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Hello everyone! Another curiosity question from myself concerning the state of collecting in the 1/72 scale today. So based on what I have understood over the past 20 years of collecting, the general reputation of the most common scales of plastic/metal soldier collecting can be summarized as thus:
15mm- Mostly for tabletop wargammers.
25mm (1/72)- Mostly for collectors who either grew up or have experience with Airfix 1/72. Since Airfix is for the most part a modelling company, this has tended to push the scale toward diorama building throughout its history.
54mm (1/32)- Mostly for collectors who either grew up with or have experience with Marx (USA) or Airfix 1/32 (UK) company toy soldiers. The former was targeted toward 1950s kids, so tends to have a reputation as an informal "play in the backyard" scale at least in the USA.
So my question is this: can the 1/72 scale today still be considered primarily a diorama based scale, or do wargammers (or somebody else) tend to be strongly considered as well? Naturally it is a subjective question on a certain level, as people will basically do whatever they want with these figures regardless of what they were probably originally intended for. Despite this, I am still curious to hear thoughts along these lines.
P.S.- If my personal context helps in answering such a question I have been a 1/72 scale collector since childhood (started with Airfix/HaT in the late 90s), but my father is a HUGE Marx 1/32 scale fan and has collected them for most of his lifetime. I have very limited experience with 15mm outside of some Jean Valiant (I think?) sets I bought at Yorktown Battlefield in 1996. I still have those Grenadiers and Continentals, tucked away in a mass of 1/72 scale figures. :joy: :grin:
It may at least in part depend on where you're based. In Germany wargaming was never as popular as in the UK or the US and most people I know over here are diorama builders. My own collection however is entirely wargames based - though I don't play - simply because my first infatuation with the hobby came from two Airfix Magazine Guides "Napoleonic Wargaming" and "Ancient Wargaming". Besides it takes up less space, time and funds than diorama building and thus allows me to cover more periods. Back in the 70s/80s 20mm/25mm was the prevalent wargaming scale. I think that today there's strong a move towards 28mmm (Perry's etc.) in the wargaming scene. 20mm however is ideal for creating large scale dioramas (see the splendid work of General Picton and others). 15mm is not my scale at all - way to small. Anything larger than 35mm is "toys" imho, but may be turned into real pieces of art by gifted painters.
Just an addendum: That's not to say that you can't do VERY nice dioramas on a larger scale:
all done with 7cm Elastolin figures and quite a sight!
Im not sure I would lump 25mm with 1/72 scale. Yes 25mm+ is creeping into the scale but really id say that 1/72 is a bit under 25mm.
1/72 scale has always been what I have worked in, but not just due to Airfix (who in some kits are actually 1/76 or H0-00 scale). I really enjoyed making aircraft & armour models.....moreso aircraft of WW2. Yes a good number were Airfix, but I also had Italeri, Revell, Academy, Tamiya & Hasegawa. There were others too from Eastern Europe but I forget their names. Pavla models? Special Hobby?? Something like that.
Throw in 00 model railways too which is just a bit smaller than 1/72. So that area of scale is what im used to from a young age.
I also made ships from WW2, they tended to be either Airfix or Revell, somewhere around 1/600 scale or something like that.
But now its all about figures. Only "kits" I make now are cannons, limbers, ammo caissons etc etc. Oh and some buildings.
For me 1/72 or 20mm offers the best compromise for diorama builders, as its big enough to see good detail, but still small enough to not take up masses of room. I think there is more of a range of sets in plastic in this scale too.
I dont wargame but if I did, I would go for 15mm, so can have a huge army in a small space. My eyesight probably would suggest otherwise!!
1/32 is a scale i just dont really like. Yeah tons of detail and far easier on the eyes to paint, but I just find it too big and maybe even venturing into the realms of toys. Its always reminded me of those cheap bags of about 100 toy soldiers we could find in toy shops or discount stores! I had them as a kid & they were 1/32, WW2 era, green for U.S troops and grey for Germans!!
But I enjoy making models so dioramas is where its at for me. And 20mm or 1/72 is what im used to.
Oh yea! My bad, that should not say 25mm up there. Meant to correct it, but forgot. :sunglasses:
I'm a wargamer and of the vintage who collected all the Airfix kits and figure sets but, apart from WW2, my first port of call over 40 years ago when I started was 15mm because you simply could not get a wide enough range in 20mm plastic. That changed with the advent of Republican Romans and Carthaginian figures from another well known manufacturer. For me that started the golden age and now I can't believe some of the sets I've got in my collection. WW2 FFL or ancient Khazars were simply a fantasy 20 years ago, not to mention fantasy figures that are now available.
