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"Why no love for 20mm/ 1/72? #MiniatureSnobbery?" Topic

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08 Jul 2018 6:27 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Comments or corrections?

Skinflint Games06 Jul 2018 2:49 p.m. PST

Just seen a very interesting video from Mel The Terrain Tutor about scale – but he completely misses out 1/72. And it occurs to me – we wargame in 15mm, we wargame in 28mm – but in between is 1/72 or 20mm, and the cost savings are beyond belief! I've recently acquired 160 Caesar Ratmen for shy of £30.00 GBP GBP, this will make a massive (cough) Not-Skaven (cough) fantasy army – and the historicals are covered every which way you could think of.

Why don't more gamers use this scale? The minis are great, they paint up easily, you can convert them fairly easily and they are SO FREAKING CHEAP. What IS it we ahev against this scale? Could it be as simple as we want to distance ourselves from "playing army guys"? Discuss.. I am genuinely intrigued to hear some answers, because it makes no sense to us.

Winston Smith06 Jul 2018 2:56 p.m. PST

When I started out, none were available in the periods I was interested in.
And if they were, it was Airfix where the paint flakes off if you said "Boo!"
And I have absolutely no interest in switching now.

rvandusen Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 3:07 p.m. PST

I prefer 20mm for my modern and WW2 figures. It's a nice compromise scale.

Bashytubits06 Jul 2018 3:27 p.m. PST

I do not know why you think gamers don't use this scale, there are plenty of people who have posted images of large battles using this scale on this site plenty of times. You can also find many different wargame blogs where they use 1/72.

Lion in the Stars06 Jul 2018 3:34 p.m. PST

20mm seems to be very popular in the UK, maybe other parts of Europe.

I started in 28mm, GW and roleplaying minis, then added 15mm WW2 with Flames of War. So I mostly stay in those two scales due to terrain.

wrgmr106 Jul 2018 3:44 p.m. PST

Our group has 1/72 WW2 and WW1 aircraft.


phssthpok06 Jul 2018 4:10 p.m. PST

Most of my armies are 1/72.

nnascati Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 4:27 p.m. PST

Skinflint, my problem with 1/72nd plastic has always been the poses. Despite the fact that many folks use the figures for gaming, most of the manufacturers continue to present sets with ridiculous, useless poses, and in my opinion, too many poses. Easier to spend more money and get what I want. That being said, I think that 20mm will always be the traditional scale for WWII gaming.

bobspruster06 Jul 2018 5:13 p.m. PST

Nick, I agree, a lot of stupid poses. But the biggest offender (Strelets) is getting away from them. Between the stupid poses and prone figures (I don't use those either) you do have some trash, but they may be good for conversion fodder. And for the price of the good poses you still come out ahead.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP06 Jul 2018 5:39 p.m. PST

I have never had many options in 1/72 or 20mm for science fiction gaming. On the other hand, we have had good 15mm and 25/28mm science fiction ranges for a long time.

Over time, I gravitated toward 25/28mm because I can see them better than 15mm.

Winston Smith06 Jul 2018 5:41 p.m. PST

And I resent getting a wounded or dead figure foisted upon you in a pack of 25/28mm figures.

The problem is that you pay for that pack with building a unit in mind, and then a useless figure.

Martin Rapier06 Jul 2018 10:00 p.m. PST

I have piles of 20mm stuff, but over time have gravitated more towards 15mm as it is easier to store and transport. Modern 15s are about the same size as original 20mm stuff anyway, as I have a certain affection for the old Airfix figures. Modern 1/72 are often huge though, and don't get me started on Valiant figures..

Jeffers06 Jul 2018 11:01 p.m. PST

I could never understand why manufacturers moved away from 20mm in the first place. It had the advantages of being cheaper than 25mm without giving a much larger footprint than 15mm. Scenery was readily available from our model railway chums and supporting aeroplanes and vehicles were in abundance for modern games.

10mm or 6/5mm I can accept. But not the two either side!

deephorse07 Jul 2018 1:32 a.m. PST

Why don't more gamers use this scale?

And you're basing your argument on one video? Most of my gaming is WWII and I only play with 20mm or 1/72 scale stuff. If I was starting now I would consider 15mm instead, but because I've been collecting my stuff for over 50 years I'm not abandoning the one true scale now.

hurrahbro07 Jul 2018 2:56 a.m. PST

Once it was true that 20mm was THE scale for 20th Century set games. The model kits, the railway scenics repurposed, Airfix, Matchbox, Italieri etc. There was a seemingly unstoppable inertia. I have Germans, Hungarians, French/Polish and Russians for ww2 in the scale.

