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I've seen many impressive models built to "minifig scale" (e.g. the enormous USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier), but is there a standard (or at least widely adopted) scale e.g. 1:60 that these models obey?

It seems any scale based on the height of a minifig wont work due to the fact the minifigs are not well proportioned for people. For example, I stand taller than my car (as do most people) yet trying to build a LEGO car that is less than four bricks high would be extremely difficult and result in an unusual looking model.

Are there any tips on choosing a scale that allows well proportioned looking models, that doesn't dwarf the LEGO minifigures that ride in/on them? Is "minifig scale" dependant on the type of model (vehicle/castle) or generally deemed to be whatever looks about right?

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Indeed, most cars are 4 or 6 studs wide, but to get two minifigs next to each other you really need to be at least 8 wide. –  Zhaph - Ben Duguid Nov 3 '11 at 21:14
    
Here's an article on a related topic — Lego train width — which anyone who finds this question interesting will probably enjoy: archives.indylug.org/blogs/jeramy_spurgeon/archive/2006/11/02/… –  mattdm Nov 4 '11 at 0:37
    
Here's another train-related note: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scale_model#cite_note-0 –  mattdm Nov 4 '11 at 0:39
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4 Answers

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It's usually 1:40, based on the minifig size.

However, keep in mind that a minifig doesn't have the same proportions as a full-size human being, so scaling from real-world to minifig-world is not an exact science. Just have a look at LEGO cars, you'll see that they don't really match real cars.

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Minifigures are not to scale. Lego has a greater emphasis on play then realism, so every thing is scaled to suit the minifigures.

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I think what is interesting is that buildings are usually scaled to things other than minifigures.

For instance, a aircraft carrier would be built to airplane's scale, not the actual minifigures.

Most buildings are scaled to the size of the LEGO doors & windows.

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This was explained to me with a wink & a nod by a veteran of BRICKCON: Microscale is generally anything less than minifigure scale. However, minifigure scale is subjective and open to interpetation. Translation: It's a sliding scale unless specific standards are imposed for cooperative builds...

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