Home Forums General General 35mm: Is it scale creep or a clean break?

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  • #97209
    Avatar photoDeleted User
    Member

    I got curious and started doing maths. So a 180cm tall dude is 43mm tall in 1/42 and 42mm tall in 1/43, looks like there is no one true scale and possibly a proof that there is no god. Unless we take the average person to be 175-178cm tall then 1/42 is 42mm.

     

    35mm is a long way from 42mm though and I agree with some above that it doesn’t really bring anything new to the hobby.

    #97331
    Avatar photoJohn D Salt
    Participant

    35mm may offer more but I am primarily a gamer and not a modeller, were I modeller I would not buy wargames figures, but scale models anyway.

    See, this sentence made my head go all wibbly, and turned my liver and onions into a sidestreet.

    Never in all my puff have I considered the things we push around on the wargames table not to be scale models (unless, of course, they are carboard counters, but I have been known to print stand-up counters to scale). For the “Airfix generation”, to which I belong, the question simply never arose; there was no question that the models we played wargames with were made to a specific scale (not always accurately, but that was the intention; and the Plastic Soldier Review seems to show Airfix achieving a pretty consistent 22-23mm figure height through most of their production of WW2 infantry). For terrestrial wargamers, it was 4mm to the foot, which was why the railway modellers sometimes called it “4mm scale” as well as OO. When micro-armour was first produced, it was explicitly stated that the scale was 1/300. When Peter Laing pioneered 15mm figures, his adverts explicitly stated that this was 1/120 scale. Nobody has ever doubted that 54mm means 1/32 scale, as agreed by Wm. Britain’s, Roy Dilley, and the BMSS. As well as there being no question that scale models were what doll’s house makers, railway modellers, aeromodellers and architects were dealing with, it was also pretty clear that it was what all air and naval wargamers who used models used; and I have never, until now, met a terrestrial wargamer who makes this distinction between a “scale model” and a “wargames figure”. How widespread a distinction is it? Is it just an F&SF thing? Does it occur only among the under-30s? Enquiring minds want to know.

    I shall close by re-running that joke from a “Moose” cartoon, of which I was fortunate enough to be able to obtain the original:

    — Do you like my model of Mount Everest?
    — Is it to scale?
    — No, just to look at.

    All the best,

    John.

    #97333
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    Does it occur only among the under-30s?

    Seeing as I have not been under 30 for a number of decades I would say not.

    #97334
    Avatar photoMike
    Keymaster

    If you took a typical 6mm model and made it 6′ tall whilst keeping all the proportions it would resemble a person most grotesque. A 6mm figure will often have a head 2mm high. That is very much not to scale with the rest of its body.

    #97337
    Avatar photogrizzlymc
    Participant

    Are you calling me grotesque?!

    #97339
    Avatar photoirishserb
    Participant

    Hi John,

    I don’t know if I’m old enough to be part of the “Airfix Generation”, but I’m 54, and started gaming with Marx toy soldiers around 1974.  I didn’t encounter a 1/32 or similar sized Airfix figure until about 1988, and don’t know that I’ve ever seen one used in a game.  One friend (also 54) used 1/72 scale Airfix (among others) to game with me.  None of the older guys ever mentioned the use of Airfix in either scale for gaming, and I never saw an Airfix figure used by any of them ever.

    Additionally, my approach to figures used in gaming seems to be similar to yours.  However, from nearly my earliest encounters with other gamers (starting in 1977), I became aware that many gamers (a large minority, if not a majority) do perceive gaming miniatures to be a different creature from scale models.  It is exceedingly common.  If you look at old posts on TMP, you will see evidence of it everywhere, including from guys that range from being younger to much older than I am.

    When I started sculpting in the late 1980s, every company that I dealt with reminded me at one time or another, that I wasn’t making “scale models”, but wargaming miniatures.  I refused to make stuff for companies, as I had an issue with intentionally making crap figs.

