A scale model is a representation or copy of an object that is larger or smaller than the actual size of the object . Very often the scale model is smaller than the original and used as a guide to making the object in full size. Scale models are built or collected for many reasons.
Professional modelmakers often create models for the below professions:
Hobbyists or amateur modelmakers make die-cast models, injection molded, model railroads, remote control vehicles, wargaming and fantasy collectibles, model ships and ships in bottles for their own enjoyment.
Scale models can also be objects of art, either being created by artists or being rediscovered and transformed into art by artists.
Model aircraft are divided into two main groups: static and flying models.
Most hobbyist who build models of buildings do so as part of a diorama to enhance their other models such as a model railroad or model war machines. As a stand-alone hobby, building models are probably most popular among enthusiasts of construction toys such as Erector, Lego and K'nex. Famous landmarks such as the Empire State Building, Big Ben and the White House are common subjects. Standard scales have not emerged in this hobby. Model railroaders use railroad scales for their buildings: HO scale (1:87), N scale (1:160), and O scale (1:43). Lego builders use miniland scale (1:20) and minifig scale (1:48) and micro scale (1:192) Generally, the larger the building, the smaller the scale. Model buildings are made from plastic, foam, balsa wood or paper. Card models are published in the form of a book, and some models are manufactured like 3-D puzzles. Professionally, building models are used by architects and salesmen..
Architecture firms usually employ model makers to make models of projects to sell their designs to builders and investors. These models are traditionally hand-made, but it can also be a computer-generated image. Typical scales are 1:50, 1:100, 1:200, 1:500, etc.
Dolls' houses are usually built to a scale of 1:12. Interior and exterior fittings, furniture, wallpaper etc are available in a huge array of styles, from simple toys to hand-crafted artifacts costing as much as full-scale items.
Typically found in , most manufacturers of commercial vehicles and heavy equipment will commission scale models made of diecast metal as promotional items to be given to prospective customers. These are also popular children's toys and collectibles. The major manufacturers of these items are Conrad and NZG in Germany. Corgi also makes some 1:50 models, as well as Dutch maker Tekno.
Trucks are also found as diecast models in and injection molded kits (and children's toys) in .
Recently some manufacturers have appeared in like Code 3.
Although the British scale for 0 gauge was first used for model cars comprised of rectilinear and circular parts, it was the origin of the European scale for cast or injection moulded model cars. MOROP's specification of 1:45 scale for European 0 will not alter the series of cars in , as it has the widest distribution in the world.
In America, a series of cars was developed from at first cast metal and later styrene models ("promos") offered at new-car dealerships to drum up interest. The firm Monogram, and later Tamiya, first produced them in a scale derived from the Architect's scale: , while the firms AMT, Jo-Han, and Revell chose the scale of 1:25. Monogram later switched to this scale after the firm was purchased by Revell. Some cars are also made in , and rolling toys are often made on the scale . Chinese die-cast manufacturers have recently introduced 1/72 scale into their range.
Construction vehicle models are almost always made in , particularly because the cranes at this scale are often three to four feet tall when extended and larger scales would be unsuited for display on a desk or table. These models are popular as children's toys in Germany. In the US they are commonly sold as promotional models for new construction equipment, commissioned by the manufacturer of the prototype real-world equipment. The major manufacturers in Germany are Conrad and NZG, with some competition from Chinese firms that have been entering the market.
Model trains come in a variety of scales, from 1:8 on the large end and 1:220 on the small. Each scale has its own strengths and weaknesses, and fills a different niche in the hobby. The largest models are as much as 3 meters long, the smallest a few centimeters. The most popular size is H0 scale (1:87) and second is N scale (1:160). Model railways originally used the term "gauge", which refers to the distance between the rails, just as full-size railways do. Although model railways were also built to different gauges, 'standard gauge' means 2 1/8 in (54 mm) between the inside surfaces of the rails.
Now it is more typical to refer to the scale of the model, and the term scale has replaced "gauge" in most usages. This is despite considerable confusion between countries as to the definition of 0 scale and N scale.
