Proper Scaling of HBG's custom sculpts; does size matter?

  • '17 '16

    Hmmm… well, I have now received the lion’s share of my orders from HBG… which included both extra A&A sculpts from their lineup of games (like more units from A&A 1941, 1942 and 1940P&E), to the custom sculpts that HBG offers that don’t exist in the A&A games (like 7TP & Type-97 tank models, to custom naval ships like Nevada’s, South Dakotas, Fuso’s and the like).

    Now, if you really couldn’t give a hoot about scaling sizes… if unit #1 is a lot bigger/smaller than unit #2, then move along, nothing to see here…

    I already see what’s going on… HBG’s custom sculpts are properly sized and scaled to each other and to reality.  Which, normally, you would think is a really good thing.  For example, in reality, the Iowa BBs were a good bit larger than the South Dakota class of BBs, which themselves were significantly larger than the Nevada BBs.  Same with tanks… a KV-2 was larger than a T-34, which was larger than a 7TP… HBG’s custom sculpts reflect this to each other.

    The problem is, with few exceptions, HBG’s custom sculpts aren’t on the same scale as A&A’s default sculpts… at least with what I’ve run into so-far.  A&A has tried to standardize scaling for ease of recognition on the game board.  A&A’s default sculpts all run the same size per class regardless of what it is they’re covering… an IS-2, a T-34, a Sherman, a Tiger or Panther… they’re all roughly the same size on the game board… same thing with all Battleships… a Royal Oak, Hood or Iowa are all the same size, just to avoid confusion over what is a BB or what is a CA (even though in reality, they all differ in size considerably).  While it may not be historically accurate, it serves a purpose on a crowded game board.

    Now comparing A&A’s default sculpts with HBG’s custom sculpts, I’ve come to the following observations:

    HBG’s custom tank sculpts are mostly on a smaller scale than the game’s default sculpts… or at least shrink considerably with older tank models.  The Japanese Type-97 Medium tank from HBG, is smaller compared to the Type-95 light tank default sculpt.  HBG Shermans are smaller than A&A default Shermans (though clearly more accurately detailed), while Pershings are bigger than either (once again, properly scaled to each other, but not to A&A standardized sculpts)… the HBG ships are in the same boat (pun intended?).  The South Dakota BB is roughly the same size as a default BB, but actually is larger than the default A&A Iowa (which is off to scale to each other), while considerably larger (accurately) to a HBG Nevada, which in-game is about the size of a Cruiser… while properly scaled to the HBG SD class, it could cause confusion in-game being the same size as a Cruiser.

    As a HUGE fan of military equipment of all nations, I can immediately spot out a Nevada or Iowa or South Dakota silhouette from other ships, but I know my kids and friends probably cannot… and they would probably get confused in-game as to why some battleships are the size of cruisers while others are not (the same occurs with tanks, a default Sherman or Panther is easily three or four times the size of an HBG 7TP tank).  I know in reality, size difference between classes is quite common, but it’s a sacrifice the designers of the game made for simplicity and easy spotting in-game (if all BB’s were the same size for example).

    Oddly enough, the HBG custom aircraft seem to be immune to this issue… HBG custom fighters and bombers seem to be well-scaled to A&A default unit scaling… the scaling issues mostly seem to effect Tanks and Ships.

    On a totally different note, the “pumpkin orange” of HBG custom units for Japan does not seem to be the same shade as “pumpkin orange” of current 2nd Edition default Japanese units… its close, but noticeably different… once again, I know some won’t care for the slight change in color, but it bothers me for some reason (not a complaint, so much as an observation).

    Once again, I know HBG is catering to more than just A&A players… their custom units can be used for many games, A&A is one of them, and to their own credit, they are scaling units to each other properly, while A&A default units are not properly scaled, but rather “class scaled”… that all tanks are one size, all battleships are one size, etc, etc… this is done for ease of recognition in-game vs reality to unit scale… this is a purposeful design decision that one may, or may not agree to.

