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"WWII newbie: 15mm vs. 20mm plastic" Topic

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2,288 hits since 27 Nov 2011
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DestoFante27 Nov 2011 4:23 p.m. PST

I am entertaining the idea of a little side project, something very distant from my usual wargaming fare. I am planning on building two or three small forces to give a try to Rapid Fire. I know there is a wide choice of rules, but, as I mentioned, this is a "side" project that I really would like to maintain in the KISS spirit: Keep It Simple and Small (hence the interest in Rapid Fire, which appears to be relatively sparse in the demand for forces and equipment.)
For once, I am relatively agnostic about the scale: I could go 15mm, my scale of choice for everything else, or opt for plastic 20mm (yes, Airfix nostalgia is a big driver behind the idea.) As I said: "Simple and Small", but also, possibly, cheap. So, here's my question: in terms of cost (especially tanks), would it be cheaper choosing the 15mm lines (Old Glory, Peter Pig, etc.) or it is more cost effective to consider the plastic option? I am not familiar at all with 20mm plastic other than infantry figures, so I am somewhat hesitant to give it full consideration without learning more about the hardware and its cost.
Thanks in advance!

combatpainter Fezian Inactive Member27 Nov 2011 4:36 p.m. PST

10mm Cheap, simple and paint up fast

bridget midget the return27 Nov 2011 4:40 p.m. PST

1/72 plastics, you can always supplement with the large range of 20mm metals as well.

ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2011 4:46 p.m. PST

20mm equals nicest figures out there but more cost (although plastic is cheaper you will probably fill in with metal) I would say that plastic kits will take longer to assemble too. However, you can get Dragon Models which are pre-paints.

15mm, no matter what rules you play, more than likely you have a group of Flames of War people around you. Big advantage in my opinion. Good selection, etc. Not as nice as 15mm though…

10mm, in my opinion is the best scale for WWII. Small enough to do large battles, big enough to see details on the foot troops. Blitzkrieg Commander recommends this size but you could probably do 15mm with this rules set. Lots of pre-paints from World Tank Museum and 21st Century toys. Big issue, is who else plays them and just maybe, availability of certain vehicles.

FoW in my area made me go up from Microarmor. But I didn't play MA much anyway. 15mm is my favorite scale as you can get almost all the detail of larger scales for less money and you can fit a larger force in a smaller amount of space. 20mm is almost a wash on space as the larger 15mm lines are really 1/87th scale which is not far from 1/172nd scale or 20mm as you asked about. BUT the prices for metal figures shoot up quite a bit and you will need to fill in with metal, I would think?

the trojan bunny27 Nov 2011 5:18 p.m. PST

1/72 plastic has a lot of variety and is very affordable.

Note that there also 15mm plastics out now, from Plastic Soldier Company.

Dynaman878927 Nov 2011 5:20 p.m. PST

For cost, go with 15mm.

Old Glory for infantry (or Plastic Soldier Company). OG figs can be gotten at roughly 50 figs for $10 from warweb.

For most vehicles the PSC ones are excellent and cheap, even less expensive and still decent quality (not award winning quality, but quite decent for gaming with) is gamodls. The gamodls vehicles are $4 each. Whatever gamodls does not carry can be gotten from Old Glory (via warweb) for really cheap as well.

Personal logo Ditto Tango 2 3 Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member27 Nov 2011 5:50 p.m. PST


redbanner414527 Nov 2011 6:09 p.m. PST

What scale terrain have you got?

ScoutII Inactive Member27 Nov 2011 7:12 p.m. PST

Big fan of the 1:72 in this category. Most the 20 mm figures are pretty good matches for them – so you can get a large variety for pretty cheap.

If you pop over to a site like Squadron, and select 1:72 scale for the filter on the search – you will find hundreds of different kits. Many are in plastic for very cheap. Others that are a bit more obscure are available in metal or resin from either hobby suppliers or model suppliers.

There is a bit of a downside though – right now, the predominant game in the WWII market is in the 15 mm flavor. In my case, the guy who I game with in WWII has his own armies in 20 mm (Axis and Allies – more than you could shake a really big stick at) – so that is less of a concern to me.

