Its been good reading how all you guys got into this stuff though different routes, so I thought I'd chip in
I've always built models and done "stuff" with my Dad: built rubber-band planes with balsa wood, tissue paper and dope (anyone else remember tissue-paper dope? No, its it's not illegal, but I'm sure I shouldn't have been that close to it as a child); built airfix kits, and even painted them reasonably well with enamels (well, painted well for a 7 year old!); we even made more practical stuff like melting lead and casting sea-fishing jiggers in aluminium tubes. Those were the days - if we'd been good, we got to go to the tip and get lead poisoning as a treat
I've also always played games with my Mum: card games, monopoly, risk, whatever. We still play TSR's Magestones regularly, even now
Plus, about the age of 10ish, I had some friends who discovered role-playing games, and I was sucked in, which lead onto wargames, 40K and Space Marine (Epic), Warhammer, etc. It seemed that painting toy soldiers was the only "creative" thing I seemed to be any good at, and since most of the rest of my life was a world of geekdom: good at maths, read excessively, didn't have too many close friends as I just didn't understand why
kids wanted to sit outside the shops and mash their brains on cheap cider, when you could do something useful like finish up that squad of space marines and at least have something to show for your time!!
I was a total GW-head for quite some time, until about the age of 15, one of my friends who had a bit of a thing for military history showed me where the airfix miniatures were in Beaties and we got into that for a while (and I discovered undercoat - because you can't paint soft plastic and have it fix, without a good clean and undercoat). Never being one who needed to play the good guys, he bought some colonial British, and I bought twice as many Moslems, and we played quite a few games with made-up rules re-fighting battles in the desert of the near east
Then at University, I just kinda kept it up, as a way to destress from studying, and my new girlfriend (now wife), whilst not into it, thought it was a much better idea than getting drunk all of the time (although we did some of that too). I should give a lot of credit here to Albatross, a model shop in Aberystwyth, near the pier, without which it would have been much harder to keep painting. I also got exposure to more and more non-GW wargames at uni, Flintloque, Warzone, Void, and free mini wargame rules off the internet. And after leaving uni, and having much more income available, the lead mountain really began to grow, and I began to really build it up and discover many other companies that made cool miniatures, at the same time as GW started to grow away from me (Don't cry for me Nottingham, the truth is, I never left you ... I kept my promise, you kept your distance
After moving back to Sheffield, after a few years down south, painting mostly sci-fi and historical wargames figures, I hooked back up with my old RPG friends, and started painting more fantasy again, which is kinda how I found Hasslefree, as I was searching ebay for minis suitable for slaves in a game that was coming up, and I came across a really expensive Concubine, and figured I'd check the price against the manufacturer's listed price, and decided to order direct rather than line the pockets of some ebay scammer. And with a lovely smilie, the bribe of a free sweet and some kind hand-written words in with my pervy figs, Hasslefree (and then the other FOD companies) were added to the list of companies I buy from quite regularly.
And that's where I'm at now