For everything else there was 15mm

10/12mm/N Guage/scale appeared and I was hooked. Based units as fire teams or a single tank/vehicle/gun made sense. Playing with 20mm rules unchanged, it just looked right on the table. I get it, I got it, bought a shedload for cold/post war banana republics etc!

Thanks to one particular high profile game, many round here have fallen for the false god of 15mm for ww1/2/post war.

Don't get me started in 28/32mm. Great for role play sessions and skirmished of about 10 per side. For what it is used for today…

Murvihill07 Jul 2018 3:21 a.m. PST

You can get almost anything in WW2 1/72. The final itch I had to scratch was the Soviet T18 and Italian P26/40, now I have one of each from Shapeways. With plastic models you get to spend time alone building them and time with friends playing with them.

Prince Rupert of the Rhine07 Jul 2018 3:33 a.m. PST

I did my recent ancient armies in Newlines 20mm Metals (with a few plastic HaT) I loved them. However I was starting from scratch and building for solo gaming (or guest to my wargames room) so I had a completely free hand when it came to choosing what scale in the end 20mm was a good cross between size (big enough to paint like 28mm but less room for storage) and cost.

In the end I think they came out really nicely and I would certainly look at 20mm for future projects.

UshCha07 Jul 2018 5:26 a.m. PST

I game only in 1/144 and 1/72. I started in other scales but either too big 28 to 32mm or not smallenough 15mm. Plus platics are SOO cheap. Revell and Arfix etc. are so cheap you can throw figures away and still come out laughing compared to metal and they are better proportioned. Our club playe 1/72 amd 1/144 so its not a dead scale. 15mm not small enough for big games and too small for urbam. 28mm just can't relate to why folk have them way too big for me.

Gone Fishing07 Jul 2018 6:23 a.m. PST

There seems to be a good deal of scale angst lately.

As someone who games in an even rarer scale (54s), I don't let things like this bother me too much. Years ago I painted loads of 20mm figures for a Colonial project and I must admit to really loving the size; it seemed a nice compromise between too small and too big – the figures were big enough to have personality but small enough to be affordable, along with not have too big a "footprint" on the gaming table. So I can understand your love for them, Skinflint.

Your question seems largely geared towards Fantasy gaming. For a while I felt the tug to do a Fantasy collection in the scale, but found the pickings a little slim. I'll have to take a look a the Caesar stuff. Not that I need another source of temptation!

Personal logo Legion 4 Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 6:50 a.m. PST

I'm a 6mm(SF) guy now and have been for decades ! evil grin

Allen5707 Jul 2018 8:26 a.m. PST

I have some ancients and plains war but I found the bendy rifles and spears just too much for me. I think this turns off a lot of people. 1/72 needs to use a better plastic but I suppose that would raise the cost too much.

Night Owl III07 Jul 2018 8:35 a.m. PST

Not many options for Fantasy or Sci-fi but I do all my historical stuff in 20mm. WWII, Napoleonic, Civil War, Revolutionary, etc.

Fish07 Jul 2018 11:37 a.m. PST

I love 1/72 aka 20mm!

And, Winston Smith, enamel might've flaked from the plastic minis aeons ago, but acrylics don't. Especially when you do your groundwork properly.

Lucius07 Jul 2018 12:28 p.m. PST

I wrestled with this before I started WW2 this year. I ended up doing 1/144, mostly because I had a bunch of pre-painted New Millennium tanks that I got at Walmart. If I had not already owned them, I would have done 1/72.

I never understood why someone would game WW2 in 15mm instead of 20mm, given the staggering number of 1/72 scale options.

LeonAdler Sponsoring Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 1:15 p.m. PST

Its all to do with marketing Im sorry to say. I remember when Hincliffe did 15mm WW2 stuff no one was at all interested. Get a flash set of rules and a decent marketing budget and away you go. 28mm is just a wierd scale, from waht I can see entirely down to GW 'trained' gamers and the prices, good gods! The prices wouldnt be quite so bad if the quality of much of it justified them. Personally dont have a 28mm in any of my collections.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian07 Jul 2018 2:42 p.m. PST

Part of my resistance to 20mm was that for many years the only sources for vehicles were model kits. I'm not that good a model builder and in my experience don't hold up to handling well.

15mm has been easier to get, vehicles (metal) were made for the table not dioramas. That and I can use the same terrain for my ACW and Napoleonic armies.

Skinflint Games07 Jul 2018 3:03 p.m. PST

Wow, quite a reaction! Clearly we've underestimated how popular 20mm actually is – my reasoning was based on the fact that pretty much all the wargame stuff I read – whether blog, magazine, or forum, as well as YouTube – tends to focus primarily n 28mm, with honourable mentions for 15mm and then 6mm for a completely. And then I see lots of articles decrying the price of wargaming!

