Thursday, May 27, 2010

Miniature Transport and Storage

A friend of Chris' asked me about how I go about magnetizing my miniatures for transport.  Rather than just e-mail it to him, I figured I'd dump it here.  You never know who might find this helpful.

A lot of people I know store and transport their minis this way, which is why I started doing it.  At first, I kept my minis in Sabol trays, but they're 1) not inexpensive, 2) inflexible once you've plucked out the foam and, most significantly (for me, at least) 3) they take up waaay too much space.  Now, I store almost all of my minis this way.  There are some drawbacks, however, that I'll get into.

What I'm Talking About


Basically, I take cheap plastic drawers, glue magnetic sheets to the bottom of it.  Then, I glue washers to the bases of my minis.


The magnetic sheet holds the washer pretty well.  Then, instead of carrying around bags of foam trays, I just carry around a small stack of drawers.

What I Use

Drawers

Right now, I've got two kinds of drawers: Office Depot drawers and Sterilite drawers.

I started with the Sterilite drawers.  I like them, because they're wide (something like 14"x14") and they've got lids, which keeps dust off of whatever's inside and provides a little piece of mind.  If things go horribly wrong, the lids will keep everything inside, right?

I moved to the Office Depot drawers for a few reasons.  They're cheaper, for one.  You can buy just a few or a lot, depending on your needs.  More significantly, they're variable height: there are shallow drawers and deep drawers.  This is key.  I had a great deal of difficulty storing anything taller than a regular infantry model in the Sterilite drawers, as they're only a few inches deep.  The shallow Office Depot drawers are significantly deeper, and the deep ones provide enough height for damn near anything.  I can fit all of my non-Bloodthirster, non-Soul Grinder daemon models  (pushing up against 2,000 points' worth) in one shallow and one deep drawer.

What specific brand drawers you use doesn't matter in the slightest.  The key is to make sure you have enough vertical space for your minis.  It's annoying to have to figure out another way to store your dreadnoughts 'cause they're too tall for the drawers all your other Dark Angels live in.

Magnets

I cannot stress this enough: unless you want your minis to be too busy humping each others' legs to visit destruction on your foes, you need to magnetize the drawers and not the minis.  Rare Earth magnets are strong, people.

I buy packs of business card magnets from the office supply store.  One side is adhesive, the other magnetic.  I stick 'em to the bottom of the drawer.  It's that simple.

I will note that Wargame Accessories, the company that cuts the steel rectangular and square bits for gluing to the bottom of your Fantasy minis sells magnetic sheets.  I'm too lazy this morning to figure out which is more cost-effective (buying business card magnets vs. magnetic sheets), but the magnetic pull of the sheets is much stronger than that of the business card magnets.  Harry, another IFL member, has convinced me of this.

Metal Bits

To get the minis to stick to the magnets, you've got to glue metal stuff to the bottom of them.

For square/rectangular bases, you need either square/rectangular bits like the ones Wargame Accessories sell or actual magnetic bases like the ones Gale Force 9 sells.  I (and, as far as I can tell, everyone else locally) use the former.

For round bases, life is easier: washers.  1" washers for 25mm bases, 1.5" washers for 40mm bases.


At first, I used just plain ol' whatever washers from Home Depot but, when I started playing War of the Ring, I moved to fender washers in hopes of actually fitting them in the movement trays.  That didn't follow through, but I still prefer the fender washers: they've got more surface area (which I think makes for a better hold against the magnet), are thinner (so they're less noticable) and are more precise (as in, they're more likely to be the size they say they are).

Here's a comparison: the Haradrim is on a fender washer, the Dark Angel is on a whatever washer.


What's nice is that the washer also provides some weight at the bottom of the base.  That gives plastic minis a better heft and makes everything more stable.

For larger models, with 60mm bases, you're going to have trouble finding a big enough washer.  So, for these, I use Gale Force 9's rubber steel.  I just glue the base to the steel, and cut it to shape.

Issues

This isn't a perfect system, and I really need to call out where it fails.

It does a poor job with vehicles, or really anything that doesn't have a base you can glue a metal thing to.  I always end up keeping and transporting my vehicles in Sabol foam trays.  You could do rare earth magnets business card magnets on the bottom of the vehicles, but I've been pretty unimpressed with the results.  It's just easier to keep them in the foam.

It can't handle top-heavy models.  I transport my Bloodcrushers this way, and it works fine.  They're heavy as hell, but have a low center of gravity.  My Bloodthirsters... not so much.  Those enormous metal wings.  Ugh. This wouldn't work for them, so I have to store and transport them in foam, too.

I'm also not sure that I'd transport Warjacks or Warbeasts this way.  Privateer Press infantry, for sure, but not sure if I'd feel safe doing it with the big hunks of metal with the weedy legs.

If something goes wrong, this doesn't do much for you.  It's cheaper, and takes up less space, yes, but it doesn't protect your models as well as foam if you get in a car accident or fall down the stairs.  Foam will only do so much, but this does less.

I also have to provide the disclaimer that I'm currently eyeballing Battlefoam.  This system does just fine for me, but it completely fails my Soul Grinders.  I can't store them in drawers, so I keep them in foam.  They're so large, though, that they don't fit well in the foam at all.  I've had a number of accidents with them, and I'm disinclined to glue them back together ever again, so it's my hope Battlefoam will fix that.  And, if I'm putting some of my daemons in a Battlefoam case, I might as well put all of them in.  I won't be moving all of my minis to foam, though, that's for sure.
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