“I suspect it’s not that strange. ”
It’s indeed not that strange. The situation even has a name amongst economics people — it’s called the “Lipstick Effect”. In a poor economy people buy small luxuries instead of large ones. So the sales of expensive shoes falls but those of expensive lipsticks rise.
“So figure out why they aren’t buying toy soldiers and there’s a lot of untapped money waiting for you.”
One thing that a lot of people (a lot of women but also some men) have mentioned to me is that they don’t like playing games involving the “death” of figures which are human enough that they associate with them. They don’t mind games in which they lose faceless counters. They don’t mind meaningful character deaths in RPGs. But when people-shaped things are being mown down with wild abandon makes them uncomfortable.