Thursday, December 22, 2011

Scale Massacre

 ( An example of when miniatures from various manufactures work together "scale wise",  its rarer than you think   Left to Right  Reaper Dark Heaven, Avatars of War, Reaper Pathfinder, Reaper Dark Heaven X 2, Gorgon Miniatures)

I have dual or dueling narratives here, the photo text, and the regular text, you'll have to let me know if you like this style of post.

No surprise, I collect Fantasy miniatures and have since before high school, which for me was a long long time ago. Despite a multi-decade gap of abstaining from collecting , I'm doing my best to make up for lost time, its at the root of all the rest of this gaming nonsense and for me, the very essence of the hobby.

An often touchy subject with folks, me in particular is "Scale", we've all heard the term "scale creep" and these days the term "28mm" get used without much specificity to the point where it really just means "toy soldier". The first question I ask when ever I get interested in a particular model or product, is "how does it scale?? "how does it scale to what you ask?, well with what ever I am damn well planing on using it for, and these days that's all over the map, Nothing like spending your cash on something called "28mm, or 15mm, or 25mm" and it shows up and its nowhere near actual scale you thought it was.

 (3 Berserkers by one of my favorite manufactures, Otherworld miniatures, and one Reaper Pathfinder model, The Otherworld figs are large proportioned 30mm, the Pathfinder fig is 32m, and a giant scalewise among his peers (although its a specific character in the Pathfinder RPG world so I think its supposed to be "huge", "in scale" that sword is like Six Feet long, its definitely getting replaced.

If go back to my old collection circa late 1970's and 1980's. most things called 25mm at the time scale up pretty well between a the small variety of manufactures of the day. The largest manufacture of the time for these types of models before Citadel was Grenadier, a while certain lines where true 25mm (I have stuff that would easy be labeled 20mm today) it was generally easy to buy something from a catalog (how we did it back then) and have it show up and be appropriate with the rest of your collection, definitely if it was in the same line.

Somewhere during my absence from the hobby, probably routed in the success of Citadel or Reaper miniatures, in the 1990;s "Heroic Scale" came to be whether this be exaggerate features being out of proportion or just larger figures, the damn broke and scale creep began either as a "bigger is better" mentality. a lack of attention of detail, or simply not giving a damn.

( The world largest Goblins by Otherworld Miniatures, I love the old school theme from this company
and have alot  their figures but the scale is all over the damn place..They also make the worlds smallest human zombies and I cant believe I forgot to show a comparison of one of the these goblins to the "human" zombie. its really too bad these are great sculpts, but they should be easily 25% smaller, bright side I guess they work as Orcs??)

For collecting them and painting them scale creep isnt the end of the world, it becomes more problematic in large format army games, where people want to mix manufactures to create a nice variety.  Games Workshop led the way in "proprietary sculpting" if you will, where as they make their miniatures in such a way that they didnt really work with anything else other than Games Workshop. This is a business model numerous other companies have followed successfully, to the point where new miniature manufactures have sprouted up just to manufacture alternative models that properly scale to the proprietary lines of Games Workshop.

In my case. I am working on going thru the bins of miniatures I have to base them up and paint them for Skirmish gaming, There going to be used in dioramas or rule book shots on nice terrain I've built for the purpose of illustrating the rules of the Skirmish Game I am working on. for this purpose I am limiting myself to couple things, 1) no Games Workshop or Citadel Models and 2) only stuff thats currently available on the market.The point of this is that I want my rules to be a clear alternative to GW style gaming and show that there are alot of other great miniatures out there you probably dont know about unless you look.

(L to R,  Redbox, Reaper Dark Heaven, Pathfinder, Pathfinder.
I love Tre Manor's sculpts, in fact he's probably my favorite fantasy sculptor working today, however Redbox's line is 25mm, or while it might "true 28mm" his figures really line up with GW's LotR line where as thats called "true 25mm" and those are kind of all over the place too. The Reaper fig is a giant, no doubt and I converted the weapons so it looked even more so, but those two models just look silly in comparison, the big guy does work however with the smaller woman and largish man from Pathfinder.)

( 3 Reaper Dark Heaven Barbarian models with the one Redbox, despite the pose and being an amazing sculpt  Redbox, just doesn't work with these Reaper Barbarian, he's stuck with other RBG models..The Redbox /Reaper non compatibility is most likely purposeful since Tre Manor has worked for Reaper.)

  ( LtoR- Otherworld, Hasslefree, Otherworld, Otherworld.  Otherworld hit it out of the park with these "Drow" or Dark Elves...they're the right size and even scale right with Dark Elves I have from 20 years ago. As much as I like OW, these guys are one of the exceptions not the norm of the stuff, I've bought. Hasslefree is an odd one, they're somewhat erratic scale wise too. Most of there stuff , especially the modern/ Sci Fi stuff is "true 25-28mm and too small to use with say Reaper's Chronoscope' which is "Heroic" and 30-32mm but certain single sculpts are exceptions, this awesome model works as an elf, Elric, or whomever with various other lines models.)

