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"Abandoned scales of yesteryear" Topic

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Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 1:57 a.m. PST

So when I was in my teens, the dominant WW2 scale was probably 1/76 with 1/300 as second favourite. In both cases, you had nearby scales going on that were arguably separate scales in themselves – 1/72, 20mm; and 1/285.

Since then a whole bunch seem to have fallen by the wayside, while others proliferated. 20mm and 1/76mm are minority tastes, there's now 10mm, 15mm, 18mm and 28mm as well, and 1/32 seems to have a following. So does 3mm, although it's a 'flea circus' scale to me – I can't see the miniatures.

Hinchliffe at one point tried to launch 12mm, but it flopped. Skytrex launched quite a nice 1/200 range, which was a neat compromise between 1/300 and 1/76, but it didn't last long either.

It seems an oddity of the landscape that there are so many often short-lived scales. I can see 1/72, 1/76 and at a pinch 1/87 co-existing because you can use the same terrain for all three. But what makes people choose 15mm over 18mm, or 28mm over 20mm?

marmont1814 Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 2:12 a.m. PST

15mm or 18mm , the bigger figures are easier to see and paint and more detail is raised to paint and in failing eye sight its again easier and they fit on same base szes espesially with current rules

Prince Rupert of the Rhine17 Nov 2022 3:08 a.m. PST

It doesn't help that often miniatures of the same scale/size but from different manufacturer's don't seem to be the same size. Generally, whatever the period, I prefer to use one companies product for everything becuase then you know proportions,horses, vehicles and weapons will all look the same.

If I can find someone with a comprehensive range that means I don't have to mix with others than the scale size becomes fair less of an issue. Often though ranges have gaps any you have to mix and match.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 5:52 a.m. PST

I have three WWII collections now (not including air or naval games):

  • 15mm, 18mm, & 1/100 liberally mixed. I settled on 15mm because FOW has generated huge quantities of painted armies at flea markets, by far the easiest way to jump-start a new period, but inconsistent regarding minor differences in scale. Given sculpting disparities, I'm not really sure I can affirm which of these three "scales" any given miniature range is…
  • 1/300 & 1/285. I really prefer GHQ and CinC in this oeuvre, so the vehicles are all 1/285, but the infantry are a mix of whatever came along, and for a long while I actually preferred H&R 1/300 infantry for robustness and ease of painting.
  • 1/144. I'm actually inclined to be more careful about scale purity in this collection (1/144 is an actual scale), but the rarity, cost, and limited coverage of this scale mean that some amount of 10mm stuff is inevitably going to sneak in (esp. infantry and artillery).

Different scales are better for different styles of gaming, though this seems to have been utterly ignored by WWII gamers. Micro armor used to be regularly used for 1:1 tank battles and I've seen plenty of 15mm and 20mm grand tactical or operational games. I settled on 15mm for operational Pacific War games myself, just because of the ease of entry and availability of miniatures.

mysteron Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 6:22 a.m. PST

For me a popular scale is sometimes made popular by a big player.

15mm – Battlefront

28mm – Warlord Bolt Action.

From Big players you then get secondary players

15mm – Peter Pig, Old Glory Command Decision

28mm – Rubicon.

Finally you get the small cottage industry companies filling in the gaps.
That is what makes a successful scale in my view ie commercially driven.

20mm – Never got that and was popularised by plastic kit companies with smaller companies producing the figures . If for example Warlord decided to do 20mm either 1/76 or 1/72nd
then that scale will become popular as it would have been marketed better making it attractive .

Thats why I say a scale is sometimes dependent on a big player taking the plunge

Mister Tibbles17 Nov 2022 7:09 a.m. PST


Victrix is cranking out plastic 144th/12mm WWII. That scale is quite alive. Very tempting. I play a supported platoon per side in all my WWII games, but the Victrix is tempting me to pull out Blitzkreig Commander IV for larger games.

I use the updated Peter Pig WWII packs, so I'm not sure what scale that is? 17mm? Sold/upgraded my 15mm Command Decision collection for Peter Pig and never regretted it. Armor is from various sources.

Long time ago I sold my 1/72 plastics for 20mm AB, then sold that collection for 28mm because the latter is played by more people (Bolt Action).

