Sunday, 16 January 2011

Can you use 15mm-scale vehicles with 20mm-scale figures?

I had a few minutes spare before we went shopping this morning, and whilst looking for something in my wargames/’toy’ room, I found a selection of AXIS AND ALLIES MINIATURES that I bought some time ago. This was very serendipitous as I wanted to look at the idea of combining 1:100th-scale vehicles with 20mm-scale figures, as used in the new ZVEZDA wargame about ‘Operation Barbarossa’. I was unaware that this wargame was now available in the UK until I read David Crook’s A WARGAMING ODYESSY blog this morning, but now that I am aware of its availability, I am in somewhat of a quandary. Do I buy a copy or should I try to produce something similar with the resources I already have? After all, until I know how similar or dissimilar it is to games like MEMOIR ’44, I won’t be able to decide what to do.

But before I looked at the compatibility of 1:100th-scale vehicles and 20mm-scale figures, I wanted to see how the AXIS AND ALLIES MINIATURES figures would look on my portable wargame board. The result was – to say the least – interesting.

I don’t know if I will develop a 20th century version of Joseph Morschauser’s ‘Frontier’ wargames rules to use on my portable wargame board … but the above photograph shows that this idea has possibilities.

Now on to the 1:100th-scale vehicle/20mm-scale figure comparisons. I have several different 1:100th-scale vehicles and 20mm-scale figures, and the following image shows a selection of them:

The vehicles in the background are a PETER PIG and AXIS AND ALLIES MINIATURES Sherman and the figures in the foreground are – from left to right – manufactured by RAVENTHORPE, SKYTREX, BRITANNIA, DIXON, IRREGULAR, and an original AIRFIX.

It is immediately apparent that the AXIS AND ALLIES MINIATURES Sherman does not look 'right' with any of the 20mm-scale figures ... but then they are all such different sizes that the large figures on the left do not look 'right' with those on the right side of the photograph. By eliminating the extremely small 1:100th-scale Sherman and the very large 20mm-scale figures, you end up with the following:

It is very obvious from this image that whereas the BRITANNIA, DIXON, and IRREGULAR figures do not look too bad when put alongside the smaller scale model tank, the original 20mm-scale AIRFIX figure ‘fits’ very well with the PETER PIG 1:100th-scale Sherman, and this is further borne out by a comparison with a PETER PIG 1:100th-scale Pzkpfw IV.

This comparison exercise does not provide a definitive answer to the question 'Can you use 15mm-scale vehicles with 20mm-scale figures?' ... but it at least indicates that the idea does deserve further investigation.

13 comments:

  1. Bob,

    I'm somewhat curious as to why this is of interest to you. You "can" use any sort of figures that the fancy takes you, I remember scenes from the Sandbaggers which feature 20mm troops and 54mm generals.

    The question is, why would you want to?

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  2. Hi Bob,

    I ought to clarify the availability issue with this - I have only seen the infantry packs available at Modelzone - NOT the core game or the supporting vehicle kits. Should I see them on my travels I will of course report it on the blog. Sorry if I have confused the picture somewhat!

    All the best,

    DC

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  3. Sure - why not? It's your game, so if it looks right to you - it is right!

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  4. They look fine to me. I used to use 1/300th buildings with 15mm troops and no-one batted an eyelid down at the club. They actually better represented a village/town than would have 1 or 2 'correctly' sized models.
    (Glad both fathers seem ok - hope I'm still reasonably independent at 95!)

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  5. Hi Bob,

    The relative scales issue is a vexing one to be sure and whilst in the past I would have never dreamed of using mixed scales I think that, from a representational point of view, it is probably the way forward. Plastic 20mm figures and 1/100th scale vehicles etc seems like a good compromise. I suppose much will depend on the scale of the manufacturer in question as one man's 20mm is usually another man's 23mm or even larger!

    I had forgotten about the Axis and Allies 'kit' - I have a box of it lurking in a cupboard somewhere so will have to dig it out and seewhat I see.

    All the best,

    DC

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  6. Conrad Kinch,

    My interest was piqued by the mixing of the differently scaled vehicles and figures in the new Zvezda wargame. I then recalled using ROCO 1:87th-scale vehicle with my 20mm figures, and wondered if 1:100th-scale vehicles would work just as well.

    As a major part of the enjoyment of figure wargaming is about our perceptions of what we see, messing about with scales – and seeing the results – seemed to make sense.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  7. David Crook,

    I misunderstood what you wrote in your blog entry, and thought that the wargame and the additional packs were already available. Thanks for correctly my misunderstanding.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  8. Tim Gow,

    Well I have mixed 1:72nd-scale to 1:87th-scale vehicles on the tabletop alongside 'giant' and 'dwarf' 20mm-scale figures, so using the odd 1:100th-scale vehicle is not going to look too odd, is it?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  9. David Crook,

    I must admit that I am no longer too much of a stickler for absolute accuracy when it comes to what actually appears on my tabletop. I blame Chris Kemp, who introduced me to the concept of 'it looks good enough to me' when it came to vehicle (and figure) modelling!

    As the pictures show, 'large' 1:100th-scale vehicles do not look too out of place alongside 'small' 20mm-scale figures.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  10. Jfidz,

    I do almost exactly the same as you do with regard to buildings ... and like you, my experience was that very few people noticed the difference in scale.

    It is widely accepted amongst Megablitz players that you use smaller scales for aircraft than you do for figures and vehicles, and this is just a tentative extension of that idea.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  11. Jfidz,

    I forgot to thank you for your kind comment regarding my father and father-in-law. I hope that we all manage to live as long as they both have.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  12. I'm of the opinion that only in "one-to-one" scale unit/model ratio games should the figures *definitely* be the same scale. For any game where a single figure can represent anything from a squad to a division then it doesn't really matter in the same way, as you're already abstracting the situation.

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  13. I used to use 1/35th vehicles with 54mm figures. They didn't look quite right during quiet contemplation, esp some of the early armoured cars where I would look at, say an Armies in Plastic WW1 French infantryman being used as WWII, standing beside an armoured car which was barely wider than his shoulders and think "nah, he'd never get inside", BUT on the table in the heat of action they looked just fine together. I/32nd vehicles which were closer in scale just looked too big on the table and took up too much room and did not mix well with the 1/35th ones.

    Its interesting that Marx used to issue roughly 1/72nd toy tanks with their 54mm playsets.

    -Ross

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