Miniatures Miniature Scale


I've been painting minis for a little while now, and I've been buying them for even longer. In spite of that, I still feel as though I have little to no understanding of the sizing scale used to measure rpg miniatures. I mean, I understand the concept behind how scaling works; I've dabbled in model trains and things of that nature, so scaling makes perfect sense to me. Where minis confuse me is that there rarely seems to be a commonly shared meaning about what a size means; 25mm scale from one company isn't necessarily the same as 25mm from a different company. Beyond that, I am also sometimes confused because D&D miniatures are said to be 30mm; that seems to be a size which is very rarely used by other companies; however, there are 28mm minis by other companies which appear to be the same size. All in all, I find it confusing to try to purchase minis from different gaming companies and have them be similar sizes. It's also confusing when I try to purchase things from non-gaming companies (such as an arts and craft store) and create my own terrain and have it be sized in a manner which is consistent with the size of the minis I have.


What are the common sizes of minis when it comes to tabletop rpgs?

What exactly do those sizes mean? (There seems to be some debate about whether the size means that's the measurement to eye level or the top of the mini.)

What size are D&D minis, and has that size changed with time? (I'm pretty sure they are 30mm.)

What size is Pathfinder?


28 mm - used for most wargames and some fantasy miniature lines
28 mm heroic - used for Game Workshop's games (actually 30 mm)
25 mm - D&D minis

The sizing somewhat varies, but generally it is a measure from the "ground" to the eyeline of the character (it's definitely the scale GW claims to use). Generally, over time minis have gotten larger and larger as the increased scale makes it easier to sculpt and pick out details. Back in the 70's and 80's, D&D metal minis were 25 mm. As Games Workshop's games became more popular (which were initially 28mm figures), fantasy miniatures began to creep upwards in size. Mini's for D&D's Chainmail game, for example, reached up to 30 mm. When the D&D plastic minis came out, they were scaled back to 25 mm, though a couple chainmail molds slipped by inspection (The farm hand with scythe from Harbinger being an egrarious example; it was often joked he was "corn-fed"). Over time, scale creep set in on the minis, though I don't think they quite reached 28 mm in size.

Reaper makes a line of minis that are 28 mm, but they also make 25mm. Pathfinder minis, are, I believe, 25 mm.



The beginning of the article found at the first link mentions exactly why I've (at times) been confused.

"Just to confuse things further, manufacturers have been slowly making their figures a bit larger in recent years. The extra size gives more room for details, so that a "large 15mm" figure often looks sharper than an "classic 15mm" figure - and that's because it's not actually a 15mm figure, but (often) an 18mm figure! The same is true with 25mm figures, as represented by the miniatures put out by Games Workshop as well as by Reaper's "heroic" 25mm figures (both of which measure closer to 28mm in scale)."
Very few actual 25mm figures for fantasy rpgs are being made now. Back in the day, Ral Partha, Heritage and Grenadier made 25mm scale minis. Scale creep has been going on since the late 80's/early 90's. Oversized figures really make the scale creep obvious. I have an old Ral Partha storm giant figure that is not much taller than some of the larger reaper human models. Put one of the old RP minis next to the giant and it actually looks like a giant again.


Like I said in original post, one of the things that the variable sizes are giving me fits with is trying to build terrain. I'm not looking for perfect accuracy; I'm ok with some amount of variance in the minis. I'm mostly struggling when it comes to picking up terrain supplies that come from non-rpg oriented sources such as hobby stores or arts & crafts stores. From this discussion, I think I'm safe assuming that most of my minis are somewhere around 28mm; even the ones which are supposedly 25mm are actually slightly bigger. With that in mind, my best bet seems to look for 1/54 supplies; if they happen to be a touch too big for some of the 25s which actually are 25s, I'm fine with that.


I crit!
The only time I've used something other than 28mm was in a traveller game with 15mm mini's and paper mini's. I stumbled accross a site pedling fantastic 15mm mini's and realized how far 15mm has come (I wish I remembered the site).

Does anybody use 15mm anymore?
The only time I've used something other than 28mm was in a traveller game with 15mm mini's and paper mini's. I stumbled accross a site pedling fantastic 15mm mini's and realized how far 15mm has come (I wish I remembered the site).

Does anybody use 15mm anymore?
15mm seems to be more popular for unit based wargames than rpg play. Its hard to see details on a 15mm individual on the table.


Making terrain? I'd recommend 3" = 10' Yeah, it will be big, but at least you'll be able to move the minis around in it! Getting screwed out of one's actions because of tiny terrain sucks. 3 medium figures is what Gygax recommended for the 10' corridor anyways and scale creep is not getting any less common, especially thanks to those 30mm artiste bases.
Figure bases are necessarily broad in order to assure that the figures will stand in the proper position and not constantly be falling over. Because of this, it is usually necessary to use a ground scale twice that of the actual scale for HO, and squares of about 1 actual inch per side are suggested. Each ground scale inch can then be used to equal 3 1/3 linear feet, so a 10' wide scale corridor is 3 actual inches in width and shown as 3 separate squares.