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Unravel Hobby Scale Sizes From 1:12 To 1:220

May 25, 2008
When beginning, expanding, or integrating your hobby collection, selecting compatible sizes can be confusing. With such a wide range of hobbies and scales, how can you fit together several different genres to create interest?

Each hobby category has popular scales and many scales have evolved since prewar years scaling both up and down with precision from 1:1000 up to a large scale of 1:12. My grandfather for example artfully welded together a model train that we could ride in probably in a scale of about 1:7. By exploring the ranges from 1:12 to 1:220 we will cover most of the popular hobby genres.

Much like electrical standards, there is not a universal worldwide hobby standard. For example, if you compare model trains in the US, the O gauge trains are 1:48, while in Europe, the NEM standard for model railroading O gauge is 1:45, and in the UK O gauge is 1:43.

Let's compare the more common standards for several hobby categories:

Dollhouses

1:12 is considered large scale and is most popular for dollhouses with ceilings 8-11" high. Consider this as 12 times smaller than a human house or 1 inch equal to 1 foot.

1:24, also called half scale, is the second most popular scale for doll houses. Some detailed plane models also come 1:24 and 1:30. Here 1" equals 2 feet or is 24 times smaller.

Model Aircraft

1:35 is used for helicopters.

1:72 is most popular for aircraft, figures and vehicles where 1" equals 6'. This crosses more genres than other scales.

Model Ships

1:75, 1:96, 1:108, 1:150 are all popular ship building sizes.

Model Trains

1:20 to 1:22.5 is called G scale and is most associated with garden trains. G gauge refers to the distance between the inside of the rails (1.75" or 45mm). Note: The USA G scale is 1:20.3 and is sometimes referred to as F scale.

1:43 and 1:48 or scale is associated with O scale trains with 2 or 3 rail tracks. This scale is dominated by Lionel and is also the second most popular scale for planes. You'll find compatible cars and trucks in 1:43, 1:48, and 1:50 scale.

1:64 is found in S scale model trains with the most popular brand being the American Flyer.

1:87, the most popular railroad modeling scale, is called HO or Half O.

1:160 is for N scale model trains which is gaining popularity. The footprint typically hosts a 2" engine almost half the size of the HO train. The name comes from the N in the Nine mm distance between the tracks.

1:220 is the Z scale model train, the smallest train scale, introduced by Marklin. It's just plain cute.

Each of the railroad scales also offer a huge array of complementary structures, vehicles, boats, signs, figures, etc. for extensive creative layouts.

The scales vary widely between hobby categories, but you can integrate several for a realistic look and feel. Although many categories provide a wide variety of offerings within their realm, you can cross and mix more disciplines together for fun. For example, fly a 1:72 plane over a 1:75 ship model, or combine a 1:35 scale helicopter flying in range of your 1:24 doll house and G scale train.

So, consider expanding your hobby genre for fun, creativity, interest, and leisurely pleasure with a greater understanding of scale standards.
About the Author
As you develop your hobbies, The Hobby Tool Shed would love to help you with hobby hand and power tools for your well tooled workshop. Enjoy our hobby book selection and free instructional video clips in helping expand your scalable hobby passions and satisfaction in your leisure time.
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