Monday, 5 January 2015

Wargaming Bugbears: 1/72 is not 20mm!

Apart from a Games Workshop my nearest proper town has a couple of 'actual' model shops, by that I mean shops that sell models for scale modellers. Along with the tanks, planes and ships are the plethora of figures in varying scales. This has led me into gaming in a number of periods, and having a growing collection of 1/72 figures. People talk of how great it is now to game something like Saga which only requires a single box of Wargames Factory figures, where for years the same number of troops could be bought in the 1/72 scale for less than a quarter of the price of the modern 'cheap' plastics. 1/72 figures are not only cheaper than their bigger brothers; they are also often better sculpted and use the actual proportions of real people! Which funnily enough, has been a barrier to me in previous years, having come into gaming around 40k's fourth edition; I normally expect larger heads, hands and weapons. But let’s not continually praise the little work horses of the wargaming world, the 1/72 infantryman, which for so many of us was the first figure we ever owned. Let's move now to defending that heritage and my own anal retentiveness by addressing the question of scale.

It has come to my attention that a number of people are referring to our 1/72 friends as 20mm, which was most noticeably said by an unnamed (for their safety) online wargaming news outlet. Let's be clear here, there are a number of different ways manufacturers and gamers measure scale. The difference in from foot to eye level or from foot to top of head often creates a little difference in the heights of certain figures. It's not often an Airfix figure will match closely an Italeri in height, but that's no problem, since people come in different sizes. One thing however is that neither are 20mm! I point the finger solely at Games Workshop and their increasingly bloated figures that really push the limits of 28mm scale. Even Mantic games their comparatively small nemesis calls their figures 30mm scale and their figures often are shorter than Workshop's. So you pick up your Space Marine and stand him next to your Italeri British Para, and you think, 'Well, this Space Marine is 28mm, and this Para is tiny so he can't be 25mm he must be smaller... around about 20mm should fit.' Instantly you have moved from doing real scales and wandered off the path into the world of pure fantasy. Take out a bloomin' measuring tape and look at the real heights! Of if you don't have any to hand, jump on Plastic Soldier Review and check the reviews which include an accurate measurement of figure heights, with Airfix on average coming in at around 22mm, Italeri and Revell at 24mm and some reaching 26mm. Bearing in mind Plastic Soldier Review measures from foot to eye level to be more precise than the imprecise method of foot to top of head because some people like wearing big hats. Or if that is not enough to convince you a quick check of the Wikipedia page for figure scales ( which claims 25/28mm scale is 1/73.2 scale.

Most gamers are aware that a 1/72 figure is vastly taller than 20mm. However some aren't the majority of which have moved from Games Workshop's games into the world of historical gaming, for which we have things like Saga, Flames of War and Bolt Action to thank. Remind these folks that 1/72 is not 20mm, but is in fact true 25mm. I cannot pass judgement too harshly on these poor people for I was once one of them, and had it not been for the classic game Starguard (which is 25mm) recommending the use of converted 1/72 vehicles I would never have noticed either.

I fear for our hobby, as it moves into bleak and gothic territory in the future, as Games Workshop's figures increase in size to apocalyptic proportions, near life size, and have to be shifted by a team of sweaty men at the command of spotty teenagers. All the while being claimed to be heroic 28mm scale, and our stalwart heroes the 1/72 infantrymen are relegated to lower and lower scales till people scoff at my 2mm armies. But I'll still use them, I'll still pull out my true 25mm friends, because they've always been there, they always will be there, in boxes of 50 for pocket money prices, just as good old Featherstone liked it. 

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