Author Topic: Paper Models and odd scale sizes  (Read 1425 times)

Dave Winfield

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Paper Models and odd scale sizes
« on: February 27, 2013, 09:20:01 AM »
In recent months I have been attempting to promote Card Modeling locally
mostly to other types of modelers, especially Plastic modelers.
I have also been posting on a number of "scale model" forums that aren't
overly familiar with card models.

There has been a trend in reaction to the scale model sizes of many card models.
North Americans seem to be the first to react.
But I recently got the same questions on a UK based modeling site.

Aircraft models are the obvious subject, but this does involve other categories.

The point is the choice of standard or common scale size for models.
In Paper modeling, 1:50 and 1:33 are the two common (larger) scale sizes for aircraft kits.
Whereas in Plastic, 1:48 and 1:32 are the norm.

This raises an immediate question among "plastic guys" and can fuel a negative attitude.

When posting some material about my current Centurion Tank project
(on that UK modeling site) I was immediately asked "why 1/18 scale?"
which set off a short discussion of why and why not and half a dozen
flip flops before I finally settled on 1/16 scale as my new design choice.

Apparently the varied scales in modeling seem to originate in central European
modeling circles...I'm not sure of the reasons...but it doesn't help when trying
to convince stubborn North Americans to look at this new(old) modeling genre.

I had a theory at one point that Paper page sizes limited scale sizes.
In other words, a 1:33 scale wing part fits onto an A4 page without dissection
(as opposed to 1:32 scale parts not quite fitting and requiring cut parts) 
but that didn't hold water for long since all aircraft have different size wings
and most European kits are pre-printed and Book pages are not restricted by common "letter" sizes.

Vehicle models in 1:25 as opposed to 1:24 scale is just another example of the
slight difference in common model types ...especially across continents.
So...which came first?
Well known North American Car model companies have dominated the plastic
scene with 1:24 scale Automobiles for decades.
Did they ignore accepted modeling scales to stand out? be different?
Actually North American model companies can't seem to decide between 1:24 and 1:25 for their cars!

I don't have a problem with the varied scale sizes across different modeling genres.
Railway miniatures must reflect actual gauge sizes and be a respectable percentage of those.
Rockets, Ships and other "big stuff"  are just too large to be built in "normal" vehicle scales.
That part I understand.

Its the slight variation in common model groups...comparing diecast to plastic to paper...
that causes the problem.
Should we be reconsidering the common scale sizes associated with Paper Models?
Its quite possible for me to go through all my kits and readjust them.
I can turn all my 1:33 scale Mustang kits into 1:32 with limited effort.
But obviously I am not going to convince Maty Modelarz, GPM and Halinski to ignore 50 years of production and change their scales!
In the same way I will never be able to convince Revell, Monogram and MPC to change what they have been doing!

I think we are stuck with the varied scale sizes associated with different model types...
I just wish I didn't have to keep answering that same question.

On the Wikipedia "Plastic Model" page, there is an important paragraph about scale model sizes.
It made me wonder "why dicker about the slight difference of paper model sizes?":
Almost all plastic models are designed in a well-established scale.
Each type of subject has one or more common scales, though they differ from one to the other.
The general aim is to allow the finished model to be of a reasonable size, while maintaining consistency across models for collections.
The following are the most common scales for popular subjects:

    Aircraft: 1/24, 1/32, 1/48, 1/72, 1/100, and 1/144, with 1/48 and 1/72 being the most popular
    Military vehicles: 1/16, 1/24, 1/35, 1/48, 1/72, 1/76
    Automobiles: 1/8,1/12,1/16,1/18,1/20,1/24,1/25,1/32,1/35,1/43
    Ships: 1/72, 1/96, 1/144, 1/350, 1/450, 1/600, 1/700
    Railways: 1:43.5 (7 mm/1 ft : O scale), 1:76.2 (4 mm/1 ft : OO scale), 1:87 (3.5 mm/1 ft : HO scale)

In reality, models do not always conform to their nominal scale; there are 1/25 scale automobile models
which are larger than some 1/24 scale models, for instance. For example, the engine in the recent reissue
of the AMT Ala Kart show truck is significantly smaller than the engine in the original issue.
AMT employees from the 1960s note that, at that time, all AMT kits were packaged into boxes of a standardized
size, to simplify shipping; and the overriding requirement of designing any kit was that it had to fit into that
precise size of box, no matter how large or small the original vehicle. This practice was common for other genres
and manufacturers of models as well. In modern times this practice has become known as fit-the-box scale.
In practice, this means that kits of the same subject in nominally identical scales may produce finished models
which actually differ in size, and that hypothetically identical parts in such kits may not be easily swapped between
them, even when the kits are both by the same manufacturer.

Something else to make you say "what the...?!"


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Re: Paper Models and odd scale sizes
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2013, 01:05:28 AM »
That part of the Wikipedia quote reminds me the tale of the newly wed couple, that on their first dinner, she cooked ham, but before cooking, she cut the ham in two. The husband asked her why she cut the ham in two, and she replied she didn't know, and that her mother always did that. So they went to her mother and asked her the same question, to which she replied she didn't know as her own mother did the same thing. So they went to the grand mother and they all asked why she always cut the ham in two, and the granny replied "because when I was young, we had a very small oven".

My idea of why the common scale on card models of airplanes is 1/33 is that, since paper in those days was not that good - rather rough texture - it was easier for them at that scale to build them... and it got stuck on the card modeling world.

I just bought the new kit from WAK with the F-16 and the Mig-29, both come in 1/50. I haven't try them, but it would be interesting to build card models at that scale, from a commercial kit I mean.

On the last IPMS event I was surprised to see a good number of 1/32 scale airplane models on the contest. That scale was kind of scarce on plastic, and now they even make announcements like "Finally, the SWS [brand] Mustang will take flight!"... at whooping $105 US DLS!! (Published on the IPMS Journal, September-October 2012).
- Gerardo

Dave Winfield

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Re: Paper Models and odd scale sizes
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2013, 08:38:01 AM »
all very true!


this post has started an interesting discussion over at
lots of great theories and comments.