The gauges for model railways were first measured in inches, but later they were standardized to metric units, even for companies which put models in traditional Architect's scale proportions on such metric tracks. A range of accepted gauges were accepted by model railroaders for each scale for convenience's sake.
Considerable confusion often arises when referring to "scale" and "gauge", especially as some misinformed individuals tend to use the words interchangeably. The word "scale" only ever refers to the proportional size of the model, the word "gauge" only ever applies to the measurement between the inside faces of the rails. To highlight this difference, consider the various gauges used in H0 scale; A gauge of 16.5 mm is used to represent the "Standard gauge" of (H0 scale), a gauge of 12 mm is used to represent gauge (H0m) and the "Cape gauge" of (H0n3-1/2) and a gauge of 9 mm is used to represent a prototype gauge of . It is completely incorrect to refer to the mainstream scales as "H0 gauge", "N gauge" or "Z gauge"
The most popular scale to go with a given gauge was often derived at by the following roundabout process. German artisans would take strips of metal of standard metric size to make things to blueprints whose dimensions were in inches: hence "4 mm to the foot" yields the 1:76.2 size of the "00 scale". This British scale is anomalously used on the standard H0 scale (16.5 mm gauge from 3.5 mm/foot scale) tracks, however, because early electric motors weren't available commercially in smaller sizes.
The Germans have a more developed terminology, which can explain this a bit better. Baugrösse (English: "building size") is the alphanumeric designation, which is used in place of a numeric scale ratio. It's used for scale, as in "0 scale", "H0 scale", or "Z scale". Maßstab (English: "measure") is the proportion, with a colon, as in the corresponding terms "1:43", "1:87.1", and "1:220". Spurweite (English: "track width") is the distance between the rails, or correspondingly "32mm", "16.5 mm", and "6.5 mm", and again gauge is used for this in English. One might add to these the old use of the term scale, of "7mm to the foot" and "3.5 mm to the foot" for the first two, while the last really isn't expressible in this manner. Early 1900s German mass-produced toys had a measured gauge from rail centre to rail centre of rolled tinplate rail, with much latitude between flange & rail.
There are three different standards for the "0" scale, each of which uses tracks of 32 mm for the standard gauge. The American version continues a dollhouse scale of 1:48. It is sometimes called "quarter-gauge", as in "one-quarter-inch to the foot". The British version continued the pattern of sub-contracting to Germans; so, at 7 mm to the foot, it works out to a scale of 1:43.5. Later, MOROP, the European authority of model railroad firms, declared that the "0" gauge (still 32 mm) must use the scale of 1:45. That is, in Europe the below-chassis dimensions have to be slightly towards 4 ft. 6 inches, to allow wheel/tyre/splasher clearance for smaller than realistic curved sections.
"Live steam" railways, that you actually ride on, are built in many scales, such as 1-1/2", 1", and 3/4" to the foot. Common gauges are 7-1/2" (Western US) and 7-1/4" (Eastern US & rest of the world), 5", 4-3/4". Smaller Live Steam gauges do exist, but as the scale gets smaller, the pulling power decreases. One of the smallest gauges on which a live steam engine can pull a passenger is the now almost defunct 2-1/2" gauge.
The most prolific manufacturer of mecha models is Bandai, whose Gundam kit lines were a strong influence in the genre in the 1980s. Even today, Gundam kits are the most numerous in the mecha modeling genre, usually with dozens of new releases every year. The features of modern Gundam kits, such as color molding and snap-fit construction, have become the standard expectations for other mecha model kits.
Due to the fantasy nature of most anime robots, and the necessary simplicity of cel-animated designs, mecha models lend themselves well to stylized work, improvisations, and simple scratchbuilds. One of Gundam's contributions to the genre was the use of a gritty wartime backstory as a part of the fantasy, and so it is almost equally fashionable to build the robots in a weathered, beaten style, as would often be expected for AFV kits as to build them in a more stylish, pristine manner.
