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"What is "Scale" and whether it is "Creeping"" Topic

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Ivan DBA02 Mar 2009 11:01 a.m. PST

Call me a heretic. Call me a philistine.

I am NOT worried about scale creep. I'm buying Xyston figures, and I don't care if they are 15mm or 18mm tall. I'm also going to continue referring to 15mm as a "scale" because that is what it means in common parlance.

I've noticed that every time a new product is announced, someone will ALWAYS chime in either griping about scale creep, or saying "I might buy this, if it is exactly compatible with my Editions Brokaw 23mm figures.

Differences in the height of figures ARE very obvious when you put them SIDE BY SIDE and LOOK for those differences. I promise you, when you paint them in similar styles or, if necessary, segregate the different manufacturers' figures into separate units, these differences will practically vanish.

I've got Minifigs, Essex, Viking Force, Xth Legion, Gladiator, and Xyston figures all mixed together in the same army, and NO ONE has EVER said "Whoa, you've got scale creep issues man!" And given how persnickety gamers are, I don't think people have just been polite! ;)

As for whether 28mm, 15mm etc are "scales." I fully comprehend and accept the technical correctness of the argument that 1/72 is a scale, and 20mm is a size. But for two reason, I'll continue referring to "15mm scale."

1. Its convenient parlance. Everyone knows what I'm talking about. How else do I describe the elephant that accompanies my 15mm Seleucids? The elephant isn't "15mm size," he's more like 30mm size. But if I say "15mm scale" you know exactly what I mean.

2. "15mm scale" IS a scale, its just short for 15mm/6foot scale. (height of figure vs average human height, give or take a few inches.)

So I'm going to keep buying figures from lots of different companies, regardless of a few millimetres here or there, and I'll happily refer to them as "15mm scale" when I do, even if they are actually 18mm tall.

T Meier02 Mar 2009 11:10 a.m. PST

""15mm scale" IS a scale, its just short for 15mm/6foot scale. (height of figure vs average human height, give or take a few inches.)"

As you seem to admit yourself ‘15mm' figures are more like 18mm tall. Since an average soldier before the 20th century was about 5'8" if 15mm is 6ft that makes an 18mm figure eight foot eight, which is rather unusually tall I'd say.

GreatScot7202 Mar 2009 11:18 a.m. PST

Begun these Scale Wars have…..


The Black Tower02 Mar 2009 11:29 a.m. PST

I think in these times when money for hobbies is tight no one wants to risk buying figures that they feel do not "fit " with their existing army

Ivan you can go on calling 15mm a scale – that does not make you correct!

Boone Doggle02 Mar 2009 11:38 a.m. PST

What makes him correct is that, in the context of the miniatures hobby, 15mm is the name of a scale. Granted a loosely defined scale.

Would most of us assume a 15mm Tiger tank or a 15mm dragon actually be 15mm in size?

If the answer to that is yes, then you are correct.

But of course not. We would all assume, correctly, that the Tiger tank or dragon was in SCALE with a typical "15mm" human figure.

Boone Doggle02 Mar 2009 11:47 a.m. PST

The real question here is why manufacturers cannot adhere to a standard scale.

Just changing the name of the scale from 15mm to 1/100, or whatever is not the magic bullet.

If a manufacturer can call his 18mm tall figure 15mm,
What make you think they won't called their 1/85 figure 1/100?

I fear the real answer is that some/most manufacturers see no value in a universal standard. Or worse, actively do not want a universal standard.

T Meier02 Mar 2009 11:52 a.m. PST

"Grant a loosely defined scale."

How can you have a loosely defined scale? Scale is a mathematical relation, it's like saying 2+2 is something between 3 and 5, it may be true but it will get you in a lot of trouble if you use it to balance your checkbook.

T Meier02 Mar 2009 11:55 a.m. PST

"If a manufacturer can call his 18mm tall figure 15mm,
What make you think they won't called their 1/85 figure 1/100?"

That is a good point but at last with a scale you can definitely say when equipment has been done wrong and make a good case for people. With size anything goes.

RavenscraftCybernetics02 Mar 2009 11:56 a.m. PST

think where we will be if we continue to not measure the entire figure.

aecurtis Fezian02 Mar 2009 12:03 p.m. PST


…compared to:


Both could loosely be considered "lunch".

But there are those of us who can tell the difference.


