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The history of scales in plastic kits

The History of Scales in Plastic Kits

A scale model is a replica or copy of an object that is either larger or smaller than the original. Commonly the scale model is a smaller version of the original and is produced to provide a guide for making a full size version or as a hobby or toy.

Model makers often make models for the following professions;

For architects who require a smaller version to build from.

For engineers to evaluate design performance at an early stage

For salesman to provide scaled down versions of an item for demonstration

Film makers to recreate elaborate sets

Toy makers and hobbyists make a wide variety of models including die-cast models, injection moulded, model railroads, fantasy creatures and remote control vehicles etc for their own enjoyment.

Scales and Size

Hobbyists’ scale models are from those created by the companies which made the full-sized products. Originally, a “scale” was a physical measuring instrument. First among scales are the rulers that are triangular in cross-section and called architect’s scales or engineer’s scales. The terminology used was of this manner: “scale size to full size”, or the reverse. An architect’s scale was used to make the first affordable models: doll houses and their furniture. Its popular scales for these miniatures were “one inch to the foot” and “one-half inch to the foot”; there is also “three-quarters inch to the foot”.

The proportion of the model to the prototype was originally called “size”, as in “full-sized” or “half-sized”, as used on a blueprint for making something that would fit on a workbench.

Phrases used are those of “larger” and “smaller” scales. The scale of 1/8″-to-the-foot is a larger scale than 1/16″-to-the-foot, even though the denominator is smaller. So a larger model is made to a larger scale. You can remember this in that a full-size, or full-scale, model is larger than a half-size model.

The History of Plastic Model kits

For aircraft recognition in the Second World War, the RAF selected models to the scale of “one-sixth inch to the foot” (which was two British lines, a legal division of length which didn’t make it to America, besides being a standard shipyard scale). Although some consumer models were sold pre-war in Britain to this scale, the airmens’ models were pressed out of ground-up old rubber tires. This is of course the still-popular 1:72 scale. It wasn’t predestined to succeed; there were competitors.

The US Navy, in contrast, had metal models made to the proportion 1:432, which is “nine-feet-to-the-quarter-inch”. At this scale, a model six feet is about half a statute mile; and seven feet about half a nautical mile.

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