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Planning to start collecting WW2 minis... 15mm or 20mm?  [RSS] Share on facebook Share on Twitter Submit to Reddit
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Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

Since practically nobody around where I live are interested in miniature wargaming, I won't be aiming to conform to a particular ruleset (i.e. FoW).
Rather, my aim would be to make a decent collection of some opposing forces (i.e. Soviets vs Germans on the Eastern Front), so that I can bring them out for a quick skirmish game or two when I entertain guests, a la boardgames.

I know that FoW is currently the most mainstream and arguably the most popular ruleset, and that many people collect WW2 minis in 15mm scale because of this.

On the other hand, 15mm miniatures seem to be quite a bit costlier than their 20mm counterparts, being cast in metal and all.

How does the level of detail compare between 15mm and 20mm?

If I decide on 15mm, I'll probably be purchasing Battlefront models.

But if I were to go 20mm instead, which maker should I choose?
A quick glance shows me that popular makers seem to be AirFix, Revell and Italeri, but I have no idea as to their quality.

I know that www.plasticsoldierreview.com has informative reviews, but I noticed that they only seem to deal with infantry models.
Is there a similar website dealing with armour models?

Sorry for sounding like such a n00b, but I honestly have no idea at all when it comes to WW2 miniatures.

Oh, and could someone recommend me a good "entry-level" resource (book, website or otherwise) to start researching WW2-era military history?
I've heard of websites like feldgrau.com, but they looked way too imposing for a newbie like me to just dive into...

Thanks a lot, in advance!
Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending

Houston, TX

There are much cheaper 15mm WW2 figure makers out there. Try Old Glory Battle Honors and the like.

But 20mm is really cheap and ideal for skirmish gaming (I have been using Nutz! and a homebrew). 15mm is probably better for larger scale (though you could skirmish with them). I like painting the 20s better. And they are cheap!

I keep a force of Americans and Germans since people seem to like playing both.

I am unaware of any equivalent to PSR for armor. I have found that for gaming pieces, go for simpler kits. Italeri makes some excellent kits with 2 quick assemble vehicles for the Panther, Tiger, etc. Armourfast also has some good easy models. I have picked up a few of the Dragon and Forces of Valor prepaints. The FoV were particular values but the Dragon are very detailed.

For infantry, I have had good luck with Italeri, Caesar, and Pegasus in infantry. PSR is a great prebuy site!

Osprey makes some good WW2 battle specific books. Check out your local library or Half Price books too.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2009/08/06 17:06:07

Made in us
Fresh-Faced New User

Depends on the time of day really.

I would suggest to you, from what you have said, is to go with 15MM. Old Glory and Battlefront should have everything you need to do the forces you want. Especially if you use the "dunk and thunk" method of painting.

"Dunk and Thunk" to those that dont know is to block paint the figure w/o trying to get the details brought out. Basic flesh on face, basic uniform , quick webgear, weapon, boots, hands. Then dunk the figure in a wash of wood stain, then thunk it to get the excess off. The stain fills the recesses and performs a quick and dirty shading of the figure.

Very useful method when you are trying to build a force quickly. It wont however win you any figure painting awards.

Hope my two cents helps.

Edited to add. As a basic starter I would say Ospreys are good. Just understand that they are trying to cover a wide swath of history in 40 to 60 pages. I would also suggest to google search for museums that post parts of the collection online. Nothing better than to see color pictures of the actual gear.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2009/08/06 18:45:59

Signatures?!? Signatures?!? We dont need no stinking signatures!!! 
Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

Thanks for your helpful and informative replies, jmurph and Cerberus!

Despite both of your recommendations for Osprey books, I found that they generally received bad reviews at Amazon, from people who seem to know what they're talking about.

I ultimately settled with the excellently received "When Titans Clashed: How the Red Army Stopped Hitler" by David Glantz, and Osprey's "Panther vs T-34: Ukraine 1943" to use as a companion.

While going through books in this subject matter, I also noticed that Osprey books seemed to be overpriced in general (I mean, an 80-page paperback costs exactly the same as a 400-pager?).