I think my favorite size is/was 20mm. Enough detail to tell weapons apart but not too large. I wish AB faces had more variation other than the 'baby' face.

forrester17 Nov 2022 7:56 a.m. PST

I don't see any decline in 20mm WW2 but the accompanying vehicles are now more likely to be 1/72
1/76 was largely dictated by Airfix and some other plastic kit lines, and was followed by metal and resin from SHQ, Skytrex, and Milicast.
Plastic kits including quick builds like PSC are frequently 1/72..I generally "upsized" a few years ago except for the Airfix Cromwells which I still like.
Even Airfix have gone 1/72 for their more recent vehicles.

There has certainly been a big rise in 28mm WW2 helped by some popular rule sets which encourage this.

Black Hat Miniatures17 Nov 2022 8:08 a.m. PST

20mm WW2 still has a huge following due to the cheapness of plastic figures and the kits…


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 8:14 a.m. PST

Is there room for an old 30's player in the discussion?

My impression is that we've got the effects of three trends:
1) The tendency to cheat a little on scale so your figure is just slightly bigger and more detailed than your competitor's--"scale creep."
2) The urge to halve the scale to get more troops on the table, or get away with a smaller table.
3) The desire to be in synch with a non-wargaming source of terrain--mostly model railroad gear.

So HG Wells' 54mm Britains become the 30mm Napoleonics and SYW figures of the post-WWII historical miniatures wargaming boom--but there are also 20/25--they used to be referred to that way--predominant in ACW and WWII. They were taking advantage of Airfix figures and compatible with HO train gear.

This is why for some time, 10mm was mostly ACW and WWII while 15mm was usually Napoleonics and SYW. They were both half the size of the previous scale.

But at the same time, you get scale creep. Tony Barton's figures--initially marketed at 15's--were 18's. Stadden and Suren pioneered measuring from the base to the eyes to avoid admitting they were really 33's. And the 1" tall 25's gradually became nominal 28's and really sometimes 32's. No one's changed the nomenclature at 6mm, but my periods are either Baccus/Adler or H&R/Irregular. They don't blend. (And notice the rise of the 3mm? Half scale again.)

New players come in. People buy the hot new line. Old figures are mocked as small or eventually banned by groups as being out of scale.

28's over 20's? For me, variety, cheap plastic kits, plentiful terrain. Massed battles are fought with 6's. If there were a local group which had standardized on 20mm, that would be different.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 8:21 a.m. PST

From Big players you then get secondary players

15mm Peter Pig, Old Glory Command Decision

Please note that both these companies (and some others, like Quality Castings) had extensive 15mm WW2 lines before Battlefront (back when it was still Military Miniatures New Zealand) began production. All BF added was large-scale marketing and Warhammer-like rules.


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 10:06 a.m. PST

Don't forget the Heritage Panzertroops as well.

Personal logo Mserafin Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 11:35 a.m. PST

79th PA -

I think Heritage Panzertroops were the same as Quality Castings. They're now sold by Battle Honors. I'm pretty sure Heritage bought some of the vehicle molds from another company (Comet, maybe?).

That line has been around the racetrack a few times!

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 12:01 p.m. PST

They were packaged as Heritage, but I thikn you are correct. Yes, Duke said the initial release of vehicles came from Comet.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 12:14 p.m. PST

So you can now get miniatures in 2mm, 3mm, 6mm, 8mm, 10mm, 12mm(1/144), 15mm, 18mm, 20mm, 25mm, 28mm, 30mm and now even 32mm and 1/48….

Kropotkin30317 Nov 2022 1:22 p.m. PST

I pretty well only collect "true" 25mm fantasy, but even then size differences between Minifigs, Garrison and Heritage can be seen.Is 25mm an abandoned "scale"?

Mister Tibbles17 Nov 2022 1:58 p.m. PST

I think 3D printing is adding even more confusion to the hobby, with every guys and his hamster sculpting/selling 3D files. I've heard many people on other forums think they are getting files for "18mm" or whatever, only to discover the prints are way smaller or larger than advertised/expected.

Thank the Good Lord that model railroading ended this scale craziness in the 1950s, forming the National Model Railroader Association for setting standards across the hobby. It was needed. (I was a proud member for many years back in the day.)

Of course, we don't need this in wargaming!

On a similar note, the evolution of plastic military models into 1/35 scale is a fascinating read or watch on YouTube.

Cool topic, 4th Cuirassier! thumbs up

uglyfatbloke17 Nov 2022 3:09 p.m. PST

Had all sorts in the past from 1/300 to 54mm….we still have 54mm ACW but everything else is 28mm cos that's what SWMBO likes and my strong suit is obedience.

