built dozens of AFV kits and a couple hundred figures since I returned
to the hobby in the early 1990s, and thus have experience with most
of the major manufacturers of plastic AFVs and many of the resin
in the market today.
is an affliction among many experienced modelers called
Advanced Modelers Syndrome, or AMS. Its
symptoms include absorption with the most minute details of an AFV
and the desire to replicate them faithfully down to the last rivet
and bolt; a preoccupation with measurements and their accuracy;
a zest for tracking down every after-market detail set available
for a kit; and the ability to scratchbuild those additional details
that are not available commercially. Often kits are set aside as
a sense of bewilderment and paralysis sets in while awaiting production
of the right tracks or barrels. But those modelers with
AMS take immense pride when then have accomplished the excruciating
detailing theyve assigned themselves, even if most of it is
transparent to the casual viewer.
this gives them pleasure, just as building the same kit out
of the box with no additional embellishments can give another
modeler equal pleasure. Everything is relatively, and what is most
important is to enjoy they kit youre working on, no matter
how you approach it.
said that, there are some things to understand about how models,
and figures in particular, are scaled.
Past as Prelude
there was a wide disparity in scale sizes during the 1960s and 1970s.
Some Monogram AFVs and figures were 1/32 (or 54mm); some were more
towards 1/40 scale. Airfix offered popular (and still sought-after)
1/32 scale multipose sets of six and twelve figures,
which were expressly designed so you could mix and match body parts
to create additional poses (sadly these are out of production and
many modelers regularly request a return of this figure format from
current manufacturers). Initial Tamiya AFV kits were a mishmash
of 1/32 and 1/35 scales, often due to accommodations made for battery-powered
perhaps because of Tamiyas increasing domination of the market,
1/35 became the de facto scale for AFV kits. When Belgian modeler
François Verlinden began producing resin figures in in the
1980s, they were 54mm, which remains the standard size for most
historical miniature figures. Eventually he relabeled many of the
boxes as 1/35 54mm. Which, of course, is like saying
a mile is equal to a kilometer. Indeed, many of the weapons in Verlinden
Productions WWII figure sets were and, unfortunately,
still are copies of 1/32 Airfix weapons (even including sanded-down
ejection marks from Airfixs plastic molds).
Verlinden set the stage for the aftermarket industry. While many
more-informed modelers take issue with the scale and accuracy of
a number of his AFV products, generally hes revered as one
of the most influential 1/1 scale figures in the industry.With the
rise in popularity of Verlindens figures, update sets and
diorama products through the 1980s and 1990s, other small companies
sprung up. Some lasted only a few years, but many more have survived
and thrived. These days scale inaccuracies are relatively infrequent
in AFV kits; most dimensional problems are a matter of millimeters.
are more disparities, however, between figures. And while the differences
are still millimeters, they often appear to be greater when posing
figures from different manufacturers next to one another. I go into
detail about the overall quality of these soldiers on the Figures
and Reviews page, but below is a summary of comparative sizes and
are three key things to remember about figures and their relative
size. First, during the war years, the average height of an American
or European male was 58. Second, people do come in all
shapes and sizes, though individual skeletal structures are generally
proportioned (head not too big or small, arms not too short or long,
etc.). Third, though uniforms were cut in different sizes, virtually
all equipment was standardized and did not come in small, medium
or large. Some older DML, Warriors, and other resin figures
run around 6'+, and the majority of Verlinden figures (especially
those marked 54mm) are in the 6'6"+ range. Consequently you
might have problems sitting them in jeeps or trucks without significant
alterations (shaving off backs and butts or feet).
can become disconcerting when you try to mix these oversized figures
that dwarf the other smaller ones. I try to group similarly sized
figures if I can, or position them on lower or higher levels if
possible so the difference is less distracting.
there are variations in all of these product lines, you can use
this guide as a general reference point in sizing resin and plastic
1/35 (height of 6'+ and larger equipment)
Verlinden (including head sets)
Warriors (including head sets)
1/35 (height less than 6' and more accurately scaled weapons &
post 1998 DML
(including excellent replacement head sets)
(excellent replacement head sets)
(same figures under different brands)
1/35 (figures tend to be distinctly undersized)
seated drivers in AFV kits
Italeri/Zvezda/Heller figures (particularly those with two-piece
figures seem to have shrunk a bit over the years. Their initial
sets were tipped towards the 1/32 size; their more recent ones over
the past four years or so have been smaller. Tamiya's also started
out bigger than they are now. The current figures included with
AFVs such as the M4 Sherman or M8 Greyhound are downright puny compared
to Verlinden figures, but their size is more the historical norm.
can be significant differences within companies that use several
sculptors to create figures. Sculptors have different styles as
well as skill levels, but most companies tend towards a predominant
style or characteristic. Consequently it doesn't take long before
you can tell Verlinden from Warriors and Italeri from Tamiya.
youre concerned about accuracy, the most crucial thing to
keep in mind is the relative size of equipment. While bodies vary
in size, there was only one size M1 Garand or MP40. Germans helmets
came in five sizes, but U.S. had only one size. Germans had large
and smaller gas mask containers. But haversacks and packs of a type,
for any WWII army that Im aware, did not come in large, medium
and small sizes.
if you become a stickler for accuracy, you wont want to have
a Verlinden GI holding an M1 Garand next to a Tamiya figure holding
an M1 -- the Verlinden gun is 1/32 scale and about 7 too long
that its Tamiya counterpart, which is accurately scaled to 1/35. The
most accurately scaled U.S. M1 steelpot helmets are found on Tamiyas
post-1990 figures and equipment sets, or on replacements heads from
Ultracast and Hornet. DML, Verlinden and Warriors are way oversized.
you look closely at resin gear, youll see that much of it
is clearly borrowed from Tamiya and DML molds. For those
of you who have moral objections to pirating, you might find yourself
tested in this regard.
Above the Rest
plastic figures have very bland, complacent faces with little character.
One of the best ways to improve a figure is to replace the head
with a new resin noggin. Using a razor saw or hobby knife cut the
head off right at the collar and hollow out the neck. A Dremel or
similar rotary tool works best for this, but it can be done with
a hand drill and bit if youre extremely careful. Remove any
burrs and debris. Most accessory heads have a good length of neck
attached, which you can trim as necessary. I prefer to paint heads
separately and attach them when the rest of the figure has been
scale and proportion is a concern when replacing heads. Warriors
heads look the best on the larger sized figures, while replacements
from Hornet and Ultracast work well with medium sized figures. Their
helmet sizes compare favorably with Tamiyas, and even the
old U.S. figure sets from Tamiya improve greatly with new heads
and careful painting.
hands are also available from Verlinden and Warriors. Some modelers
prefer to cut off the hands on the figure, hollow out the sleeve
a bit, and then reinsert the hands, sometimes glued onto a bit of
sprue to allow for the new depth of the sleeve. Another way to imply
depth and shadowing is to paint a ring around the wrist in a darker
shade than the sleeve color.