@Gone Fishing – yeah, check it out, as well as Dark Alliance – they have Undead and Orcs well covered, and you'll pick up a fair sized army for the price of a GW regiment.

@Lonkka1Actual – yeah, that's been our experience. Prime with cheap spray paint (I like to prime white and wash down), use cheap craft paints and/ or Vallejo model paints and inks, hit with varnish when you're done – no problems. Will post the Ratmen soon if folks are interested?

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 4:58 p.m. PST

Sorry folks, but 1/72 scale translates into a six-foot man being a 25mm/1-inch figure… If you measure the Caesar, and Dark Alliance 1/72 scale figures, you will find them closer to 25mm tall, for humans/humanoids.

I love the 1/72 figures, in plastic. They're remarkably low-priced compared to metal/pre-paints/resin figures in 28mm figures. I intermix 1/72 with my 28mm figures, as Humans, and other races, vary in height. I think they appear more "real". YMMV.

The 1/72 Caesar Goblin figures work exceptionally well for use as 1977 AD&D Monster Manual Goblins (4 feet tall, figures are 22-23mm tall), next to 25mm-28mm Humans (6 feet tall). Their Dwarves (22mm tall?) are also a good match for the sizes listed by Gary Gygax in his original AD&D books. I love them. They're great for my army needs for 2e BattleSystem fantasy games. Best way to build large armies for very little money, while staying true to Gygax's original sizes. Cheers!

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP07 Jul 2018 5:43 p.m. PST

Like many people my age (50+) I grew up with Airfix plastics in 1/72 and 1/32 and along came Matchbox a bit later. They were great and the models produced by these companies aided the motivation we all got from Battle and Commando comics and exposure to war movies in steering us toward WWII wargames. I've stuck with that scale in that period ever since.

There was also a range of other periods to play with and I was well into plastic Napoleonics – provided I stuck with British v French for Waterloo.

If you enjoy painting figures (I mean really enjoy it) then bigger scales are better and the range is vastly superior. It's really only been in recent years (10+) that plastics have been covering other periods and nationalities for conflicts like SYW and Napoleonics. I'm heavily invested in 28mm for most periods but If I was younger and came in the hobby in more recent times then I think 20mm would feature more in my world.

Lion in the Stars07 Jul 2018 9:10 p.m. PST

Sorry folks, but 1/72 scale translates into a six-foot man being a 25mm/1-inch figure… If you measure the Caesar, and Dark Alliance 1/72 scale figures, you will find them closer to 25mm tall, for humans/humanoids.

Yes, and how tall was the average male when people started making metal minis? 5'8"? 5'4"? How tall is that bearskin hat that the Guards regiments wear?

Which gets us into the other [expletives deleted] problem.

What freaking genius decided that they were going to measure minis feet-to-eyes? It's not like scale hadn't been invented yet!

Timbo W08 Jul 2018 12:32 a.m. PST

1 72 ancients, napoleonic and ww2 armies here, we're in a golden age of 1 72 figures in my view, just have a look at plastic soldier review. If only there wasn't the nagging worry that zvezda might disappear!

LeonAdler Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Jul 2018 2:34 a.m. PST

Whats the problem with measuring to the eyes? Does away with headgear getting in the way.
It only becomes a 'problem' if you think/want the measurement to a partcular number to the top of the head but find that that number is now to the eyes so the figure is now taller.
The method/location of measurement isnt the problem scale creep is for many though.

alphus9908 Jul 2018 6:48 a.m. PST

I'm starting to go back to 1/72 for WW2 (I also game in 15mm and 6mm)

For those of you interested, there's a game called Airfix Battles which is a ton of fun and a great excuse to get your old Airfix stuff out (or newer PSC, Valiant etc whatever takes your fancy).

There are over 500 of us over at the Airfix Battles Facebook group – many play in 6mm and 15mm too.

Come and join in the fun :)

Lucius08 Jul 2018 8:46 a.m. PST

One thing nobody has touched on is that,
as a rule, 1/72 figures have better anatomy than 15mm ones do. My guess is that it has to do with the Airfix roots of the scale.

The decision taken early in the hobby to go with sizes(15mm, 25mm) rather than scales (1/72, 1/48) enabled sculptors to get away with distortions that scale modelers would never tolerate.

Skinflint Games08 Jul 2018 2:22 p.m. PST

@lucius interesting point! I wonder what "heroic scale" 20mm might look like.. I suppose with sizes rather than scales you can get a more cartoony look that is perhaps easier to paint up? And also.. how do you scale down an imaginary creature like an Ork or Tyranid?

