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What are Popular Scales?

This article follows on from Explaining Scale There is a huge range of scales available to the modeller and it would be futile to try to list every scale that had ever been used.  However, it is useful to know the popular scales that are available today so that modellers can make an informed choice should they wish to concentrate on a particular scale.


Modern British NCO

Modern British NCO 1/35th from Accurate Armour. This is one of the most popular scales for both figure and military vehicle modellers

Scale model figures have been given their own table because they tend to be made in a wide variety of scales that are not used for anything else.  Figure models also tend to be known more by the height of the figure rather than the scale e.g a 1/32nd scale figure model is known as a 54mm figure.

A feature of figures is that for many years a common scale was 1/32nd whereas the most common scale for military vehicles was 1/35th.  This meant that modellers making a diorama with both vehicles and figures were faced with a dilema.  Many figures on the market looked too large as they were made to a slightly larger scale.  These days there are plenty of 1/35th scale figures available to cater for the military vehicle modeller, although many 1/32nd figures are still available. Therefore, when buying figures, take care to get the right scale.

Table of Popular Figure Scales

The table below covers the major scales used for figure modelling:


Scale mm Comments
 1/6  250 Mainly limited to busts
 1/9  200
 1/10  180 Probably the most popular of the large figure scales and a variety of busts and full figures are available.  At this scale and larger the figures tend to be specific historical characters e.g. Napoleon.
 1/16  120 Another very popular scale for dedicated figure modellers. A few figures are also being produced to compliment the increasing range of 1/16 military vehicles.
 1/17  100
 1/18   90 Another of the more popular figure scales.  At this size it is still possible to put a great deal of effort into expression and model specific individuals from history.
 1/22   80
 1/24   75 Some figures at this size are intended to go with 1/24th scale aircraft or cars.
  54 Immensly popular scale both for individual figure modelling and incorporating figures with vehicles or on dioramas.
 1/48 Many figures at this scale are intended to compliment 1/48th scale aircraft or military vehicles.
 1/55   32
  25 At these and smaller scales figures are normally sold as sets and will be used either for dioramas or wargaming.
 1/87   15 At 15mm high this is about the limit where a figure can be called a scale model.

Table of commonly used scales (excluding figures)

The following table is not intended to be completely comprehensive.  It is likely that almost every type of model has been available in every scale at some time or other.  This table lists those scales where there is a reasonable range of model kits available.

Scale Uses Comments
1/6 RC aircraft & tanks; military vehicles; Engines RC = radio controlled
Only a few military vehicles are available at this scale
1/12 Motorbikes; Cars
1/16 Military Vehicles An increasing number of tanks are being produced in this scale.  These tend to either be highly detailed with interiors, or intended for radio control.
1/24 Cars; Trucks; Aircraft; Military Vehicles Cars & trucks dominate this scale but there are a few fighter planes and smaller military vehicles
1/25 Cars; Trucks
Military Vehicles
Although these two scales are very close, 1/32nd has been popular for aircraft (mostly fighters) whilst 1/35th has been the most popular scale for armour/military vehicles.
1/43 Cars
1/48 Aircraft; Military Vehicles Traditionally this was the preserve of aircraft models.  However, the introduction of a range of 1/48th scale miilitary vehicles by Tamiya in 2004 has made this a poplular scales for this genre.  This makes it the one scale where there is a wide range of both aircraft and vehicles, so diorama makers who want to display both aircraft and vehicles together will be showing a lot of interest in this scale.
Aircraft: Military Vehicles 1/72nd is a very poplular scale for aircraft modellers for both fighters and bombers.  It is easy to make a large collection of 1/72nd scale fighters and for larger aircraft this is the only scale where a lot of detail can be incorporated without the model becoming too big.  Military vehicles are available in both 1/72nd and 1/76th which is a pity because they are very similar, but there is enough difference to stop most modellers wanting to display both scales side by side.
1/87 Military Vehicles Many are sold almost completed and intended for wargaming.
1/100 Aircraft A few Revell/Monogram kits available
1/125 Airliners: Spacecraft
1/144 Aircraft: Various There is a wide range of large aircraft available.  There are also a few models available at this scale in other genres such as spacecraft, submarines and large military vehicles.
1/200 Ships; Airliners Only a few available.
1/300 Airliners Only a few available.
1/350 Ships Probably the most poplular scale for marine modellers.
Ships A few availabe in each scale
1/700 Ships Another popular scale for ships with many models available
1/1250 Ships Only a few available

Models above 1/1250th scale are not common and tend to be limited edition or specialist subjects.  Note that science fiction subjects seem are likely to appear in almost any scale and in some cases a scale

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