    One of the things that I became used to, was the idea that many gamers found effort needed to construct and handle finely detailed and multi-piece models was too much.  Such models were described as “fiddly”, particularly by UK gamers; though, over time, I began to see the term in common use by Americans and others.

    In any event, I don’t mean to be argumentative, and I am sorry if my post comes off that way.  I’m just offering that your experience may not be as universal as you might think.  To be honest, I am amazed that scale integrity and accuracy isn’t a much more common concern for miniatures gamers.

     

    #97344
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    John,

    As an observation, not an endorsement, I would say that many (most?) wargamers do not regard, or often want, their figures to be true scale models and they do indeed think of wargame figures as different beasts.

    I haven’t followed conversations in wargaming magazines for several years but every so often people who did care about scale and did not see the need for different ‘standards’ would raise the point, whether it was (one of my earliest recollections of the argument) the Mekon sized heads of Dixon figures (no longer noticeable given the average head size of figures now)  at the time or the general increasing bulk of figures in relation to their height (perennial).

    These criticisms were roundly dismissed with something of a sneer that ‘we’ didn’t want exact scale replicas because (choose as many as applicable): bayonets/swords/spears/axes would be too small to model or would break, there would be no detail on muskets, rifles, etc, cross belts and gaiter buttons wouldn’t be obvious enough, moustaches, Old Guard grenadier ear rings, facial expression would disappear, you wouldn’t be able to distinguish X regiment from Y regiment and in any case there was an artistic ‘charm’ to the distorted homunculi we had become used to and ‘we’ had invested x hundred/thousand pounds each in the little blighters and didn’t want no wet behind the ears, sharp nosed, book learnin’ varmint coming and making them redundant with their fancy ideas about ‘scale’.

    I presume the argument has calmed down with the natural wastage of those who remember consistent(ish) true(ish) scale Airfix and/or had some background in railway modelling (OO was of course the devil’s scale and a horrible English compromise to HO scale. Or you could go to EM 18mm gauge to be  bit closer but the track was still c2 inches too narrow – so go for P4!)

    An entry through various GW type (how tall is the ‘average Space Marine/Ork/thingy anyway?) games probably doesn’t imbue a great sense of ‘scale’.

    I confess to not being too bothered – although I do occasionally get flashbacks to my railway modelling days and wonder what strange anatomical universe I have wandered into.

    Definitely over 30 and going back to the original point, I remember the commentary in Charge! (1967) about the use of 30mm or 20mm figures and the authors preference for the bigger ones because they could show more detail and individuality. As this was being written of course the 25mm figure was emerging to sweep the field for a couple of decades or so until scale creep meant that desire for detail bumped the figures up to a nominal 28mm – which when you measure them are back to Lawford and Young’s 30mm (at least). It has to be noted that the figures in Charge! are a lot less beefy than their modern counterparts and do reflect human proportions more closely.

    As for being a ‘break’ I suspect every mm between 2 and 54 has been used by military miniatures over the years, whatever the nominal scale so I doubt 35mm scale is a major break.

    #97348
    Avatar photoRhoderic
    Member

    Forgive me for being all over the place with this post. I’m responding to various points being made that don’t all have much to do with each other.

     

    Scale creep on 15mm (should that be size creep? I await to be corrected) has now become so entrenched that we now have the new size (scale) of 18mm being universally accepted as a common point of reference. Lancashire Games for example have been tradional 15mm producers and they are now producing lines described as 18mm.!

    What really interests me, and is a positive thing in my book, is when 15mm and 18mm are acknowledged as two scales that exist alongside each other, as opposed to being viewed as one thing that crept into another. Eureka and Black Hat are two companies that come to mind as having both a 15mm section and an 18mm one in their respective webstores.

    I’m sure scale creep had something to do with it originally, but nowadays, it seems to me that it’s reasonable for anyone looking to manufacture new miniatures in this general scale range to ask themselves: “Am I going to make my figures 15mm or 18mm?” They’re both legitimate, and they’re both viable options independent of each other.

