Woodland Indians toy soldiers scale 54mm 1/32 War Austrian Succession SYW FIW
More on the scale of my toy soldiers
02 Jan 2021 / Nino /

At times people inquire about the exact scale of my toy soldiers. Although I have discussed this issue briefly in the home page of my website (here), I am happy to spend a few more words on this subject.

Traditional toy soldiers used to be commercialized as being in the “54mm scale”, which, however, is not at all a scale but rather a conventional  size indication, and indeed a quite confusing one.

While all agree that a figure’s measurement should be taken on a standing one (which makes sense…), there seems to be less consensus as to how the measurement itself should be taken. Some people claim that 54mm should be the distance between the ground and the top of the head (not including any headdress). Others say that it should be the distance between the ground and the eyes of the figure. Still others disagree as to whether the heels of the shoes or boots (easily accounting for 1 or 2 inches in real life) should be included in the measurement…

Even assuming that we all agreed on the measurement procedure, what size of real man should the 54mm figure represent? The question is by no means trivial, because the answer will determine the actual size of the weapons hold by our figure. The general consensus here is that the 54mm figure should represent a 6ft man (1.83m). If we accepted this (and I personally contend that a 6ft, or 1.83m man is way much taller that the average soldier has ever been in any period of history at any latitude, even accounting for the shoes), then the figure’s scale would be 54mm/1,830mm = 1/34. If the man was a British Musketeer holding a Long Land Pattern Brown Bess (1.59m long without bayonet), the latter should measure just short of 47mm.

On account of the above, it should be clear that the correct way to approach the issue of a figure’s size is that of referring to its actual scale, not to an arbitrary convention.

Since real people come in different sizes, the figure’s scale can only be worked out based on the size of its weapons and other standardized objects.

To be sure, slightly taller or shorter figures will not look out of place one next to the other. But noticeable size differences in the weapons they hold will immediately look wrong…

This said, I make my toy soldiers in the 1/32 scale.

Since in the mid 18th Century the only standard-size military items were the soldiers’ muskets, I strive to make these in their correct scale size (for example, 50mm for both the Long Land Pattern Brown Bess and the M1728 French musket).

As to the men, my toy soldiers range from about 52-56mm if bare-footed or soft-shod (corresponding to about 1.66-1.80m-tall men in real life), to about 55-57mm  if wearing shoes (1.76-1.82m in real life).

When one of my figures happens to be exactly 54mm in size, then it represents a real man 1.73m-tall. This was the ideal recruit size in most 18th-Century European armies. But since at that time soldiers were measured wearing their shoes, their actual height was at least 3cm shorter than recorded…

As a final consideration, it should be noted that a 1.59m musket reaches to about the eyes of a 1.73m-tall man, and to about the chin of a 6ft one. Certainly not to his shoulders or chest, as often seen in many toy soldiers…