Personal logo Dal Gavan Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 3:45 p.m. PST

The other issue is that different scales appeal to different people, so it's good that these days you can generally find the troops you want in at least three scale bands (5-6mm, 15-18mm and 25-30mm). That way you can choose the scales and figures that suit you.

My pet peeve are vehicles and artillery that purport to be a specific scale (1:100, 1:72, etc), but aren't. A 1:100 tank may be 1:98 or 1;103 so it's slightly different to a competitor's example. Is it deliberate, to encourage you to stick to that manufacturer, or just someone who can't do scale calculations? On top of that are vehicles touted as nmm, but in different scales- so a Sherman is out of scale with a Cromwell, for example, despite being sold as the same mm "scale". (No names, no pack drill.)

PS I do still miss Hinchcliffe's "25mm" artillery, even though I don't have figures to use with them.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 4:13 p.m. PST

Victrix is cranking out plastic 144th/12mm WWII. That scale is quite alive. Very tempting. I play a supported platoon per side in all my WWII games, but the Victrix is tempting me to pull out Blitzkreig Commander IV for larger games.
1/144 scale has never really been "quite alive". It's always been a kinda weird niche that produces particular models in sets and waves.

The Japanese gashopon manufacturers produced scads of lovely pre-painted models as collectibles, which are cheap and easy to get for a few months when first released, then increasingly hard to find and only at ever rising prices. A lot of this gashopon market has died away to a trickle.

The Victrix approach is indeed very encouraging and I hope it continues. There are only two things I don't like about their models:

  • There aren't enough of them;
  • I want them all, but I don't need another scale!!!
Besides that, they are gorgeous little gems at an in-between size that is good for 1:1 tank fights or operational gaming.

1/144 scale is also starting to fill out with 3D prints (like the Kamiya resin models sold on eBay). I think this actually has the potential to really increase uptake, since the biggest impediment has always been availability. A big reason for the scarcity of 1/144 models has always been that nobody wants to produce and manage a huge inventory of models for a limited audience, but 3D models printed on demand or at home solve that problem handily. I would really like to be able to get artillery, landing craft, and all the aircraft on demand, and I think 3D printing is about the only way that's ever going to happen.

An aside: part of what makes 1/144 scale so attractive is that most of the models have been exquisitely rendered. A drastic increase in cheap models could reverse that trend.

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2022 4:26 p.m. PST

I personally never understood the appeal of 28mm WWII. There are some really nice miniatures in that scale (and more all the time), but that was already true of 1/76 and 1/72, and both of those scales are also big enough for skirmish gaming, while also being (just barely) small enough for more grand tactical or operational gaming as well.

Scale distortion is a problem in every scale of WWII miniatures gaming, and it just gets worse as the minis grow in size.

- Ix

Mr Elmo18 Nov 2022 4:07 a.m. PST

A lot of the early scales came out of the static plastic hobby: 1/72 and 1/76 were popular was was railroading 1/87 and 1/100.

Mini manufacturing used height (to eye, head, whatever) and chaos ensued.

3D printing has "solved" the problem as models can be 1:1 so a Sherman has a width of 2.62m or whatever and you scale it for your 15mm or 28mm needs.

Bill N18 Nov 2022 4:42 a.m. PST

I don't think it is that odd when you consider how each scale arose. Some of the scales arose out of model railroading and migrated to toy soldiers. Other scales arose out of plastic models that were adopted by toy soldiers. Then there is the effects of scale creep within the metal side of toy soldiers.

I tend not to look at them as distinct scales but rather as bands. Within a band figures, models and scenery can be used interchangeably with some care.

HansPeterB18 Nov 2022 8:47 p.m. PST

My choice of scale in ww2 games is entirely game driven: way back in the day I played 1/72 but then when my buddies were all about FOW, it was 15mm for me. Now, more folks are playing Bolt Action, so, fine, 28mm or 1/56. All good games, but I must admit that I enjoy painting the larger little dudes more than their tiny brethren.

MILSPEX300024 Nov 2022 2:44 a.m. PST

I played 1/72 in the '80s and I still do. I also play in 1/35, 6mm and 1/12.

I really prefer single based troops and I'm experimenting with really small washers to singly base 6mm troops

I'd like 6mm houses that individual 6mm troops can go inside of but I'm not sure if that's practical.. I guess I'll find out..