     

    the hobby continues to stride forward and meet all needs

    While the above quote is part of my own attitude as well, I can anticipate the counterargument that manufacturers are not just making these ranges to meet people’s existing needs, but to effectively generate new needs in the hobby scene that ultimately translate back into profitable business expansions for the manufacturers. Certainly, seeing 35mm figures has made me feel inspired to acquire, paint and game with them, when I didn’t have that inspiration before 35mm had established itself as an option on the market.

    However, I don’t really view this relationship between manufacturers and customers to be wrong in any way, as long as all we’re doing as hobbyists is whatever we feel inspired to do, and it satisfies us. And while concerns over the fragmentation of standards between manufacturers is understandable, I still feel it’s a net profit for the hobby when I take into account that manufacturers might never have diverted their efforts into the better-established scales instead of refraining from investing themselves altogether, had 35mm for some reason been “forbidden” to them.

    I’m sure that were I a fine scale military modelling hobbyist (the complex-plastic-kit-building, airbrush-and-decals-using, non-wargaming kind), and been one when 1/48 tanks first started appearing on the market (Wikipedia tells me this was around 2003, and I’ve heard elsewhere that this was a bit of a milestone for that hobby scene), I’d have happily gotten in on that action despite probably being deeply invested already in modelling tanks in other, more established scales. I enjoy the combination of trying new things for myself and experiencing a sense of motion (dare I say forward-motion, or is that too provocative to the old guard?) in my chosen hobby scene.

     

    if they are designed to fit within the enclosed system then it would not bother me.

    The words “enclosed system” resonate with me. A lot of my miniatures gaming projects are enclosed systems, with the exception of terrain where I strive for multi-use practicality.

    Another thing about “enclosed system” games is that they are usually very conducive for having projects based on these systems be manageably small in scope. I see 35mm, due to its pros (conduciveness for characterful figures and plenty of detail) and cons (fairly limited selection of ranges/miniatures, every figure being a more significant investment of money and effort than a 28mm figure) as being mainly an “adventure skirmish”-scope scale, the sort that may have as few as a half-dozen figures on the table overall. You know, gladiators in an arena, Batman fighting a handful of assassins in an abandoned tunnel system, that sort of thing. At most, it’s at the scope of Star Wars Legion and Dust Tactics, which is admittedly grander but still not terribly grand compared to the projects many people get up to in 28mm and 30-32mm.

    Then take into account that for this kind of smaller-scope sideline projects, it’s reasonable to adjust one’s ambitions in regard to terrain and scenery, so that one mostly makes do with scale-agnostic items one already owns or can buy with a view to using in other games/projects as well. For instance, I invested in a fairly large amount of Ainsty refinery scenery a few years back, before I was interested in doing any scale larger than 30-32mm. I also have lots of crates, barrels, containers and suchlike in nominal 28mm. I know that I can use these pieces to make a perfectly fine 35mm scenery set-up (in fact, I intend to use most of them for a range of scales from 12mm to 54mm).

     

    So for me, it immediately smacks of an attempt to try and capture consumers with something new and pretty and tie them into that product, not dissimilar to some tech companies and their phones that don’t even share chargers across the same brand…

    Some of the companies to have gotten into the 35mm market don’t really strike me as the kind that would make cynical decisions like that. Case in point: Gripping Beast with their Jugula range. I just can’t picture the people (person?) at GB going “Let’s make our figures a different scale, so our customers can’t mix them with 28mm gladiators from Crusader, Black Tree or Moonraker”. Rather, I think they were just enthusiastic to explore something new.

    As for some other companies, like FFG with their 35mm Star Wars Legion range? Yes, I can see the cynical business thinking going on there. Despite having two similar Star Wars infantry-combat games that use miniatures, they don’t want them to be cross-compatible as they’ve probably predicted that cross-compatibility would lead to fewer sales overall, not more.

    Still, even then, I might be in a forgiving mood. It’s not that I particularly want to take up Star Wars Legion, but I still appreciate the fact that it exists (mainly because people seem to actually be playing it and painting/modelling cool stuff for it, which is inspirational to me), whatever scale it happens to be.