As for miniatures, I actually enjoy painting them and so decided that 20mm models would suit me better.
Oh, and I came across this website called Missing Lynx (www.missing-lynx.com) that seems to have good reviews on plastic AFV kits.

Dragon's kits sure look impressive, but they were costlier than Italeri or Revell.
But at least I've managed to narrow down my choices to these 3 makers.

Thanks a lot for your help again!

(edited to correct typos)

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2009/08/07 09:48:40

Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending

Houston, TX

Good luck! Glad to see another joining the War effort ;-)

Made in us
Fresh-Faced New User

Depends on the time of day really.

If I might suggest "Easy Model" as a source for your 20MM armor. A tank ready to go out of the box at not quite the price of a Dragon die cast. I would also see if a google search would turn up "wargame tank kits" as a viable option. Some kits out there that are bare bones but you get two tanks per box and cheap too. Built for wargaming, you just add the details you want.

Automatically Appended Next Post:
Since you are going 20MM I also have a suggestion for basing your infantry. Use a movement tray that has holes cut for individual figures. I think Litko has them as well as a few other manufactures. If you want some opinions from folks that have used them you can go to http://theminiaturespage.com/ and ask there.

Basicly it will allow you to use your figures for FOW and other systems out there where you use the individual figures to play.

I would post up links to companies for you but I am not 100% sure that it is acceptable practice here.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2009/08/08 12:31:38

Signatures?!? Signatures?!? We dont need no stinking signatures!!! 
Made in kr
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

Thanks for your recommendations, Cerberus!

The "movement tray" idea sounds ingenious! So I guess it would be like using LoTR miniatures for WoTR

Seeing as how there are links to companies in the stickied post (http://www.dakkadakka.com/dakkaforum/posts/list/247904.page), I guess it's acceptable practice.

For 20mm AFVs, I think I'll go for Italeri and Revell kits.

But I'm having a harder time choosing 20mm infantry.

The main thing I don't like about 15mm is that I feel that too much detail is lost by scaling them down so much.
But when it comes to infantry, 20mm miniatures don't look all that detailed either. (At least they didn't look detailed enough through photos)

So I'm thinking of picking up a box of Italeri or Revell soldiers and see what they're actually like, since these boxes are so cheap (40+ miniatures for less than $10).

Oh, and I've found a really good "scale comparison" from the Blitzkrieg Commander site, that answers one of my first questions (regarding difference in level of detail between 15mm and 20mm)!

Made in us
Fresh-Faced New User

Depends on the time of day really.

For me, YMMV, the 20MM scale is the way to go. I can paint them up quickly, not fast, and they dont strain my four eyes to paint them like the 15's do.

Here are some pics of my modern US and Afghans in 20MM for you.

Edited to add: Make sure you wash all the plastics you buy in luke warm water with dishwashing soap. This will get the last of the mold release off the plastic and allow the paint to stick to the figure. If you already knew this then accept my apologies.



This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at 2009/08/08 18:22:29

Signatures?!? Signatures?!? We dont need no stinking signatures!!! 
Made in us
Dakka Veteran

I'll represent 15mm for a moment - I personally find Old Glory stuff on the smallish side, and I think that BF has such a huge model collection that it makes sense to go to 15mm and stick with it long-term for WW II gaming.

Painting 15mm is very easy IMHO coming from whatever 40K scale is. I can think about expanding my Late War Gerpanzerte Panzergrenadierkompanie almost immediately after finishing a bunch of other stuff because it is so easy and quick to paint up.

I find that the 15mm BF infantry minis are very consistent next to a BF halftrack or truck or tank, again IMHO, and then the Old Glory halftracks I have seen were supposedly also playable in Flames of War but my reaction was decidedly negative from the get-go.

I think that 15mm or 20mm might be a very long-term type decision to make, to respond to the OP. I think that if you like the aesthetics of 20mm and will be with it for a very long time then that sounds like a good idea, if not for a very long time then maybe 15mm to make sure that all the various WW II stuff you want to paint does see a model made for it in good order. BF's model catalogue seems pretty deep to me, although I've only been playing FoW for about a year now.

