Battleground 16-18 Scale Guide
Which weapon or accessory scale should I use with "1/18" or "1/16" figures?
It depends... The size of 1/18 figures, vehicles and accessories vary considerably from one manufacturer to the next.
From left to right: 21st Century Toys (1st Gen), Dragon Action 18, Joy Toy, Our War, Forces of Valor, 21st Century Toys (2nd Gen), 21st Century Toys (3rd Gen), Marauder Task Force
Some manufacturers like 21st Century's Ultimate Solder line even changed the size of their figures multiple times from one wave to the next. This was likely due to a desire for the figures to fit into vehicles that 21st Century was also producing.
21st Century German Infantry (1st Gen) Left, 21st Century German Infantry (2nd Gen) Right
The variety in scale continues today with newer 1/18 figures from Joy Toy and Marauder being different sizes. Joy Toy seems to have gone shorter for 3 3/4 compatibility where taller Marauder figures work better with 4" figures like the later generation GI Joe line from Hasbro.
Joy Toy (left), 21st Century 3rd Gen (middle), Marauder Task Force (right)
Accurately scaled weapons and some equipment can look too small when held by a larger "1/18" figure. 1/16 scale items might look too big.
Well how tall should a 1/18 or 1/16 figure be anyway?
Googling the Internet produced several sources that seem to agree that the average height of a German male soldier in WW2 was 5ft 7in or 170cm. After adding 1 inch for the boots since they are not removable makes average height 5ft 8in/~173cm . That means a figure should be 96mm in 1/18 scale or 108mm in 1/16 scale.
How does that data compare to the actual figures?
Here is a table showing the actual height of each figure (minus helmet) compared to the height of an average German WW2 soldier in 1/16, 1/17 and 1/18 scale from tallest to smallest. For this research German figures were chosen because they were made by the majority of 1/18 figure manufacturers making comparison easier.
From the data it looks like Marauder figures at 105mm tall are closest to 108mm or 1/16 scale. Dragon Action 18 figures come in at 99mm and are closest to 96mm or 1/18 scale.
What about weapons?
Well, it seems the differences in 1/18 scale interpretation extended into the equipment with some manufactures like Dragon going for true 1/18 scale and other weapons like Marauder being closer to 1/16 to match the figures.
Kar 98k Rifle Comparison from top to bottom: Dragon Action 18, 21st Century Toys, Marauder Task Force
Thompson M1A1 SMG Comparison from top to bottom: Dragon Action 18, 21st Century Toys, Marauder Task Force
What about a compromise like 1/17th scale?
For some figures 1/17th would seem to be the right answer based on the data. Bravo Team, most 21st Century and even Hiya figures are closest to 1/17th scale.
Where on earth can you find 1/17th scale items?
With the emergence of 3D printing many items can be adjusted and then manufactured in obscure scales to solve problems like this. Here are some 3D printed M1A1 Thompson Submachine Guns from Battleground Models in various scales:
Marauder USMC soldiers holding 1/18 (left), 1/17 (middle) and 1/16 M1A1 Thompson Submachine guns
What is the right answer?
In most cases choosing equipment that is the same or closest scale to your figures is the best bet. In other cases you may want some interoperability between a variety of figures in your collection. Some folks go with a slightly larger scale so that the small details on an item are easier to observe and appreciate. The choice is ultimately up to you. Hopefully this guide will help you make more informed decisions.