To scale, or not to scale, that is the question

Hi all,

I am in the process of constructing my first ever ‘braille’ scale…specifically 1/72nd in my case…diorama in a group build (link below for anyone interested}.

I am looking to add a third vehicle, a small scout/command car to sit in the gateway to the field.

Searching a number of sites I’ve seen some interesting options, with many of them listed as 20mm kits (not a scale I’ve heard of), and equating these to 1/72nd. Being a newbie to ‘braille’ kits I’m concerned about the scale claims, I have already experienced the difference in scales when I tried a 1/76th Sherman alongside a 1/72nd, clearly noticeable variation. I know they’re both classed as 4mm scale, but are actually 4.233 (1/72nd) and 4.011 (1/76th) hence the size discrepancy.

So, do 20mm kits equate to 1/72nd, or are they 1/76th, or a completely different scale…anyone know, :thinking:?

Cheers, :beer:,


So, 20mm is a table top wargaming scale. It’s based on the height of the figures - 20mm.

The question begs, is that 20mm for a 6’ tall man (~183 cm)? Assuming that is correct, we can divide 2 cm into 183 cm and get 90:1 or 1/90 scale.

As a comparison, if we say that the same 6’ tall man (~183 cm) is represented in 1/72 scale, the math works out that the model figure is 25.4 mm tall (2.54 cm) into the same 183 cm to get 72:1 or 1/72.

The issue really is what is the 20 mm reference used to derive the scale? Only the manufacturer or sculptor of the 20 mm figures can tell us. If the 20mm reference is a man shorter than 6’ then the actual scale ratio slides towards larger. However, if the 20mm reference is against a standard measurement, then the scale ratio could be something else.

My guess is that the 20 mm scale reference is a human figure, but without knowing that 1:1 height of the reference figure, there’s no way to be more precise in mechanical terms (which is what you’re really asking - what is the scale of the model vehicle?).

IF you get an actual dimension from the scale model, you could then do the math with the same dimension taken from the prototype vehicle and derive a more precise scale ratio for “20mm scale.”

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This has stumped me too. There seems to be a confusing consensus for scale classifications. I was looking for a selection of 1/72 figures and read about AB figures. They’re advertised as 20 mm, yet they they scale out perfectly to 1/72, which is 25 mm! Read this: [TMP] "So, is 20mm considered 1/72 or 1/76 scale?" Topic
Apparently 20 mm scale could mean 1/72, 1/76, or 1/87! I would order something inexpensive from the company in question and see which scale it corresponds to. Other than that, I would stick to plastic kits that I know are 1/72.

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Hi Michael and Leo,

Thank you both for taking the time to respond to my question, your responses have both been educational and helpful, and have helped confirm my suspicions.

Michael, your reference to a human figure reminded of another instance of size difference, even in a given scale. I had wanted to use figures by a company called Valiant as my foot soldiers as they were mainly in non-combat stances, and they were also hard plastic as opposed to vinyl. My tank crew/riders are from Orion and Hat respectively, and all listed as 1/72nd.

However, the Valiant figures, as nice as they are, are huge, so could not really be used alongside the other figures.

If I can find an inexpensive 20mm ‘Sherman/Cromwell’ to compare against the two I’ve just built I will do a scale comparison and report back here, but until then I will go with Leo’s suggestion and stick with a 1/72nd vehicle.

Thanks again, and cheers, :beer:,


With figures we run into not only issues of scale but also of intended use / purpose.

Many smaller scale tabletop gaming figures are sculpted using a “heroic” style of anatomy to exaggerate proportions and emphasize details. Since the intended purpose of the figures is for game play first, many gamers feel that this stylized result has a greater aesthetic appeal while also making the figures easier to see and handle (while still keeping the space they take up on the table reasonable).

Scale modelers want a different aesthetic because their interest and intended use for the figures is entirely different. Scale modelers generally want their figures to be sculpted with anatomical features and proportions closer to the real world norms.

It should also be noted that 20mm gaming figures are most close in modeling scale to model railroading HO scale (1/87). If we assume that the human reference figure is 5’-10" tall rather than 6," then 20 mm calculates out to 1/88.9 scale (rather then the slightly greater 1/91.4 scale if the reference figure is 6’ tall).

(Is that 6" in his bare feet or while wearing boots and a helmet? LOL!)

Finally, something that can help in the future when confronted with two different scale references, one metric and the other imperial is “25.4.” This is almost a magic number. There are precisely 25.4mm to one (1) inch. Exactly. Knowing this, with a calculator, you can always convert one linear measurement to another easily and converting scales using the metric figure height to a ratio scale can be figured out as well. (Well, at least approximating the figure metric size to a regular model scale ratio…)

In the end, though, figure scales are difficult to pin down precisely whether you have the right math or not since real human sizes vary and the figure sculptor has his or her own stylistic preferences, biases, purposes and goals. Figure scales are almost always really just close approximations and this doesn’t even touch upon the aspects of stylistic anatomical representation which can vary widely even with larger scale figures (and not just tabletop gaming figures).

Are the 20 mm measured to top of head, top of head gear (helmet, bearskin cap, forage cap, turban or whatever) or only to eye level (assuming eyes are visible)?

Just to make it difficult:

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It definitely makes a major difference in where the reference point on the figure is measured and how tall the overall reference figure is.

The eye-level reference point measurement is major, but I have to confess that I’ve never read or heard of that being used before. (Of course, I’m not a serious tabletop gamer, either.) That 93.3% of the total reference figure height makes a major difference in the final scale ratio calculation.

If the 28mm reference figure is 6’ tall (~183 cm), and the reference measurement is taken at the top of the head, the scale ratio is 1/65.

However, if the same 6’ tall reference figure is measured at eye-level (93.3% of over height), then the 28mm figure has a scale ratio of 1/61. That is major.

Since the original question was about 1/72 scale figures, we can work the math this way:

A 6’ man being ~183cm tall, or 1,828.8 mm, we simply divide that number by 72 to derive 25.4mm for the model figure height. (Here’s that magic “25.4” number, again!)

If our scale figure sculptor’s reference point is eye-level, then we take 93.3% of 1,828.8 mm (which is ~1,706.3mm) and divide by 72 to derive 23.7 (~24) mm as the equivalent to a “standard” 1/72 scale figure.

So, for 1/72 scale equivalent figures, we’re looking for minis in the 24-25 mm range.

Unfortunately, it seems, the only way to know what reference point was used by the sculptor is to have the actual mini in hand and measure it from the bottom of its feet to its eye-level and the top of its head (minus any hat or helmet) and do the math.

This is a really good article, though. Bookmarked for future reference!

The comment about anatomy is noteworthy too. Stocky orc’s in human clothes work better as tabletop figures than scaled down humans (we are too slender, even the obese ones).

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Gareth, I can offer up zilch re solutions to the scale problems but in your search for figures you might find this site useful (if you haven’t identified it already):

Plastic Soldier Review - Home

Apart from containing loads of useful stuff they provide the figure’s dimensions in each case.

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Thanks to Michael, Robin and Brian for your comments and suggestions, they’re much appreciated, :+1: :slightly_smiling_face:.

I too have bookmarked the article Robin has identified as it looks like interesting reading, and I have used the site Brian has referred to, it’s useful for identifying possible sets, and whether the set is of a quality worth spending my hard earned money on, :slightly_smiling_face:.

Thanks again guys,


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