To me, it's all about WW II gaming at either scale. I am so much more inspired to actually model and paint for the game that doesn't really emphasize the modeling and painting because FoW modeling and painting is very easy, I think. I could bust out a Late War German kompanie fairly rapidly at this point if I wanted to run two, though I am thinking about doing an American Ranger Battallion.

"Success is moving from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm." - Cliff Bleszinski

Made in kr
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

@Cerberus, your models look fantastic! I'm sure they look even better IRL.

Oh, and I come from 40K, so I do know about the washing thing.
But it never hurts to be reminded of such a vital step!

@Cairnius, you've brought up a very good point, and one that keeps making me reluctant to "take the plunge".

Since 20mm has been the "traditional" scale for military models for a long time, I know that I can get models of almost anything in 20mm.
But then again, I quickly realized that I need to literally search all over the World Wide Web to actually find a maker who produces what I want at good quality and affordable price.

On the other hand, 15mm seems to be heavily backed by the popularity of Flames of War, and so I can find most of the models I want from BattleFront.
More importantly, all of the models from BattleFront seem to be of a constantly high quality, and the price isn't all that high.

So I'm kinda back to square one, although armed with a greater knowledge of both options (15mm vs 20mm) now.

Here's a summary of what I've learned.

20mm Pros:
- Better detail (if you choose the right makers)
- Generally cheaper (unless you go for the more detailed metal or die-cast models)
- Mind-blowingly wide range of vehicles readily available
- Lots of inexpensive terrain and building kits available
- Good for both platoon-level and company-level games

20mm Cons:
- The level of detail on the cheaper models are even worse than 15mm
- Need to "mix and match" models from different makers
- Difficult to find infantry with dynamic poses
- Models tend to be too big for battalion-level games

15mm Pros:
- BattleFront provides a "one stop shop" for all your 15mm WW2 model needs
- The level of detail isn't all that bad, especially for vehicles
- Models are just the right size for large (company-level and higher) games

15mm Cons:
- Generally more expensive
- Level of detail is very low for infantry
- Small selection of terrain, and generally expensive
- Models are too small for platoon-level skirmish games

I haven't reached a final decision yet, since this choice will likely be a long-term commitment as Cairnius rightly pointed out.

Guess I'll need maybe another week of research before I can comfortably make a decision.
On the other hand, I'm also thinking of maybe picking up some samples of both 15mm and 20mm to help me choose...

(Edited to update)
It seems that the more I research, the more undecided I become...

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at 2009/08/10 07:02:25

Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending

Houston, TX

Heh, that's why I ended up with both!

The 15s only really to play FoW, though. I hate how squashed 15mm infantry usually look.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2009/08/10 16:03:11

Made in us
Decrepit Dakkanaut

If we don't have an article of this topic already, would be nice if someone could sum up all the valid points.

Get your own Dakka Code!

"...he could never understand the sense of a contest in which the two adversaries agreed upon the rules." Gabriel Garcia Marquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude 
Made in kr
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

OK, I've finally decided to go with 15mm.

The greatest advantages of 20mm are commonly thought to be the comparatively cheap cost (if you use plastic infantry), and the availability of models.

But once I started considering metal infantry figures (as I didn't fancy the static poses of the plastic ones), I realized that the cost advantage pretty much disappears.

And regarding availability of models, I realized that with the explosive growth in popularity of FoW, it's actually easier now to find a model in 15mm than in 1/72 scale.
If you take Battlefront, Peter Pig, and QRF together, models of practically every vehicle/figure you may want for WWII wargaming can be found.

To finally convince myself, I worked out a quick spreadsheet to compare the cost of the different options.

Assuming that you want to make an infantry platoon of 40 men, the costs involved will be:

One important point to note is that while Revell and Battlefront packs all the figures necessary to make up a platoon (i.e. command, mortar, rifles, etc), you'll actually need to buy and mix separate packs with the other manufacturers.
(e.g. 1 pack Command + 1 pack Mortar + 1 pack SMG + 1 pack LMG + 4 packs Rifle)
So unless you're fitting out several platoons at once, you'll need to buy more packs than what I've calculated above.