    In the end, if one is mixing HBG custom units with default A&A units, you’ll end up with the following things occurring:  Tanks and Ships will vary wildly in scale to each other and to the default A&A units… sculpt detail will also be obviously different… I  have found HBG sculpts to generally be in greater detail than more generic A&A sculpts, and while at first, this may seem like a plus, it makes both the default A&A units the custom HBG sculpts stand out from one another on the game board.

    If someone is bothered by uniformity and or game scale, then a few choices come down to this:
    1) Stick strictly to A&A default units, they will all be the same detail and same scale by class in-game
    2) Use only HBG sculpts for ships and tanks so they properly scale to one another, realizing that tank sizes will vary considerably and ships won’t always be size = class, as some battleships will be no bigger than cruisers.
    3) Mix them altogether, noticing wildly different scaling and quality of sculpts… to some variety trumps scaling and color issues.

    Now let me make this clear… I’m NOT COMPLAINING about HBG custom sculpts… I kinda had a feeling this would be an issue when I started ordering them… I’m merely pointing out some observations that I’ve noticed after getting my hands on some… and mind you, I don’t think I could have had a proper feeling for the differences until I had them in my hands and could compare them with the default units, so I kinda had to do this to “see for myself”.

    Personally, of the three options I listed above, I’m not a fan of #3, mixing default sculpts with HBG sculpts, it just bothers me to see things like South Dakotas bigger than Iowas and Type-95 tanks bigger than Type-97 tanks, which is something that happens when you mix two different lines of units… so that leaves me with either Option #1 or Option #2… I’m probably going to just go back to using mostly default A&A sculpts (and I have already ordered extra of most default sculpts) because it has the added benefit of keeping things simpler on the game board, especially with people less fanatical about unique equipment than me, and I don’t want to have to explain why some battleships or tanks are vastly different in size than others.

    Once again, I want to stress, this is not a complaint post… I think the HBG site is awesome, they ship quickly and deliver what they promise.  Their custom sculpts are very cool and have more detail than the default sculpts in A&A (just look at the Sherman difference).  I’m simply pointing out my observations, especially in regards to scaling issues, that if size does or doesn’t matter, and you’re thinking about custom HBG sculpts, this is something to consider if it’s important to you or not… if size matters.

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    I’ve noticed the same thing with my orders from HBG, I’ve come to understand that their units are for their games like 1939 Global war, 1936 etc… However, being a guy who wishes to customize the A&A G40 game and create house rules that require different colored units, the scale issue is a problem (for me anyways).

    If I want to use A&A default pieces, than I have to select A&A pieces from A&A game editions which are not always in stock at HBG. The two tanks (A&A vs HBG) side by side for example just looks like I’ve purged from 2 completely separate games. That’s why I’ve come to prefer using A&A 1914 units with my 1940 units if I need a different color to represent a new nation house rule for example.

    So chalk me up as one who doesn’t care about the historical accuracy of sizing among units, in fact… I’m probably in a huge minority who prefers all types of units to look the same for all nations like Classic used to do.

  • '17 '16

    Well, I love diversity and reality in regards to that if I can have Pz-III, Pz-IV, Panthers and Tigers for Germany, i’m all for it (even if they all roll the same)… thing is, i’m also for smoothness of gameplay (like uniformity of units being easily recognizeable in a game)… After attempting to mix a lot of A&A sculpts with HBG custom sculpts, aside from the aircraft (which merged pretty good), the custom tanks and ships just stand out in quality, color and mostly size… and this is bothering me (personal tastes, i know)…

    I have begun walking-back some of my custom HBG sculpt purchases and putting them back in baggies in my “maybe some day” storage, and just sticking to the default A&A sculpts… though, if I can get my hands on DIFFERENT A&A sculpts, I will (like Tan Shermans from D-Day and mixing them with Tan Matildas from 1942SE).