It seems to me that manufacturers are a bit betwixt and between with regard to wargamers and diorama builders. The standard 10-12 poses and 40-48 figures in a box poses problems for both I would have said. Diorama makers must end up with oodles of left over multiple poses and yearn for sets with all unique poses whereas wargamers often find what we see as several "useless" poses in a box. I thought it was interesting that Strelets started off with all unique poses but have now opted for 12 poses and 4 sprues as their standard format. I like this as often I found the attempt to to achieve unique poses meant that we often ended up with some really silly poses just for sake of diversity.
I too actually perfer Napoleonic sets and alike to have the bulk in mostly similar poses, (Strelets in attack sets for example). Simple changes with the heads, in terms of where they are looking/facing, slight different angles of arms and footing is more than adequate. The rank and file should look "well drilled".
The more unique poses I prefer to see for Officers, NCOs and alike, plus any "special" sets like camps, hospitals or a siege set etc. Then of course wounded/dead poses. Not yet made by anyone, but a set representing Napoleonic troops in retreat/fleeing would perhaps need a varied range, as to show panic.
Different eras where troops are taught to fight more independantly or in small groups may be different in terms of needing more varied poses within a set.
Slightly tangentially to the OP I have been reading through a load of copies of Wargames Illustrated recently, donated to me by a mate after he'd finished with them, and feel a bit aggrieved about the way 1/72nd plastic figures are treated almost as if they don't exist in its pages. Almost all their articles feature 28mm and 15mm with 20mm only really coming up in WW2. They do review sets by PSC but I don't think I've seen them review any sets from people like Strelets or any of the other manufacturers with whom we are all familiar. It bothers me a bit because anyone new to the happy would be left with the impression that anything other than WW2 could only be done in 28mm and 15mm.
This is the sort of subject that deserves a 5,000 word essay:wink: ....But a few thoughts only here:
- Scale is not really important: You can make a diorama out of 10mm models or 120mm models. It is mainly a question of practicalities...space, time, money.
- Wargames tend to benefit from smaller scales, especially where weapons ranges increase. 1/300 scale armour is ideal for table-top tank battles, but (if 1/300 is still sold), it suffers from being little more than micro-blobs so small that an entire panzer battalion could disappear down the back of the sofa. 1/100 (15mm) seems now to be the 'trendy' scale for WW2 and post-1945 wargames
- Wargamers are practical people, and tend to like armies that are playable (opponents with opposing armies are important) affordable, storable and attractive....which makes it all the more mysterious that 1/72 plastics are still not seen at 'the right figures to have'. I elbowed the concept of 'having to have' metal 25/28mm armies out of the way many years ago, and my armies - mainly 1/72 HaT, Zvezda, Strelets, Italeri and a residual few Airfix, are IMHO as good as most metal (and some plastic) 25mm/28mm armies I've seen....and much, much cheaper to amass. Also lighter to store, sometimes better sculpted and more fun.
- Diorama builders are marvellous people akin to railway modellers, who are masters at painting, modelling, scenery, conversion, lighting, photography, backgrounds, modelling, paint effects...etc etc...you get the drift.
- It is possible to be both a wargamer and a diorama builder. I have done both in the past but now I am neither. I am simply a modeller, who enjoys building wargames-style armies and who enjoys the challenge of historical research, selection of figures, occasional converting of figures, painting and basing the figures, and sometimes taking photographs of them and occasionally posting these.
I am happy in my niche :blush:
Even though I live within hearing distance of a major military base (Ft Rucker, Alabama) albeit, a training base for helicopter pilots there seems to be little or no interest in military miniatures, toy soldiers, or modeling. The last real hobby shop in the area catered to flying model airplanes (pre-drone era) with some railroading. It shuttered its doors years ago.
So, after failing to interest any of my sons in the hobby, short of a mild passing interest which they "grew out of" and my grandsons more into video games I stopped gaming many moons ago. So I collect, paint, and set them temporarily to take pictures for the memories. I thought I might get one of the bedrooms when the kids moved out but as the wise man said, "They come back - and they bring MORE with them!" - usually on the holidays. So the bedrooms are now guest rooms. Unless and until I add another wing to the house...
I've shared this before but it keeps coming up so... I started out playing with 1/32 scale toy soldiers. The set that did it was Marx's 1961 Giant Blue and Gray Battleset. That started my love of both toy soldiers and the history they represent to me. For me it wasn't Christmas unless I got a military playset - either Marx or their "poorer" (and cheaper) cousins, MPC. I bought the bags of toys soldiers with my spare money.
