August 17, 2017 Armand Bayardi
In Tricks of the Trade

On occasion I am asked questions by beginning modelers (God bless them) about the mysteries of scale. What does it mean? What scale products can I use with my project? Are there rules? Like most mysteries the solutions are usually pretty simple given some knowledge.

Scale is easy – it is a proportion. A 1/35 scale model is 35 times smaller than the real thing, which is a 1/1 scale non-model. All of the other scales are exactly the same – simple proportions.

Do I have to be a slave to scale? The answer is yes and no. Some projects are very scale specific in some ways, yet more forgiving in others.
Let’s say you are working on a 1/35 scale vehicle diorama. The figures and the accessories such as weapons, ammo and jerry cans, etc. should be true to scale to look correct. However, on the base 1/32 architecture and accessories work just fine.

Scale-wise, historical miniature figures are a different kettle of fish.

Let’s take 1/32 scale figures. The general agreement is that a 1/32 scale figure is a 54mm figure. There was actually a time when it was seriously discussed whether that 54mm was to be measured from the soles of the feet to the top of the head or to the eyes. We will not even get into what the average height of a human being is or how it has increased over the centuries. As years have passed, I have seen 1/32 scale figures “grow” to the point that some approach 60mm. The same can be said for other scales. All that this humble model maker can say is that if the accessories and architecture on a finished piece look right, then they are right.

I feel that in the wonderful world of Fantasy/SciFi, the question of scale is meaningless. Here, there are no boundaries beyond the vision and inspiration of the creators of the phantasmagoric.

So, are there rules? Sure there are. But, as we all know, rules are made to be broken.

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