Now we'll come to tanks, assuming you're building a 3-tank platoon:

So, if you're planning to build 2 infantry platoons (40 men each) and 1 tank platoon (3 tanks), the total cost will be:

If I rule out the option of using 1/72 plastic infantry, the cheapest and best option would be 15mm.

Hope all this research I've done will prove useful to others!
Made in jp
Anti-piracy Officer

Somewhere in southern England.

How about writing up your researches into an article?

If I was going to start WW2 I would probably go for 20mm because of the availability of kits, but I would use 20mm metal figures.

The thing is, I don't know anything about 20mm WW2 figures. Maybe I am completely off track thinking there is any choice in 20mm.

I used to play Vietnam skirmish in 20mm. It was the ideal scale as vehicles and aircraft kits are cheap and light compared to metal.

Not wishing to put a spoke in the wheel of your decision... Did you consider 28mm figures and 1/48 scale vehicles?

Everything is better with a huge wig. I thought that was common knowledge.

Sometimes the most profound of all truths cannot be spoken.

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it.

Forum posting guidelines, please learn them! You will be tested. 
Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

How should I go about doing that? (Writing an article, I mean) I'm still rather new to Dakka, you see

As for 20mm metal figures, this manufacturer called "AB Figures" makes excellent ones.

There are a number of other options too, but the bottom line is that they're quite a bit more expensive than 15mm equivalents.

I did consider 28mm for a time, but further research showed that 1/48 scale vehicles are too large to be used with them.
1/56 seems to be the scale that's "just right" next to 28mm figures, but there aren't any plastic kits in this scale.

Furthermore, there seemed to be only a handful of 1/48 scale vehicles, when compared to 1/72 or even 1/32.
At least this is what I noticed at my local hobby stores, and it would rather defeat the purpose of using plastic kits if I had to import them. (Shipping alone would be the price of another kit)

So... my decision still stands at 15mm
Made in us
Incorporating Wet-Blending

Houston, TX

15mm is definitely the way to go if debating metals. The big advantage of 1/72 is plastics.

Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

15mm is definitely the way to go if debating metals. The big advantage of 1/72 is plastics.

That's what I realized after some time.

In retrospect, I guess it should have been pretty clear... silly me
Made in de
The Last Czarnian

The Northwest Territory

DUDE! Go with 15mm! They are way more versatile that way! Poasting!

Made in gb

The real beauty of historical gaming is that most gaming systems work with most scales.

For example FOW may be offically for 15mm but there is nothing to stop you using the rules with 20mm or even 6mm with hardly any changes.

Personaly I use 15mm, becuase I started playing FOW first (well thats no strictly true but my old collection 1/72 minatures may well be in my parents loft now) but now I use the same 15mm minatures in games of both FOW and the absolutley superb Blitzkrieg Commander which is by far my favorite set of WW2 rules and can be used with ANY (yes any!) scale.

Incidently if you want to play Epic again but don't like the current rules I cannot recomend enough picking up a copy of Future War Commander from the makers of Blitzkrieg commander. It's superb and has rules for the entire Epic 40K range as well as almost evrey other 6mm sci- fi range out there, with room to add your own creations without sacrificing balance.

Plus the community is superb.


"And if we've learnt anything over the past 1000 mile retreat it's that Russian agriculture is in dire need of mechanisation!" 
Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

LuciusAR wrote:The real beauty of historical gaming is that most gaming systems work with most scales.

Lucius, that's exactly what I've discovered once I've weaned myself off GW products. Another great thing about historical wargaming is the sheer variety of makers out there.

I've started collecting a modest force of Mid-War Soviets in 15mm, with models from BattleFront, QRF, Old Glory and Quality Castings.

As for rules, I've bought "NUTS!", "Disposable Heroes & Coffin for Seven Brothers" and "I Ain't Been Shot, Mum".
I've heard lots of good things about Blitzkrieg Commander, so I may be picking that up too in the future.

