LEGO figures in Scale models

LEGO figures in Scale models

This article shows you how I calculated the “scale” for various LEGO figures as they compare to the size of real-live humans. (This revisits a topic I first explored in 2013 with the blog post calculating minifig scale. That older article now points to this page, as this article is more accurate and covers additional figure types.)

Based on my calculations, here is the approximate scaling factor for each common LEGO figure (from largest to smallest). The calculations used to achieve these values are included below…

  • Miniland – 1:17
  • Minidoll (Friends) – 1:38
  • Classic Minifigure – 1:42
  • Microfig – 1:80
  • Trophy fig – 1:130
  • Three-plate fig – 1:150

It is impractical to include figures in your models at a scale smaller than about 1:125.

LEGO Units

The smallest common dimension in the LEGO System is the thickness of a LEGO brick’s wall. I call this unit 1 plastic, or simply “1 p”. (1 p = 1.6 mm, or 0.063 inches)

1 plastic is 1/2 of the height of a LEGO plate (excluding studs), 1/5 of the width of a 1x LEGO brick, or 1/6 the height of a LEGO brick (excluding studs).

Measurements within a basic 1x1 LEGO Brick.

Measurements within a basic 1×1 LEGO Brick.

Almost every measurement in LEGO elements is a whole multiple of 1 p. An exception is the thickness of a hollow stud, which is only 1/2 p.

Size of an “Average” human?

The average height of adults varies considerably with country and gender.A good approximation of the average height across both genders for the affluent regions where LEGO is popular is 170 centimeters (5’7″ / 67 inches).

Width and Height of a fairly average adult.

Width and Height of a fairly average adult.

For reference, average male height in Europe / United States is about 175 centimeters (5’9″ / 69 inches) and average female height is about 165 centimeters (5’5″ or 65 inches). (Source: Wikipedia.)

LEGO Minifigure

LEGO Minifigures debuted in 1978 with the “City“, “Castle” and “Space” product lines.

Unfortunately for LEGO model builders, the proportions of the classic LEGO Minifigure are wildly inaccurate as compared to a human. As such, we need to calculate the scaling factor separately based on width versus height.

LEGO Minifigure (based on height)

The classic LEGO minifigure is 4 bricks tall. If you include the stud on the top of a Minifigure’s head, it is 4 cm tall. (25 p)

Width and Height of Classic LEGO Minifigure.

Width and Height of Classic LEGO Minifigure.

25 p * 1.6 mm/p = 40 mm (4 cm)

  • 180/4 = 45
  • 175/4 = 43.75 [average male]
  • 170/4 = 42.5
  • 165/4 = 41.25 [average female]
  • 160/4 = 40

I have rounded down slightly and concluded that 1:42 is an good estimate for the scale of LEGO Minifigures based on their height. (Rounding down also accounts for the slight increase in height when you add hair or a hat.)

NOTES:
The stud on the top of a Minifigure is ever so slightly taller than the stud on the top of a standard LEGO element. I do not know why, and did not include this subtle discrepancy in my calculations.
Adult LEGO figures are almost always the same height regardless of gender, with the exception of figures wearing a dress which are 1 plate taller than the classic figure. This is due to the fact that LEGO legs are 5 plates tall, but the 2x2x2 slope used as a dress is 6 plates tall.

LEGO Minifigure (based on width)

Since the proportions of the LEGO Minifigure as so strange, we get a radically different result if we try to calculate the scaling factor based on the minifigure’s width. This is why the scaling factor is different vertically than horizontally. (A minifigure torso is the same width and depth as a 1×2 LEGO brick, or a 2:1 ratio. Thankfully, humans have about the same 2:1 ratio.)

I measured my width at the hips as 40cm (16 inches) which is the value I used in the calculations below. (There isn’t as much data available about average width at the torso or hips as height, but a cursory scan of some sources suggest 40cm is pretty typical across both genders)

10 pl * 1.6mm/pl = 1.6 cm

40 cm / 1.6 cm = 25

Based on the LEGO minifigure’s width, we get a scale of about 1:25.

