War World Scenics is tapping into the global market with its war games and railway accessories.
Formed eight years ago by friends Martyn Rees and Mark Jutsum, its customer base now spans several continents.
Initially, neither Martyn – an ex-soldier and Swansea City Council employee - nor former policeman Mark knew anything about war games or modelling but began painting game figures as a hobby.
Martyn said: "Mark asked if I had heard of the fantasy battle game Warhammer, so we had a go at painting some figures. We were very pleased with our efforts and felt there was a gap in the market for creating bases for the models."
Not thinking the business would become a full-time enterprise, each invested the princely sum of £40 and began making bases and models from their garages in their spare time.However, it soon became apparent that they had tapped into a growing market, and the pair opened a shop in Ystalyfera.
There they employed a handful of staff to make the products which they sold directly online, and through retailers such as Amazon and eBay. Before long they outgrew the shop, and made their next move - to premises on Pontardawe Industrial Estate.
Its flat-pack post-cut scenery is dispatched to modellers who build the scenes themselves. In addition to creating their own-brand scenery, WWS makes products for other retailers and distributors including model railway track specialists, Peco.
A core part of the business has been the development of the Pro Grass system – an innovative method which creates exceptionally life-like landscapes and flora and fauna from millimetres-high ‘grass’.
Using more than 70 different colours of flock, which is mixed and then layered using WWS’ static micro applicator, virtually any terrain or season can be replicated. WWS is now the largest producer of static grass in the UK, and the company is also developing grass tufts which may be individually applied to give additional landscape features and texture.
“Pro Grass cross-populates for both our war games and railways markets, and when we demonstrate at events we attract crowds of people,” explains Martyn who has created several educational models for Folly Farm, including a 10ft diorama to coincide with the arrival of lions at the Pembrokeshire zoo.
Serving both the railway modelling and war game markets, WWS now has two dedicated, but complementary, websites - http://www.war-world.co.uk and the more recently launched http://www.warworldgaming.com
Using specialist equipment such as 3D printers and laser-cutters, the company creates an ever growing range of scenes and models from medieval and historical events, WWI and WWII scenes, to sci-fi and fantasy games, and a variety of diorama.
The company offers apprenticeships, and aims to balance the workplace experiences.
Cllr Annette Wingrave said: “I am so pleased that the Business development team has been able to work with, what was initially a small business, to grow and expand its products and markets. It is great to see a local company doing so well and developing their business for customers across the World. We wish them all the success for the future.”