When my 1/72 guys are defending a stair case, I can have the stair case and a model of the actual claymore mine setup on it, that's really cool and I think 1/72 will always be my best scale.

Still…you can't really have decent maneuvor or choices above platoon level in 1/72 imo..but I've just moved out of an apartment to a place with a shared yard. I'm thinking of digging up a section of it with trenches and bunkers and playing with my 1/72 guys in there for a REALLY big game!

Nine pound round24 Nov 2022 6:57 a.m. PST

I prefer to match casting size to game and terrain scale. Larger castings look better on large scale terrain, while smaller castings fit more naturally on the small scale terrain you would need to capture an action that's more widely spread. I feel as if 15/18mm looks reasonable on the terrain needed for the tactical/grand tactical (division or corps level) Napoleonic games that interest me, but for WWII, the division occupies a lot more ground, so 1/285 seems like a better fit. For naval, I use 1/2400, which works out well for predreadnoughts but will require some movement of the furniture for anything with more modern fire control.

MILSPEX300024 Nov 2022 3:19 p.m. PST

Now spaceship gaming is a future project for me. In particular the Macross universe. I have a 1/5000 SDF-1 Macross and it is about a foot long and would make a cool centrepiece to a battle. Only problem is the Zentraudi ships are sometimes 4 times larger!

I think I'd be looking at maximum 1/20,000 scale for a playable table or floor game. With 3D printing it might actually be possible to get all the ships in that scale how to represent fighters?

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2022 2:10 a.m. PST

Don't get me started on sci-fi gaming. The battle scenes in Star Wars are clearly based on Flash Gordon 1930s dogfights, which in turned were based on WW1 dogfights, so Star Wars features WW1 dogfights with bang up to date 1970s miniatures and a John Williams soundtrack. I've always hated that film, and not just because it destroyed film.

For a technically plausible space game, you don't need any miniatures at all. You just need an empty room, with XYZ co-ordinates to locate the ships, trigonometry to solve for the range, and a scale of 1mm = 1 million kilometres or whatever. At last, a period where you don't have to worry about frontage!

MILSPEX300025 Nov 2022 3:51 a.m. PST

Hated..Star Wars 1977? Okay…I respect your opinion. but in my opinion Star Wars changed my life for the better, putting in me an interest in Sci Fi, fashion and good design. And many great films appeared after 1977, including Top Gun in 1986 and until about 1995 when Evangelion aired.. Evangelion ended anime for me. Anyway that's my story. 4th Crusador, great notes on plausible scif fi gaming, however I want my VF-1Ses to be delivering Reflex (nuclear) missiles to Nupetiet-Verginfizs class Command Battleships link

Nine pound round25 Nov 2022 5:07 p.m. PST

The Empire Strikes Back was far better: the sheer range of contingency in events, things going wrong or at best half-right, seems so much more plausible.

And if it's sci-fi you want, I recently rediscovered Striker in 15mm- highly entertaining, and the figures are big enough that you can have bring out all kinds of interesting detail in unusual colors. And it's never ahistorical!

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2022 5:31 p.m. PST

Yeah, SW was dreadful and killed film first by turning it into a mere commercial for merchandise you paid to see, and secondly by starting the idea of movie 'franchises' where endless sequels got made and films were likelier to be greenlit if they offered scope for sequels.

The poverty of imagination on display in SW, where the action is based on WW1 and WW2 and hence internally farcically stupid, is not unique or new. Most Hollywood historical movies feature no real research, but are just based on other Hollywood movies. SW was thus in a dismal existing tradition of putting ludicrously improbable rubbish on the screen because the source of the rubbish was previous equally stupid films and it didn't occur to anyone to try to come up with anything original.

UshCha26 Nov 2022 7:44 a.m. PST

We have stuck now really to 1/144 that is because the idiocy of scale creep is not possible. 3D print sculptors like AOTRS are stickers for sale so you get what you asked for. In one case when chllenged rhat it was out of scale, the other manufacture had clearly never head of the grat "Janes" in addition with 3D prints at 1/144 the truly dedicated can actually commission stuff at not too stupid a price at £60.00 GBP-80 and then get then printed youselt with no profit margin on your prints, if you are prepared to see the model subsequently sold elsewhere to defray costs. Done this a few times so we can have engineering vehicles that othewise amanufactures would never make.

