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"Old scales: 5, 9, 12, 30 mm" Topic

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1,382 hits since 17 Mar 2016
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Pertti Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 2:57 a.m. PST

Reading (very) old rules I came across the following figure sizes: 30, 25, 20, 15, 12, 9 and 5 mm.

I am sure 25 mm was the most popular size back then, then 15 mm. Those have scalecreeped now to about 28 and 18 mm. 20 mm must have referred to plastic figures.

But what about the other sizes? Did 30 and 12 mm exist?

Are 9 mm and 5 mm the direct ancestors of 10 mm and 6 mm respectively, or is there no link between these scales?

MajorB17 Mar 2016 3:04 a.m. PST

then 15 mm. Those have scalecreeped now to about 28 and 18 mm

No. There are still plenty of 15mm figure manufacturers

But what about the other sizes? Did 30 and 12 mm exist?

30mm figures were (and still are):
Spencer Smith

GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 3:17 a.m. PST

Early metal were 20mm, basically designed to be compatible with Airfix. Actually, quite a few were Airfix conversions anyway. Scale creep lead to 25mm. There are still quite a few 20mm metal figures out there.

12mm was a scale that didn't catch on – one example covered here:

TMP link

5mm was basically 1/300th and quite common for WW2 figures. Not sure if direct ancestor of 6mm, there were a number of scales around in that general area, for example 1/285th. No, I'm not getting into the argument of 'that's not a scale, that's a …' The English language adapts better than some wargamers.

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2016 3:22 a.m. PST

I believe that GarrisonMiniatures is correct I do remember 'Spot the Arfix' competitions when discussing our latest Minifigs figures.


Martin Rapier17 Mar 2016 3:45 a.m. PST

5mm were things like the Lanxcashire (?) figure blocks.

H&R were sometimes referred to as 5mm, at the time. It was along time ago.

12mm was a specific range produced by, again iirc, Hincliffe??

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2016 4:14 a.m. PST

I think Scruby produced 9mm figures.

ronny8664 Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 4:36 a.m. PST

Back in 1975 Hinchliffe Models introduced their System 12 range of figures and terrain. Figures were 12mm high and scaled to 150th. It wasn't very successful

I seem to remember that MiniFigs made a range of 5mm figure blocks and for many years most people called 1/300th scale "5mm"

JimDuncanUK17 Mar 2016 5:11 a.m. PST

Kallistra figures are 12mm and are very popular in parts of the world.

I also have dozens, if not several hundred Spencer Smith 30mm ACW figures.

Yesthatphil Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 5:14 a.m. PST

Agree with most of the above bot 15 and 18 are definitely different scales … (contrast, say, Eureka or Testudo with Peter Pig or, say, Outpost … ) and, although a little fuzzier, 25 and 28 are still evidently not the same.

Proper 15mm in certainly not an old scale and most modern ranges are multi-compatible @ 15mm sole-to-eyebrow

30mm is still the standard size for traditional German flat zinnfiguren.

I'm less convinced I could call the shots on 5mm, 1:300, 6mm and 1:285 … there do seem some overlaps.


Jeigheff17 Mar 2016 5:29 a.m. PST

I own some Scruby 12mm/n-gauge figures which don't have much detail, but have their own kind of charm. They're still available from Historifigs.

A while back, I bought some 10mm Pendraken figures to mix with the Scruby figures. They don't look good together.

John Armatys17 Mar 2016 5:52 a.m. PST

I still call 1:300 "5mm"! The Minfigs blocks are brilliant (one of my most used armies over the years is my 5mm Marlburian).

1:300 was the UK norm for micro-armour, 1:285 came in from the US – Newline Designs (I think the name was) produced GHQ under licence in the late 1970s/early 1980s.

Old 30mm figures are often compatible with modern 28mm, although the former are often more anatomically correct.

Martin Rapier17 Mar 2016 5:55 a.m. PST

Some of my pals at school had 30mm WW2 figures, they were somewhat bigger than Airfix:)

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2016 6:26 a.m. PST

I've a couple thousand 30mm Scruby, Bussler, SAE and other
makers figures from back in the late 1960s/early 1970s.
Those 'fit' well with today's 28mm figures, if somewhat
deficient in detail. George Van Teubergen also made a line
of 30mm figures. In almost all cases, the figures
produced back in those days didn't have the dynamic poses
available to day, but were rather 'stiff'.

Re: Holger Eriksson he did a lot of sculpting for
SAE, so there is a lot of resemblance among the HE SAE's
and the 'pure' HE line (usually identified by the HE on
the base). Eriksson produced his first figure in 1934
and also produced a line of 40mm figures, compatible with
the pre-WWII Elastolin 40mm's produced in Germany.