Either way – track down Minitracks magazine. It is a French magazine (bilingual though), so it can be a bit difficult to find. It is however worth the effort. They specialize in small scale model armor, and you can find a lot of suppliers who are less known in the hobby circles.

Sundance Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2011 8:21 p.m. PST

I'm guessing, but I think there's the best selection of figures available in 15mm. If you're just looking for something to tinker with, that might not be important, though, so it comes down to whatever you prefer.

thosmoss27 Nov 2011 8:59 p.m. PST

Big fan of the body proportions to 20mm over 15mm. Plastic Soldier Company seems to be leading the way (and I'd be happily corrected if need be) in making quick-assembly vehicles for play instead of exercises in assembly.

Personally, my side trip took me to 28mm, and I still look on at 20mm with lust and envy.

kyoteblue Inactive Member27 Nov 2011 9:49 p.m. PST


NigelM Inactive Member28 Nov 2011 3:02 a.m. PST

As a couple of people have already pointed out consider your terrain. Some 15mm items may well work with 20mm but you will need some specific stuff. Do you really want to do that for a side project? This has been the determining factor for me, I use 15mm for everything now. PSC and Zvedza are coming out with a lot of cheap plastic vehicles. I would think in the long run 15mm will be cheaper for you (though not necessarily the case if you were starting from scratch without any terrain etc)

Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2011 7:03 a.m. PST

Since you ask specifically about cost and 15mm then consider some of the plastic ranges. Zvezda vehicles are currently $3.49 at As mentioned PSC also has a nice range also carried by The War Store. Box of 5 is $22.99 or $4.60 a tank. Only problem with PSC is the 5 vehicle packs which can make it a bit difficult if you are looking for say 6 vehicles. By way of comparison you can get Command Decision/Old Glory range at warweb in metal for $14.39 for packs of 3 or $4.80 a tank.

hurrahbro28 Nov 2011 7:04 a.m. PST

Who else plays WW2 games in your area?
What scale do they play?
You might want to conform to their scale so that you have opponents.

Mostly Plastics. Do take a look at the Plastic Soldier Review (use your search engine of choice) good reviews and images of box contents, but does not cover vehicles.
Cheap, widely available, both infantry, tanks, guns and transport. Ho/oo Railway Scenics usable though those are not so cheap, they are however, widely available.
More obscure forces are available in lead, sometimes plastic as well.
Legacy, most areas has gamers that has a force.
Most platoon support weapons absent from plastic sets so must be got in lead. Thanks to Zvedza, that is changing a bit (theri mini boxes with 2 anti-tank rifles, mortars, anti-tank guns and even motorcycle and side cars in 1/72 are cheaper than most lead/resin versions).
The same is true for the more esoteric vehicles.

15mm, mostly metal.
less space taken up.
Cheaper per figure vs the lead 20mm.
Plastic soldier company doing 15mm plastics and Zvedza's 1/100th vehicles are however excellent value for money.
Thanks to companies like Peter Pig, lots of character peices are available.
with the exception of the new PSC/Zvevaz stuff, everything has to be bought in lead.
A lot of vehicles are no cheaper than those for 20mm.
When you have painted and assembled your force and do the maths, you have spent about the same as you woudl have for a 20mm force.
legacy, Untill Flames of war, the owners of 15mm WW2 forces were few and far between.

Game changers.
Flames of war has popularised the scale, creating a user base of sufficient critical mass to drive an explosion of forces fo moset budget.
Plastic soldier co infantry sets.
The Zvedza vehicles.
Axis and Allies minutures game, the more recent sets have also generated an after market of good, usuable and cheap models. beware that the early sets were a flexable scale.

These are all tipping the balance in favour of 15mm. Untill these happened, I have always considered 15mm to be a "false god" for this subject. Now, it is just as good as 20mm.
If you are doing Russian and Germans, it would now consider it a very good choice. Especially as you have a fair amount of 15mm sceneics already.

Dynaman878928 Nov 2011 9:09 a.m. PST

> with the exception of the new PSC/Zvevaz stuff, everything has to be bought in lead.

Don't forget to check out Gaming Models, they do a lot of vehicles in resin at $4 a pop. Not everyone's cup of tea though.

