Model scales - Explanation
Why is there an explanation? – Time and time again, the model scale is a point of discussion and we would like to clear those questions beforehand on this page.
But first, we need to describe what a scale is. A scale represents a size ratio between the size of an object and a corresponding model to that object. An indication like 1:20 for example means that a model (of this scale) is 20 times smaller than the original. If a car has a length of three meters, then a model in scale 1:20 has a length of 3 m : 20 = 0.15 m.
Now the other way round. If the original size is divided by the model size, it results in the scaling factor. Example: Lego® Imperial Star Destroyer 75252 – The model has a length of 110 cm (1.1 m), the actual Star Destroyer has a length of 1600 m (source: Jedipedia). Therefore, 1600 m : 1.1 m = 1454,545454… (rounded to 1455) results in a scale of 1:1455.
In the range of our beloved models there are three important scales:
- 1. Playscale
- 2. UCS-Scale
- 3. Minifigscale
“Playscale” is a general description for models that are intended for playing. The actual scale, or if every detail fits, is not very important in this case. The point is that the models are “swooshable”. Which means that children (or women / men) can ‘fly’ around the room with the spaceship in hand.
“UCS-Scale” describes larger models where it is more about the richness of detail and which therefore need an appropriate size in order to depict all the details. The mentioned Star Destroyer by Lego falls under this category: it has a comfortable size, not too big, many details that make to make the collector’s heart (or exhibitor’s heart) beat faster, but (almost) no one would think of flying around the living room with it (At this point, however, I must admit that I myself have done the exact same thing).
“Minifigscale” is a repeatedly discussed scale. Some say it has to be scaled in a way that a Lego® minifigure can be seated “normally” in the model. Others presuppose the scale of 1:42. You get this scale, when you assume that a Lego® minifigure is supposed to represent an actual human being. Since the small figures are a little bit too wide, as you know, the height of the minifigures is generally used. Their height amounts to 4 cm (without head covering, source: own measurement). Actual people don’t have a uniform height, so I calculate different sizes starting at 180 cm, going down to 160 cm in steps of 5 cm. Those values correspond to the maximum, or rather minimum values of the average sizes by country (soure: Wikipedia).
This results in the following calculations for the scale factor (all values in cm):
- – 180 : 4 = 45
- – 175 : 4 = 437.75
- – 170 : 4 = 42.5
- – 165 : 4 = 41.25
- – 160 : 4 = 40
Of course there are taller or smaller people, but they do not represent the average person.
1:42 corresponds approximately to the scale that results from an average height of 170 cm. The size is rounded down because the figures were measured as described without hair, so they are a little over 4 cm.
With this you could always set the scale to 1:42. But there is the problem, that oftentimes it is difficult to deliberately design a model in this scale. And since Lego® parts have their own size it is impossible to always hit exactly 1:42. Hence, for us, the term “minifigscale” covers a scale range from 1:40 to 1:45.
Similar calculations can be made via microfigures or via the so-called “three plates-figures” (hinted figures made out of three stacked round 1×1 plates, that approx. correspond to the minifigures). This results in the following scale ranges:
- “microfigscale” : 1:90 to 1:70
- “Three-plates-fig-scale” : 1:160 to 1:140
At last a list of the scales of different official Lego® models and MOCs:
- UCS Millennium Falcon: 1:41
- UCS Star Destroyer (new): 1:1455
- Millennium Falcon (Playscale): 1:79
- Cavegods AT-M6*: 1:35
* The AT-M6 is not quite “minifigscale”, the Lego parts put a spoke in the designer’s wheel, it is indeed difficult to build something exactly in scale. Or alternatively, we simply assume that the officers and pilots of the first order are just very small people 🙂
Fun fact: a model of a star destroyer in “minifigscale” would have to have a length of 38 meters 🙂
Sources: Wikipedia, Jedipedia, Wookiepedia, Lego.com, and Brickarchitect, as well as own measurements.