Science fiction space ships are heavily popular in the modeling community. Models based on ships from such franchises as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica are regularly sold and created in scales ranging from 1:24 to 1:1400 to 1:2500 to 1:10000 for the larger Star Wars ships. Finemolds in Japan have recently released a series of high quality injection molded Star Wars kits in 1:72, and this range is supplemented by resin kits from Fantastic Plastic.
Models of living creatures requiring assembly are not as common as single-piece units, but certainly not unheard of. One of the most prolific kinds of kits requiring assembly that feature living creatures are models of human and animal skeletons. Like their single-piece counterparts, such kits are often touted as being educational activities. Skeleton kits often have unique features such as glow-in-the-dark pieces or attachable internal organs. Again, dinosaurs are a popular subject for such models.
In the first half of the twentieth century, navies used hand-made models of warships for identification and instruction in a variety of scales. That of 1:500 was called "teacher scale." Besides models made in 1:1200 and 1:2400 scales, there were also ones made to 1:2000 and 1:5000. Some, made in Britain, were labelled "1 inch to 110 feet," which would be 1:1320 scale, but aren't necessarily accurate.
Michele Morciano says small scale ship models were produced in about 1905 linked to the wargaming rules and other publications of Fred T Jane. The company that standardised on 1:1200 was Basset-Lowke in 1908. The British Admiralty subsequently contracted with Basset-Lowke and other companies and individual craftsmen to produce large numbers of recognition models, to this scale, in 1914-18.
Just before the Second World War, the American naval historian (and science fiction author) Fletcher Pratt published a book on naval wargaming as could be done by civilians using ship models cut off at the waterline to be moved on the floors of basketball courts and similar locales. The scale he used was non-standard (reported as 1:666), and may have been influenced by toy ships then available, but as the hobby progressed, and other rule sets came into use, it was progressively supplemented by the series 1:600, 1:1200, and 1:2400. In Britain, 1:3000 became popular and these models also have come into use in the USA. These had the advantage of approximating the nautical mile as 120 inches, 60 inches, and 30 inches, respectively. As the knot is based on this mile and a 60-minute hour, this was quite handy.
After the war, firms emerged to produce models from the same white metal used to make toy soldiers. One British firm offered a tremendously wide line of merchant ships and dockyard equipment in the scale 1:1200. In the US, at least one manufacturer, of the wartime 1:1200 recognition models, Comet, made them available for the civilian market postwar, which also drove the change to this scale. In addition, continental European manufacturers and European ship book publishers had adopted the 1:1250 drawing scale because of its similar convenience in size for both models and comparison drawings in books.
A prestige scale for boats, comparable to that of 1:32 for fighter planes, is 1:72, producing huge models, but there are very few kits marketed in this scale. There are now several clubs around the world for those who choose to scratch-build radio-controlled model ships and submarines in 1:72, which is often done because of the compatibility with naval aircraft kits. For the smaller ships, plank-on-frame or other wood construction kits are offered in the traditional shipyard scales of 1:96, 1:108, or 1:192 (half of 1:96). In injection-molded plastic kits, Airfix makes full-hull models in the scale which the Royal Navy has used to compare the relative sizes of ships: 1:600. Revell makes some kits to half the scale of the US Army standard: 1:570. Some American and foreign firms have made models in a proportion from the Engineer's scale: "one-sixtieth-of-an-inch-to-the-foot", or 1:720.
But the continental Europeans have an on-going project of getting rid of all conversions and measurements which they consider non-standard. As they saw how four Japanese model-making firms (Tamiya, Hasegawa, Aoshima, and Fujimi) formed a cartel to apportion out the project of putting out waterline kits of the whole fleet of Japanese warships of the Second World War on the market in a proportion that no firm from any other country did - 1:700, the Europeans are attempting to have the scale of 1:400 standardized for full-hull model ships, even though some Japanese firms have produced larger ships in the luxury scale of 1:350. On the other hand, the rise of the resin kit industry in the 1990s led to the introduction of companies around the world producing kits in the 1:350 and 1:700 scales to match pre-existing injection molded kits, creating in limited production a large variety of kits of subjects which traditional injection-molding makers have not invested resources to produce, due to the expense of creating a large injection mold. In scales more conducive to wargaming, continental Europeans have long marketed waterline kits in the scales 1:1250 and more recently 1:2500 to supplement the British and American lines. The Chinese are joining them. Such trends toward standardization has not affected the Japanese firm Nichimo, which still produces fit-in-the-box sizes from old molds, and 1:450 size models.