(LtR, Avatars of War, Reaper Dark Heaven, Reaper Pathfinder, Rusted Heroes.  Here is the one Avatars of War human model I have that works, the other humans and elves I have are just too large., for whatever reason this AoW Warpriest works...The Pathfinder "Low Templar" model is annoyingly small proportioned, it doesnt look too bad in this photo but its very small in comparsion with other Pathfinder humans, The Rusted Heroes sculpt is one of those great ones that "just works" with whatever too. Of the four of them the Pathfinder one in the odd man out, I guess it work as a young man or squire.)

The point of "Scale Massacre" is I am finding trying to combine models of various manufactures, even between lines of popular manufactures tough because the scales are so inconsistent in both size and proportion. I'm not a sculptor, I do a great many things with my hands, but sculpting miniatures is one thing I an never personally going to get to. So technically, I admittedly dont know what hell I am talking about however as a customer  it seems to me that using similar armatures to start a sculpt off, and having a specific one for Humans, Elves, Dwarfs, Orcs..what have you..should not be that big a deal. I know sculpting is generally a freelance job so you make your pieces and try to sell or get commissioned to make it under certain guidelines, selling freelance sculpts has to be brutal because unless your targeting a specific product line you become a victim of the hobbys success by "28 mm" encompassing literally an full inch in your just throwing darts in the dark at whose going to buy it. Ultimately but I dont get how some of these get past the QA of the company putting them out without a "go redo this" flag, going up.

I miss the scale photos I used to see on the long defunct blog Wee Toy Soldiers, I wish I'd see more of these types of comparisons out there. Thankfully I do see this alot with Historical figures and its has saved me some money, by knowing what not to buy. No such luck with generic Fantasy. I'll try to do more of these from time to time  I need to get a better set up happening to properly start cataloging scales. I could literally devote an entire blog to specifically just comparing all the "28 mm" scales out there, I've barely scratched the surface of my own stuff here-its crazy, and frustrating as a consumer?? you bet! 




(Last but not least, the Otherworld, worlds largest Goblins with the above Knights, proportionally these goblins are so out of wack, that its not just the height. I am tempted to say these might work as 54mm scale goblins..what the hell??!!)


abdul666 said...

I suffered from the 'scale growth' of so-called '25mm' in my time, but only for the regular units: regardless of how you base them, 'heavy horses' look silly if smaller than 'light' ones!

Imho, for individual characters, as for totally irregular bodies, the flagrant differences between miniatures ranges are a plus.
Tabletop units must 'show' their nature: thus, a regular close order regiment has to look as if ready for a 'clones war'. Even if representing the same historical unit at the same nominal scale, figurines from different sculptors show differences, not only in the rendition of the human body, but in the size and details of hats, of weapons... Thus, miniatures from any other manufacturer can be included only for 'special characters', mounted officer, drummer &c. On the opposite, a fully irregular bunch has to appear as an aggregate of individuals, all as different as possible. Here clothes and weapons are personal issue, thus variations are *expected*; people vary widely in height (there would be a difference of # 2.5mm between '28mm' miniatures of Sarah Shahi and Sigourney Weaver) and bulk (compare Kate Moss with Pamela Anderson). In this case the wide differences of style and interpretation of 'scale' between manufacturers are precious; so much the more as one can easily gain (or lose) ± 1.5mm by playing with the thickness of the bases (variations of bases thickness are obvious when the minis are in a display case, but disappear on a playing surface). Thus any figurines within the 25<->30mm or 28<->33mm ranges are fully compatible. Even more, indeed: an old French sailors song (telling a Jackaroe-like story) states that a girl was barely 15 when she dressed as a man and joined a ship crew: thus a few members of a totally irregular warband / ship crew, or of a collection of individuals, may still have to grow; on the other hand, people taller than Sigourney Weaver by 8 inches or more *do* exist.

John@Plastic Legions said...

While what you says is certainly true the irregularities of real humans aren't what I think most people are looking for in their miniatures especially since the difference at scale are far more exaggerated than reality.

Example: in the first shot I post with the painted miniatures. Those miniatures show wide cross section of irregular body type while still maintaining scale..if you go down and look at the other shots you'll see where it gets ridiculous. I don't need (or want) 5 foot tall, 98 pounds Barbarians or a horde of mutant line backer goblins..they need to fit the part. Its especially unwanted as a "surprise" after you purchase them.

My overall point is consistency, or more so, the lack of.

Jacob said...

I was about to purchase a mini from the CMoN site, but realized I had no idea what size it was and it would probably dwarf the models I've already got waiting to be painted. Turns out it was listed as 32mm, so I'm glad I didn't get him as a companion piece to my 25mm Reaper mini. I went looking for info on a few Pathfinder minis I had my eye on and couldn't find anything until I came upon your post. Man!

It's super frustrating to realize that the Pathfinder miniatures are smaller than Dark Heaven! I thought I wasn't going to have to worry about size when I stopped collecting GW figs, but I can see that's not the case. Thanks for the post!


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