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Mattel Disney Pixar Diecast CARS: The Scale Of It

Mattel’s version of Lightning McQueen is @3.25″ inches in length and in the announced scale of 1:55.

1:55 indicates the ratio – he is 1/55th the size he would be in “real life.”

Of course, technically, you want to measure scale in overall girth (aka: volume) so you really want to measure and account for width & height & length and comes up with a cubic number or a displacement number because going by one measurement is not accurate mathematical wise and aesthetic wise but since I’m not actually re-constructing anything – I’ll take the lazy way out.

Scaled up from 3.25″ at the 1/55th ratio to the real world means that a real Lightning McQueen would be @179″ inches in length … next time you’re at the Disney parks (or at Pixar), whip out a tape measure and see if you get 179″ at the life size model of Lightning McQueen.

So, how accurate is this?

There are some “real” cars in CARS so if we take the Plymouth Superbird which is in real life @218 inches in length, he would be @3.96″ at 1:55 scale – the Mattel diecast version as the KING is just a skoosh over but the KING is actually slightly different than the real Superbird. The real Superbird, as kooky as that ginormous spoiler is – the spoiler does not extend past the bumper while the CARS KING does … so that .4 makes him pretty much on target …

AND the different in length (218 inches versus 179 inches) is virtually accurate in 1:55 scale. The difference of @.7″ of the two diecasts is about the difference when you minus 179″ from 218″ inches and scale it to 1/55.

But for scalologists – they might have some scatalogy hissy fits with this next few bits of info …

If we presume the 179″ inches in length is accurate in the real world, then many of the other Lightning McQueen’s from others with scales “announced” are off base …

The Disney Store 1:43 Series? Well, Lightning is more 1:40 in scale.

It should be noted that nowhere on the packaging does it claim to be 1:43 in scale but most people referred to it as such since 1:43 is a common scale but there’s nothing saying you can’t make up your own scale … the only other problem is that the Disney Store diecasts tend to vary greatly in scale … The Disney Store diecasts have gotten much better but scale is not exactly real high on the priority list on the checklist … AND in many cases, companies have a tendency to use the scale numbers as more of a “classification.”

For instance, Mattel used the classification 1:50 on their recent Star Trek starship releases as they were about 4-5 inches in length … um, 1:50 scale would mean the Enterprise is about the size of a Plymouth Superbird … but I’m presuming they figure something like 1:15,000 on the box would confuse the tribbles out of people?

The Tomica 1:64 series? Well, McQueen is closer to 1:60 … now, keep in mind, that does not sound like much of a difference but in reality, that means on a diecast scale of increments of inches, that’s about .3 inches – a HUGE difference when the whole thing is only about 3″ in length.

And even the Mattel 1:24 Lightning McQueen? Well, technically you are getting more than you were told as Lightning is about 1:21 in scale and not necessarily 1:24 in scale (going by the 1:55 version as accurate).

So, the good thing is no one seems to be selling you anything SMALLER than what they have announced on the packaging. In all cases, you are getting a slightly larger scale than they “promised.”

Here are some other versions – a couple vending machines ones, 1:110 version from Tomy:

And 1:160

Also, a couple other real world comparisons don’t hold up either, Sally, Sheriff & Fillmore are all a little shorter than they could be in 1:55 scale but it’s understandable … though it would be interesting to see what the life size replica’s actual length is at the theme park … so now you know next time you’re in Disneyland … the 4th thing on your list – measure Lightning …

Get one of these measuring wheels – disguise it as a stroller wheel – once you’re inside the park – reassemble and viola …

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8 February 2010 Mattel Disney Pixar CARS 20 Comments


  • por356 says:

    I bought the “1/24th” scale Doc Hudson model a month or so ago. It looks nice but when I got down a Franklin Mint Hudson Hornet racer that I bought many years ago for comparison, I found there is no comparison! The Doc Hudson model is no where near 1/24th. It is much bigger. I haven’t done any exact measuring, but it would not surprise me to find that it is almost 1/20th scale. Actually, it doesn’t really matter, but I cannot display the two together.

  • Mooseman says:

    neat! but where’s the mcdonald’s version?

  • kdthomas says:

    Love the censorship on this board… sad….you make Red cry.

  • buckland-blowouts says:

    Don’t even talk about how much hate the UPS guy would have for you tryin’ to get all those cars into your mailbox!!!!

  • I-am-speed says:

    Boy, what if Mattel had opted to go with the 1:18 scale for the entire CARS line?

    Talk about having to add a room onto the house!

  • 5oclockshadow says:

    If the King only measures 4 inches, can he really be called the King?

    (MET: In the land of Chuki and Midget Fred, he is indeed the King).

  • BigMOCats says:

    This is Mattel after all…scale means nothing to them. Next time you’re in the toys aisle start comparing Hot Wheels…go-karts are as big as VW’s and motorcycles are as big as school buses!

  • applefinatic says:

    Why does anyone really care about the scale of the cars i don’t

  • ScoobyDoo says:

    I’d like to hear from the female readers of this site whether size does matter…

    • materrocks says:

      I don’t know if there is a pun in there some where, as meaning something else then what you are refering to, but when it comes to buying display cases, it’s helpfulp to know what scale size you need. As far as the explanation of the scale size above-you have totally lost me. I have asked questions about this dilema before,here on this sight and have had them answered.

    • Dunroamin says:


  • Eric says:

    I guess we are “stretched” for content lately MET? 🙂 I smell your sheer and utter boredom all over this one. haha Interesting info all the same. I’m sure we men folk have done worse things with a ruler…

  • 5oclockshadow says:

    i’m suing for false advertising 😉

  • Hostile Takeover Banker says:

    It’s not so much the scale to real life cars, but more the scale of each car compared to another, (for example Fred compared to McQueen) that I am interested in.

    (MET: There is a Fred scale post to McQueen post).

    • Cappy says:

      A while back I did some of this myself with the “real” cars like Sally and Sheriff, and also looked at width and height. What I discovered is that Pixar Cars tend to run about 84% of their real-world length when compared to width and height.

      Which makes them stubbier and thus “cuter.” A lot of that lost length is in the cabin, which results in a more vertical windshield, all the better for eye contact.

      Within their own Mattel universe, they are fairly consistent in their disproportions and scale. Sally is a bit hippy and Doc Hudson is the most ratio-accurate car.

      So there you go, more scalology than you really wanted.

  • John in Missouri says:

    I’m glad I have a Masters Degree in Scalology, as this was pretty easy to follow along with.

  • Lampit says:

    waiting for the 1:1 range

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