Boone Doggle02 Mar 2009 12:13 p.m. PST

Is a few not a quantity?
Is pink not a colour?
Is 10 storeys not a height?
Can I not balance my checkbook approximately?

The question is whether it is too loosely defined for it's purpose. That I agree it is.

adub7402 Mar 2009 12:29 p.m. PST

"most manufacturers see no value in a universal standard"

Ahh… someone has discovered the answer. Mfrs and see no value because their customers see no value. Only a vocal few continue to raise this issue. Mfrs don't build figs to meet these few customers expectations, they do it to meet the masses. And the masses want pretty figs with lots of detail that are internally consistant in size, quality, and aesthetic.

Even if scales are the same, quality (mold lines, detail) and aesthetic (big headed cartoony guys vs. realistic skinny guys) will differ. These differences will be enough to anger most of the vocal minority complaining about scales. So, what has an mfr gained by throwing away all of his molds and spent all that money recreating a range to meet a spec to military precision? A handful of happier grognards and smaller set of even angrier hobbiests complaining about a mellon headed greyhound driver?

Can you show me the cost/benefit that will justify that?

Scale Creep Miniatures02 Mar 2009 12:47 p.m. PST


Technically neither of those is really "lunch."

@Ivan DBA:

I have single units with as many as 20 different manufacturers represented. No one has ever said I needed help with Scale Creep issues.

@Everyone Else:

I'd say a high proportion of gamers need me to explain my company name to them.

BigLee02 Mar 2009 12:49 p.m. PST


Boone Doggle02 Mar 2009 12:51 p.m. PST

… but at last with a scale you can definitely say when equipment has been done wrong and make a good case for people. With size anything goes.

Hmmmm, is that the reason why manufacturers/sculptors don't want the scale defined exactly? They all want the manufacturing/design/artistic license to change the "style" of the figure to meet their other criteria.

With a "scale" define primarily by a "height" they have the freedom to modify other dimensions to suit their needs. Yet provide a minimum reference for the consumer to work out what they are buying.

Of course, many manufacturers can't even adhere to the one and only dimension they explicitly commit to.

Edit: ADub74 is more to the point.

ming3102 Mar 2009 12:53 p.m. PST

The big arguement has been for company A's minis be conpatable with company b's . But we must not forget that SCULPTING of miniatures is an art. and Art is not always precise ( Frazetta vs Picasso vs dali Vs Vangoh, Vs Michangelo ) . Buy what you like make it fit to what you use .

Steve Flanagan02 Mar 2009 1:42 p.m. PST

Scale Creep (n): Proportionate model of Grima Wormtongue.

Tango India Mike02 Mar 2009 1:46 p.m. PST

Go for it mate….. I call 15mm a scale too.!

adub7402 Mar 2009 1:57 p.m. PST

"Buy what you like make it fit to what you use."

Exactly. And it's fine to ask others oppinions on art; does this shirt go with these pants?

The Black Tower02 Mar 2009 2:22 p.m. PST

Mfrs and see no value because their customers see no value

Makers do see a value – in making their ranges incompatable with others but you cannot get away so easy with a ratio (scale) then reviewers would check the dimentions and be able to say your tank is way too big or small!

Of course it way mean that the makers would have to employ people with more skills to work to plans rather than make cartoon or artistic licence version of the tanks

adub7402 Mar 2009 2:34 p.m. PST

"in making their ranges incompatable with others"

There is some truth to that. I also see an avenue for planned obselence in some of the more popular lines. But that may be a little too pesimistic.

"artistic licence version of the tanks"

Now that one has always gotten me. Really tiny sculpts of people is one thing but sulpts of a well known vehicle is another. With the exception of some mfr constraints (thick barrels so they don't bend so easy) is one thing, but flat out wrong proportions is another.

John D Salt02 Mar 2009 2:48 p.m. PST

RavenscraftCynernetics wrote:


Hear, hear.

Can anyone explain, I wonder, where this bizarre idea that the height of a man is measured to the eyeballs originated?

I can't recall there being any such nonsense when I started collecting Airfix figures in, oooh, 1967. Measure a Britain's or an Airfix 54mm figure, and it's 54mm tall, a circumstance that should come as little surprise.

So -- anyone know who started the eyeballs thing?

All the best,


John D Salt02 Mar 2009 2:51 p.m. PST

BigLee wrote:


What scale?

I want to know if it's compatible with the command radius monster I've already painted.