     

    We can’t really call it scale creep, but I suppose the effect itself should have a name, which could be generically useful as we see the same upsizing factor in many things, cars, TV screens, new borns weighing heavier, kids growing taller, waistbands increasing and mobile phones getting tablet sized, conversely of course, chocolate bars get smaller which sort of breaks my theory that if the universe is expanding, then perhaps so is everything else including 6mm, 15mm and 28mm. This doesn’t explain the creation of 3mm, though that does get us back to the chocolate bar. Einstein of course saw it more in terms of Mc2 = scale x size x (28+6+15+18-3) and who are we to argue!

    I’m not convinced that scale creep is happening to “everything” in the hobby. Looking at many of the relatively new miniatures and ranges from the fantasy and sci-fi manufacturers I like to buy from, it seems to me that “true” 28mm has snapped back into place and stabilised as a scale that is expressly not trying to be the same thing as the “heroic” 28mm of certain other manufacturers. For instance, I have some of the Frostgrave plastics and I actually even find them a tad small for true 28mm! Frostgrave is a fairly popular game, so it’s not just a case of some negligible anomaly in a forgotten corner of the hobby industry.

     

    35mm may offer more but I am primarily a gamer and not a modeller, were I modeller I would not buy wargames figures, but scale models anyway.

    See, this sentence made my head go all wibbly, and turned my liver and onions into a sidestreet. Never in all my puff have I considered the things we push around on the wargames table not to be scale models (unless, of course, they are carboard counters, but I have been known to print stand-up counters to scale). For the “Airfix generation”, to which I belong, the question simply never arose; there was no question that the models we played wargames with were made to a specific scale (not always accurately, but that was the intention; and the Plastic Soldier Review seems to show Airfix achieving a pretty consistent 22-23mm figure height through most of their production of WW2 infantry). For terrestrial wargamers, it was 4mm to the foot, which was why the railway modellers sometimes called it “4mm scale” as well as OO. When micro-armour was first produced, it was explicitly stated that the scale was 1/300. When Peter Laing pioneered 15mm figures, his adverts explicitly stated that this was 1/120 scale. Nobody has ever doubted that 54mm means 1/32 scale, as agreed by Wm. Britain’s, Roy Dilley, and the BMSS. As well as there being no question that scale models were what doll’s house makers, railway modellers, aeromodellers and architects were dealing with, it was also pretty clear that it was what all air and naval wargamers who used models used; and I have never, until now, met a terrestrial wargamer who makes this distinction between a “scale model” and a “wargames figure”.

    I’d sooner discuss this in a different thread as it’s a discussion-worthy topic of its own and not much related to this thread’s topic, but as we’re here:

    What Mike calls scale models, I prefer to call fine scale models for extra distinction. I see the term “scale models” as a catch-all, but inside that broad category of things I definitely see a clear difference between the subcategories of “fine scale models” and “(war)gaming models”. In regard to human figures the former are, as a general rule, never stylised (exceptions such as Gunpla pilots being few and far between), while the latter are, as a well-established and dominant tradition if not an outright rule, rarely not stylised to some variable degree. Still, that doesn’t change the fact that wargaming miniatures are made to correspond to scales in regard to general size – even when they are not fine scale models in every particular – hence they are “scale models” in the broad sense (although I’m accustomed to only using the word “models” for vehicles, not figures of people).

     

    Is it just an F&SF thing?

    It’s definitely particularly well-established in the fantastical genres. In these genres, attitudes to modelling as a stylistic endeavour are especially positive because, you know, not everyone wants photo-realistic orcs. It’s more about mimicking artwork (of many, mutually exclusive but equally viable styles at that) than simulating reality “in scale”.

    However, I don’t think it’s exclusive to the fantastical genres. I, too, have seen the distinction being made more than once (even if only in passing) in mainly-historicals-and-moderns contexts. I doubt many historicals and moderns wargamers see it through the same lens of “mimicking artwork”, but regardless, many of them still seem to accept, explicitly or subconsciously, the use of subtly or not-so-subtly stylised miniatures (therefore miniatures which are something other than fine scale) as natural of the established traditions of the hobby. Not all of them do, of course, but that wasn’t the question.

