Weighing up model scales

I have been thinking about scale recently, mostly because of the upcoming release of Adeptus Titanicus and reading some discussions about how big the titans ‘should’ be lol. However it is also because I want to build up some terrain, add some interesting items to bases, that kind of thing – and not just for Titanicus, but across all my game systems. So I played about with a spreadsheet to work out the dimensions of various items at various scales. I’ve actually had this spreadsheet for a couple of months now, but never got round to typing this up. I figured somebody out there might find it useful too, so is here my blog post about model scale.

Spreadsheet Screen Grab

Here is a screen grab of the spreadsheet, click on the image to read it. Like all things on the internet, take with a pinch of salt. I’ve made some assumptions about things, taken dimensions from internet sources, stuff like that, and some of them may be wrong. At the end of this post I’ve explained what I did to generate these numbers, and the image above.

Keep an eye out for future posts on how I have used this data.

If you’re interested in why I have done this read on.

Adeptus Titanicus?

Many years ago I enjoyed playing Games Workshop’s Epic 40K and subsequently Epic Armageddon. Then GW dropped the Specialist Games arm and support for their excellent games disappeared. I wondered away from the GW brand, I haven’t played 40k for a very long time and WH fantasy for even longer (guess its Age Of Sigmar now). I still have some of the more recent releases of their none core games; Space Hulk, Necromunda, and Shadespire. Looks like I’m about to get another in the form of Adeptus Titanicus. The old Epic was a ‘6mm’ scale game and the new AT is at ‘8mm’ scale, a quarter of the scale used for 40k (its the first time I’ve heard 40k referenced as 32mm too).

Brilliant – but what the hell do 6mm scale, 8mm scale, and 32mm scale actually mean. You see those are the names of the scale used, but not the actual scale ratio needed to calculate dimensions. It may as well be called ‘Dave scale’, you can’t take a 30m tall building and divide 30 by ‘Dave scale’ and end up with a number that represents how tall that building should be in your game. But an Airfix model aircraft at 1/48 scale, well that same building needs to be 0.625m tall to be proportioned to the model aircraft. That was the purpose of the spreadsheet to work out what the various scale names actually translated to in terms of scale ratios for modelling purposes.

So where did the names come from, well they were the height of a standard human miniature. So a ‘6mm scale’ human is 6mm tall, and that was said to represent a 6ft tall person. Hence 1mm on model = 1ft real size. Or to put it a more useful way, and remove the dimensional units, the scale ratio is 1/300, that is to say 300 units of distance at full size are reduced to 1 unit of distance on the model, the units can be anything as long as they are consistent, i.e feet, inches, millimetres etc.

(actually it is theoretically 1/304.8, but I think it is bad form to mix fractions and decimals, so I guess it should really be written as 5/1524, what a convenient fraction to remember! Who is going to miss that 4.8 anyway)

However using the height of the model opens up a can of worms. Different manufactures start playing with the definition. Which is where ‘figure scale’ comes in to play. Such as saying that a 28mm model is defined by the model’s eye level. You then need to make up a suitable number for eye level of a 6ft person (5ft 7in ?), which makes that 28mm model just over 30mm tall. Then they also deviate from a true scale to make the models more visually interesting or easier to paint. For example, a model’s fingers would be exaggerated to define them better and make them easier to paint as well as stand out on the model. This adds a bit of perceived realism to the model, while not being true to scale – otherwise known as a ‘heroic scale’ miniature. This scale creep differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, and even within their own ranges!

So what did I do with the spreadsheet?

I started with known/common model scales and worked out how tall a person would be. Then I assumed a 6ft tall human was the basis for a model’s height and worked form there to find what the ‘scale name’ might be. After that I started working out the scaled dimensions of real life or fictional objects.

Once I had the proper fraction scales sorted I started comparing model size to real/fiction size, such as a Space Marine Rhino. Fictional length 6.6m, model length 115mm. If I was unable to measure a model myself, I have used dimensions from this dakka forum post. Then I started working backwards, measuring models and working out their equivalent sizes in other scales. Such as the Munitorium Container, which I measured to be just under 12cm long, less than 6cm high, and slighter shorter again in width.

These are of course just my interpretations of what is a surprisingly broad subject. I’ve made plenty of assumptions/interpretations about the information I have read. Such as the 6ft tall human, is it not actually supposed to be an average human height of 5ft 10in – who knows – I’ve used 6ft though.

Here are a few links if you want to read more. I think these are the more useful hits I got from Google in my searching.

Good old Wikipedia has a list of scale model sizes and discuses “Figure Scale“.

Two linked articles on scalemodelguide.com:

An interesting article on scales: the designer’s assistant

I think this article on TMP is a little out of date, no mention of 32mm ranges for example, but is still an interesting read.

Quoted model scales:

Don’t be daft! No way is a Tie Fighter as tall as a Knight!

The header image composed of the Tie SF, Rhino, and Imperial Knight. The images were grabbed off the internet, so I’m not sure if they are true to scale pictures in the first place. However I have then made an attempt to make them in scale with each other and a picture of me holding my son (I’m about 5’6”). The data for their dimensions was gleaned from the internet too. However some assumptions had to be made too. For example the Tie SF is quoted on starwars.com as being 6.69m long, I had to ratio the side view of Tie’s radiator panel to work out the height for the image. The Rhino has well documented dimensions, but interestingly the image I used doesn’t seem to tally up with them, coming out a little short. Finally the Imperial Knight is actually based off the height of my own model (16cm) and the ’32mm’ scale data in my spreadsheet, thankfully it works out at the approximate height of 9m quoted online for the Knight. I worked the Knight out to be 9.14m tall.


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