All the best,


adub7402 Mar 2009 3:02 p.m. PST

"who started the eyeballs thing"

In the dark days of miniatures (70's) a writter who shall remain nameless lamented on the scale issue in regards to men wearing silly hats. It seemed that there was some difficulty with men wearing different hats being different sizes; a tall hatted 54mm gentleman was shorter then a short hatted 54mm gentleman--both figs being 54mm. Therefore, it was suggested that the measurement be made head to eye because men with silly hats didn't wear silly shoes (usually) and you could always see at least one eyeball regardless of how silly the hat--even the really silly ones. And because this was the dark ages of miniatures, there were few voicies to be heard and this is the one that rang the loudest. People, including mfrs, took this idea and ran. It became the defacto standard and gained inertia. This idea lasts to this day. And like retail websites that don't show pictures of what they sale, there is no strong market reason to change regardless of how loudly people moan.

T Meier02 Mar 2009 3:24 p.m. PST

"So -- anyone know who started the eyeballs thing?"

I don't know, as you say it wasn't the way figures were measured in the 60's or 70's. The first time I heard of it was in the late 80's and I recall thinking it was a joke on the lines of Monty Python's ‘Parrot Sketch'.

There is a tendency for inexperienced sculptors making modeled (built up of soft material) as opposed to carved figures to make them a bit too big. Until the mid 70's most figures were carved, after 1980 nearly all figures were modeled.

Ivan DBA02 Mar 2009 4:28 p.m. PST

""15mm scale" IS a scale, its just short for 15mm/6foot scale. (height of figure vs average human height, give or take a few inches.)"

As you seem to admit yourself ‘15mm' figures are more like 18mm tall. Since an average soldier before the 20th century was about 5'8" if 15mm is 6ft that makes an 18mm figure eight foot eight, which is rather unusually tall I'd say.

T Meir: With respect, I think you are missing my point. Or you were gently poking fun. Either way, the reason I threw in "give or take a few inches" was to account for the 6' versus 5'8" thing.

My point is, 15mm is a scale, and that scale is "15-18mm/real life."

As for the eyeball thing, if everyone abandoned it, we would suddenly have scalecreep in the opposite direction. Fine by me, but clearly a lot of people would be worried about that too.

The Black Tower02 Mar 2009 5:09 p.m. PST

But most vehicals are made to a real ratio scale – which is why so many wargamers ask on TMP "is 1/56 160 1/48 28mm scale?

I am sorry but some figures just look silly dwarfing a tank, just as others look like a dwarf in a tank!

Scale sreep makes it even worse!

Lentulus02 Mar 2009 6:03 p.m. PST

A friend of mine has some 25 or so year old 15m armies that are compatable with some current lines sold as 10mm.

It is only a problem, of course, if he wants to expand them, or he wants to put them on the table against my modern 15mm armies which really really look out of proportion.

Iwas out of circulation for a while, so can anyone tell me how the divide looks with 10 year old armies? Is the pace accelerating, or has it stabilized as it has gotten closer to 20mm?

aecurtis Fezian02 Mar 2009 6:24 p.m. PST

"So -- anyone know who started the eyeballs thing?"

There has been an attribution, recorded recently on TMP. You can go look it up.

I Jim I02 Mar 2009 7:18 p.m. PST

The Barrett Measure used in the Courier was foot-to-eye.

But Mserafin claimed (see TMP link ) that he learn how to measure to the eye at Willie Suren's shop in London in the'70s.

adub7403 Mar 2009 9:18 a.m. PST

James--I briefly reread the thread you linked…

… and Wargamer43210 said …

"Having a common method for measuring figure compatibility would really benefit everyone. I think it is almost as important as having pictures of the figures."


Equally important and equally as unlikely to happen for exactly the same reasons.

RudyNelson03 Mar 2009 1:25 p.m. PST

The preference for tall or lite/ short 15mm or bulky vs slim 15mm seems to be a matter a taste. Plus it seems to often related to the painting style of the individual.

As long as the 15mm group of castings can fit onto the proper basing dimensions for the rulese being played, there is little chatter from other gamers about the style of 15mm selected.

The large 25mm to 28mm variance in size can be very noticable but can be viewed from a matter of painting taste.

What castings are available in which scales AND the quality of the castings are more of a concern than specific size comparison issues.

The Monstrous Jake03 Mar 2009 4:19 p.m. PST

Now that I've started converting all my stuff to box scale, I'm really concerned that scale creep is affecting that too.

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