As with everything, it depends.
Alexi Wiedmann (@awminimal) asked me this question on instagram. Be sure to check out his beautiful photography.
While I immediately sent a concise response, I’m going to use this space to elaborate.
I started my focused toy photography journey with train scale miniatures. For my first series with this type of miniature figure, I used N scale. Almost immediately after, I moved up in size to HO scale (2cm figures) because this being the most popular train scale, there are more options for figures, environment pieces, buildings.
These tiny figures are great for scenic expanses as they allow you to build a large space within a small confine.
You can buy these here – https://www.hobbylinc.com/
If you want to be able to pose your figures however, stuck in place train figures won’t cut it.
For this, you can get dolls with wire armatures, ball jointed figures, articulated 1:6 scale fashion and military figures, and various scales of action figures.
I have worked quite extensively with 1:18 scale. You can find a variety of military set pieces in this scale, and more home-like sets through Lundby and a select few items that scale correctly in a few other lines. The most popular figures in this scale are Star Wars, GI Joe and Acid Rain. These are all a bit bulky because of armor, etc. so finding items that scale correctly is a bit more difficult.
However, finding pieces for 1:12 scale (6″ scale), while not perfect, is a lot more straight forward.
Check out these sites to see what 1:12 stuff is in store:
- Extreme Sets – diorama pieces, furniture and accessories
- Dollhouse Emporium – houses, building supplies, foliage, huge furniture and accessory assortment
- Big Bad Toy Store – action figures galore
- Check for local dollhouse stores near you
Clothing is a bit more difficult in that dollhouse stores often sell clothes made for display only. You can find some info on places I’ve found with wearable clothes here.
A note, if you work with wrestling figures or Marvel Legends they’re typically around 7 inches tall, making them an inch larger than figures that work with 1/12 scale accessories (also known as 6″ scale). The LOL Surprise line is for 8″ figures. Basically, know the height of your figure to estimate scale and go from there.
In my rushed commission involving wrestling figures, I adapted 6″ scale furniture, adding extra feet for height, knocking off footboards, etc. If I had more time I likely would have custom-built as home based items don’t exist for wrestling lines, or odd scales in general. Wrestling figure articulation is also quite poor because their large arms don’t allow for much movement. In the picture you see below, the arm holding the phone is one broken off of another figure and hidden under the blanket.
7″ scale with 6″ scale accessories:
So is 1:12 scale the best scale for toy photography?
That all depends on the photos you’re aiming to make.
While I don’t ever see myself fully sticking to only one scale, 1:12 scale has allowed me the most flexibility (no pun intended) as of late.
What’s your favorite scale for toy photography?
Tell us why in a comment below.
- Focusing on Toes
- Pose Skeleton
- 1:18 Scale
- 1:18 Scale Magic
- 1:32 & 1:35 Scales
- Scale Conversions
- Using Toys in your Scale Sets
- Combining Scales
- Miniature Scales
- 1:12 Scale Dollhouse Clothing
- A Dollhouse Room Box Kit – Unboxing & Building
- Monachopis – Behind the Scenes
Other answered questions that I’ve published here:
- Pre-Columbian Figure of Gold
- Shooting N-Scale
- 6 Ways to Make Money in Toy Photography
- Getting your Toy Photography Noticed
Great article and all the links in it! I ordered a man, woman and a skeleton from that page (big fights something or other) that you sent me :D and now I’m wondering if I should make a room for them, get some clothes, or if I will let them roam our human sized world… And this is very very helpful! Thank you! And +1 to what Alexiwiedemann said, your art and your approach to toy photography is affecting me a lot and I’m rethinking a lot of things. So far it’s heading towards keeping what I do and adding what I see in your art :) Which I think is a good thing and pretty interesting for me.
Thank you so very much. Truly. It means so much. I’m really excited to see what you end up doing with your new figures!
Dear Tourmaline, thaks a lot for the shout out and specially for the generous information share here, I felt blessed to be in contact with you and your art, based on your approach to toy photography with impecable form and content and overall profound and sensible subject matter, I am rethinking my whole approach, which used to be more focus on the quality of the images more than on the consistency in terms of subject matter. Thank a lot for that.
Wow, thank you so incredibly much. I’m happy to share whatever I can 😊