A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

ECW - How big is an inch, Jack?

I had a hard day yesterday – it doesn’t matter why. Honest toil is a fine thing, I’ve just got out of the habit, but one consequence is that today I’m taking it easier, and am less focused than usual.

Thus I shall start – fleetingly – with a digression [now there’s a surprise]. This is what I was thinking of writing about today, but when I looked into the matter I decided against it. My mum recently heard (or watched?) a BBC programme commemorating the fighting in Libya in WW2, and El Alamein, Tobruk – all that. At one point, they were interviewing an elderly veteran, and they asked him, what was the most frightening thing he remembered from the war in the desert?

Spiders, he said. Camel Spiders were the most terrifying thing he experienced there – all the soldiers lived in fear of them. When my mother mentioned this, I had an idea that it might make an appropriate post, with a back reference to my previous Hooptedoodle on the adventures of Max Spinnejäger, my bold, spider-killing alter ego. However, when Mme la Comtesse and I checked Camel Spiders on Google, we were forced to run around the house for a little while, screaming and waving our arms. If you wish to look them up, please feel free to do so, but do not tell me about them. I wish to know no more of the subject. Mighty Max S has just retired to a sealed rest home, as far from Libya as possible.

Jack Scruby

To the main topic, then. I have already bounced this off a few of my usual expert sources, but none of them could help, so this is a general appeal to anyone who has any useful ideas.

Recently I have been interested in obtaining 20mm figures for billmen, clubmen - peasant hooligans, really – for my ECW armies. I’ve had some good suggestions, involving converting plastic figures, or converting Les Higgins artillery figures, and I also have an interesting sample figure, a militia pikeman  from Tumbling Dice, which is (to be fussy about it) a little chubby for a perfect match with the rest of my chaps, but still worth serious consideration.

Thereby, you see, hangs the problem. My 20mm ECW figures are quite small – mostly Les Higgins and Hinton Hunt, with some SHQ in the mix, they are too small to combine comfortably with Art Miniaturen, or the forthcoming Falcata 30YW figures, or even with 1/72 scale plastics. My figures, I guess, must be smaller than 1/72.

So I spent a little time looking at the possibilities of borrowing figures from other periods, or from makers I hadn’t considered. And I thought of Scruby.

I checked out Historifigs catalogue online, and I see that the Scruby Thirty Years War range (which might be just what I’m interested in, and which is still in production) are described as “1 inch” scale. There is an interesting article by Jack Scruby himself on the website at Historifigs, in which he describes how he came to re-issue the 30YW range in this scale, the implication being that they came from an earlier period.

I could take this literally, and assume – since 1 inch is almost exactly 25mm – that these are the same as Scruby’s 25mm, which (as everyone knows) are about the same size as Hinton Hunt’s 20mm. Interesting. That would fit. On the other hand, 1 inch might mean something different.

If, at this point, anyone feels moved to send a comment about the correct way of measuring a wargames miniature, then please don’t bother. I appreciate the thought, but I tend to fall asleep while such explanations are going on. The only criterion which matters is, do they look good alongside other figures which they are to be used with? I don’t care whether we should measure a miniature soldier from the toenail to the eye socket, or to the scalp, or to the bookshelf behind him. Accuracy, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

So what I’d really like to know is, does anyone have any experience of Scruby’s 1” 30YW figures? Anyone actually got any? How big are they? How big is an inch, in fact? As a general guide, anything which is a little smaller than plastic 1/72 would be in the ball park. I could, of course, order some samples from Historifigs – in fact I probably will – but I thought someone might have been down this road before. I don’t think any other range in Historifigs’ very large catalogue is advertised as 1 inch. I am intrigued.

But don’t mention spiders. I don’t dig spiders, man.

Paul Glickman's take on the Stan Freberg take on the classic 1950s hit.

Late Edit: many thanks to Ross for a very useful link to the Historifigs site, which shows this extract from the 1968 Scruby catalog. This seems to indicate that 1-inch figures are somewhere between the  25mm and 30mm ranges in size. If the drawing is to scale, it suggests that Scruby had a house standard inch measuring about 28mm, which was an astonishing piece of foresight, and is similar to the conversion ratio used by my local hardware store, as  discussed in my recent blog post on Hardboard.

From 1968 Scruby catalog (thanks to Historifigs)


  1. I have had the unfortunate experience of being in an environment near camel spiders. They really are horrible things.


  2. I almost ordered some sample 1" Turks to go with the sample 25mm MamLuke that I ordered but I'm afraid that almost isn't terribly useful. Did you find this page on the Hfig news?


    The illustration seems to indicate that the 1" figures are slightly smaller than the 25mm ones, but bigger than the tiny 20mm.
    The 25mm Malukes btw are a near perfect fit for the Hat Mamlukes, maybe a hair taller and a smidge bulkier.

    Probably worth sampling.

    1. Thanks very much Ross - that's such a useful link that I've amended the post to include the chart.

      Cheers - Tony

  3. Many years ago, I was lucky enough to spend some time in Kenya (ken not keen!), where I saw an insect I spent the next couple of decades describing to anyone who would listen as "the most vile semi-alien cross between a spider a scorpion and a fat grub" I had ever seen...turned out (after the invention of wikigooglenet) that they were - you guessed it - Camel Spiders!


    PS - I think an inch is a common length of odd 'found' string!

  4. an inch is how far you can 'push' a string