    Most of my HBG orders have been more of the default A&A units and a few of the custom sculpts… looks like I will abandon the custom sculpt route and just favor more of the default A&A sculpts, with as much variety as I can get my hands on.

  • I think of sculpts as consisting basically of two groups: official OOB A&A, and everything else.  Or four groups, for a more refined conceptual model: official OOB A&A conventional (like the ones in G40), official OOB A&A non-conventional (like the oddly-coloured ones from the older games, plus WWI 1914), unofficial highly compatible (such as HBG), and unofficial only-partially-compatible (pretty much everything else that’s available, though there are enough exceptions to make life interesting).

    I tend to view the official OOB A&A conventional sculpts as the core units of the game.  And in my opinion, I view the huge range of sculpts that fall into other categories as the gaming equivalent of a well-stocked spice rack: something from which just a few items can be judiciously selected at any given time to add flavour and variety to the main course, but which would ruin everything if one tried to use all (or even most) of them.  So from that perspective, what matters most is that the official OOB A&A conventional sculpts are scaled pretty consistently by unit type.  It doesn’t bother me that the added-spice units don’t necessarily fit the scale of the conventional pieces, because those extra units are by definition “extras” – and in some cases, very specialized extras.

    And on the issue of novice players (including youngsters), my feeling is that they are well served by the fact that the official OOB A&A conventional units are consistent scaled.  If ever they become familiar enough with the game to graduate to the inclusion of specialized extra units, they shouldn’t have problems dealing with them because by that time they’ll know the core units thoroughly well.  (Wittmann’s little girl learned to recognize a Panther tank sculpt at an impressively young age, even though she had no actual interest in playing the game.)

  • '17 '16

    Well, as I said, i’m going back to the consistency of scale with official A&A sculpts… i’m pulling out some/most of the custom HBG sculpts I got because of scale (and/or color) issues.  I like uniformity in games (at least with easily recognizable pieces).  Like I enjoy having both Panther and Tiger I tanks for Germany, they look different, but both are of the same quality and scale in size as any other tanks in-game.  However, when I looked to expand Japan’s tanks from just Type-95 Ha Go light tanks to the bigger, more robust Type-97 medium tanks from HBG… upon arrival, they were both of a different shade of “pumpkin orange” and actually SMALLER than the Type-95 light tanks… this bothered me.

    I did order some Churchill custom tanks from HBG because I didn’t want “just Matilda’s”, but if they have the same issue as other HBG custom tanks (which they probably will), they too will be cast to the side in favor of Matildas… I did score a bag of Tan Shermans from A&A D-Day off E-Bay, so hopefully that will give me some British tank variety with official A&A sculpts.

    It was worth trying out the custom sculpts though… I just don’t like the style and mostly the size difference from official A&A sculpts.  I would never know until i had them in front of me… looking at pics on the web got me interested, but it was impossible to know for sure how i’d like them until I had them in front of me.  Oh well, lesson learned… HBG is still a great source for getting extra “official” A&A sculpts, and I have abused that aspect of HBG quite a bit.

    As for my kids and others eventually learning enough of the game to move on to custom sculpts… I’d still have the issues I already have (of style and size) bothering me whether my kids were A&A pros or not… I think i’ll just be sticking with official A&A sculpts for the foreseeable future… lesson learned.

    Was just curious if anyone else felt the same way I did or just mixed both official and custom units willy-nilly.  Apparently (if I get the prior posts right), i’m not alone in my thoughts.

  • I’m pretty much in agreement with YG. I like all the special units and the ones that are off color some what for each country is OK for me.

    They stand out better and basically they are all special units if they didn’t come out OOB.


  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    As someone who paints his pieces and wants as many specific and different unit sculpts as possible, I am all for HBG’s products.

    After experiencing the variety, quality and detail present in HBG units, I have no desire to use OOB pieces any more; I find them almost entirely inferior. My hope is that HBG ends up producing replacement sculpts for all OOB sculpt types. I believe this is or was their intention, though I really can’t say if it is still a focus for them.

