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?
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 scale.
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". GPO
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.
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 Lee.
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 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 eyes.
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 calculate.
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.