Choosing a Scale

I have a new set of historical wargaming rules, enthusiasm for the period–paints and brushes stand at the ready on my desk.  Now I need some figures!  My local games store carries a variety of board games and miniatures for roleplaying, fantasy and science-fiction games.  The closest figure I could find to 18th century French & Indian War is a Reaper miniature in fringed leather jacket and coonskin cap with a long rifle cradled in his elbow.

I remembered seeing some plastic figure packs at a local hobby store, and I went to buy several packs of Indians and Revolutionary War figures in plastic 1/72 scale produced by IMEX (and I bought several packs of wire pine trees on severe discount from the previous Christmas season).  The plastic figures are single pieces, easy to paint, and mounted on pennies (thanks to the federal government for subsidizing my hobby–there is no way I could purchase metal bases at a single cent per base, not even with cheap metal washers); they look good and stand ready to serve on the tabletop, and I’ve played several games with them already.

Rules, figures, and terrain to start gaming the FIW, all for under $100 USD.

But I’m ready to expand my selection of forces, particularly into the American Revolution.  And I’m ready to paint some figures with more dynamic range of poses and uniforms.  But where to start?  I started hunting figures to buy and paint, and I first looked at the larger figures measuring 28mm while someone else I played a game with talked about the 40mm sized figures he was painting for the War of 1812; then I found online sources for some great 18mm sized figures, and I even considered some only 10mm tall (less than half the size of the 25mm sized plastic figures I started with from off the shelf at the hobby store), and someone on the forum posted that he had played M&T with figures as small as 6mm tall!  Of course, the concept of playing with such small figures makes some sense to me–rather than putting a dozen 25mm figures on the table and calling it a regiment, within the same space I could put DOZENS of figures to represent the same regiment.  Strange, however, that there is the issue of basing as smaller figures are based together, and I’ve attempted this by mounting some 3mm scale figures on a penny.

Some 3mm sized infantry and artillery, along with some bombed out buildings, made in Poland that I picked up at Historicon 2012 and for which I intend to use as infantry tokens with Dystopian Wars.  The black plastic base on the left where the building ruins are mounted measures 40mm per side (for sense of scale).

The difference, in my opinion, between fantasy and sci-fi tabletop gaming and historical gaming is that the fantasy and sci-fi game systems are more popular but standardized in scale while historical gaming is all over the place.  And not only are there a range of scales, but a wide range of manufacturers for each scale!  There is some discussion on forums about how figures from different producers but in the same scale compare to each other on the tabletop; it seems that one set of figures designated as 25mm from one company might not actually be the same size as another set of figures designated as 25mm from another company.  What sort of madness is this?  I’m tempted to try modelling my own figures in the scale I want.

My attempt to sculpt some 15 micron tall figures for a 1/1200 scale naval game; no fingers were actually harmed in the staging of this photograph!

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