    The only OOB piece that I find superior to the HBG version is the P-40 sculpt. As one of HBG’s first sets, it was produced before they had settled on a proper scaling system. The HBG P-40s (and P-51s) are way too small. They really need to re-do that early set almost completely.

    Anyway, I know that HBG has developed some type of scaling rationale for their pieces in the vein of Light (small), Medium (“Normal”/OOB size), Heavy (Xtra Large). This applies to all combat pieces except for infantry units. The convention is perhaps most noticeable when it comes to tanks and ships. HBG Light tanks are noticeably far smaller than an HBG Tiger. Similarly, the Fuso**<Nagato<Yamato and Light Carriers (Casablanca)<Fleet Carriers (Essex/Yorktown)<**Heavy Carriers (Midway).

    IMO it all makes sense and it serves as a good visual distinction between the levels of equipment as they are represented in pieces. I have not compared my HBG pieces specifically, but that should mean that Essex is roughly equivalent to Kaga and Casablanca matches with Ryujo… Pershing = Tiger, Avenger =Stuka, etc… That appears pretty consistent to me. They do not scale exactly with OOB units, no. But if you are only going to be playing Spring 42 with people who cannot tell a destroyer from a cruiser, let alone tell you what class a ship is… it may be best to stick with OOB units. That simplicity fits much better with the scale of Spring 42.

  • '17 '16


    IMO it all makes sense and it serves as a good visual distinction between the levels of equipment as they are represented in pieces… That appears pretty consistent to me. They do not scale exactly with OOB units, no. But if you are only going to be playing Spring 42 with people who cannot tell a destroyer from a cruiser, let alone tell you what class a ship is… it may be best to stick with OOB units. That simplicity fits much better with the scale of Spring 42.

    I pretty much concur with everything you said… in general, I find that the HBG units are definitely detailed and/or more accurate than the A&A OOB units… the scaling to each other (BBs to other BBs, Tanks to other tanks) is more accurate.  A good example of detail is the OOB Sherman tank vs the HBG Sherman tank.  The detail and accuracy comparison is massive (in favor of HBG)… the problem I have with using HBG (and once again, this is opinionated preference, certainly not saying everyone else should think the same), is that the scale of HBG doesn’t match OOB (HBG tanks are almost always smaller than OOB, ships are all over the map on scale compared to OOB)… and this is where a design philosophy has to come in… HBG units are MORE ACCURATE… in that an Iowa BB is definitely bigger by a considerable margin than a Nevada BB, and HBG shows this difference.  Yamato’s are bigger than Iowas, Iowas are bigger than Royal Oaks, etc, etc, etc… in the OOB units, all of these BBs would be the exact same size (historically incorrect), but GAMEPLAY WISE, it makes for an easy distinction at a glance as to what any class of ship is from any nation.  In HBG units, you’re going to have multiple cases where BBs are the same size as Cruisers and so on and so on… which, to some, may be very confusing in game.

    Equipment history is a specialty of mine… I have tons of books on all the tanks, ships and planes of all the powers in the war, and can recognize almost any of them at a glance… and I imagine a lot of others on this forum can do the same… but similarly, sometimes ease of identification and conformity is preferable, especially when playing a rapid game with people not so brushed up on the difference between an Iowa, Nevada, Baltimore and Portland class ships.  I love the detail in the HBG models, and I’ll be the first to admit, they are superior to the OOB models in that regard… but I give a nod to the instant class distinction and uniformity of size for purpose of gameplay in a game to the OOB units (unrealistic as it may be), it makes the game easier to teach and understand for newer or less equipment-focused players of the game.

    As has been said by myself and others in previous posts in this thread… I think someone putting a set of units together either has to focus on HBG units or OOB units, because mixing the two together almost looks like you’re merging two units from completely different games together… they just don’t look good together IMHO.  If you want detailed units that are properly scaled, focus on HBG units… if you want simpler units on a uniformity of scale based on class in-game (for speed of play and/or recognition), not by historical reality, then go with OOB units.

