Friday, 27 May 2011

Is 20mm Sci Fi Viable?

The question was asked in response to a previous post, whether there could be a viable range of 20mm Sci Fi.

The immediate answer is that there is already a viable and attractive range of 20mm Sci Fi in the form of Rolf Hedges' Little Green Men Miniatures. The lack of a professional webstore alone prevents this from being a credible mass market option just now.

Whilst planning next week's game, Masterchef and I were discussing the state of play regarding 15mm Sci Fi and where the tipping point came that brought it out of a 30 year dark age.

That point was when Jon at GZG began releasing the first of his Sci Fi vehicles and AFVs, followed by a sustained onslaught of vehicles and support weapons. This was the quake that began the tsunami we are currently riding.

20mm has a lot to offer Sci Fi - loads of 'modern' kits to kit-bash, plenty of good Ultra-modern forces from a range of companies many of whom can be used as is - Britannia's SAS etc - others just need a visor or a closed helmet.

Camouflage and fancy Sci Fi paint jobs show up better in 20mm, you can use the terrain you've already built for Afghanistan or wherever and don't knock kitbashing either. When I started this blog back in early 2009 I was still kitbashing in 15mm. And some 15mm weapons, accessories and aliens (eg Khurasan's Ti Mohnid) will even bridge the 20mm divide as 15mm edges closer to 17/18mm anyway.

Rolf has told me that he is prepared to extend the Little Green Miniatures line and I encourage you to in turn encourage him if you want to see it happen. Send him your ideas and suggestions for extending the figure lines currently available and for creating new ones.

I think there is opportunity now, just as their was in 2008/9 for a manufacturer to establish a 20mm Sci Fi footprint and capture the 20mm Modern gamers who may want to expand their 20mm modern gaming, using the adobe or jungle huts etc they have rather than starting in a whole new scale.

Will this compete with the 15mm Sci Fi market? Yes, but only in a small way. The range of manufacturers and what they have to offer in 15mm will be hard to beat and will still tempt gamers to duplicate 20s in 15mm for many years to come. But for 20mm gamers who just want a taste of Sci Fi action on the ground between patrols or raiding forces 20mm Sci Fi will be ideal.



  1. NOPE...
    All we need is 6MM 15Mm 30MM 60MM Thanks.
    To much fuss is made over scale. WAYyyy to much fuss.

    6MM has Epic and others.

    15MM has an entire world of support from other Model Hobbies like Model and Train companies.

    30MM has a million companies out there, as the main scale.

    60MM has a lot too, and this is compatible with many Toys just as 15MM is fine with 100th & 87th Scale Models and HO Trains.

    20MM is for Plastic History...and I see no reason at all for trying to drag it into SCI-Fi-Horror.

  2. Way back in the late 90s when I got frustrated with how little was truly available for 28mm science fiction, meaning 40k was about it and they were rapidly forgetting the breadth of their line. And 25mm had pretty much died. And I started to shop for a new scale, I looked hard at 20mm, I found that there was very little available in comparison to 15mm.

    I like 20mm honest, the sheer fact that it is basically 1/72nd scale is one of it's strongest points. I just couldn't get any traction with the few manufacturers who where out there, meaning I couldn't get letters, emails or phone calls returned. When talking about with my local gamers they couldn't see it as a viable scale.

    One of the truly funny things is 20mm and "true" 25mm are wonderful scales, they fit within the base sizes that a lot of people are using for 15mm now. (pennies or 20mm or 3/4inch).

    But any hows, when I chose 15mm it had the breadth of selection that 20mm didn't. And still doesn't, as far as I can tell.

    If some one can make a go of it, more power to them, but it would take a dynamic and agressive production schedule to make it work.

  3. Most of my collection is 20mm (WW2-post WW2)...for that period of time, there are a ton of vehicles covered, 15mm may have as many or more possibly, I clearly don't know the exact numbers...but 1/72 or 20mm also have pre-painted kits available.

    My problem, is that I'd like to game the near-future type warfare as suggested in the Tom Clancy EndWar video game (one reason the Ghost Recon post REALLY caught my eye). While I'd like to use my moderns for that...IMHO, the units in EndWar are just enough sci-fi-ish to warrant me looking into 15mm for it. Also, I'm not much of a kit-basher, so if I can use it straight out of the package, I'm in a happy place...I will add some putty here or there and do some head swaps...but when it comes to vehicles...yikes and this is where 15mm sci-fi shines for me.

    For now, I think I'll have to stay with 15mm, but I do hope 20mm Sci-Fi will hit a stride in growth! At this point, I think 20mm would be hard pressed to catch up to 15mm, and as Evyn stated it would take an aggressive approach to make it happen, but that's just my opinion.

    28mm, love it for skirmish (5150), too expensive for me for anything larger.


  4. I disagree with Brother Joseph that 20mm is for SF history. There is a lot to be said for using SF figures in this scale. The recycling of scenery is just one. The use of Russian and modern vehicles for `near future' scenarios is a definate plus saving money.
    The other advantage is the slightly larger figures are easier to paint, my aged eyes give no end of complaint on anything smaller.
    To be honest though 15mm is affordable, the gaming space needed is smaller and i like the existing lines of figures.

  5. Off topic I realise but can anyone point me at a good forum where I can enquire if anyone knows of a company making a 15mm model along certain lines?

  6. That was me yesterday...having trouble with google login.

    Are there any pictures out there of the Little Green Men miniatures? I'd like to see what they look like.

  7. Hi Nathan

    Go to RH Models website and join Excoboard forum - or use this link:

    You'll find pics of many of the Sci Fi figures in their own sub-forums.