NigelM Inactive Member28 Nov 2011 9:50 a.m. PST


PSC announced in a recent newsletter that they will be making individual sprues available for purchase;

'a new "Reinforcements" range where you can buy single vehicle sprues to complete units, HQs etc.'

DestoFante28 Nov 2011 11:05 a.m. PST

Thanks, all!
[And my apologies for posting in the "rules" board, rather the generic WWII discussion forum.)

Lots of food for thought.

This thread made me think about the reason why, in 25+ years as an "adult" wargamer, I have stayed away from gaming WWII. In part, it's an embarassment of riches: so many interesting fronts, it is hard for me to even pick up one to start: France 1940, fall of Singapore, Western Desert, Stalingrad, D-Day, Arnhem… too much!

In part, though, I found it very challenging to simply come up with a reasonable "starting force", the same way I did with my Napoleonic and Age of Reason collections. WWII rules and scenarios always appear to be stacked with unmanageable OOBs. A favorite example is a ruleset calling for individual based figure – and providing a scenario where 20 between trucks and lorries are required. Twenty trucks made sense if you are playing a micro-scale, in which case individually based figures make no sense. But now I am digressing.

After all the very kind input, and still salivating over Tim's pictures (you are an evil man, my friend!), I think I am inclined toward 15mm. Terrain is a major factor, as many pointed out; and a range as Peter Pig's offer enough variety of poses and characters to make tolerable not to revert back to plastic. Tanks and heavy metal remain a financial (and storage) concern. I even considered down-scaling armor to 12mm (after all, Peter Pig is at the smaller of "true" end of the scale, as well as most of my 15mm terrain), but I am not sure whether such a compromise would save me much money. I guess Kursk will not be my first project -- nor a scenario calling for 20 trucks…

Stay tune for the next step, and thanks!


kyoteblue Inactive Member28 Nov 2011 1:50 p.m. PST


Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2011 2:38 p.m. PST


Great news and would guess a popular move, thanks for the update.

Thomas Thomas Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2011 2:59 p.m. PST

As to 20mm v. 15mm, I collect both and so can offer some comments:

Cost: 20mm superior by far. Very good quality plastic figures for nearly every army (I have Romianian, Chinese, French, Polish etc etc all in plastic). Vehicles much cheaper you can get 2 kit fast builds for less than the cost of 1 15mm lead/resin model.

Detail: 20mm again by far. Its bigger so this may explain but proportions just seem to be much better in 20s.

Availability: Massive in both cases but 20s have far more and better pre-paints so if you need a vehicle for tommorrows game… you want to go with 20s. I often find well painted versions of 20mm vehicles for less cost than unpainted 15s.

Games: if your going to do Flames of War – 15s (its why I have 15s). I've got 2 Flames armies but like much more variety so for exotic forces I always use 20s (also for historical screnrio games needing a wider variety of equipment).

Terrian: I use the same terrian for both so it makes no real difference. Due to model RR more is available for 20s but can be used for both.


Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2011 5:29 a.m. PST


Must disagree with statement 20mm cheaper by far. You mention 2 kit fast build 20mm assume you mean HAT models. At $15.25 for a two pack ($7.62 each) they are more expensive by far then PSC, Zvezda, or Old Glory/CD decision vehicles. Comparing the price of FOW only is like picking the most expensive single 20mm kit and then saying all the 15mm are cheaper. At $3.49 you can get two Zvezda models for less than one HAT model ($7.62.

And you mention better quality yet for a price. The HAT models, while nice, are not the more detailed of the 20mm ranges.

And I too have a good collection of pre-paint 20mm to use in skirmish gaming many bought through good deals on Ebay. But I have not found them for less than $5 which is the price of all the unpainted 15mm I have mentioned. Once again comparing only with FOW/BF vehicles is not fair as they are not the only player in the game :)



Marc33594 Supporting Member of TMP29 Nov 2011 7:03 a.m. PST

Quick correction. PSC also does 1/72nd vehicles. They sell a box of 3 for $18 at The Warstore making them $6 each so cheaper then HAT but still more expensive then 15mm.

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