Monday, January 10, 2011

Starfleet Wars scale part 1: ships

How big "in real life" are the starships that the Superior Models miniatures are supposed to represent?  The obvious resopnse, of course, is "As big as you say they are, or as big as they need to be to fit in with other lines of minis.  Why are you obsessing over such trivia?"  Well, obsessing over trivia has got me this far, so I think I'll try to figure out the actual scale of these miniatures.  Please note that while I remember reading something about this on the Galactic Knights mailing list some time ago, all observations in this post are my own.

Let's start at the beginning.  The Alnavco product sheet listed the figures in Superior Models' Starfleet Wars miniatures range under the category "STARFLEETS STARSHIP MODELS (1:1200-1:9600 Scale)."  The center pages of the Starfleet Wars rules booklet consist of a chart with stats for the initial SfW line of minis, along with a note at the bottom of the page telling players
This scale of STAR SHIPS can be used with any of the following scales: 1:1200, 1:2400, 1:4800, 1:9600 or any other scale.
So what scale, exactly, are these miniatures?  What's the "official" word, according to the creators' own works?  Let's grab a ruler and the Observer's Directory & Identification Manual so we can find out.

OK, the ODIM gives us the dimensions of fighters and super galactic dreadnoughts as part of the Starfleet Wars setting background.  The manual gives the Terran Victory-class SGDN dimensions of 1482.2 x 636.4 x 333.7 (presumably in meters).  Divide the length by the given scales gives you the following possible model sizes, rounded to the nearest millimeter:
Scale     Length    Width
1:1200     1235        530
1:2400       618        265
1:4800       309        133
1:9600       154          66
In other words, if the mini was 1/1200th the size of the "real" Victory, the scale model would be over 1.2 meters long!  I don't think I could lift that much solid metal.  My own measurements confirm the actual model is quite smaller, at 152mm by 64mm.  Therefore, adjusting for any errors in my measurements or bad eyesight, it looks like the "official" scale for the Starfleet Wars ship models is 1:9600. 

I'll double-check just to make sure, checking the official length agains my numbers for the minis I own:
                "Actual" length    Measured length
Gryphon         1391.5m                   142mm
Polecat           1331.0                      137
Swarm           1402.0*                     141
Typhoon        1346.1                        n/a**

* ODIM gives length as 140.20, presumably this is a typographical error.
** Measurement not available, as I don't have this miniature in my collection.
Well, the math works out for the Gryphon (pictured at the top of this post), Polecat, and Swarm; they're all around 1:9600 scale, so it's safe to assume the remaining super galactic dreadnought is as well.  Assuming the other starship classes are also in this scale, we can then work out real-world dimensions for other vessels based on the size of the models.  This is left as an exercise for the reader.

So what about the Superior Models star fighters?  Are they in the same scale as the Superior Models spaceships?  Read Part 2 to find out ...

6 comments:

Porky said...

A class act and real dedication. Obsessing about trivia is what makes us who we are..!

Desert Scribe said...

Thanks, Porky! I appreciate your words of support.

knobgobbler said...

Good stuff.
With class names like 'Super Galactic Dreadnought' they'd better be huge!

Mike Slade said...

This is what the ships would look like if they were 1/3788 scale:

http://www.projectrho.com/stardate3k/stardate3kCGI02.html

Check out the rest of the site he has some good insights on these old games.

Mike Slade said...

Stupid me, wrong game; as I get older I keep getting things mixed up.

Dan Bodenheimer said...

Great article. I just created a Wikipedia page for Starfleet wars and would love YOUR help in getting some images and other information on that page. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starfleet_Wars