Scruby also made 9mm, 20mm and 25mm figures and for a
while (for Ambrite Industries) a line of 54mm figures.

Historifigs still produce figures in the Scruby tradition.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2016 6:39 a.m. PST

I've a couple thousand 30mm Scruby and other makers
figures from back in the late 1960s/early 1970s.

Scruby also made 9mm, 20mm and 25mm figures and for a
while (for Ambrite Industries) a line of 54mm figures.

Historifigs still produce figures in the Scruby tradition.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 7:58 a.m. PST

Though 15mm to 18mm, and 25 to 28,are due to scale creep (with some holdouts), there's another consideration,alluded to above by phil:wargame figure scale was once (again with some exceptions) measured from foot to top of the head. Ral Partha colonials come to mind because I have a lot of them,but it was pretty standard. At some point,they started being measured to the eye,as 54mm collectors figures had been all along. Whether this was a conscious decision or also due to scale creep, I can't say, though I do seem to recall discussion of it at the time. But then, that may have been rationalizing scale creep!

Hinchliffe figures(at least the ones I had/saw, were an outlier,nearer to 30mm (top of head 30) than other lines. When I started,everyone I knew called them "Hinchcliffe",so I did too,until I bought some boxes. Another tradition that lives on, I see.

"Hincliffe"--I saw what you did there,Martin!

Tommy2017 Mar 2016 8:23 a.m. PST

Phoenix Model Developments also made 30mm figures.

Martin Rapier17 Mar 2016 8:55 a.m. PST

""Hincliffe"--I saw what you did there,Martin!"

It was an entirely unintentional slip of the keyboard. Glad I did remember system 12 though.

I tend to stick to proper 15mm figures these days (Peter Pig, PSC, OG, MInifigs, some Essex but not all etc) rather than the 18mm bloaters, but all of these are somewhat taller than the original 15mm figures from the 1970s.

As noted above, generally '6mm', '5mm' and 1/300th were used fairly interchangeably back in the 70s. It was those expensive upstart GHQ models and their bloater 1/285th scale who started the scale creep in that are.

Current H&R figures are exactly the same size they have been for the last 40 years, but I have some old (possibly Lancashire??) figures who are really quite tiny. I avoid modern '6mm' bloaters like GHQ and Adler.

Lord preserve us from figure bloat, it drives me potty.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2016 8:58 a.m. PST

Yes, I remember the 5mm figure blocks. Wish they were still available.

With the inconsistencies in figure sizes you can probably come up with anything between 2mm and 54mm. Especially among the smaller sizes one designated height tends to creep into both the sizes above and below.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 10:02 a.m. PST

Hincliffe--well I'm going to continue to give you credit for cleverness.

BTW,IRRC,there are some size differences between some H&R ranges,aren't there? ACW and Napoleonics,for example? Not that that would cause problems,of course.

Sho Boki17 Mar 2016 10:23 a.m. PST

I prepare the production of 8mm (1:200 scale) napoleonic figures.
During the process they grow lightly and finally are between 8 and 9 mm.

Yesthatphil Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 10:34 a.m. PST

A while back I came a cross some original Minifgs 15mm strips, some clipped, some still in their strips.

I kept them for historical reasons (15mm as it once was)


As you can see, they are quite nice figures if a little 'wooden' … they are a little under 15mm to the eyes (a good 17/18mm to the top of the figure) …

They are pretty much the same size as most 'normal'/standard ('traditional'?) 15mm figures.

Here are some clipped ones …


… alongside Essex, Chariot, Museum, Donnington and Peter Pig …

They are all pretty much the same (and those others are just randomly picked from my painting table … the Essex figures do vary and I expected the Museum to be bigger but actually, plucked at random it seems to me they are all pretty much the same size).

I think this is a good example of how 15mm hasn't really changed (other than detail animation and 'style') and remains a different scale to 18mm ..


Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 11:00 a.m. PST

Good pics,Phil.I still have some of the old strip Napoleonics. I'll have to dig them out and measure.

Went I bought mine,they were going for ten cents a piece. You clipped off however many you needed.

Moonraker Miniatures Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 12:27 p.m. PST

Early metal were 20mm, basically designed to be compatible with Airfix. Actually, quite a few were Airfix conversions anyway. Scale creep lead to 25mm.

Actually, I don't think that was scale creep. Rather it was a marketing decision by Minifigs to make a unique product.


GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member17 Mar 2016 1:51 p.m. PST

True – they suddenly brought out 'S' Range and called it 25mm – in fact they were totally compatible with 20mm Garrison, though both were bigger than Airfix. Minifigs defined 25mm as being 6'.

