One of the most confusing aspects of collecting figures, the so-called action figures usually representing superheroes), is the understanding of “scale”. Scale means the size of the figure relative to the size of the person. 1 foot in height is usually referred to as a 1: 6 scale, because it is 1/6th the size of a person whose height is 6 feet. Similarly, a 6-inch figure can be called a 1:12 scale figure, because it is half the size of 1:6.
There are many youtubers and bloggers, providing buyers and collectors with a lot of information about the scale, while other manufacturers produce something in the middle that does not seem to fit any particular scale. Which makes the definition very confusing for new collectors.
This guide is intended to help you take the first steps in collecting figures, to understand the meaning of large-scale figures.
1 inch = 2.54 cm.
Most popular scales
First of all, you need to know the most popular scale figures. There are three very common sizes, and several others, less common. The most popular of all is the 3 & 3/4-inch standard.
This size was launched with vintage Star Wars figures and since then the format has become very popular. Most figures on this scale should be about 4 inches in reality, but 3 and 3/4 inches is the usual nomenclature accepted today for this size.
Another popular scale that has been used since the original GI Joe figures appeared is the 12-inch scale. It is often called the 1/6 or 1:6 scale figure, these are large (in size like Barbie dolls) figures, they are a hit among many collectors and people who are looking for figures of maximum size, made in detail, similar to the prototypes of the characters from the films.
The third overall accepted size is 6 inches, which is the standard for Marvel Legends figures, which have become the most popular among modern collectors.
Other well-known standard sizes include 5-inch size figures, like Biz 1990s toys, 7-inch figures that are slightly older than 6-inch ones, or Deluxe 18-inch figures, which are very large and therefore very expensive (for example, from Tonner).
Attributes of each scale
For example, 3 & 3/4-inch figures are often limited in articulation, they are not so detailed, and, as a rule, are the cheapest.
For 6-inch figures, you can expect more articulation, more accurate painting and additions, and the average price is much higher.
12-inch figures are in the upper category in terms of quality and price, often they are created not just plastic, but using real materials, fabrics, and incredibly realistic sculpting of faces.
The cost of the figures at various scales. Prices
Prices, of course, vary depending on many factors.
Average market price for figures (per piece):
- 3 & 3/4-inch figures: $ 8-10
- 6 inch figures: $ 15- $ 20
- 12 inch figures: $ 20- $ 400
Such a large price range for 12-inch figures has a reason. Because they are very, very different.
Figures of 12 inches of the simplest execution can cost literally $20, while collectibles (for example, Hot Toys) range in price from $200 to $400.
Scale of some classic rulers
There are several classic lines of figures that different collectors like to collect, and it’s useful to know the scale of these specific lines.
Here are some of the most popular series of action figures and their scale:
- Star Wars: 3 & 3/4 inches
- Classic GI Joe: 12 inches
- GI Joe: A Real American Hero: 3 & 3/4 inches
- Masters of the Universe: 4 inches
- Marvel Legends: 6 inches
- Mego World’s Greatest Super Heroes: 8 inches
- Transformers: varies, there are different options.
How to combine figures in various scales
Sometimes the character you love is absent in a certain scale or line, but it is represented in some other scale (which you do not collect), so you have to mix and match the figures at different scales.
12-inch figures will not look right with 4-inch ones, but you can combine 7-inch figures in a row with 6-inch ones, especially if the character is large. You can also assemble 4-inch figures along with a 3 & 3/4-inch line, or maybe even put 6-inch figures next to 5-inch ones. It all comes down to creativity and the final effect that you want to achieve. If the figure looks good and it’s exactly you who need it, who cares, what scale it is!
Moreover, collections that showcase a wide variety of scales, from tiny 2-inch figures to 18-inch ones, also look original. This breadth of view in itself is also very interesting. You can collect one hero of any scale; this is also a variant of an unusual collection.
The scale you want to collect
It all depends on you! There are no and cannot be any requirements for collections or special recommendations. One thing: you should like your collection, and that’s it!Determine which size figures are most acceptable for you (like them better, affordable) and focus on them. You can collect figures at any scale, show them all together, see how the most advantageous to place them next to each other!
The world of action figures and their scale is a confusing world, but incredibly interesting! Manufacturers rarely can explain or understand for themselves the scale of the figures they produce, but as soon as you begin to collect and study them, you will open up a whole world of opportunities and joy.