1/32, for many of us, instantly brings Britains or Airfix to mind.
It is, as described in
Up and Down the Scales, one of a number of similar
scales used for military figure and vehicle models.
A few figures
described as 54mm are a little bigger than 1/32 and
several manufacturers use 1/35th as their scale.
But if you model in imperial measures 1/32 is a logical scale.
If you model in metric it makes little sense;
though the improbable ( and commercially unknown)
1/33.3 scale equates to a more practical 3mm to 10cm.
Anyway, the question is whether 1/32 works as a
scale for model buildings outsde the context of military dioramas.
Not surprisingly my answer to this is yes; in the right context.
That context is generally as a scale for children to play with.
But it is also a satisfying scale for display pieces.
It is also relevant in ralway modelling. Though only at
the margins of the hobby. This model of a railway station
(based on Culham Station in Oxfordshire) by
Kirtley Model Buildings of Melton Mowbray is in 1/32nd.
Which is not a scale commonly associated with model railways.
However (again as discussed in
Up and Down the Scales) 'G-gauge' or
'Number 1 gauge' track is 45mm which in 1:32 it measures
out to 4 ft 8.5inches - standard gauge railway track as
used in most of the world. We only associate G gauge
with 1/24 or 1/22.5 scale because, many years ago, model manufacturer LGB selected
Number 1 gauge track for their "narrow gauge" Garden Trains.
One of the difficulties (joys?) of researching and writing pieces like this
is getting constantly sidetracked. The last paragraph took me off down at least three
little byways. Come with me for a moment.
According to Wikipedia,standard gauge for
railway lines is defined as being 1,435mm inner distance
between the two rails. Except in the USA, where it is
defined as 4ft 8.5in. The difference between
these two standards is apparently 0.1mm !!!
Call me sad, but it amuses me to think of railway tracklaying
gangs working to a tolerance of just under 0.007% .
Peter Smith, the creative force behind Kirtley Model
Buildings, seems to do most of his work in 7mm (O gauge scale; 1/43)
For work of that size (which is twice that of most modellers
working in OO or HO) and even for 1/32 he recommends the
use of brick paper. Which is probably not conventional wisdom
but seems borne out by these illustrations. I will return to
this in another article.
Brick paper used in 1/32 scale and in 7mm scale
The picture earlier in this article is of Culham station.
I had never
heard of this small GWR station in Oxfordshire but it is
clearly noteworthy and has been reproduced in
miniature on multiple occassions. Built in the Tudor
Revival architecture style of Isambard Kingdom Brunel
it is a Grade II* listed building. The Culham Ticket Office
website includes a dedicated page just about
models of the station.
Anyway, where was I?
If you are building a toy farm then the Britains
influence and legacy makes it
almost a given. Britains themselves were, and still
are to a degree, known for figures, animals,
tractors and other equiment. From 2005 ownership
of the farm range separated from
the military figures operation.The history of this
ground-breaking company is well set out in
Britains own site. They are now part of the TOMY group.
over the years they have produced a number of buildings,
though not very many. The main focus has been on tractors
and other vehicles.
dual purpose farm building. Now the only building
in their range.
There are these days some other more serious producers
of farm buildings. In particular Brushwood and HS Model
Farms of Ireland, both of whom hold to the 1/32 scale.
Brushwood present themelves as Brushwood Toys but
this is serious stuff. Their catalogue, as I write this
on New Year's day 2020, contains
The use of 1/32 scale for farm models produces
buildings of a manageable size.
A two storey farmhouse with an
overall height of, say, 30 feet is just under
a foot tall. (9 metres reduces to 28cm).
With a small farmyard, a stable and a pig
pen the layout can sit comfortably on a
tabletop or on the living room floor.
There ae these days some more serious producers
of farm buildings: Brushwood and HS Model Farms of Ireland
For wikipedia (then known as Racing Champions International Ltd). At this time, production of toy soldiers was moved to China. In 2005, the W. Britains brand (but not the farm range) was acquired by First Gear, an American maker of die-cast collectibles. This firm produces and sells mostly contemporary matte-style figures to the collectors market under the W. Britain brand. Kenneth A. Osen was the master sculptor for W. Britain until June, 2013 when he was appointed General Manager & Creative Director. Sculpting continues to be done by Ken Osen, Alan Ball and Graham Scollick. All figures are sculpted by hand, to scale, before duplication. On January 30, 2012 Bachmann Europe Plc became the sole distributor of all W. Britain figures in the U.K and Continental Europe (Britain 2013–2015). The farm range stayed in the ERTL/RC2 stable and was put into a separate subsidiary
If you are building scenery to show off your
serious military models then of course
you need to build in or around 1/32nd. Your buildings
will need to be good. 54mm figures
are the definitive scale for quality model figures
with masses of intricate uniform detail.
