A question of scale

For some while this issue of scale has been bothering me, mainly in relation to wargames figures and since I have started collecting Warhammer and the like it seems there is no definitive answer to their scale, some seemed to be measured from eye line to foot others from head height to foot.

For many years I have been building scale models of plastic and working, to a degree with many scales, but they all have an easy formula that does follow through on wargames figures.

Ok, so you want to know the scale of your figures?

Knowing the scale opens up accurate scaling of vehicles and building etc, you can of course ‘build by eye’ but is far better to work with a known measurement.

The reason I am working here with figures is because we have a known measurement for the average male human, 6 foot.

Ok if you have orc’s or ogres it doesn’t really matter but for human figures this should be helpful.

Scaling a car for example is easy if you have the measurements of a full size example otherwise it’s a bit more tricky.

Ok for those who know very little about working out scales we will start with some basic stuff first and some easy calculations.

My all time favourite scale is 1:76, mainly because I grew up with Airfix kits of that scale and had and still have model railway stock of that scale too, many diecast are now made in 1:76.

So what is “1:76″ the scale factor is how many of the models you would need to make a full size object of the same value, in other words it would take 76 scale figures at 1:76 scale to make one 6 foot human, the next thing we can work out is the height of a 1:76 figure and, for instance the height of a 6’6″ doorway to build a 1: 76 scale house.

We don’t need many calculations to do this although a calculator would be handy;

1 imperial foot is, in round figures 305mm, so if you time 305×6 you get 1830mm the 6 foot in metric, now divide by 76 and you will end up with 24.07 or in round figures 24mm, this is the size your 1:76 scale male person should be, now to work out the scaled down imperial foot in 1:76 just divide 24 by 6 and you will end up with 4, that’s 4mm equals 1 foot.

To work out the height of your 6’6″ Doorway you just times 4 by 6.5 so now you know a scaled doorway of 6’6″ will be 26mm, easy isn’t it.

Ok, as you can see this can be done with any scale so lets look at the picture on this page in more detail.

Wargames figures are well known to be measured from eye height rather than head height, I can see the reason why as this allows for head gear and helmets which can differ greatly, but that aside  we will be working from the base of the foot ( don’t include the measurement of any bases) to normal head height or thereabouts, this is only  a basic guide so you can adjust your scale to suit.

Starting with the smallest figure of 21mm, this is sold as HO or OO model railway scale (1:87 or 1:76 scale) but this figure is in fact 1:87 scale, ( 1830 divided by 21 =87.1) 1:76 scale would be 24mm as seen in the text above, so 21mm divided by 6 would give you a scale foot of 3.5. there’s a staggering amount available in both 1:87 or 1:76 scale and more often than not 21mm figures are sold as 1:76 or 24mm figures.

The largest figure is listed as 1:32 scale and stands 54mm but actually works out at around 1:34 (1830 divided by 54 =33.8888) but works well with 1:32 a scaled foot would be 9mm, a large amount of scenery, vehicles and animals available in this scale

Ok as for the others;

B; is from Robogear and stands 40mm, 1830 divided by 40= 45.75 or 1:46 scale, a scaled foot would be 6.5mm would work well with 1:43 scale vehicles and British 0 gauge is which is 7mm and scaled at 1:43

C; is an average Games Workshop figure and stands 30mm, 1830 divided by 30= 61 or 1:60 scale, a scaled foot would be 5mm, 1:50 scaled vehicles should work best with these, the nearest railway gauge would be American 0 gauge which is 6mm to the foot and scaled at 1:48 (British 0 gauge is 7mm and 1:43 so slight bigger). In wargames these are better known as 28mm and measured from base to eyeline.

D; is from Ground Force Zero (GFZ) and is 28mm and works out to 1:65 and will work well with 1:64 scale cars and trucks, and scale foot is 4.5mm. There is also an American railway gauge scaled at 1:64 called S gauge. In wargames these are better known as 25mm and measured from base to eyeline.

Another popular wargames scale is 15mm again measured to eye line, the 15mm figures I have measured 17mm head to foot making them about 1:107 scale or 3mm to the foot, 1:100 is popular with some model makers of armoured fighting vehicles and military aircraft also European TT railway gauge is 1:100.

A good rule of thumb for finding vehicles for your figures is always go slightly bigger scale rather than smaller, for example 1:60 scale figures should work with 1:50 scaled vehicles, some work like for like, 1:32 figures and 1:32 vehicles, it doesn’t always look right though as seen by my plastic Britains castle I bought for my 1:32 knights and better suited for smaller figures

Working by eye does work but knowing my Ground Force Zero figures are 1:65 and my Matchbox raiders vehicle is 1:64 then it tends to work better.

My Britains plastic castle looks far more impressive with 28mm soldiers than with the 1:32 scale knights it’s mean for.

Hope this makes sense and becomes useful for scaling your figures and related scenery, as always any questions just ask.


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