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The History Of The 1/48th Scale


Being such a radical innovation by the HLBS, there has been much speculation as to the thinking behind the splendid and original 1/48th scale range.

Now at last, stranger even than fiction, the shocking truth can be revealed . . .

Forbes Rotheringham-Smythe looked at his watch nervously as he ran through the labyrinthine corridors of HLBS towers.

It was already ten thirty-five, and Sir Robert hated to be kept waiting. Not that he had much choice where Forbes was concerned. The lad's manifest incompetence was only slightly mitigated by his unwavering enthusiasm, and the only way he had clung on as Production Manager was by being Sir Robert's nephew.

Sir Robert had never been keen on the Smythe side of the family, and had given serious consideration to both changing his name and having them all deported.

"You're late again Forbes!" Sir Robert growled without looking up.

"Yes Sir - Sorry Sir - It won't happen again" Forbes was now quite out of breath.

Sir Robert winced.

"Now you know how it irritates me when you say that."

"Yes Sir - I know Sir - It won't . . . er" Forbes was beginning to shake uncontrollably.

"Yes, well perhaps this time we'll overlook it as you seem to have broken your arm yet again. How is your accident record this month by the way?"

"Erm - the arm, a twisted ankle, four cracked ribs and several minor bruises." Forbes began to calm down now he was on familiar territory. "Well on the way to a personal best!"

Sir Robert shook his head. Not just incompetent but more prone to accidents than the Hellfire Club's infamous Extreme Sports Division. Perhaps it would have been less trouble to have had the Smythes quietly abducted instead of hiring the boy just to stop their tedious complaining. Sir Robert gazed idly out of the window.

"And how are the factory coming along with tooling up for the new whassnames?"

Forbes looked confused for a moment.

"Well, they're waiting for the technical drawings Sir Robert."

Sir Robert sighed deeply.

"Those would be the same drawings that I gave you at the beginning of last week, would they?"

A look of panic came over Forbes' pale and drawn features.

"Oh my God! Sorry . . . I'll just . . . Sorry . . . It'll never . . . er" Forbes babbled as he charged out of the office, looking at his watch and ripping his sleeve on the door-handle. "I'll be back in just a minute."

Sir Robert sighed.

All was quiet on the factory floor. Too quiet. There hadn't been much to do apart from drink tea and read the paper for over a week.

Time for something exciting to happen.

Unfortunately, all that did happen was that the Production Manager burst through the door in a blizzard of papers, and skidded to a halt mere inches from a large contraption with sharp points that no-one actually knew how to use.

"Here . . . these . . . make these . . . get on . . ." Forbes stammered out between gasps for air, and began to run back out the way he came.

The foreman picked up the various bits of blue paper and looked at them thoughtfully.

"These are just pattern drawings. Where are the manufacturing dockets with the materials and sizes?"

Forbes stopped in his tracks, still fighting for breath. Not a pleasant thing to be doing with four cracked ribs.

"What . . . do you . . . usually . . . do?" He choked out.

"Well as you know, we usually make them out of pewter and resin. Usually. Well, ever since that unfortunate swiss cheese and tin foil fiasco."

Forbes nodded eagerly and wagged a finger.

"That . . . make them . . . out of that . . ." He winced at the pain as he breathed.

The foreman nodded slowly and scratched his head.

"Hmmm . . . Okay, but what size are they supposed to be?"

Forbes wheezed and stared at his watch while he tried to remember. It was ten forty-five. That rang a bell. It was forty-five something. Or was it? It would have to do.

"Forty . . . forty five . . ." He hissed between clenched teeth.

The foreman looked perplexed, but was starting to feel sorry for the lad, despite his better judgement.

"Forty five inches?" He asked helpfully.

Forbes shook his head and started to speak, but gave up. Instead he held up his thumb and index finger held close together. The foreman had never even heard of "charades", but still got the idea.

"Smaller . . . Fractions of an inch?"

Forbes nodded.


Forbes held his side as he shook his head.


Forbes gave in. An unaccustomed sense of responsibility came over him. He couldn't just guess. Not when Sir Robert had asked for so many figures. There was no other choice. He would have to run back up to his office; get the dockets; run back down here; then run back to the head Office where Sir Robert was still waiting.

Best just do it quickly.

Forbes drew himself up to his full height, clenched his fist against the pain, and looking levelly at the foreman spoke the fateful words:

"Just . . . give me . . . thirty seconds."

And with that, he went careering out through the door, badly bruising his shin on the way.

The foreman looked at his colleagues and shrugged.

"Well you heard the man. Now where was my cup of tea?"

It could all have been so very different.

If only the display department had put their extensive collection of reproduction medieval pikes and swords somewhere other than at the bottom of the stairs leading up to Forbes' office.

If only the screams and cries for help, which accompanied Forbes' tragic wrong footing on those very stairs, hadn't been such a familiar sound around the HLBS factory that the floor staff didn't even bother to investigate.

If only Forbes had remained conscious long enough to tell the clerical assistant that finally found him to pass along a message as they loaded him into the ambulance.

But they hadn't; they were; and he didn't.

Some little while later, (after lunch in fact), in the absence of any instructions to the contrary, the sceptical factory went on to produce the first run of the new figures at 45/32 inches. (For those without their slide rules handy that's just about 38mm in non-Imperial units. As we like to call them.)

Since no-one of any importance ever went down to the factory, it was only after the production run had been completed that the error was discovered.

Even then, it was only the failure of the figures to fit into the standard boxes that brought the matter to light. And even this was only after all attempts to blame the packaging company had fallen on both deaf ears and very, very big lawyers.

So there the figures stayed. Arrayed in massed dull silver ranks. Waiting for someone to decide what to do.

Back in Sir Robert's office, his personal valet Fenton had been giving the matter some thought.

"As I see it Sir, you have only two alternatives."

Sir Robert always took careful note of anything Fenton had to say. He had a justified reputation for shrewd insight and cunning, and was regarded by anyone who knew anything at all as the hand behind the HLBS throne.

Fenton turned a sample figure over in his hands before placing it down carefully on the great marble mantlepiece.

"We can either cut our losses and start again," He continued, "or simply brazen it out and ship the stock anyway."

Sir Robert thought carefully.

"Won't that cause a bit of a stir?" He asked slowly.

"I expect so Sir." Fenton's brow furrowed. "Quite a considerable one I should say."

Sir Robert cleared his throat.

"So on the one hand we lose some money and go to a lot of inconvenience." He looked up slowly as he spoke. "And on the other we risk upsetting a lot of people."

Fenton nodded gravely.

"No choice as I see it Sir."

"Indeed not. Call the packaging department and tell them to order bigger boxes, would you."

"Took the liberty Sir."

"Good Man, Fenton."

"Thank you Sir."

So there you have it. The only official account of the careful and exhaustive design process behind our mighty and illustrious new scale.

Who dares to guess what else lies in the pipeline?

Not us for a start!

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