It would be easy to modify the height of a LEGO Minifigure to be proportionate to it’s width. This would result in a consistent 1:25 ratio both vertically and horizontally.

LEGO Minidoll

LEGO Minidolls were introduced in the “Friends” product line, and has expanded to include “Disney Princess” and most recently “Elves“. A LEGO minidoll is 4.5 bricks tall. If you include the stud on the top of a Minifigure’s head, it’s 4 2/3 bricks (28 p tall).

Width and Height of LEGO Minidoll.

Width and Height of LEGO Minidoll.

28 p * 1.6 mm/p = 44.8 mm (4.48 cm)

  • 180/4.48 = 40.18
  • 175/4.48 = 39.06 [average male]
  • 170/4.48 = 37.94
  • 165/4.48 = 36.83 [average female]
  • 160/4.48 = 35.71

This is how I calculated an approximate scale of 1:38 for LEGO Minidolls.

When factoring in the fact that most Disney/Friends sets feature women or teens, rounding down further to 1:35 might be more accurate in some scenarios.

LEGO Miniland

LEGO miniland figures are built using standard LEGO Bricks. Exact size will vary based on the builder’s preference, but about 11 bricks tall is common. (60 p tall) It’s easy to make each Miniland figure a different height, just like in real life.

Width and Height of LEGO Miniland figure.

Width and Height of LEGO Miniland figure.

64 p * 1.6 mm/p = 102 mm (10.2 cm)

  • 170 cm / 10.2 cm = 16.67

My calculations show a scale of about 1:17 for Miniland figures..

LEGO Microfig

A LEGO microfig is 1 brick wide and 2 bricks tall. If you include the stud on the top of a Minifigure’s head, it’s 13 p tall.

Width and Height of LEGO Microfig.

Width and Height of LEGO Microfig.

13 pl * 1.6 mm/pl = 20.8 mm (2.08 cm)

  • 170 cm / 2.08 cm = 81

This is how I calculated a scale of 1:80 for the LEGO Microfig Since microfigs are such crude representations of people, and liek the classic Minifigure they are too wide for their height, you could reasonably use them to represen a range of scales from about 1:60 to 1:100.

LEGO Trophy fig

LEGO Trophy figs began with the Collectible Minifigure line, but you will also find them in other sets, including all three sets in the new LEGO Architecture Skyline series. A LEGO trophy is 1 brick wide and about 5 plates tall, but the figure is much smaller than that. I went with an approximation of 3 p wide and 8 p tall.

Width and Height of LEGO Trophy fig.

Width and Height of LEGO Trophy fig.

8 pl * 1.6 mm/pl = 12.8 mm (1.28 cm)

  • 170 cm / 1.28 cm = 132

I rounded to 1:130 for the LEGO Trophy Fig.

It’s incredibly challenging to estimate their precise given the large round base, and the figure design is based on the classic Minifigure which has inaccurate proportions. It would be easy to use them in a range of scales from 1:100 to 1:150.

Three-plate fig

You can make a very crude approximation of a figure using three round 1×1 plates. Choose different colors to represent different people and clothing.

Width and Height of Three-plate figure.

Width and Height of Three-plate figure.

7 pl * 1.6 mm/pl = 11.2 mm (1.12 cm)

  • 170 cm / 1.12 cm = 151.79

Based on the height of a stack of three plates, we are looking at a scale of around 1:150. If you increase the figure height to four plates, you get a scale of 1:120 which is about the same as the Trophy fig. (The width to height ratio of three-plate figs is wildly inaccurate, so you won’t be able to fit nearly as many three-plate figs in your scene than actual people.)

It’s incredibly challenging to estimate their precise given the large round base, and the figure design is based on the classic Minifigure which has inaccurate proportions. It would be easy to use them in a range of scales from 1:100 to 1:150.

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