     

    Does it occur only among the under-30s?

    I’m 35, so no.

    #97353
    Avatar photoDarkest Star Games
    Participant

    35mm is both a scale and a size

    I love you all and I don’t mean to ruffle any feathers or hurt any feelings, but I have slept very little lately and am feeling quite contrary today which is leading me to put my foot down here:

    28mm, 15mm, 35mm, none of these are sizes nor scale.  They are measurements between known points and any other providence such a nomenclature holds is directly assigned by the beholder.  I have worked in architecture for more than 25 years and there has never been a drawing, model, or even conceptual sketch on a napkin that was XYmm sized.  It’s not a thing.  You can say “that figure is 28mm from the dirt on the sole of his feet to the pin prick dot of his iris” and all that says tells anyone is what that distance is.  If you’re attempting to relate the relationship of that measurement to a world that corresponds proportionally to that figure then you need to do so according to a SCALE, whether that scale is 35mm=6′-0″ or 28mm=6ADNTT (6 average dachshunds nose to tail).  It has to relate to something.  You will never see a 28mm scale ruler, nor a 35mm ruler, nor a 20mm ruler because they are not scales, they themselves are measurements.  If ever I produce a set of construction drawings that say they are 28mm scale you will need to shoot me in the head because I would obviously have been taken over by body-snatching aliens.  LARGE and XXL are sizes, but you will never go to the store and buy a 508mm shirt, nor will you find trousers in 1676.4mm scale.

    Nomenclature is important for expectation, understanding and explanation of intent, as is punctuation, especially for the uninitiated.  Legion are the misunderstandings due to someone using the incorrect word for an object or feeling, some of which have resulted in mass bloodshed.  Thus: scale is a ratio of the linear dimension of the model to another unambiguous measured ratio in the same dimension.  Size: magnitude of a thing, not a measurement.

    Now, having said all of that I have had to bite the bullet and call out my figure lines as being “6mm” and “15mm” as that seems to be the accepted term for their scale.  In truth, my Spec-Sec line of figures are at 1/100 scale (where future humans are 6′ tall) as are the vehicles for both the Spec-Sec and the 15mm Dark Star line.

    We could hash out a thousand threads about the supposedly correct definitions and applications of scales and sizes, the correct way to measure and the legitimacy or illegitimacy of stylised sculpting involving unrealistic proportions, and nothing would be solved or ameliorated in the least.

    Stylized is the key there.  Neither Botticelli nor Picaso are more correct in their depictions of the human form as they are both stylized representations of life.  The same can be said for our little toy soldiers.  Also, in truth, human proportions at smaller scales looks off to most people.  This is the reason you will just about never see anyone playing with model railroad figures, which are often scaled correctly to realistic human proportions.

    I define scale creep as being the process where an established line offers figures (of humans) of greater size and/or scale over time, but continuing to market these newer, larger figs as being the same scale/size as the figures of original or earlier introduction.  Producing and marketing a line of figures in a new, or otherwise larger scale than was available previously, is simply introducing a new scale, as I see it.  So producing a line of 35mm figs after 25, 28, 30, and 32mm figs have been on the market for awhile isn’t scale creep, but most likely a marketing tactic

    I totally agree here.

    I like new things if they add value to my experience.

    This.  I mentioned DIST figures way up above.  I have much WW2 and some WWW2 in “15mm” as it the troops and tanks are an excellent size for both skirmish and “big battle”, but I really like the look of the DUST figures and vehicles.  If they were in 15mm, I would have oodles of them, but as they are only offered in 1/48 scale I had to make the leap and begin collecting a new scale.  (well, new to gaming for me, as I have had 1/48 scale models in the past)  I would prefer them to be in scale with figures I already have.

     

    "I saw this in a cartoon once, but I'm pretty sure I can do it..."

