In the smaller miniature scales, N scale, or dollhouse micro scale (1:144) quality details are available for scenes but you need to know what the actual scale is before you choose. N scale for train layouts vary between 1:160 (most common in North America) and 1:148 (common in the UK.) For miniaturists working in 1:144, the dolls house for a dolls house scale, the variation between North American and UK N scale accessories can be very noticeable. 1:148 scale, the British N scale accessories are usually a better choice for 1:144 or micro scale houses.
When you translate the scale to inches to feet, 1:160 becomes 1 inch= 160 inches or 1 inch = 13 1/3 feet. In 1:148 scale, 1 inch = 148 inches or 1 inch = 12 1/3 feet. The differences may be small and not noticeable for landscapes, but at furniture or people sizes, you may see a much more obvious difference. The height of a chair seat or chair back will differ by at least the equivalent of 6 inches in real size across the two scales.
Avoiding Scale Creep
- To avoid problems with scale creep in smaller scales, try to buy similar items from either UK or US suppliers and don't mix the two. It would be fine to buy landscape items from different systems, relative scale is not as easily noticed by the eye in a landscape, but it would be problematic to buy chairs in 1:148 scale which you hope to pair with a 1:160 scale table.
- Try to buy your figures and furniture from the same manufacturer so that they will be in scale.
- Houses and buildings should be purchased from the same manufacturer if they are similar or need to have similar door/window heights. If they are seen separated from one another in a landscape, the effects of the different scales will not be as noticeable.
- Some processes lend themselves to more exact detail in smaller scales. Brass castings are usually truer to scale size than are laser cut wood parts. Again, the scale may work with your buildings, use your eye for the final decision.
- Before furnishing a 1:144 house, try to find parts, instructions, or furnishings for the major rooms you want to finish. You can then use these pieces to determine the scale size for items you wish to make or modify.
- Determine what poses you want your scene people to take as well, a particular US or UK company may have figures you can modify to your purposes and you will need to stick with figures from the most useful of the ranges, to make sure all your figures are either 1:160 or 1:148 or something in between.