LEGO Architecture Scales

[Updated September 23rd, 2017]

When it comes to designing Architecture with LEGO one of the toughest decisions is choosing the scale. Too small and the building loses details; too large and the cost becomes astronomical. This article aims to weigh the pro and cons of eleven different LEGO architecture scales, and what you should know before building.

Macroscale (>1:17)

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As the least popular scale on this list, Macroscale is generally used to build life size dioramas and elements. Outside of architecture this scale is usually limited to scale figures. Imagine the piece count of constructing a life sized building!

Pros:

  • Great for to scale elements of a buildings
  • Any detail possible

Cons:

  • Requires a ton of pieces and space
  • Buildings are difficult to store

Miniland Scale (1:17)

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Miniland Scale architecture is primarily used at Legoland theme parks. As Miniland figures are more than double the height of Minifigures, it is impractical to construction buildings at a large scale when fine details are achievable at smaller scales. It’s best to leave these builds to the professionals unless you have access to a ton of bricks.

Pros:

  • Great for small buildings
  • Tons of detail

Cons:

  • Most buildings require a lot of pieces
  • Layouts require a lot of space
  • Buildings can be difficult to store

Minifig Scale (1:42)

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Minifig scale is the most common scale among architecture builders. Hundreds of specialized pieces are at the disposal of builders, making it easy to create the right architectural details. Due to size and budget constraints, it is possible to build excellent buildings that are not quite to the scale of Minifigs. It also the smallest scale to design highly detailed interiors.

Pros:

  • Great for small buildings and layouts
  • Tons of detail, including interior
  • Most ready to use elements
  • Variance is building sizes, depending on budget and space

Cons:

  • Medium and large buildings can require a lot of pieces
  • Large layouts require a lot of space

Midi-scale (1:42 – 1:80)

32329644276_3cee388c84_bMidi-scale is anything designed between Minifigure and Microfig scales. This scale is fairly uncommon though it can make for some interesting builds. Of the builds that I have researched they primarily are small homes and shops.

Pros:

  • Great for buildings based on a certain part
  • Tons of details

Cons:

  • Figures don’t really fit in this scale
  • Limited precedents

Microfig Scale (1:80)

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If you enjoy figures but don’t have the funds or space for models then Microfig Scale is perfect for you. Builders are able to enjoy nearly all the perks of Minifig Scale, simply at a smaller size. Though smaller is scale Microfig buildings can end up as large as Minifig structure, depending on the size of the size and scope of a project.

Pros:

  • Great for neighborhoods and individual buildings
  • Lots of detail, including interior

Cons:

  • Large buildings can require a lot of pieces

Trophy Fig & Platefig Scales (1:100 – 1:150)

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Trophy Fig & Platefig scales are just a tad smaller than Microfig scale. Within this scales figures vary from 3-6 plates in height, giving some flexibility when choosing a size. Trophy Fig & Platefig scales are also the smallest possible scale used to design interiors, though detail is limited.

Pros:

  • Great for neighborhoods and individual buildings
  • Lots of detail on exterior
  • Smallest possible figures

Cons:

  • Few interior details

Micropolis Scale (1:200 – 1:350)

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The Micropolis Scale was made famous by TwinLUG around 2008. Though they did not invent the scale, TwinLUG created a standard that has since been used internationally. The standard allows individual builders to easily combine their model with others at LEGO shows and other events. What’s interesting about Micropolis is that not all models are proportionally sound. Vehicles are a standard 1×2 in size however buildings and street level details can vary wildly in size, even within individual models. As this is the case I view Micropolis Scale as a playful, imaginative scale, one many serious architectural landmark builders avoid.

Pros:

  • Great for neighborhoods, small cityscapes and individual buildings
  • Few pieces needed for some buildings
  • Vehicles and many street level details

Cons:

  • Large buildings can require a lot of pieces
  • Scales are not always accurate among builders

Microscale (1:500 – 1:1000)

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Microscale is easily the most common scale below Minifig scale. While figures and vehicles are generally too small to model, microscale still allows builders to create detailed buildings and even cityscapes. Despite their small size there are a wide variety of techniques used to create buildings. Many of the more serious architectural landmark build in this scale, as it is the best balance between detail and cost. It is important to note, however, this is the smallest scale possible when building intricate architectural models.

Pros:

  • Great for small cityscapes and individual buildings
  • Few pieces needed for most buildings
  • Best combination of detail and value

Cons:

  • Few street level details

Skyscraper Scale (1:650)

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Skyscraper Scale is a noted subfield of Microscale, as it primarily it used to build real life landmarks and skyscrapers. Popularized by Spencer R and Rocco Buttliere, skyscrapers are best suited to model as this scale is the perfect balance of detail, cost and piece count. More and more architecture builders choose this scale as their standard for landmark models.

Pros:

  • Great for small cityscapes and individual buildings
  • Best combination of detail and value

Cons:

  • Few street level details
  • Some taller skyscrapers can require a lot of pieces

Nanoscale (1:1000 – 1:2000)

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Nanoscale is just a bit smaller than Microscale. Detail is still possible but it takes more creativity to achieve similar results. This scale is great for finding unique ways of using specialty pieces. Though it can be extremely difficult to master, nanoscale can be a great, cheaper alternative to Microscale.

Pros:

  • Great for cityscapes and iconic buildings
  • Few pieces needed

Cons:

  • Limited detail
  • Difficult to achieve certain styles of building

Cityscape Scale (<1:2000)

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Cityscape scale (or aerial scale) is generally only used to create massing of cityscapes, as this scale does not allow for much individual building detail. Do to their small nature, the most commonly used building techniques are grill tiles and alternating colored plates. For fantasy cityscapes, curved and round elements are often used to add more visual appeal.

Pros:

  • Great for large cityscapes
  • Few pieces needed

Cons:

  • Limited detail
  • Limited styles of building

It is important to note scales are approximate. Many builders mix and match elements from various scales, depending on their style of build, budget and scope of project. Whatever you want to build LEGO always has the right piece to create amazing architecture in any scale.

Happy building!

Portions of this article were contributed from Tom Alphin’s “LEGO Figures in Scale Models” article.

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