Figures are more of an issue, some wargamers just cannot cope with real scale figures. I have seen 1/144 figures that would never fit in an appropriate vehicle, when shown the stupidity of it, they still prefer circus freaks not scale figures. Probably why there is so few sensible figures.
To be fair some of the new WW2 plastics are better, something like real scale given the limitations of manufacture.

Even scale freaks like me have to make some sacrifices. I modelled a modern Germany truck. It has mudguards of thin metal. No way to produce it at 1/144 so had to increase the hight of the model about 0.8mm so all else looked sane with an oversized mudguard. Howeve this sort of thing can get out of hand and then you get the stupid figures where detail at any cost of scale is accepted.

Also as been said we went to half the scale from 1/72 to 1/144 so we can get lots more terrain and space to have larger battles on credible terrain without it looking daft. Try putting a 1/72 tank in a real field at 1/1000 (1mm represents 1 meter) ground scale vs about a ground scale of 1/400 (about 1 inch to 10m) that we would use for 1/72 games.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP26 Nov 2022 11:24 a.m. PST

@ UshCha

The discrepancy between model size and ground scale was why I went from 1/76 to 1/300. I started gravitating back to 1/76 when someone introduced me to skirmish rules where 1cm = 1 yard. You could still use the same WRG rules for this but you could discard all the AP charts because all anti-armour fire was now at one range. Of course if you want large scale games you do need 1/300ish.

I am just baffled though by exactly what the advantages are of 12mm over 1/200, or whatever. The latter struck me as the perfect scale when introduced but it lasted no longer than any others.

UshCha26 Nov 2022 1:32 p.m. PST

4th Cuirassier, we went round lots of scales when we wanted to go smaller 1/300 was too small for us. Our rules and hence our perceptions of what a good game requied of a model were set, we needed to turn turrets to get more meaningful games and at 1/300 it was fiddley but possible on tanks. However it was not practical on smaller vehicles and some were even cast in one piece, utterly useless to us. 10mm again were limited in availability in modern and are significantly smaller than 1/144 and the infantry was never 10mm far closer to 12mm again personally hopeless.

To be honest at the time 15mm was a joke, scale creep meant that some stuff looked fine with 20mm stuff and 20 mm were often compatible with Air fix 1/72!

Then came two things, CanDo and others came along with 1/144 plastic, at the time cheap and generally more accurate than metal crap. We had to make do with 12mm, then minifigs, good selection but some were a bit lacking, not great but generally representative as a start and better than 10mm. As the plastics started to get scarce our ability with 3D prints came on stream so now anything is possible and as wargames models in metal are stone age stuff compared to plastic. Decent 1 pice hulls, turrets that are key locked so they turn but don't fall off, guns at diameters representative of the real thing, at least for bigger calibres, and no hernia carrying them to the car like metal, and damage tolerant to boot. The wineging about FDM is just laughable. You try and see the so called lines at even 3 feet it's impossible! How did we become categorical? We did a show and got the folk to rate the models in a convoy on the wargames table. The winner was plastic injected mouldings no surprise there, second 3D prints and well last metal.

Some of the new plastic 15mm look to be in sale and relatively sensibly priced, however for us they are too close to the size of real 25 mm (better Rev plastics not dreadful scale creep metal that could be anywhere).

So to us 1/144 is the perfect scale, big enough to work with but volumetricly 8 times smaller than real 1/72 so bigger battles with no loss of credibility. So for us 1/200 was never going to be ideal, like 1/300, too small to be practical for us.

In the end it's about whether you are a war gamer or a war painter and how realistic you want your games to be, Real tanks have turnable turrets, so you are unlikely to model a tanks behaviour well if you do not account for this.

I will add I care not one jot about painting which will bias my opinions and you should take this into account when deciding what is best for you.

Ps nobody has mentioned Prince August cast your own figures a unique design in I guess about 35 mm tall.

Personal logo 4th Cuirassier Supporting Member of TMP28 Nov 2022 5:19 a.m. PST

Actually even Prince August did the same thing – they have two Napoleonic ranges in similar sizes. One from about 1980 is 25mm and another is 28mm.

Still, it's very nice of them to state the composition of their Model Metal on their website so you can buy the same formula cheaper from Alec Tiranti…

MILSPEX300029 Nov 2022 1:46 a.m. PST

Sorry, I just realised this thread is in the WW2 message board! Sorry for posting all that Sci Fi stuff.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.