothers box of South Australian Lancers, circa 1905. Contains four lancers, officer and trumpeter

The Hanks brothers were former employees of William Britains Company who left the firm and set up their own business in London in 1897. Initially their products were almost identical to Britain’s.

After 1905 Hanks Brothers began to develop their own style and product lines focused on toy soldiers and scouts figures. Sooner or later they had to combine these two ingredients into a gadget. They did so in or around 1910 when they produced a box set, The Great War Game, containing thirty hollow cast soldier figures and a rulebook entitled War Games for Boy Scouts.

The Great War Game, circa 1910

This would make it the first published wargame designed for use with toy soldiers in English, one year prior to H.G. Wells and his Floor Games, but the date has not been verified. In any case, judging by its cover illustration this game was not intended for scouts or boys only…

The Great War Game, hollow cast soldiers