I didn't get into 1/72 (back then called HO/OO) until my family got stationed in Belgium with my dad and I saw Airfix WWI sets in a toy store. I was hooked - there was a scarcity of good WWI figures in 1/32 scale, though I did get the IDEAL set in 1965 - the figures were bright blue and red and there weren't many of them. Prior to that time my 1/72 figures were limited to the occasional GIANT figures that came in bags and header cards in the stores or a couple sets I bought from comic book adds (somehow I managed to avoid the cheap "flats" that most of my generation laugh about now).
I would try to recreate historic battles on my bedroom floor to gain a better understanding of what happened.
I loved setting up my guys and would do wargaming with friends. I never painted my figures growing up. I began painting my 1/72 scale guys when ESCI came out and I wanted them to match my Airfix guys. This opened a whole new realm of research and study as I wanted to do my guys "right."
I haven't painted many of my 1/32 scale figures except for special projects like my lifelong Alamo project. I've currently a thousand or so painted "Mexicans" to go against something like 200 "Texians." I hope to clear an area some day to set it up and take pics "telling" the story as I see it.
For me, 1/32 is my first love. Yes, they are fun to play with - but with the advent of newer companies like Conte, TSSD, and others one will find they've moved into a new era. And there are the new Russian manufacturers like Plastic Platoon, Publius and many others who have elevated the sculpting to an artform. The prices of these guys will tell you they are NOT just toys.
The advantage of 1/32, as has been said, is the size and detail enables one to do intimate shots and closeups (and with my aging eyes the ease of painting isn't easily ignored either). I would think even gaming, one could do some great small unit actions with 1/32. That's also the disadvantage, size makes it hard to do large scale scenarios and battles (re: my Alamo project - I might have to do it by sections...).
I enjoy painting my 1/72 figures but find I rely more and more on my magnifying lenses to get the details; but having been born with the heart of a general I love the ability to mount large scale formations in a relatively small area. It's probably the major reason I've gravitated to pre-20th Century warfare -particularly ACW and Napoleonic.
Having painted a number of my Napoleonic 1/32 the temptation is to combine scales with 1/72 for the panoramic pictures and using the 1/32 figures for the closeups. For me there is room for both, even though I have limited my eras of collecting.
There is only one scale...
"This is the sort of subject that deserves a 5,000 word essay ..."
5, 10, even 30,000 words would be just scratching the surface.
In the format of the forum then, I can only offer my own thoughts on this from a limited view point.
I wargame within quite a small community - which has gotten smaller over the years. I am in touch with other wargamers, and attend shows when I can. Correction! I USED to attend shows, so I can only offer observations not hard, supported facts. I don't really do dioramas, so I cannot speak about that.
The bulk of British wargaming - based on advertising, the products offered by the industry, and wargaming media - is 28/32mm - the scale has crept up from the 25mm I began with in the 70s, to the 'Heroic' figures offered by Games Workshop and those companies that sprang off them and cater for people who have graduated from there.
A lot of suppliers have moved down a bit, back to 28mm from the Heroic figures and there is a lot of compatibility between ranges with Perry Miniatures, North Star, Gripping Beast and Old Glory being the main producers and a lot of other manufacturers fitting in around them.
1/72nd is very much a niche market. "Oh! You use those figures do you?" is a common (sometimes unspoken) reaction. WW2 players like them because the tanks are cheaper than 1/56th scale, and the weapons ranges look better and you can get more stuff on the board. Plus a lot of MDF building makers do NW Europe ranges. I think there is a strong 'nostalgic', or historical element in this - people had Airfix figures and tanks when they were younger, and the connection has stayed.
On the opposite side of this I think that where people have moved on to WW2 - and other periods - from Warhammer they like 1/56th scale/28mm, because the figures are more in line with what they are used to. 1/72nd gets that 'those figures' reaction because a) they are so small and b) there appears to be a feeling that they are somehow less 'sophisticated' than the larger scale offerings.
"Big game" players like 15mm, though I believe the scale is less popular than it was. There are less ranges than there were, but they are still liked for the sheer number of figures you can get per square foot, especially where there is limited space. The same goes for 10mm/12mm figures. Cost is another factor in the favour of these scales, but inevitably costs are rising.
1/72nd scale has always been a mixed scale - the costs, durability and (historical) availability - Airfix figures used to be able to be puchased in every village post office. (that availability is less so now), have all been great plusses in its favor (40-50 figures in a box, what is not to like?). However the problem has always been that the figures available, the ranges have been limited to pairs, or fours. Romans versus Celts, Crusaders versus Arabs, Normans versus Saxons. The only people who didn't have to spend hours converting figures to get what they were needed for the periods that they wanted to play were collectors of WW2 Germans.