  8. Anon:

    Your best best is either TMP (The Miniatures Page), or the 15mm Sci Fi Yahoogroup. You'll find a link to the latter at the bottom of the page.

    Equally, does no harm to ask here. Someone may be able to assist.


  9. I think anything is viable in any scale really just depends on the amount of support for the scale and the sort of game.


  10. Heya

    I think it all comes down to cost, time, space and personal opinion. For me i jusst can't get excited about 2,6mm as everything just looks like congregated blobs but it does give you a chance to field some truely huge vehicles and ships etc that simply wouldn't fit any other scale.

    28mm is my favourite but it takes a lot of space costs a small fortune and the rules become in practical when the vehicles start to take up more than a 1/4 of the table length.

    Everything else is just a form of compromise focusing on a different aspect. But i'd always encourage the market.... more miniatures has got to be good right??

    Side topic... can you imagine goining to a wargame on a football pitch where you have 28mm spaceships that have to be moved in metres some of which are the size of mercedez sprinterz... now wouldn't that be fun :) Course they may get upset when you paint/burn their grass black.

  11. Scale matters.

    20mm is well supported by 00 model railway scale products and even passable for Continental HO as well. Of course so does 15mm when it's actually 17/18mm.

    mm are not scales, just relative sizes. And I dare anyone who says 'scale' does not matter to do a headswop with a 15mm GZG separate head on a 15mm Ral Partha Traveller miniature - not RAFM, the original Ral Partha.....

    Equally I'd like to see someone play a platoon level battle - two squads up, V formation, proper spacing not this arbitrary 1"/1cm between figures shite, on my card table with 32mm figs.


  12. I used and still use A LOT of plastic 20mm modern soldiers for low tech sci-fi.
    with fancy painting and lots of 1/72 scale kits outhere and toys out there it would be crazy not to try this scale too.
    The offer for sci fi is now really poor, still it is probably a market opportunity.

    20 mm minis may have a more detailed look and more size-appeal than 15mm while being less expansive and require a less space sucking surface to play on.

    I like 28mm because of details and 15mm because every piece of terrain you make for them appear impressive... and I like 20 mm because they are in the middle!

    And 20 mm sometimes look just GREAT on the table together with 28mm, with the bigger 28mm to represent monsters or power armor troopers.

    But the main thing is I just like any mini in any size!!!

  13. I agree the Little Green Men figs are really cool and 20mm is a nice size. If I could start over I'd love to do everything the 20mm. But I have a ton of buildings and other terrain in 15mm. and a ton of figures.

    If Rolf wants to expand the line that's cool, but it would be really nice if he'd also make doing business with him easier. Currently I have to add up an order myself, snail mail my credit card info, pay P&P of 20%, and wait a minimum of 4-6 weeks.

  14. I think some of you guys explained 20mm's use without realizing it. If someone alerady has a collection of 20mm moderns, especially if they have scenery for it... 20mm might be good for some light sci-fi work.

    But if someone has no interest whatsoever in moderns, and would rather have a variety of troops, aliens, weapons, and all kinds of vehicles, 15mm is the only way to go.


  15. Eaxctly Chris. It's a nice adjunct like doing Spanish Civil War if you play Pensinsular Napoleonics.


  16. One more pro 20mm thought - Daleks!

    there are no Daleks in 15mm

  17. There are no Daleks in 15mm...yet.


  18. Although I am a bit late to the show here by a few months. (I just discovered this blog) I think 20mm would be great for Sci fi, I myself would love to see more Sci fi stuff for 20mm. Elheim already produces zombies (which is sci fi) and the odd monster, and when I asked him about whether more monsters were on their way (and if he'd make aliens) he said it was a possibility, its just with the amount of stuff he has on right now it would be some time before it materialised.
    That said, I am currently collecting my own 20mm ultra modern forces, my aim being to create a near future WW3 in 20mm and some aftershock wars which include zombies, aliens etc. This is of course where 15mm stuff comes in handy, for some alien types produced by various companies are actually 20mm + in size! Thus can be easily interchangeable with 20mm and 15mm wargames.

  19. Okay - For what it's worth - 20mm became popular as it cross fed between figures, models and toy trains
    I spend my retirement free time making up sets of 'toy soldiers' for kiddies- This is not for formal wargaming they are for imaginative play (which is different). I have been asked several times for Sci-Fi and that resonates as I was a big fan of Dan Dare in the 50s and 60s and the Anderson shows thereafter.
    As there are no 'rules' nothing is proscribed, so you can use elves, cheap packs of dinosaurs, ancient Roman civilians (as per all those 1940s and 50s sci-fi films) etc. Ancient or more recent civilians can make good 'human slaves' if you want a reason to fight.
    Buildings are fairly simple, likewise terrain, vehicles are problematic.
    From an Airfix 'german armoured car' (SdKfz 234) you get four pairs of wheels on angled axles that look good and the mudguards can then be used to make wheeled runabouts.
    If you have the money the Airfix 2001 space shuttle makes a good 'transport' (although you have to add wheels and ideally retracting or removable wheels for 'toys') and the Airfix Angel interceptor makes a good small craft. Both are now old enough that they are not locked in to some predefined plot, eventually the early star wars stuff will also serve for that but at the moment they are too well defined.
    A generic sci fi set of figures would be good to have, civilians, police and space troopers with some aliens, space pirates and the like. Coupled with some generic air and ground vehicles and the kid gets to play (and imaginative free-form play has been shown to have benefits).
    One caveat - Cheap is important - We are talking pocket money prices and that is a disincentive for would be entrepreneurs - So I may one day commission some stuff myself to save me a lot of work (adding fins and wings to plastic easter egg cases and the like).
    Just thought I should mention it.