Thanks for your recommendation!
Made in jp
Anti-piracy Officer

Somewhere in southern England.

In my view there is little to choose between 15 and 20mm, either scale is suitable for large skirmish style actions with a few vehicles. (Exact depiction of forces obviously depends on the rule system.)

I would choose based on the idea of using 1/72 scale model kits for vehicles, and whichever scale figures you feel are more suitable and available in that scale.

I used to play Vietnam skirmish in 20mm. The 1/72scale kits went very well with 20mm figures. I don't know about the availability of 20mm WW2.

15mm figures probably look a bit small in comparison to 1/72 kits. You can get vehicles in 1/87 scale though there is less variety.

That said, if you use 15mm/20mm for a skirmish level game, you don't need many vehicles.

If you want to use a lot of vehicles you really need 6mm.

Everything is better with a huge wig. I thought that was common knowledge.

Sometimes the most profound of all truths cannot be spoken.

We're not very big on official rules. Rules lead to people looking for loopholes. What's here is about it.

Forum posting guidelines, please learn them! You will be tested. 
Made in us
Irradiated Baal Scavanger

Central Florida

I went with bolt action 28mm mainly because I play a lot of warhammer and am more comfortable with that scale.

The Emperor protects  
Made in gb
Whiteshield Conscript Trooper

Yh if you gonna start ww2 it should be 28mm Artizan or Bolt action miniatures. I myself am starting a 28mm Battle of the Bulge/ late war american army. Also as Cennedi said it is a smooth and easy transition from one to another.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at 2009/10/12 20:15:18

Blood Ravens 1000pts
270th Teutobergians 700pts
General desert camo Tau 1500pts 
Made in us
Rough Rider with Boomstick

try the 20mm - 1/72 scale valaint plastic minatures about 64 figs a box for $16.00 germans , german ss , americans and latewar brits. check them out also evrey vech is made prepainted in 1/72 scale . vailant mins available at thewarstore.com

GAME OVER MAN ! check out my blog http://mattrendar.blogspot.com/?m=1 
Made in au
Annoyed Blood Angel Devastator

Don't know what the scale is but if you want some good FOW minis cheap go to WarWeb. You can buy a battalion at the same price as a FOW Company.
Made in us

Rockford, IL

FOW is 15mm scale. But Battlefront Miniatures (Makers of FOW) are a little on the "Heroic" side of the scale.
A bit more exaggerated heads and weapons than other brands such as Old Glory.

Old Glory are pretty good value for armor. I especially like their Panzer III J/L.
But for infantry you need to buy a bag of command, bag of machine guns and a bag of riflemen just to make platoons.

Personally I steer clear of 20mm plastics. They do not take paint well, and it is really difficult to find quality sculpts for everything.
Caesar miniatures are good quality, but the true scale is not to my liking, YMMV.
There are pretty good 1/72 tank models out there though. Tamiya has a line of them. Dragon I believe is another.

Bam, said the lady!
Dakka, what is good in life?
To crush other websites,
See their user posts driven before you,
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Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

Thanks for the additional recommendations.

I've ultimately decided on 15mm, as I want to be able to play with FOW players sometime in the future.

Much as I like 1/72 plastic vehicles, plastic soldiers looked rather horrible IMO. And metal figures would just cost too much.
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut

1/72 looked bad?


Made in us
Watches History Channel

Korea (South, of course!)

jp400 wrote:1/72 looked bad?


Well, I guess it's very much a matter of personal preference.

Or maybe I'm just spoilt by having been introduced to the world of miniature wargaming through Warhammer 40K... it kind of defined to me the way a figure that small is "supposed to look".

In any case, the animations on the plastic 1/72 soldiers in Revell, Airfix or Italeri boxes seemed way too stiff to me. They felt almost comical, but in a bad way.

I do know that there are many people who love them, and I mean no offense to those who do.
Made in us
Longtime Dakkanaut

As stated before you should check out Valaint 1/72 minis.. I have a few and I think they rock.
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