Well, back in the dawn of time... around July 1973 we think (I had thought 1972 but appear to be out by a year...), Minifigs released the start of possibly the earliest fantasy range for wargamers - Middle Earth of course. If you know of any earlier dates for them please comment below or email me. Still trying to find out how early the American Jack Scruby fantasy range was... Dick Higgs was the designer and he sculpted in solder... giving reason to the angular quality of their sculpts - see him in action here.
24th September 2020 - note the edited additional pics at the bottom
Note the COMING SOON section at the bottom (Military Modelling, July 1973)