Scale

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 under stand 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 Scale Model Railroad Scale Plastic Modeling Scale Remarks Other Compatible Scales
.6mm N/A 1/3000 Commonly used for naval miniatures (WWI, WWII, Modern) 1/2400
.67mm N/A 1/2400 Commonly used for naval miniatures (WWI, WWII, Modern) and for starship combat games such as Star Fleet Battles 1/3000
1.33mm NA 1/1200 used for naval miniatures, especially for pre-20th century ships. (In the modern periods, most gamers now use 1/2400 scale due to price and playing area size.) 1/900
2mm N/A 1/900 At this scale, each miniature often represents an entire unit (a group of men, 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
2.7mm N/A 1/600 Popular pre-20th century naval miniatures scale. 2mm
6mm Z Gauge 1/300 The popular scale for 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 give the impression of masses of infantry. Figures available for fantasy, historical, and science fiction. 1/285
6.3mm Z Gauge 1/285 Although technically slightly larger than true 6mm, 1/285th scale miniatures are compatible with 6mm or Epic scale figures and Z Gauge terrain. 1/300
10mm N Gauge 1/160 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
15mm N/A 1/100 The 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 buildings HO Gauge
20mm HO Gauge

(OO Gauge in UK/EU)

1/87 Becoming 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
22mm N/A 1/72 Plastic miniatures and kits are available in this scale for aircraft, ground vehicles, and soldiers. 25mm, 20mm
25mm S Gauge 1/64 Traditionally 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 / 30mm O Gauge

(P48 gauge in UK/EU)

1/48 The "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' lines 1/35
46mm N/A 1/35 Popular scale for plastic kits of armor. Occasionally used for modern gaming. I Gauge
40mm N/A 1/40 Typically used for popular 'Action Figures', not a wargaming scale. I Gauge
54mm Gauge 1 1/32 Traditional "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
80mm G Gauge 1/20 Not 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
100mm N/A 1/18 Popular scale for die cast model cars - not a wargaming scale G Gauge
120mm N/A 1/16 Popular scale for resin display figures - not a wargaming scale None
300mm N/A 1/12 sometimes 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 Origins None
400mm N/A 1/9 Popular RC (radio control) scale - not a wargaming scale 300mm

 

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 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 top of the head, rather than to eye level? Simply the height of the average man in millimeters - 1730 (5' 8").


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