Miniature wargaming is a form of wargaming that incorporates miniature figures, miniature armor and modeled terrain as the main components of play. Like other types of wargames, they can be generally considered to be a type of simulation game, generally about tactical combat, as opposed to computer and board wargames which have greater variety in scale.
While such games could also be played with counters on a table with colored paper to denote terrain types, the visual attractiveness and tactile satisfaction of painted miniatures moving around on a table with model trees, hills and other scenery has such an alluring power to convince many wargamer to prefer model/miniature games over the cheaper and easier board-and-chits alternatives.
The miniatures and scenario items at the core of the model wargaming experience are available in different scales, and many sets of rules are written with the assumption that a particular scale is being used.
The hobby got its start around the beginning of the 20th Century, with the publication of Jane's naval war rules and H. G. Wells' Little Wars. Commercial products just for miniatures wargamers and awareness as a single community of people with similar interests date back to the 1950s with the efforts of Jack Scruby; major developments in the field since then include the rise in the 1960s and 1970s of fantasy and science fiction wargames as an alternative to games based on historical conflicts, and the emergence of companies like Privateer Press, Games Workshop, Battlefront, Foundry, Warlord Games and many others. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miniature_games