Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Hooptedoodle #5 - Obfuscation
Two figures, both nominally 25mm - Hinchliffe (on the left) vs Scruby
This post is to share an email conversation – dating from about 3 years ago – between a collector of 20/25mm metal wargame figures and a well-known manufacturer and supplier. It is entirely factual - I thought it was probably worth showing to a wider audience because I feel it is relevant to my discussion of figure scales and sizes, and the way in which the whole subject seems to defeat both logic and commonsense.
It is, as you will see, ultimately a rather sad exchange between two buffoons – there is no good guy, no bad guy, and certainly no winner. The point, if there is one, is the futility of trying to make sense of the various scales and the terminology when the manufacturers themselves are confused.
This is the sort of thing which makes manufacturers and collectors of plastic figures shake their heads smugly.
We start with an enquiry from the would-be customer:
Have been looking at your 20mm and 25mm ranges of Napoleonics - very attractive. Problem - as ever - for me is figure scale. Everyone has their own inspired definition of what 20mm and 25mm actually mean!
The bulk of my armies are old [various manufacturers’] figures - which means I am looking for figures which are pretty close to 1/72 scale with HUMAN PROPORTIONS(!) - i.e. men without hats should be 22-24mm tall. Recently I have identified that current-range figures from Falcata, [etc etc] are all suitable, as are [etc] (sometimes).
At risk of being a nuisance, could I please ask how big your 20mm & 25mm Napoleonic figures are? A figure sample would be excellent - if there is a charge for samples, please let me know.
And back comes a very prompt answer:
Our 20mm Napoleonic figures are 24mm from base to top of head.. Our 25mm figures are 30mm!!!!.
We can send a sample of each, but would require £2.
There is then a short pause, during which the manufacturer exhibits at a wargame show and the prospective customer orders some figure samples from him:
I made the 250 mile round trip to Stockton to look at your 20mm Napoleonics. Very nice. I also took a millimetre rule with me - your 20mm figures are about 18mm from base to top of head, not 24mm as stated. Just like [another manufacturer], in fact.
You should make a note of this, it will save you telling some other prospective customer a load of b----cks on a future occasion.
Another rapid response from the manufacturer:
Oddly enough I have 1 of our 20mm French napoleonic figures in front of me
now, and it measures 24mm from base to top of head (not top of shako even)!
I don't think it's me "talking b----cks".
Which must surely be the last word on the subject, you would think. But – no – back comes another shot, this time with some actual evidence:
Oddly enough, I have to hand a £2.75 sample pack of 4 of your 20mm Napoleonics which have just arrived.
I attach a photo, which demonstrates very clearly that the figures (whch are very nicely sculpted, by the way) are in fact 23mm to the top of the shako, which is what I discovered in Stockton.
As I mentioned before, b----cks.
Best regards - hope your eyesight gets better soon
And that, I am sure you will agree, is quite enough of that.