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"Simple scale question: 15mm, 1 scale foot = ? mm" Topic

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Jerzei Balowski15 May 2006 2:03 p.m. PST

The title says it all: how many mm equal a scale foot? For example, ten feet in 15mm scale terms would be how many mm? I know 15mm minis vary in size slightly by company, but an estimation would be just fine for my purposes.

I've come across the following on various web searches, but haven't a clue which would be more accurate (if either):

15mm : 1 inch = 29.33 yards


15mm : 1 inch = 40 yards

Any help would be appreciated.

Connard Sage15 May 2006 2:20 p.m. PST

15mm is not a scale, it is a size

1/100th is a scale

Model railway enthusiats must think we are idiots:-

"This tank loco is 200mm".
"Yes, but what scale is it?"
"It's 200mm"
"Yes, but what scale is it?"


Tony Aguilar15 May 2006 2:20 p.m. PST

Well, logically … if 15mm is SUPPOSED to be to the figure's eye, then we can say that 15mm = 5 feet in 15mm scale.

One inch is approx. 25mm so 25mm = 8.3 scale feet. So a rough estimation would be 10 feet = one inch.

Tony Aguilar15 May 2006 2:21 p.m. PST

Roughly an estimation.

SteveJ15 May 2006 2:24 p.m. PST

I think you're confusing ground scale with figure scale- those figures must refer to the former, though how that figure's arrived at I haven't a clue.
As you imply- how long is a piece of string? A good round number to work off would be 1:100 scale.
On that basis one inch would equate to eight feet and four inches.
Your second figure would run out at 1:1440 !

Jerzei Balowski15 May 2006 2:25 p.m. PST

Close enough, thanks! grin

Hacksaw15 May 2006 2:27 p.m. PST

Want a hobby with a more precise set of scales?

Take up model railroading :-)

Im not real worried about what someone in another hobby thinks of us. Especially at model RR price schedules…thats a real question of scale if you ask me.

SeattleGamer15 May 2006 2:33 p.m. PST

Yes, the problem with scales given in mm (as in 12mm, 15mm, 28mm, etc) rather than ratios (as in 1/72, 1/100, etc) is the bewildering array of possible answers.

Lots of people will tell you that 15mm is the same as 1/100 while some may say it's closer to 1/107 or maybe even 1/110, and then you have Avalon Hill saying (in their Axis & Allies Miniatures Rules) that their figures are 15mm or 1/120 in size.

And of course you have the age-old discussion, is the company making that particular mini measuring from feet to eye level or feet to top of head?

It is because of this age-old dilema that the scale of 15mm tends to range from 1/100 to 1/120.

Bored yet? No! Great, I'll go on.

To go from scale to ratio or back again, you need to know a magic number (there are two actually). Those two numbers are:

1610 – if you want eye-level measurements, or
1730 – if you want top of head measurements.

Those numbers come from the height, in mm, of an "average" man. The lower number is 5'3" to his eyes, the larger number is 5'8" to the top of his head.

Now, take your magic number of choice and do the following:

MN / Ratio = scale in mm
MN / Scale = ratio

Going with 15mm as our test case, we end up with:

1/107 if eye-level, or
1/115 if top of head.

Ratios are a way of saying that one of something is equal to X of something. Again, with 15mm being the sample, then 1" should equal anywhere from 107 inches (8'11") up to 115 inches (9'7") in game terms.

Of course, this is all based off the idea that an average soldier is about 5'8" tall to top of head.

The real answer to your question – given what you stated – is that there is no answer. Companies make figures hopefully to a set scale and if they do a good job the figs are close to accurate portrayals of actual equipment and such. But the GAME these may be used in has no such restriction, and often does not state what their scale is.

Just because you are using 15mm scale figures in a game doesn't mean the game scale is anything like 15mm in nature. Yes, the buildings and other terrain are hopefully somewhat close, but the ground scale . . . no way.

How could one justify that a rifle has a range of 12" when in 15mm scale that's barely over 100'. Or a tank having a 36" range. On a typical 4' x 6' gaming table just about any 20th century gunpowder weapon would be able to easily cover the whole tabletop.

So while the minis and to some degree the terrain might be to a set scale, the ground scale is often a huge fudge factor.