John Armatys17 Mar 2016 5:00 p.m. PST

Only a couple of years ago I finished painting my 15mm Minifig Napoleonic strips (acquired in the late 1970s, and I still like the figures), and I've some ancient strips still in the lead mountain.

Repiqueone18 Mar 2016 5:48 a.m. PST

I think that, over time, 20 and 30 mm has been vindicated as the best possible scales, though 10 mm is gaining quickly.

Scale creep can be seen as both the designer/ casters and consumers slowly migrating back to certain scales that combine advantages in appearance, utility, detail, pose, and cost. I have 30 mm equipment, and older figures from Scruby and Erickson that blend flawlessly with 28mm, as 18 mm oversized 15s blend with earlier 20 mm.

This scale creep is nothing more than function defining form as the figures slowly migrate back to past " standard" scales. A person from the 60s and 70s time traveling forward to the present would find modern 28s as being 30s without a moments hesitation. He would, of course, faint at a 15 fold increase in price, but marvel at the quality of castings.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member18 Mar 2016 8:58 a.m. PST

Repiqueone,that last sentence fits me to a T.

steamingdave4719 Mar 2016 2:03 p.m. PST

Miniature Figurines still advertise "10mm/12 mm" ranges and there are several ranges of WW2 ( e.g Arrowhead, Dragon etc) which are advertised as 1/144 scale, which is pretty close to "12mm" size.

Glenn Pearce20 Mar 2016 8:10 a.m. PST

Hello Pertti!

At one time or another there were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 28, 30, 40 and 54. I think 1 never really lasted very long, although I have some. I'm not aware of anyone still making 9 and I've not seen anything on 4 for awhile but the others are all still out there as far as I know.

The 5 and 6 are not really related other then 5 was first and most 5's now call themselves 6. Some 6 have reached as high as 9 or 10.

There is also a difference between 9 and 10. The only 9 that I ever saw was pretty close to 9. Where as the 10 seems to be 10-11-12. So no real relationship to 9.

I think scale creep is now very hard to define as each size presently pretty much stands on it's own. The only relation between some of them depends on who makes them, they can be compatible with other sizes.

Best regards,


MajorB20 Mar 2016 12:34 p.m. PST

At one time or another there were 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 18, 20, 25, 28, 30, 40 and 54.

You missed 36 and 42.

Glenn Pearce20 Mar 2016 1:02 p.m. PST

Now that you mentioned it I think I do recall 42 but not 36. Were either very common or just a single firms venture?

Ottoathome Inactive Member21 Mar 2016 5:03 p.m. PST

Back in the 60's when Don Featherstone and Joe Moreschauser wrote there were 20mm plastic (airfix) and most of the wargame figures were 30mm and 54 mm. Ed Mohrman is correct, and like him have the artifacts of huge numbers of 30mm troops to prove it.

Hafen von Schlockenberg Inactive Member28 Mar 2016 8:35 a.m. PST

Glenn, Northstar has a line of 36mm WWII. I don't know for a fact,but I assumed that they were designed to be compatible with 1/48 kit vehicles. Fox Miniatures were definitely targeted that way,as the owner told me.
42 is the scale Irregular uses for their "Toy Soldier"-like line.

khanscom06 Nov 2017 8:01 p.m. PST

9mm was, I think, an exclusive Scruby description based on the 9mm gauge of N-scale railroad modeling. 9mm for 4'8.5" of the prototype is roughly 2mm/1' or 12mm in figure height. I used a few of the Hinchliffe System 12 Napoleonics in my Scruby army and they were indistinguishable in size.

Scruby also did a small range of 45mm Napoleonic Legere and Rifles for skirmishing.

UshCha08 Nov 2017 11:28 a.m. PST

I use 1/144 as you know what you are getting. Many 10mm modern figures were nearly 12mm which is 1/144 if you are 6Ft.

Andy Old Glory UK10 Nov 2017 5:19 a.m. PST

I still have and collect 30mm as has been said you can still buy them .Often they are about the same size as some "28mm" or indeed some "25mm" – 28mm was of course invented by Brian Ansell and Geurnsey Foundry to make you buy just his sometime around 1993 .source adverts in WI
The old 5mm figure blocks were first done by Minifigs around 1972 ish and 15mm seem to have originated in 1971 by Peter Laing- I have adverts in early Mil Mod magazine. In the60s and 70s 12mm and 9mm seem to have been largely confined to the USA.
Of course none of these are really SCALES at all but sizes scale if you are precise about it like model railway chaps is expressed differently so UshCha is correct 1/144 is a scale and works with 10/12mm 1/72 works with metal 20mm etc etc

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