@Alphus99 – awesome! I'll see you there :-)

ancientsgamer Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2018 8:54 p.m. PST

I prefer it. But, less players in my area. And I like 6mm too, but same problem.

alphus9909 Jul 2018 7:01 a.m. PST

I agree with @lucious re better sculpting.

Sadly, there's also still a challenge re availability of early WW2 British for BEF/Sealion era engagements, which I'd love to do.

The only plastic figures I can find for this are Zvezda for their Art of Tactic game – at about £5.00 GBP (approx $7 USD) for 4 figures, lead is cheaper! :(

So a section/squad of 8 figures would be £10.00 GBP – bigger units will really start to add up in terms of cost.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP30 Jul 2018 1:20 p.m. PST

Skinflint Games: to scale down a fantasy creature, or any type of creature, you look at the author's description of size, or how tall the creature is. This is easy for fantasy based on Dungeons and Dragons games. Gygax listed the creatures' sizes in his 1977 Monster Manual, usually in feet. A Goblin, for example is 4-1/2 feet tall. For 1/72 scale figures, where 1"=25mm, the math is simple. The Goblin is 4.5 feet tall: 4.5 feet * 12" = 54" tall; 54" * 25mm = 1,350mm tall. Divide that by 72, for how tall a Goblin figure should be: 1,350mm / 72mm = 18.75mm tall. For example, a true 1/72 scale Goblin figure is demonstrated by Caesar, here:


The photo's shown scale is in millimeters. Cheers!

doubleones31 Aug 2021 12:53 a.m. PST

Relatively recent convert to 1/72 plastics here. After swearing off FoW back around 2013, I still needed to scratch the WWII itch and 1/72 plastics have done the job admirably. More recently, I started collecting Italian Wars troops in 1/72 and they've been every bit as awesome.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP06 Sep 2021 10:08 a.m. PST

I agree, doubleones, 1/72 scale plastic figure sets are amazing in what is available for WW II, and for many other historical periods. Their variety of periods is astounding to me.

I have played WW II in 6mm, 15mm, and larger. For historical mini's, The 1/72 plastics are hard to beat for both variety and price. If I were to get into it, I would go with 1/72 plastics, all the way. Cheers!

roguelettuce13 Oct 2021 2:09 a.m. PST

There seems to be a much greater acceptance of 1/72 among historical gamers, especially older ones who seem to be more willing to use different scales and sizes other than the most popular. But a very large share of the wargaming market is fantasy, sci fi, steampunk, post-apocalyptic, etc (not to mention that a lot of wargaming miniatures are actually used for RPGs and many stores and manufacturers cater to this intentionally)—I've found that there is very little 1/72 usage among them.

I have mentioned 1/72 before only to be met with the response that they are "not used in wargaming" or "not for wargaming"—apparently many of these people think they should only ever be used for scale modelling, dioramas, painting practice, etc for some reason.

I did consider 1/72 when I was getting back into wargaming. The cost would have been much lower, but there are a few factors that I think sometimes put people off:

1. Most of them are some form of 'soft plastic', which seems to be generally disliked by a lot of wargamers who grew up with lead, 'white metal', or even 'hard plastic' for the younger generations. (The exception primarily seems to be those who encountered Airfix at a young age)

2. As others have said the sculpt quality and poses can sometimes feel inappropriate or frankly just poor. It seems odd to suggest that an entire scale is badly-made, but it does seem to be common to find unrealistic poses, bizarre proportions, shallow and blobby details, etc. This put me off quite a bit, particularly when it comes to ancients and medievals—I will say that when I have looked around I have found 'modern' era sculpts to be a good deal better.

3. Many people are a big fan of multi-pose plastic kits that allow for a lot of flexibility in how they're assembled, easy conversion without any black magic, etc. This was the deciding factor for me. Sure, I could get a unit of a certain size a lot cheaper in 1/72, but it would be hard to find the same variety and flexibility that I could achieve with a 28mm hard plastic kit that I could assemble in different combinations and combine with some milliput or green stuff, etc. Personally I'm one of those who hate seeing ranks of the same man over and over.

Admittedly I did violate 3 when I saw the HäT 28mm El Cid stuff because how could I resist at that price? But having done it, I can only say that it made me more convinced that I'd made the right choice by avoiding that style of miniatures in the first place: there was sufficient repetition that I felt compelled to hack them up and re-pose them, carve away belts and pouches, sculpt new headgear or armour onto them, etc. By the end of it, I'm sure any cost savings would have been outweighed by the time and effort I put in had I not been trying to teach myself better sculpting skills anyway. I went straight back to multi-pose kits for the next unit I needed to make though!

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