Manned models are used for research (e.g. ship behaviour), engineering (e.g. port layout) and for training in shiphandling (e.g. maritime pilots, masters and officers). They are usually at 1:25 scale.
Just before the twentieth century, the British historian (and science fiction author and forgotten mainstream novelist) H. G. Wells published a book, Little Wars, on how to play at battles in miniature. His books use 54 mm lead figures, particularly those manufactured by Britains. His fighting system employed spring-loaded model guns which shot matchsticks.
This use of physical mechanisms was echoed in the later games of Fred Jane, whose rules required throwing darts at ship silhouettes; his collection of data on the world's fleets was later published and became renowned. Dice have largely replaced this toy mayhem for consumers.
For over a century, toy soldiers were made of white metal, a lead-based alloy, often in architect's scale-based ratios in the English-speaking countries, and called tin soldiers. After the Second World War, such toys were on the market for children but now made of a safe plastic softer than styrene. American children called these "army men". Many sets were made in the new scale of 1:40. A few styrene model kits of land equipment were offered in this and in 1:48 and 1:32 scales. However, these were swept away by the number of kits in the scale of .
Those who continued to develop miniature wargaming preferred smaller scale models, the soldiers still made of soft plastic. Airfix particularly wanted people to buy 1:76 scale soldiers and tanks to go with "00" gauge train equipment. Roco offered 1:87 scale styrene military vehicles to go with "H0" gauge model houses. However, although there is no 1:72 scale model railroad, more toy soldiers are now offered in this scale because it is the same as the popular aircraft scale. The number of fighting vehicles in this scale is also increasing, although the number of auxiliary vehicles available is far fewer than in .
A more recent development, especially in wargaming of land battles is 15 mm white metal miniatures, often referred to as 1:100, though this is not a correct conversion of scale. 15 mm scale actually is very close to railroad TT scale or 1:120. The use of 15 mm scale metals has grown quickly since the early 1990s as they allow a more affordable option over 28 mm if large battles are to be refought, or a large number of vehicles represented. The rapid rise in the detail and quality of castings at 15 mm scale has also helped to fuel their uptake by the wargaming community.
Armies use smaller scales still. The US Army specifies models of the scale 1:285 for its sand table wargaming. There are metal ground vehicles and helicopters in this scale, which is a near "one-quarter-inch-to-six-feet" scale. The continental powers of NATO have developed the similar scale of 1:300, even though metric standardizers really don't like any divisors other than factors of 10, 5, and 2, so maps are not commonly offered in Europe in scales with a "3" in the denominator.
Consumer wargaming has since expanded into fantasy realms, employing scales large enough to be painted in imaginative detail - so called "heroic" 28 mm figures, (roughly 1:64, or S scale). Firms which produce these do so in so small production lots that they are necessarily made of white metal. One successful company in this field is British firm Games Workshop, which offers white metal and plastic war machines and soldiers for its Warhammer 40,000 and Warhammer Fantasy Battle. Following the cinematic release of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, a third miniature-based gaming line was created.
The proportion of the model to the prototype was originally called "size", as in "full-sized" or "half-sized", as used on a blueprint for making something that would fit on a workbench.
Shipyards were the first to use the scales to make models of things larger than a house. The scales they used were expressed in a different manner: "one-foot-to-the-inch" through "six-feet-to-the-inch" were common. During the Second World War, battleship models were made "eight-foot-to-the-inch", in the later phrasing, "one-eighth-inch to the foot"; you will find these models, used for training workers, in maritime museums. The model ship would be referred to as "one-ninety-sixth size", or "1/96th", but rarely, as there were few scales commonly used; it couldn't possibly be "1/98th scale", for example.
