Figure Scale

Okay, so you’ve been a wargamer forever and you want to do conversions from plastic model kits, Christmas Village accessories, or some other non-traditional source. Will it be compatible with your gaming stuff? Short of taking a figure with you to size against it (not always practical) you need to understand what the various scales are and what they are used for. This table can help you figure out if the kit you are considering is compatible with your figure collection.

Wargame ScaleModel Railroad ScalePlastic Modeling ScaleRemarksOther Compatible Scales
.6mmN/A1/3000Commonly used for naval miniatures (WWI, WWII, Modern)1/2400
.67mmN/A1/2400Commonly used for naval miniatures (WWI, WWII, Modern) and for starship combat games such as Star Fleet Battles1/3000
1.33mmNA1/1200used for naval miniatures, especially for pre-20th century ships. (In the modern periods, most gamers now use the 1/2400 scale due to price and playing area size.)1/900
2mmN/A1/900At this scale, each miniature often represents an entire unit (a group of men, a squadron of cavalry, battery of artillery). Recommended for those who want to depict large, epic battles in a limited table space, or who have less time for painting. Historical and science fiction.1/1200
2.7mmN/A1/600Popular pre-20th century naval miniatures scale.2mm
6mmZ Gauge1/300The most popular scale for mass modern combat, often involving armored vehicles. Periods include WWI, WWII, and contemporary. Miniatures in this scale have the advantage of being inexpensive. The small size also means there is less visible detail to paint. In this scale, it is possible to put armies on the tabletop which gives the impression of masses of infantry. Figures available for fantasy, historical, and science fiction.1/285
6.3mmZ Gauge1/285Although technically slightly larger than true 6mm, 1/285th scale miniatures are compatible with 6mm or Epic scale figures and Z Gauge terrain.1/300
10mmN Gauge1/160A relatively new scale, used for fantasy, historical, and science fiction. Some think this will be the popular scale of the future, larger enough to show detail but small enough to fit a large army on a tabletop.None
15mmN/A1/100The most popular scale for pre-20th Century wargaming. Also used for fantasy, science fiction, and 20th Century “skirmish-level” games. Plastic kits of mechs (robotic fighting machines) are available in this scale. Modern military vehicles also come in this scale, in metal and plastic. 15mm figures are generally compatible with HO Gauge terrain and smaller Christmas village buildingsHO Gauge
20mmHO Gauge(OO Gauge in UK/EU)1/87Becoming popular for skirmish-level 20th Century wargaming. Also used for science fiction. Several popular lines of pre-assembled and painted armored vehicles are available in this scale.15mm
22mmN/A1/72Plastic miniatures and kits are available in this scale for aircraft, ground vehicles, and soldiers.25mm, 20mm
25mmS Gauge1/64Traditionally popular for pre-20th Century wargaming, though most historical gamers have now switched to 15mm. Excellent scale for display games. Continues to be popular for fantasy wargaming, historical skirmish-level games, science fiction, and for use with role-playing games.28mm
28mm / 30mmO Gauge(P48 gauge in UK/EU)1/48The “large” 25mm figures are sometimes listed as being 28mm or 30mm, the scales being functionally equivalent. Also called Heroic Scale. Also popular for most ‘Christmas Village’ lines1/35
46mmN/A1/35Popular scale for plastic kits of armor. Occasionally used for modern gaming.I Gauge
40mmN/A1/40Typically used for popular ‘Action Figures’, not a wargaming scale.I Gauge
54mmGauge 11/32Traditional “toy soldier” scale, an uncommon scale in miniature gaming (GW uses it for its Inquisitor game and Fantasy Flights uses it for their Warzone game) However, it has been making a comeback in recent years – the large figures are said to be more convenient for older gamers. This scale is also popular for display (non-wargaming) figures.Gn15 Gauge
80mmG Gauge1/20Not a wargaming scale. Some G-scale bridges will accommodate 30mm AFVs nicely though and can be used on a 28mm/30mm table. G scale buildings are compatible with 54mm figures in most cases.Gauge 1
100mmN/A1/18Popular scale for diecast model cars – not a wargaming scaleG Gauge
120mmN/A1/16Popular scale for resin display figures – not a wargaming scaleNone
300mmN/A1/12sometimes called Toy Scale as it is the size of ‘Fashion Dolls’ like Barbie™. Not a wargaming scale – though I did see a WWII skirmish played out at this scale once at OriginsNone
400mmN/A1/9Popular RC (radio control) scale – not a wargaming scale300mm

Converting Between Scales

To theoretically convert ratio scales into height scales – and assuming here that height scales measure to “eye height” while ratio scales measure to “head height” – divide 1610 by the scale. For example, 1/285 figures are pretty much the same scale as 6mm figures. (1610 / 285 =5.65)

The reverse is also true: to get the ratio scale, divide 1610 by the height scale. Thus, 25mm figures are equivalent to 1/64 scale (which is in spitting distance of 1/72 scale, another common scale). (1610 / 25 = 64.4)

This means that 15mm toy soldiers are probably about 16.5mm tall overall, which makes them closer to 1/110 scale than 1/120. N-gauge figures (1/160) are about 11.25mm tall to the top of the head, which makes them about 10mm scale toy soldiers.

Where does the Magic Number 1610 Come From?

To get the magic number, all you need to come up with the “eye height” of the average man, measured in millimeters. The number we use is 1610 mm (about 5′ 3″).

Why does the magic number work? Because equivalent height and ratio scales, multiplied, should always result in the same constant (our magic number). In the simplest case, we take real-life – 1:1 ratio scale, eye height of 1610 mm – and multiply 1 x 1610 = 1610. Therefore, 1610 is the constant.

So what is the magic number for a manufacturer who measures height scale to the top of the head, rather than to eye level? Simply the height of the average man in millimeters – 1730 (5′ 8″).

2 thoughts on “Figure Scale

  1. Hi Andrew, I’ve been following your 613th Lyubov Rifles (and SM Maccabees) for a number of years now. Wish you would re-integrate the Maccabees into your blog. I know of someone who passed away a few years ago who had a great impact on wargaming along with Gary Gygax, his name is Bruce “Duke” Seifried. You might want to add him to your ‘In Memoriam’. Here are two links with information about him: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgamedesigner/4927/duke-seifried and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duke_Seifried

    Love your blog! Missing the Maccabees!!!

    Kevin Manhart

    Like

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