Here is an article that I wrote for MWAN about 20mm Napoleonic figures. Some
of the prices and addresses may have changed.
20mm Napoleonic Figures - Size Does Matter
by Robert Burke
Chris Salander is a good friend and I thoroughly enjoyed his article about
20mm lead Napoleonic figures in MWAN #90. I started playing wargames with 20mm
Napoleonic figures back in high school and I still have hundreds (thousands?)
of them in my collection.
For many years, Jack Scruby was practically the only source for 20mm
Napoleonic lead figures. Whenever I learned of a company that manufactured
20mm figures of any kind I ordered sample figures to see if I could use them as
Napoleonic figures (20mm Saracen Light Cavalry make excellent Russian Bashkir
Light Cavalry, but that is another article).
I quickly discovered that different manufacturers had their own ideas as to
what constituted a 20mm figure. The purpose of this article is supply the one
missing piece of information about 20mm lead Napoleonic figures: exactly how
big are they?
First of all, I had to make sure that I was comparing apples to apples. I
therefore adopted the Tobey Barrett measurement system, which is used by The
Courier in all of their figure reviews. Under this system, a figure is
measured from the top of its base (bottom of the foot) to eye level. Figures
with different size headgear can therefore be compared to each other using this
Fortunately, over the years, I had collected sample figures from virtually
every manufacturer listed in Chris’ article. The figures fell into two main
groups: “true” 20mm figures and larger (or English) 20mm figures. I
selected figures that were standing up straight (infantrymen with slung rifle
or artillerymen). Measuring each figure from the top of its base to eye level,
I came up with the following measurements:
True 20mm figures:
Newline (UK) 20mm
The Complete Brigadier 20mm
Ultimate Miniatures (Scruby 20mm) 20mm
Large (English) 20mm figures:
Hinton Hunt (Der Kriegspielers) 23mm
Kennington (UK) 23mm
Qualiticast (UK) 23mm
It Figures (UK) 21mm
Ultimate Miniatures (Scruby 25mm) 23mm
In order to put these two different sizes in perspective, the larger 20mm
figures are about a half a head taller than the true 20mm figures. They are
also very compatible with Ral Partha’s 25mm Colonial figures. Anyone who has
seen figures produced in England and advertised as “25mm” (close to 30mm
standards by US standards) will not be surprised that most of the English 20mm
figures are also oversized.
As can be seen from the table above, Jack Scruby made two different sizes of
Napoleonic figures, 20mm and 25mm. Those wishing to order true 20mm should
order his 20mm figures. Those wishing to order “larger 20mm” figures
should order his 25mm figures.
While the figures manufactured by It Figures appear to belong more with the
true 20mm figures (based on their height), their heft and bulk puts them into
the large 20mm category.
The final issue I want to address is how the two different types of figures
look when placed on the board together. I’ve played games where most of the
figures on the board were true 20mm but some of the figures were the larger Der
Kriegspielers (Hinton Hunt). The figures look a little out of scale when
placed right next to each other, but not enough to interfere with playing the
game. Some players may wish to order the larger figures for just certain types
of troops (eg. French Cuirassiers that are really “big brothers”!).
Lastly, an update about some of the manufacturers:
Newline figures are carried by The London War Room, 41 Beverly Hills Loop,
Petal, MS 39465; 601/584-8533.
Qualiticast figures are carried by Brookhurst Hobbies, 12188 Brookhurst
Street, Garden Grove, CA 92840; 714/636-3580.
RSM 95 (Dayton Painting Consortium) has a new phone number: 937/667-1037.
Huber Heights, OH 45424
I have been a wargamer for many years but have never collected a
Napoleonic wargame army.I am thinking of starting an army asap.
I would very much appreciate any advice on which figures to buy,I am
hoping to get both British and either Russian or Austrian forces.
Thanks in advance