You have two choices I guess. Either you produce
very simple stylised backdrops to make
sure admirers focus on your figure painting.
Or you model the buildings to the same high
standards. Each 9" brick will be over a
quarter of an inch long. A 1" window glazing bar
is 1/32" which is a fraction less than 1mm.
Every hinge, every step on the roof tiles,
every moulding, every plank on the window
shutters is going to be clearly visible.
I have not seen any of their work in
the flesh (it is a bit expensive to order
just for a peek) but I am very impressed
with pictures of the models from (new? to
me at least) manufacturer
DioDump of Herten
in the Netherlands. Designed, as the name
suggests, for military dioramas there is
in 1/35th scale a range of bases, walls
and buildings. They offer ultra realism
using a variety of materials. The focus
is clearly WW2, both in northern Europe
and the Middle East but they are also suitable
for peiods before and after. The Dutch buildings,
not surprisingly, seem to be perfectly captured.
Although they don't really count as Miniature
Buildings, the brick and cobbled street bases
also deserve a highly commended mention.
Dutch corner house ´Oosterbeek´ by DioDump in 1:35
Not all military figures are model masterpieces. If you are building a castle or
fort or pillbox bunker with toy soldiers for a child to play with then you are not
going for the same level of detail. The problem you face is that doors and gateways
and battlements need to be scaled properly, but wall lengths (and probably
heights and thicknesses)are going to have to be reduced.
Simple, with scale sacrifices
A regular house doorway is OK at about
two and a half inches and a gateway that cavalry can ride through at five or six.
But your 90 foot castle wall is going to be nearly three feet tall. To look balanced
it may have to be ten feet long! And ten feet deep!!! Of course it cannot be.
Toy castles are never to scale. Even the smaller 'Fort Laramie' style wild west
timber fort is a distorted compromise scale to make it manageable.
Given the availibility of figures in this scale ( and their size)
I am a bit surprised that there is no dolls house market at this scale.
I am sure some examples must exist but they are very hard to find.
As I have commented elsewhere, the dolls house market is driven not
by the buildings (or even by the 'dolls') but by the availibility
of furniture and accessories.
This model of an English Village Street Scene is something of a mystery.
It is being offered for sale on Alibaba.com The heading (and the image
name)mark it as 1/32 but the brief narrative says it is in 1/43 scale.
It is apparently hand built to order; a unique one off hand built
scale model of an early English Street Scene, comprising of an Inn and Cottage,
copied from a prototype in Hastings England, It is made from Art Board, Wood,and
some Plastics, painted in acrylic paints and has two coats of matt varnish.
The cost per unit is £175(GBP). But who the maker is we are given no direct clue.
A little bit of digging points to Jan Preece of Newport in Wales who has very
recently died. The company websites now seem to be blocked. He seems to have
been a remarkable man.
Another manifestation of 1/32 scale is Scalextric, and other car
racing brands. Not a lot of buildings of course beyond a control tower
and a pit garage but the surrounding market offers a few examples including
this French Auberge from
Greenhills Garages constructed of foam board
printed on the outside. . The original is apparently
situated on the famous Mulsanne straight on the circuit of the Le Mans
24 Hours race. They also offer a Le Mans toilet block for that final
realistic touch to your layout
If you are modelling in 1/32 there is not a lot of component
material about. These might be useful. Embossed papers of brick
and stone from Dimitris Tastsidis, a supplier in Thessaloniki. I
haven't been able to
find a direct website but he seems to sell through e-bay and
If you want to stick on individual tiles or build walls brick by brick you might
also explore the
Juweela site. They say their (plastic) products are made in
Germany but the site seems to be based in the Netherlands. They have product in
1/32, 1/35 and other scales.
As always, please write to
Miniature Buildings with any comments, criticisms,
extra thoughts, pictures, or even complete articles for inclusion in the Miniature Buildings site.