Chances are, if you have spent any time at all in or around the fashion doll and/or action figure arenas, you have seen and heard references to “scale”. You totally understand the concept? Great. No need for you to read on then. Personally, just when I think I’ve got it, someone says something that throws my perception completely off kilter again. I have read highly technical information on the subject of scale that makes my eyes roll back in my head. I have read very simplistic information that, while easily understood, is flawed. I know the truth lies somewhere in between. I know that there are collectors and knowledgeable folk out there who understand this concept far better than I do. I know that I am not the “go to” gal when it comes to higher math. Trust me. I’m SO not. However, I have been working in the doll world/action figure realm and dealing with scale for almost two decades, so I know enough about it to be dangerous. All this now said, I will attempt to explain it in terms that all of us will be able to comprehend. Ready, set, go!
I work, for the most part, in 1:6 (one sixth, 1/6, one to six) scale. This is translated as 1 inch of doll size is equal to 6 inches of human size. In the doll world, if something is 1 inch tall, it would be 6 inches tall in the human world, or as my doll collector friends refer to it TRW (The Real World). The easiest way to translate this scale is to simply take the measurement of the doll item and multiply it by 6. Voila! You now have the height of the object in TRW. This scale is also referred to as Playscale, although I rarely use that term myself.
As another 1:6 scale collector friend pointed out to me, most fashion dolls out there, including Fashion Royalty dolls, are not true to 1:6 scale. If they were, human women would all be over 6 feet tall and all the men would be almost 7 feet tall! However, action figures are closer to true 1:6 scale. So, when I am complaining that the handsome action figure men are too short for the gorgeous Fashion Royalty females, I have to remind myself that we are not really working in the same scale as far as height goes. However, their body sizes, their hand sizes, etc., are usually all compatible and within acceptable parameters for 1:6 scale.
Miniatures in 1:6 scale are not easy to find if you are looking for realistic looking miniatures. As most of you know, if you want Barbie sized items, you’ll find them in plastic and usually in pink or white or lavender. Sometimes you’ll come upon something in off white or brown. Lovely. It is then when I remind myself that most little girls and boys who play with or demolish Barbie, the mortal enemy of G.I. Joe, don’t really care about realism, and pastels don’t offend them. But most, not all but most, adult collectors of fashion dolls and action figures crave realism in color, form, and scale.
Whether or not something is in the correct scale for my own collecting needs goes beyond mere measurements. If something looks right in my doll’s hand, I don’t really care if it adheres to strict scale measurements. Some items have “wiggle room”; some do not. As a buyer of miniatures, I am keenly aware of this. I am forever pestering miniature retailers for exact measurements rather than a scale label. This is also why, in the OSS Etsy Store, I provide measurements of items in the individual listings. When marketing my miniatures, I try not to give a blanket statement that they are in 1:6 scale because, truthfully, many items don’t always fit the strict mathematical formula. But, nothing goes into my store without first being held by a doll in my own collection. A doll or figure here in my work area holds it, is posed with it, stands beside it, etc. If it doesn’t pass that test, it doesn’t go into my store. Please remember, that it is MY test. Your test might be different. What pleases me aesthetically might not please you. And just so you know, if you didn’t already, not all cups, glasses, tumblers, goblets, mugs, etc. are exactly the same height and diameter. Test that theory. Go to your kitchen and open the cabinet where your cups and mugs are stored. Enough said.
Until Part II…