What got you into 40k?

I've told my story a few times to friends, in a few forums, and also a little bit here on the blog - but there is something that is always mystifying about talking of your beginnings in 40k. I love waxing nostalgic, and I  really enjoy to hear about how other folks got pulled into the fold and began the hobby.

To begin I will share my story:

For me, it all started when I was in about 6th grade and had been playing D&D at the time with 2nd edition books I had looted from my Dad's box of college books.  In library books, I had seen pictures of giant tables in books crawling with tanks and WWII type army men.  I knew that there were wargames out there but I had no idea where or how to even begin to get into them.  I didn't realize there was even a company called GW.  Sure, I had also tried my hand at painting a few boxes of dungeons and dragons miniatures, but they were poorly cast and very tiny. I was terrible at painting. I had also tried to invent my own game using the transformers and micro machines that I had, giving each tank its own rules and etc.  Of course, it never got off the ground, but the overall general notion of wargames intrigued me!

Then one balmy afternoon, several years later, me and one of my best buddies, Juice,  headed out on the town to seek out a hobby shop I had found in the yellow pages (I had just turned 16 and this was well before Al Gore invented the internet - yes I'm that old).  We went in to scope out the D&D selection, but were immediately drawn to the cool boxed set up on a wall covered with elf and goblin art.  When we inquired about it, the shopkeeper told us what warhammer was and that both people took an army and faced off like in chess.

It was $50.00 for the box.  It had High Elf and Goblin spearmen and a bunch of cardboard cutouts to represent griffons, chariots and etc.  It was a huge investment for a 16 year old, but a levy I have never regretted paying!  In that one moment 17 years ago, I more or less picked what would be me hobby for what is nearly now two decades.  If I had not gone into the store that day would I have 'discovered' warhammer?  I seriously doubt it!  If I hadn't been hooked, would Monkey, Big D, Sweet E and the others know about the game or would we still just play D&D?  I think they would all tell you my experience was the gateway for the group!

Sure I have had ups and downs with the hobby.  Sometimes I crank things out, and sometimes I am on a comlpete and total hiatus. But the great wheel of hobbydom always turns me back to the direction of Warhammer in one or more of its variant forms.  Initially I played because it was just neat, later because it was fun and a great way to hang out with friends.  Sometimes I play because I enjoy painting and the modeling, but usually, and most of all, I enjoy the mental challenge of a well played competitive game.  I have periods where I play stretches of board games, and maybe an odd game or two of roleplaying, but I always return to Warhammer, and more specifically 40k. Its just an itch I just have to scratch and I suppose that itch will continue to linger well into the foreseeable future.

Which leads me to ask how did you come into playing Warhammer:

Now days there are plenty of entry vectors into the hobby.  The Dawn of War series on the computer.  The Horus Heresy books.  The internet and blogs to stare at pretty pictures and research the game.  Don't have a local hobby store?  No problem - you can order and ebay everything you need.  Obviously this leads to more exposure, but I still have to think the real charm comes in seeing two armies arrayed against on another on the table top.  Surely that has to be the item that draws most folks in?

So now I pose the question - What got you into 40k?  I would love to hear your story and I challenge other blogs out there and authors to post what got them into the hobby!  Was it an individual or a moment where you stumbled across the hobby?