Fortunately the advent of themed ranges from Hat, Caesar, Alliance and Strelets has changed that greatly (I think this is why the WSS range has had such a dramatic impact, now we get what we wargamers need to 'do' a period and all within a reasonable time period). Added to that makers moving away from figures that end up the spares box because they aren't really useable to the marching, fighting and command sets has to be a good thing for us.
These days, as a wargamer, I find myself moving away from bigger games. The players in our no longer fill 6ft x 8ft tables from side to side with Napoleonics, or Ancients armies with upwards of 150 figures or more. Instead as a group we play smaller games like the Rampant series - Lion and Dragon Rampant by Osprey Publishing. Some of it is cost, some of it is transportability, but the games are fun and playable and are an evolution of more prescribed games like DBA and DBM, yet they still have the unpredictable nature of games like Warhammer and Warhammer Ancients.
Surprisingly this means that the armies, though smaller, tend to be just as diverse as the bigger armies. There are the same units, just less figures in them (in the Rampant series, units are either 6 or 12 figures). As someone who lives with Type 2 Diabetes, (I have to make sure that my sugars are balanced before I start work or I lose the ability to concentrate) smaller armies are more likely to get painted than a massive Napoleonic formation.
I do believe that about 15 years ago we entered the new Golden Age of 1/72nd and despite everything that the world has thrown at it - we are still living it. Maybe not as diverse or as prolific as when it began, but I for one, still look eagerly at the news for what is coming down the road, and the manufacturers still manage to make things that make me go "Ooooooh! Shiny!!!"
I think that the wise observations respectively of Mr Buckingham ("There is only one scale...") and Mr Pickstock ("Oooohh! Shiny!!!") are the two most important take-aways from this thread.
AMEN TO THAT.
For what it's worth I am a wargamer. I use 20/25mm/HO/00/!:72/1:76 figures primarily because of cost and availability and I always liked them. I feel the scale gives me realistic looking armies that can fight convincing looking battles on a not overlarge table.
Thanks everyone for your thoughts! The viewpoints presented all make sense to me. Have to say that I relate to Graham's point that I feel like the companies are a little split on which audience to cater to more than the other sometimes. As a pre-1789 only wargammer it can be extremely frustrating trying to piece together full armies, but as Minuteman said that is part of the fun as well. I too also feel like it is a "tweener" scale much of the time. Have to say I have never had a huge desire to collect anything else other than 1/72 plastic (somewhat illogically one may argue), so Alan is completely correct in that regard. :grin:
Sometimes I ask these questions because it hopefully gives Strelets up to date insights on their markets. Certainly enjoying the WoSS line, the masters look beautiful and soon the big boom boom guns will be here! :sunglasses:
In olden times the only figures in small scale we had were Airfix and we played with those and our Roco Minitanks outside in the dirt. 25mm were always in metal, much thicker and taller, and more expensive and hard to find in the USA. 15mm came about because they were cheaper than 25mm and the wargame snobs would not look down on 15mm because they were metal, plastic was not considered right for wargamers. 28mm came along thanks to Heroclix wanting to make role playing games and needing the figures large enough to not be compatible with anyone else's and large enough to take the click window bases.
Also 60 years later and I am still buying HO scale plastic vehicles and 1/72nd scale plastic figures and having a great time. Since I moved three years ago I am still unpacking and not played any games in about four years, but it's still the purpose of my army, to wargame.
I do still, at 65 take them outside in the dirt and set them up once in a while.
Here are a few painted Airfix and metal figures outside at my new home.
Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog
Thank you Minute Man!
Night Fighters From Mars
Today I posted photos of a new set from Mars.
Mike Bunkermeister Creek
Bunker Talk blog
From an historical point of view, the 1/72 scale was born by the allied during world war two, model of planes were made in 1/72 scale to train pilots with tactics as well as to recognize more easily enemy or friendly planes. DCA crew were trained as well with such models.
Also commandos or infantry were prepared in their mission with dioramas representing their target with scale models, it was mostly for officers.
Wargames during WWII used such 1/72 models (and others scale for warships)
Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz explained to a Naval War College class in 1960 that, "the war with Japan had been reenacted in the game rooms here by so many people and in so many different ways that nothing happened during the war that was a surprise - absolutely nothing except the kamikazes towards the end of the war."
The 1/72 scale is perfect for wargames, that's for sure, but can be used in plenty of other ways, it's my favorite scale. It's still the best way today to learn tactic and strategy, better and more realistic than computer simulation.:sunglasses: