If you're new to models, the scales they are built to may at first seem a bit confusing, but in reality it is quite straightforward and hopefully this guide will help clear up the mystery between scale and size.
Scales are expressed as a fraction, such as 1/43 although more commonly with models as a ratio, such as 1:43 where '1' represents the original subject and '43' represents how many times smaller the model is in relation to that subject. For example, a car measuring 4.3 metres in length when divided by 43, would result in a model being 10 cm in length.
However, if you're not interested in the formula behind it all and simply want to know how big (or small) a model is, we've put together a couple of handy quick reference charts, one for cars and one for bikes, to illustrate the approximate sizes of the most common model scales, but be mindful, they will vary from model to model depending on the size of the original subject.
Actually, there is no right or wrong scale. Different scales have their pros and cons and there may be a variety of reasons why one is preferable over another. Here we’ll look take a closer look at the scales we sell in a bid to help you decide on the right one for your needs.
1:18 scale model cars. This is the largest scale of model car that we sell. As you might expect from something that is larger, it gives the possibility of enhanced detail. Indeed, most of the prestige brands choose 1:18 scale for their offerings. The trade off for this size of model, is just that, it’s size. You’ll need plenty of room if you’re planning on a big collection.
1:24 scale model cars. One of our most popular scales for model cars with most either being suitable as toys or as display pieces. Opening features, such as doors and bonnets are commonplace on this scale whilst many have also steerable wheels. Being smaller than 1:18 scale cars, they fit in easier in a lot of environments making them the preferred choice for many of our customers.
1:32 scale model cars. A bit of an odd scale for model cars as 1:32 is mostly used for farm models and toys nowadays. It is, however, a good choice for cars used for play and in terms of size is close to the old Corgi standard of 1:36 scale.
1:43 scale model cars. Without doubt, the most popular scale for model and toy cars. The choice is vast starting at inexpensive toy cars which bear a remarkable resemblance to the real thing right up to highly detailed and realistic collector items. At around 10 cm in length, they have a small footprint making them ideal in a collection or as an individual display ornament.
1:64 scale model cars. America is the homeland of the 1:64 scale model car, thanks in no small part to Hot Wheels and a few other brands jumping on the back of their success. It’s not really taken off in the UK but is gaining momentum with some superbly detailed models from the likes of Mini GT (TrueScale Miniatures) and Paragon which are as good, if not better, than many 1:43 scale cars, but cost less and take up less room.
1:76 scale model cars. The perfect choice for those looking to accessorise an OO gauge railway layout or for those desperately short of space. As you might well expect, when things get this small, the detail does become a bit blurry particularly on the smaller cars such as Mini’s. Prices are very reasonable though which also goes to make this scale very popular for inexpensive gift purchases.
The following scale/size examples are based on a car measuring 4.3 metres in length
Length (approx.) 24 cm, 238 mm, 9.4 inches
Length (approx.) 18 cm, 179 mm, 7 inches
Length (approx.) 13.5 cm, 134 mm, 5.3 inches
Length (approx.) 10 cm, 100 mm, 4 inches
Length (approx.) 6.5 cm, 67 mm, 2.6 inches
1:76 scale (OO gauge)
Length (approx.) 2 cm, 21 mm, 0.9 inches
The following scale/size examples are based on a motorcycle measuring approximately 2 metres in length
Length (approx.): 17.5 cm, 175 mm, 7 inches
Length (approx.): 11.5 cm, 116 mm, 4.5 inches
Length (approx.): 8.5 cm, 87 mm, 3.4 inches
In case you're wondering how a model bike and car compare alongside each other
Here's a 1:18 scale model bike alongside a 1:18 scale model car