    #97372
    Avatar photoirishserb
    Participant

    Darkest Star,

    I would suggest that the a term such as “15mm” or “15mm Scale” even, is a term in common use within the hobby community, and that it is generally not intended as a declaration of a single definitive scale, but conveys an approximate size, consisting of figures or items produced in a narrow band of similar scales, and that generally can be used together within most gaming systems or methodology. It is a hobby term/label/name/phrase.  When used, just about any experienced miniatures gamer has an understanding of what is being conveyed.  That is the way I’ve come to look at it for whatever it is worth.

    Generally though, as I was reading through this thread the other day, I realized that I when I refer to my games and the sizes of figures, that I will use “15mm” or “28mm”, but don’t normally add the “scale” to it.   Either way, I don’t have an issue with the use of the word “scale” as a label to convey understanding of size in the hobby.  If you have to stop loving me for that, I understand.

     

     

     

    #97374
    Avatar photoirishserb
    Participant

    Besides, it is a lot easier to say “15mm scale” than “15mm Generally Accepted Nominal Miniatures Gaming Hobby Sizing Convention”.

    #97387
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    I still contend that everything that is modelled on something known is both a scale and a size, it just depends in what  value it is being described in the moment, so a 28mm figure is being described by size, but it if were described as 1/56 then it would be being described by scale, but they are both the same figure, so why we get hung up on the scale / size thing, to the point of rudeness in having to correct each other is beyond me, especially as in our wargaming hobby, the term scale is common currency and everyone knows what is meant, it all feels very geeky to me.

    I think the issue that causes most of us to think about scale / size is compatibility across our collection. We know what we like and so we get them, we just want to know whether another manufacturers range will be able to sit next to them, so that we can have a mix-and-match that looks right to the eye. This is not just a scale / size thing, but a question of chunky / proportional / heroic and even the base thickness can matter.

    “What’s your favourite scale?”

    “28mm size”,

    “that just sounds stupid”,

    “I know, but I like to be technically correct, it makes be a better gamer”

    “have you any idea how much e-ink is wasted on such nonsense?”

    “Lots I hope, especially by that Norman Smith, how come he knows so much?”

    “He thinks he does, but he’d be better concentrating on his painting”

    #97397
    Avatar photoirishserb
    Participant

    Norm,  Well said.

    #97404
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    If ‘some people’ are going to get butthurt over rudeness, actual or perceived, on the internets, they would probably be better off avoiding the www completely. It is not the medium for nuanced communication, and if ‘some people’ are going to react to every half-arsed witticism or desultory bit of sarcasm as a gross personal insult against themselves, their family and their dog they are dooming themselves to a life of misery. So ‘some people’, ask yourselves, is all that angst worth it?

    Or perhaps ‘some people’ could do what ‘other people’ do. Just shrug, and get on with life.

     

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #97405
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    I confess I hadn’t spotted any ‘rudeness’ on the topic here, maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough?

    #97406
    Avatar photoNot Connard Sage
    Participant

    I confess I hadn’t spotted any ‘rudeness’ on the topic here, maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough?

     

    I’m sure you’ll find some if you try big nose. 🙂

    Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.

    #97407
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    Did I leave the web cam on again?

    #97426
    Avatar photoNorm S
    Participant

    I confess I hadn’t spotted any ‘rudeness’ on the topic here, maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough?

    Guy, my reference to rudeness  was not of this thread, rather it is just an observational thing of several years of seeing the scale / size thing crop up in threads to correct the OP usually.

    I think we would all agree that here is well conducted and that rudeness is not an issue … one of the reasons why many of us flocked here in the first place I suspect.

    #97428
    Avatar photoGuy Farrish
    Participant

    Absolutely concur Norm.

    Sorry if I misread you.

    As I said, I honestly don’t mind how people refer to figures (although from a personal standpoint I can’t see a number like 28mm as a ‘scale’, although I know what people mean when I hear it )

    35mm seems like a step too far – but I am often content with 2mm size figs so what do I know?

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