1:6 scale modeling
The term "Playscale" originally represented the domestic, urban or civilian expressions of the scale, especially when coed, and not, usually, exterior genres, like military and adventure themes. As such, it came to represent cross-genre miniaturism, as well, which routinely includes elements from the former. Miniaturists who focus exclusively on exterior themes tend to prefer the protologism sixthscale.
This scale is fairly new to the modeling world, having been standardized in the early 1960s through Barbie and G.I. Joe toys (it is not clear exactly when these figures were first used for mainstream modeling purposes). Most of this style of miniaturism is constructed around posable plastic figures. The average 1:6 figure stands roughly 30 cm (12 in) tall, representing a 1.8 m (6 ft) tall human. Figures can be outfitted in a wide variety of mass-produced, limited-production, and custom clothing and items. Some people undertake vehicle projects ranging from tanks and helicopters to sand rails and jeeps. Talented "customizers", miniaturists specializing in construction of one-off and limited production items or the extensive modification of stock products, are limited only by their imagination.
A significant focus of supporting manufacturers is military subjects of many different eras, but many crossover miniaturists will reassign them to science fiction, fantasy, pop culture, or civilian themes. Further emphasis on the military genre can be found in the article, Military miniaturism.
History of modern 1:6 Miniaturism
Playscale miniaturism (with emphasis on articulated figures) emerged as a hobby in 1964 when the toy company Hasbro introduced the first fully articulated action figure: G.I. Joe. The figures originally represented American military men; as American involvement in the Vietnam War continued, war toys and figures fell out of favor with parents, and G.I. Joe's sales declined. A change to a less martial Adventure Team theme did not revive sales, and by 1976, GI Joe was no longer produced in 1:6 scale. The UK had two equivalents; Action Man and Tommy Gunn; the latter first appeared in 1966 while the former continued through various incarnations until 1993 in the "vintage" form and in a revised form to the current day.
In the early 1990s Hasbro began reproducing G.I. Joe in 1:6 scale again as a Classic Collection marketed towards adults. The shift in focus towards collectibility rather than marketing the figures as a toy invited competition, and soon other companies began to market detailed 1:6 figures toward adult consumers.
In 1997 21st Century Toys began producing 1:6 scale accessory and uniform sets representing equipment used in the Vietnam War and soon expanded their product line to include World War II, Law Enforcement, Emergency Services, and Modern Armed forces Accessories under the names "The Ultimate Soldier" (TUS) and "America's Finest" respectively. The company offered more detailed and historically accurate products than Hasbro. 21st Century further expanded their line to include vehicles and a "Villains" series. Through 2000–present rumors have persisted of a resurgence of the TUS line, however production, mostly of RC vehicles and "lower quality" figures have been inconsistent in both areas of release and numbers produced, and a shift in emphasis to smaller scales has caused a lull in production.
In 1999 Dragon Models Limited (DML) entered the 1:6 scale figure market; their figures were held in high esteem by collectors due to their both high quality and accurate products. Their main focus became World War II figures, but they have released figures from the Vietnam War, the Falklands War, Korean War, both the first and second Gulf Wars, and the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan. They have also released vehicles and crew-served heavy weapons in 1:6 scale.
Around 2001 Blue Box Toys (BBI) began producing modern era figures of the same quality as those manufactured by DML. These figures were notable for their die-cast accessories and quirky "Custom Expression Mechanism", by which facial expressions could be adjusted somewhat by turning a small screw in the back of the head, both of which were met with mixed results by collectors yet indisputably made headway in the evolution of accessory and headsculpt detail. BBI later produced WWII era figures as well, but the company has also recently shifted its focus to smaller scale figures.
Recently, companies associated with smaller scale figures such as Toy Soldier Workshop, ACE, Battle Gear Toys, DiD (Dragon in Dreams), Armoury, RMC (Realistic Miniatures), In The Past Toys, Toys City and New Line Miniatures have begun to provide extremely accurate gear made from good quality cloth and leather. This trend to move towards the 1990s mentality of cottage production and scratchbuilding has left a unique feel when combined with the mass-produced figures of today. Customizers also have started to produce custom kits for armored vehicles such as half-tracks and tanks. While these techniques have been developed in military arenas, they are increasingly being used in non-military genres. Other important companies as well are Hot Toys, Enterbay, Blitzway, Takara among others.
Collecting vs. Miniaturism
There is a distinction between 1:6 scale collectors who choose to simply display their figures in the original box, and playscale miniaturists. Consistent with other forms of miniaturism, many enthusiasts make their own custom uniforms, weapons, helmets, and equipment. Kitbashing is another component of playscale miniaturism. This involves the mixing and matching of clothing and accessories from different sources to achieve the desired look.
Other modifications to basic collectibles include the sculpting and painting of new heads for figures; altering bodies to achieve a specific look: more human, or even alien; as well as weathering. Some miniaturists also construct and paint custom accessories from scratch using materials like styrene, Sculpey, or Aves Apoxie.
Diorama work is fairly common despite the large size of the scale, and custom- or scratch-building buildings, furniture, vehicles and armor all complement basic figure work.
- "Playscale miniatures". About.com.
- This hobby favors action figures for their posability, but almost any playscale figure is viable.
- One Sixth Directory, a listing of many 1/6-scale related websites
- One Sixth UK, a UK-based website
- Sideshow Freaks, forum for customizers and collectors