    Custom painters and hardcore Global 40 players probably should (and do) go HBG custom units… and as much as I love the historical accuracy of HBG, I hate mixing them with OOB (they contrast badly) and I’m surrounded by a bunch of people new to the game that I will have to teach… so FOR ME, the best move forward is to stick with the OOB units (and i’m getting as many different OOB units as I can, and plenty of them so I don’t have to run short on any game).  I can certainly appreciate anyone who pushes forward with the HBG units… many of them are quite beautiful.

    While HBG ships and Tanks have a very noticeable size-of-scale clash with OOB units, I find most of the HBG aircraft size well with OOB units and can freely be mixed without much difference at all… the only exception to this rule would be Japan, which HBG’s “Pumpkin Orange” is a very noticeable different color tone than the OOB Pumpkin Orange (and of course, this wouldn’t be an issue to painters), but this color difference bugs me with Japan… to others, this may not be an issue at all… but overall, HBG planes merge well with OOB units.

  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer

    Agreed. OOB and HBG units do not merge together seamlessly. I wouldn’t like to mix the units either. It would be an eyesore for me and would probably confuse less experienced and less historically minded people.

  • '14 Customizer

    In our last game we placed units based upon the time period when they were created.  For example… Pershing Tanks were not used until 1945.  We use two turns per year as an estimate which means the Pershing Tank cannot be placed on the board until turn 10.  I did the same with my setup units.

    Pacific  CV - (6) Enterprise, South Dakota (Battleship)
     (1) F4F Wildcat Fighter
     (1) SB2C Helldiver TBomber

    Hawaii (2) F4F Wildcat Fighters, Marines

    Philippines (1) P-40 Warhawk Fighter

    East Coast (1) P-38 Lightning, Rangers

    Atlantic Baltimore (Heavy Cruiser)

    West Coast (1) P-38 Lightning, Marines

    Pacific  Akagi Kaga, Soryu  CV, Yomato, Nagato BB

    Iwo jima Machine gun infantry

    Japan SNLF Infantry

    United Kingdom

    London King George Battleship, Commando inf

    Mediteranean Arc Royal Carrier
     Hawker Hurricane Fighter

    Scotland Royal Oak Battleship (That’s where it was sunk in the war)

    These are all the tanks. Each country has 3 sets of tanks.  When you buy a new tank you can only use the pieces that are available.

    Sherman - start
    Hellcat - Turn 6
    Persing  - Turn 10

    Valentine - start
    Chuchhill - Turn 2
    Centurion - Turn 10

    Type 95 Ha-Go  - start
    Type 97 Chi-Ha - start
    Chi Ta  - Turn 8

    Tiger  - start
    Panther  - Turn 6
    Maus  - Turn 8

    Stuart   - start
    Valentine  - start
    AC1 Sentinel - Turn 4

    Carro Armato 41  - start
    Semovente 105/25  - Turn 6
    M15/42 - Turn 8

    KV-2  - start
    T-34  - start
    IS-2  - Turn 8

    Here is some pics of the setup from our last game

  • '17 '16

    Huh?  Did you say something?  Sorry, I’m still drooling over your super awesome painted units… nicely done cyanight!  :-D

  • '14 Customizer

    Thanks. It took me over 3 hours just to setup the game with my specific startup pieces.  The sad part was we only played 7 turns so many pieces never saw the board.

  • '17 '16

    You think that’s sad? I nickled and dimed myself to death over the past few weeks and didn’t even realize it. I’d look at my bins, and say “gee, I could really use more of [insert A&A miniature of your choice here] for my nation bin”… and I’d hop on HBG’s site and order a few of this and a few of that… a day or two later, same thing… I’d order a few of this and a few of that. Never seemed to spend more than $15 here or there, so no big deal, right?

