Metal Miniatures
Size and Scale Compatibility

Wargaming figures are available from a variety of manufacturers, the number of which has been steadily increasing over the years. This page is primarily concerned with those figures available for gaming colonial battles of the 19th and early 20th century.

Figures are available, predominantly in three scales - which are generally referred to by the approximate head height. These are typically 15 mm. 20 mm and 25 mm. The actual height of these figures has been steadily growing over the years, with some manufactures measuring to eye height, some to the top of the head. This gives us quite a variety of actual sizes not only between manufacturers, but also with the same company depending on the sculptor involved with a particular range. Many 15 mm figures are actually nearer 18 mm, and 25 mm figures have expanded into an almost accepted sub category of figures referred to as 28 mm, with another smaller sub category of 30 mm available just to confuse the buyer even more.
Comparison Chart

The following is a selectable image that shows some of the most commonly available colonial figures on the market in the 25 mm scale. These should give an indication as which figures you find acceptable to mixed with each other - size wize - within the range of 25 mm - 30 mm figures.

Select the image for a larger view.

These miniatures have been photographed against a graph paper backing. The graph paper is graduated in 5 mm squares with bold lines every 30 mm.

Where possible, I have attempted to line up the soles of the feet with the base line.

The following is a list of manufacturers who produce figures suitable for gaming battles in Colonial Africa. See the directory page on this site or visit a directory site such as The Miniatures Page dot Com

This list is not exhaustive, and more manufacturers will be added as discovered.



Scales and Compatibility 

I have seen frequent requests on news groups regarding scales. There is a fairly easy way to figure scales. This allows you to figure out which scale of buildings or vehicles are suitable for which range of figures. To calculate a fractional scale such as 1/285 it is necessary to adopt a height that is usual for a man. Most figures available seem to fall into the description of taller slimmer figure. Few manufactures make short, fat riflemen for example. The figure I have settled on is 5'10" as being an average height for a soldier.

Because figure height are given in millimeters we have to convert this 5'10" to millimeters. Many figures are measured as height to top of head, some to eye level. It is best to measure an actual figure to head height (just figure where the top of the head is if he's wearing a hat). All manufacturers will send you a sample if you haven't bought anything yet.

5'10" is 1776. 1776 mm is the conversion figure. If you feel your figures are taller than 5'10" you should use a bigger number such as 6' or 1828 mm. (The figure is arrived at by multiplying the height in inches by 25.4)

If you consider that 5'10" is an average and accept a variance of 2" either side then the results can also be in this range (+ or - 3%). As far as buildings and vehicles are concerned I personally feel that + or - 10% does not look bad on the table.

What you do to get a fractional scale is divide your conversion figure by the figure height. So, looking at one of my Britannia 20 mm GI's he is 23 mm tall, allowing for the fact he is crouching a little. So 1776 /23 is 77 and a little bit. So that means his fractional scale is 1/77. That is why he looks proportional to all those 1/76 th scale tanks I have for him.

Now this works both ways. I found a 1/60 th scale  model of a Rolls Royce car and was wondering if it would look out of place outside my British Embassy in Morocco for the Red Shadow's Desert Fantasy World.

So 1776 / 60 is 29 . That means a 5'10" dude would be 29 mm at 1/60 th scale. My French Foreign Legion are 28 mm tall, so that's within may acceptable range.

All you've got to do is remember 1776

1776 divided by figure height gives you a fractional scale

1776 divided by the fractional scale gives you a figure height.

Doing some conversions from figures from my collection we end up with

6 mm    1/296 th
9 mm    1/197 th
10 mm    1/178 th
15 mm    1/118 th
18 mm    1/99 th
20 mm    1/89 th
23 mm    1/77 th
25 mm    1/71 th
28 mm    1/63 rd
54 mm    1/33 rd

As you can see, most of these figures fall within a few percent of commonly available models. Most 15 mm W.W.II figure are actually nearer 18 mm in figure height so are also referred to as 1/100 th These do not look out of place with HO scale buildings (1/87th scale). 20 mm W.W.II figures are usually around 23 mm (1/77 th) and don't look out of place with British Rail Road scale OO scale buildings (1/76). My Skytrex action 200 tanks (1/200 th) look fine with Z Scale buildings (1/220) The smaller the scale greater the tolerance that looks OK)

These are Libyan occupation Italians from Frontier (25 mm or about 1/72), next to a Corgi model toy car in 1/60th scale (about 28 mm). This difference in scale looks OK to me and is about a 10% difference.

Anyway, just remember 1776.