There were also rotary instruments in which one would line up marks on two dials to be able to translate measurements from units on the prototype to units on the model. After the production of kits to make plastic models became an industry, there were developed rulers marked in the model units and which are called scales.
The US Navy, in contrast, had metal models made to the proportion 1:432, which is "nine-feet-to-the-quarter-inch". At this scale, a model six feet is about half a statute mile; and seven feet about half a nautical mile.
After the war, firms that moulded models from polystyrene entered the consumer marketplace, the American firm Revell notably offering a model of the Royal Coach around the time of the 1953 coronation. In the early years, firms offered models of aircraft and ships in "fit-the-box" size. A box that would make an impressive gift was specified, and a mould was crafted to make a model that wouldn't ludicrously slide around inside. Modellers could not compare models, nor switch parts from one kit to another. It was the British firm Airfix that brought the idea of the constant scale to the marketplace, and they picked the RAF's scale.
In the 1960s, the company Monogram offered an aircraft actually labeled as ¼" scale, which may have been a common contraction in factories. They meant "one-quarter-inch to the foot", or "one-forty-eighth size". Shortly thereafter, hobbyists lost the ability to distinguish the two, and now the proportion is referred to as scale.
The nominal height of a man is simple in the inch-based system: six feet. Many traditional scales are derived so that a figure of such a height against the model can be readily imagined as a simple relation to an inch. Although the metric system has specified a limited series of scales for blueprints and maps, when it comes to models, there may be a problem with these scales for a readily imagined person of 180 centimetres. Model railways have the additional difficulty of having to present the rail gauge as a simple number, the height of a person being secondary. Trade authorities in metric countries are attempting to specify scales that are simple mulitiples of 2 and 5, but neither tracks nor people seem to fit. In such cases, rationalization may actually be invoked for competitive advantage, to prevent interoperability with products from another manufacturing country.
On the other hand, wargaming scales have traditionally been traced to metric system, where the number of millimetres relate to the relative height of the human figure based on 180 cm standard man. Therefore 25 mm scale (popular in historical and fantasy wargaming) refers to 1:72 scale, whilst the 15 mm scale (nowadays the most popular scale in ancient, medieval and Renaissance wargaming) refers to 1:120 scale (Many manufacturers refer to 15 mm as 1:100 scale). Likewise, 50 mm scale is the same as 1:35 military model scale, and 5 mm equals 1:350 naval scale.
Rationalisation typically falls into 2 categories: Industrial Trade, and Hobbies. Industrial trade covers areas like building and maritime architecture where universally accepted scales have been established and are conformed to both in the construction of models and drawings, in order to facilitate smoother co-operation between commercial parties. The rationalisation of hobby scales has been more gradual and organic; largely driven by clubs lobbying industry, as well as tradition, and indirectly, consumer demand. A couple of artificial efforts to standardise have not been successful: ie Tamiya in the 1970's with aircraft models in 1/100th scale, and Heller with airline models in 1/125th scale. Even though rationalisation in hobby scales sounds appealing, it has not proved to be historically evident, although there may be some very gradual progress as consumer demand becomes more organised.
Miniatures and model kits are used in contemporary art whereby artists use both scratch built miniaturizations or commercially manufactured model kits to construct a dialogue between object and viewer. The role of the artist in this type of miniature is not necessarily to re-create an historical event or achieve naturalist realism, but rather to use scale as a mode of articulation in generating conceptual or theoretical exploration. Political, conceptual, and architectural examples are provided by noted artists such as Jake and Dinos Chapman (otherwise known as the Chapman Brothers), Ricky Swallow, John Timberlake, Shaun Wilson or the Psikhelekedana artists from Mozambique, James Casebere, Oliver Boberg, Lori Nix and Bill Finger.