    I just totaled up all my orders from HBG since I started adding to my bins and… I spent like $300!  :-o

    If that isn’t bad enough, I’ve probably retired at least a third of those new units I just bought into a ziplock bag that isn’t going into my bins… based on the discussion in this very thread, I have since decided to pull all the custom HBG miniatures from my bins because of scaling and/or color issues and stick to strictly OOB units (which of course forced me to buy more OOB units to replace the HBG units I decided not to use).  So ya, out of the $300 I spent in the last few weeks, I probably got about $100 worth of custom HBG units sitting in a ziplock bag that I won’t be using! Oh well, at least I got the bins filled the way I want and now I’m done (I think… maybe I should just order a few more units… lolz).

    Once again… great paint job on your units cyanight… that’s really impressive work.

  • We all approach the hobby aspect of the game differently.  Scale may be of a major concern to some and to others it is not.  I have not had the time nor resources to devote to adding major sculpts to my collection but a few that were needed for some house rules.  Wolfshanze, you could sell the unwanted pieces on the market pages of the forum.  You may be able to recoup some of your losses that way.  Who knows, you may find some one who will want to trade some OOB pieces that they have for your HBG sculpts.

  • '17 '16


    Wolfshanze, you could sell the unwanted pieces on the market pages of the forum. You may be able to recoup some of your losses that way. Who knows, you may find some one who will want to trade some OOB pieces that they have for your HBG sculpts.

    Yea, I know… it’s not like I just said “meh”, and tossed them in the trash!

  • '18 '17 '16 '15 Customizer



    Wolfshanze, you could sell the unwanted pieces on the market pages of the forum. You may be able to recoup some of your losses that way.� Who knows, you may find some one who will want to trade some OOB pieces that they have for your HBG sculpts.

    Yea, I know… it’s not like I just said “meh”, and tossed them in the trash!

    Actually… depending on what you have, I may be willing to buy or trade with you. Anything in particular that you are looking to part with?

  • '17 '16

    I’ve gotten several private messages and some responses in this thread… so just as a head’s up and a community service…

    1. Because of the private messages, I have ALREADY made a deal to unload my custom units, and they are, in-fact, already mailed off.

    2. I know its kinda pointless now, but if you’re still that curious as to what I did have, here’s the complete list of the custom HBG units I had purchased in the last few weeks to beef up my bins… since I later made a decision to pull them and not use them, I did eventually re-order equivalent numbers of default/original OOB A&A units from HBG to beef up my numbers (like if I didn’t like the two HBG Japanese Fuso battleships, I reordered two OOB Kongo or Yamato battleships to replace them… so-on and so-on.  Anyways, here’s the (now kinda pointless) list:

    (BTW: you may notice that for the most part, planes are missing from this list… I found most custom HBG aircraft to be good enough and scaled well enough to survive my “off-scale axe”.  So there are many HBG planes like P-47s and F4F/Hellcats that survived the cut and made it into my permanent bins)

    HBG Battle Pieces (custom units)

    US - Olive Drab:
    5x Pershing Tanks
    5x M5 Stuart tanks
    15x M4A3 Sherman tanks
    5x P-51 fighters

    5x Essex CVs
    5x South Dakota BBs
    2x Nevada BBs
    5x Baltimore CAs

    UK - Tan:
    10x Churchill Tanks
    10x Valentine Tanks

    5x Ark Royal CVs
    3x King George V BBs

    Russia - Brown
    2x KV-2 tanks
    11x T-34 tanks
    4x T-26 tanks

    German - Black
    2x Schleswig Holstein BBs
    2x Seydlitz CVs
    8x Pz-III tanks

    Japan - Pumpkin Orange:
    10x Type 97 tanks
    5x Ki-43 fighters
    2x G8N Rita bombers

    2x Kaga CVs
    2x Ryujo CVs
    5x Nagato BBs
    2x Fuso BBs
    5x Mogami cruisers
    5x I-400 subs


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