Thursday, 18 July 2013

What is 54mm? Scale conundrums

Now I have collected three samples of metal toy soldiers from different manufacturers I have a chance to compare the details including scale...And here we have a problem...

From left to right: Dorset Miniatures 'Chasseurs a Pied' Band Major, Irregular Miniatures 'Fusilier Marin' and finally Black Hat's 'Infanterie de Ligne' (all circa 1900-1914).

All of these toys are described by their manufacturers as being 54mm! But, as you can see somebody is fibbing. Dorset and Irregular look fairly compatible, but Black Hat soldiers will not mix with the other soldiers at all.

Dorset Soldiers French Band Major
In height and stature the Black Hat soldier is closer in scale to one of my Armies in Plastic 1/32 soldiers. Though that's sort of academic as 1/32 is supposed to be the same as 54mm as far as I can find out.

Quality of figures...
Anyway - scale aside all the manufacturer's toy soldiers display the features characteristic of traditional toy soldiers and are simplified or stylised appropriately as such. You might say they are all caricatures of soldiers rather than any serious attempts at authentically or historically recreating period soldiers.

All are fit for purpose, but I rather like the modular 'multi-part' format of York's Irregular Miniatures. They have a wide range of heads in a variety of military hats, different tunics and webbing and weapons - all designed to be mixed and matched so you can make practically any uniform up that you might want.

Irregular Miniatures allows you to mix and match to make
a multitude of different national uniforms.
French Fusilier Marin 1900
Take my French 'Fusilier Marin' - he is made up from their Empire range's new French sailor's head, a suitably antique looking Martini Henry rifle and their 'EMB 18 Sailor in landing kit marching'. And looking through their online lists I could make up a good many of the French regiments from the period that interests me.

Last words on '54mm'
Well, that was an interesting exercise. I got a chance to have a look at what's on the market for French military figures from the turn of the 19th century and see what kind of compatibility there is between makes.

I can see me making a return visit to Irregular Miniatures, and maybe even a proper visit to their shop as York is within easy travelling distance...So I may be coming back with more goodies.

But this inconsistency between 54mm models does concern me. It seems that the scale is somewhat open to interpretation. This make me all the more determined to start making my own models.

Links to manufacturers:

Black Hat:

Irregular Miniatures:

Dorset Soldiers:

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