Friday, 23 October 2009

It's a matter of scale

It's a regularly re-occurring topic of conversation on LEGO-related websites and forums: what constitutes minifig scale? Figures can add a lot to a creation and many military builders seem to enjoy finding the right figures and accessories to go with their models at least as much as building the actual models.

For a long time I wasn't a fan of minifigures and used to build most of my aircraft and helicopter models on a scale that, at least in my opinion, was too big (and since this is my blog after all, my opinion matters!). The trouble with minifigs is their cartoonish proportions, as nicely illustrated by a diagram made by the illustrious Tim Gould (aka. gambort).

The diagram shows how minifigures when built to different scales compare to a real human (Tim's own 'svelte' silhouette in this case). In short, minifigs are stubby fat people.

This post was prompted by a reasonably nice rendition of a Fairey Swordfish that I found on MOCpages, built by Eduardo AriƱo, and I encourage you to take a look at the page for more pictures and to read some of the viewers' comments.

I'm no stranger to the Fairey Swordfish, as I built one little more than a year ago.
Swordfish (2)
It seems obvious to me that Eduardo has taken a closer look at my model than he may be willing to admit, but the differences are more interesting than the similarities -most notably the scale. His model is about 50% bigger than mine (a 60 stud wingspan versus a 40 stud span on mine), which means that since my model was built to a scale of approximately 1/43, his is about 1/30. I cannot deny that the crew accommodation in my model looks a bit too cosy for comfort. However, mine does look good with the crew standing next to it.

So, is there an ideal minifig scale? I don't think so. While 1/30 is certainly pushing the boundaries, in some respects 1/43 is a bit small. It all depends on what you want to do with your model. If it should fit in a diorama or have figures standing next to it, the smaller end of the range might fit (1/60); do you want the crew to sit inside and do you perhaps want to have some fun adding interior details, the bigger end of the range (1/35) might be your thing.

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