Hope this helped.


Jerzei Balowski15 May 2006 2:38 p.m. PST

Interesting points you've raised, Steve.

I should've been more clear in my original post: I'm looking for relative size ratios for scenery and the like, not for actual game mechanics. I'm in the process of creating a diorama and (being the neurotic I am) I just wanted to make certain that everything is relative to everything else, even though the various elements look correct.

Hacksaw15 May 2006 2:56 p.m. PST

You've hit the biggest thing right there…what looks correct.

I submit the schism over what is the "real" scale for a vehicle intended for 28mm figures. 1/60, 1/56, 1/50, 1/48 ? A pox on it all, use what looks right to you.

Personal logo mmitchell Sponsoring Member of TMP15 May 2006 2:58 p.m. PST

Steve hit the nail right on the head. Man, those model train guys do go on and on about scale. In your case, I would worry about it a little bit. Remember that small differences in scale can be attributed to variations in the real world: some people are bigger and some are smaller. The same is true for hand-crafted items.

While working on Gutshot, the early drafts had a different vertical scale from the horizontal scale. We were considering setting the different levels of the buildings at 10 feet because it's easier to calculate, but then we decided to just not worry about it so much and go with one scale: half-inch = 1 yard (or 1 inch = 6 feet). We debated a LONG time about whether we should round down to 5 feet, but decided that, since figures seem to be creeping to bigger sizes (I wonder how long it will be before 30mm is the norm), a little discrepancy today might be a BIG discrepancy in a few years.

Dave Schmid15 May 2006 4:00 p.m. PST

1/96 scale is 1 scale inch equals 8 feet
1/100 scale is 1 scale inch equals 8.33 feet
1/108 scale is 1 scale inch equals 9 feet
1/120 scale is 1 scale inch equals 10 feet
Use whatever you decide 15mm is.

Nappy2938815 May 2006 4:36 p.m. PST

Your mother been talkin about me again.Some men are longer than others.(Braveheart)Gota love it.My Best.

Lentulus15 May 2006 4:49 p.m. PST

"Model railway enthusiats must think we are idiots"

This layout is N-guage!
Yes, but scale is it?
It's N-Guage

Mind you, the guage part is a bit more meaningful than our milimeters, but only because otherwise the little trains derail.

Grumpy Monkey15 May 2006 5:50 p.m. PST


That has to be the best write I have read for MM to Scale conversion Thanks

SeattleGamer15 May 2006 8:56 p.m. PST

Thanks Monkey!

JB – if you are doing all of this for a diorama, then it really just comes down to what looks right. Don't know the era or the figures or the layout, but take a door for instance.

I'm 6'5" tall but I don't have to duck to walk through a doorway. Your typical door nowdays is what, maybe 6'10" or so. So a tall person doesn't come up to the height of an open doorway. If I were wearing a helmet of some sort I still wouldn't need to duck (unless we're talking about one of those nifty Napoleonik Shako deals).

My point is, if you were building a dioram which included a portion of a house that showed a door, then whatever mini you were using for a person, the door should be a good "foot" taller than the man (assuming the average man is 5'8 and a door is 6'10).

But you should be able to fudge the doorway, because let's face it, different countries, different eras, different measurements. As long as it doesn't look like a Hobbit Hole doorway, you should be good.

Unless of course you are modelling Hobbits : )

GeoffQRF15 May 2006 11:59 p.m. PST

Mind you, the guage part is a bit more meaningful than our milimeters, but only because otherwise the little trains derail.

But don't forget, you can have different scale trains running on the same gauge track, and different gauges running the same scale… I believe I am right in saying gauge is the distance between the rails, not the scale.

peleset16 May 2006 3:43 a.m. PST

In this hobby there is no such thing as a simple scale question.

Lentulus16 May 2006 4:25 a.m. PST

Just my point, GeoffQRF. And our mm is the height of some part of the anatomy above the ground. Your definition of guage is correct. But product (buidlings, roling stock) is sold as n-guage not scale.

Heck, JR miniatures sells some of its building lines as 15mm scenics for gaming and n-guage structures for model RR.

Jerzei Balowski16 May 2006 8:09 a.m. PST

This has been a very informative thread. Thanks, everyone. thumbs up

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