What is the formula for converting the scales? Some kits are described as 54
mm, 70mm, etc; others as 1/35, 1/24, 1/48, etc. I know this is a dumb
question, but how can I match these up so I can make sure I'm buying pieces
the same scale?
Thanks for any help you can give.
Steve in Nebraska
The mm scale for figures is a traditional standard
that goes way back to the old toy soldier days.
In actuality, it is *not* really a measure of scale.
It was used as a guide for display space requirements.
In addition, the manufacturers used a lot of leeway
in defining *their* interpretation of a particular
size, in this case 54mm. Some manufacturers would
base it on the distance from the ground to the
figure's eyes. Others from the ground to the top
of the figure's (unadorned) head. Still others
would measure to the top of the headdress.
Even today, company A's 54mm figures may not be
the same scale as company B's 54mm figures.
Although *most* 54mm-ish figures are *about*
1/32nd scale, just keep in mind that the mm scale
is no more than an approximation of the actual
A good example: Many of Verlinden's aftermarket
120m heads, are actually TOO SMALL for the Series
77 90mm figures! These classic 90mm figures were
often "stumpy" in anatomy. If *corrected* to
proper proportions, they often would size out to
be bigger that the *accepted* 120mm size.
Another example: The old classic Historex, was
*accepted* to be 54mm, but they are/were closer
to 1/30th scale; a tad *bigger* than 1/32nd.
Indeed, the artillery kits from Historex are identified on the box as 1/30th
scale, so presumably the 54 mm figures are the same.
As for compatibility of figures and scale vehicles, you could just set the
figure next to a scale rule and decide if he's useable. Some Verlinden figures
are around 6'7".
Thanks for the excellent answers! This is really helpful to my
understanding. I'm returrning to modelling after a 40-year absence, and so
much has changed from the days of growing up with Revell, Monogram, and
Renwal kits of the 1950's.
Thanks again for taking the time to share your knowledge.
In article , Steve Brooks
IMHO, the things you need to get to a common scale are manufactured
items, such as weapons and personal equipment. These things can be
measured against a scale, but people vary in size.
On a recent thread there was a comment to the effect the figures which
came with the old Tamiya SdKfz251 half-track were undersize for a bunch
of burly Brandenburgers. On the other hand, they would probably been
just the right build for a contemporary Scots regiment - the comedian
Billy Connolly once remarked he and his contemporaries used to refer to
their elders as "Bonnet tops" because from their elevated stature all
that could be seen of them was the tops of their caps. He said (IIRC)
this is what a couple of generations of slum living had done to the
stature of the Scots who had moved into the industrial cities, and I
concur with that opinion.
Similarly, the current generation of Japanese, raised on a diet with
western influences, tend to tower over their elders - a fact remarked on
by my boss (who is not a tall man) who now often finds himself looking
up at people who's predecessors were on an even eye-level with him.
Such trends aside, look at any group photograph and note the differences
in height and body shape. Where there is some selection in the group
(such as with the military) the extremes may be moderated, but there is
still variation. I've always had a preference for incorporating this in
groups of figures, but in wargaming even where there are variants within
regimental groups - because the models are constructed around a
standard-sized dolly - there is little variation in height, and I
suspect this is because it would make a unit look "untidy" (reviews tend
to mention which other manufacturers ranges it item being reviewed is
visually compatible with) even where such a variation would add
authenticity, such as in the "horse-and-musket" period, where the big
lads were put in the Grenadier Company. However, it has to be said some
manufacturers are now making the figure with the heavy weapon a bit
bigger than the others!
On a related point, there was a lot of discussion about the Games
Workshop "Lord of the Rings" range when it first appeared, as to why it
was made to a smaller scale then their other ranges, when in fact it
isn't - the figures are simply closer to proper human proportions then
the more caricatured styles previously employed. Similarly, it was
remarked upon that there was a large discrepancy in height between the
Gandalf and Saruman figures, but this was because they accurately
reflected the difference of stature between Ian McKellen and Christopher
I suppose this is a long-winded way of saying if it looks O.K. to you,
that's all the justification you need. It's really down to aesthetics -
some people are ill-proportioned and awkward, but it doesn't really work
that well in a diorama unless it emhasises a point you're trying to make
(ground crew towering over stunted jet fighter jocks? :) ).
The old rule of thumb I learned was that the idea was to get a six-foot man
(72" or 1.83 meters) to scale. In 1/35 that works out to right around 52.5 mm;
in 1/32 it is 57mm; in 1/30 it would be 61mm (Ergo, you can't use most 1/35
figures with Historex parts!)
Same goes for 1/72 = 25mm figures are a match.
Too many of the old Tamiya figures scaled out at between 5'1 and 5'4; even
given a variety of human forms, that's a bit on the tiny side.
Here is my question. Not everyone in the world is 6 foot tall. Matter of
fact, it has only been in the last 100 years that 6 foot was even common. Is a
54 mm figure 54mm tall or is he scaled so that 6 foot is 54 mm? Napoleon at 54
mm is obviously a considerably larger scale than George Washington at 54 mm.
However, if they are scaled so that 54 mm = 6 foot, then Napoleon may be about
40 mm and Washington maybe 57 mm. The former almost makes the mm guide almost
a "box scale" if true.
The price of peace is eternal vigilance.
The definition varies, and is often the subject of heated argument, but
here's what seems to be the most commonly accepted version:
The "XXmm" term means that an "average person" is XX millimeters from
the bottom of the feet to eye level. For instance, a 15mm figure should
measure 15 millimeters from the bottom of its feet to the level of its
Eye level is used instead of top-of-head because many figures have
headgear that obscures the top of the head.
Note that "average person" is never precisely defined. Exactly how tall
this "average person" is supposed to be is usually the central point of
the arguments. Some people assume 6 foot, which makes the calculation
fairly simple but makes for really tall "average men", some people
research the historical average height for the time period and use that
(if I remember right during the Napoleonic period the average soldier's
height was 5'5 or 5'6").
Any way you do it, the figure probably won't match the measurement you
You hit the nail on the head. I describe the "mm" designation as a frame
of mind rather than a precise measurement of anything, but your
observation of it being essentially a "box scale" is correct.