After some awesome feedback from the Beasts of War community and a narrow loss to a double Heldrake and double Vendetta list I’m taking a short break to tweak my list some. I’ll be back next time to report on how we did.
The annoying thing about taking an army of carefully painted, delicate miniatures to a tournament (or even your mate’s house for an evening game) is having to actually pack things up, driving as carefully as possible, then praying everything is in one piece when you get to where you’re going. I’m sure most of us are familiar with the dreaded sound of minis bouncing around inside their box after a bump in the road.
Specialty cases like Battlefoam are a popular choice, but they are expensive and I don’t like the idea of rubbing the high spots of my mini on something just to keep it in place. So I’ve made the switch to magnets. Since my old box is getting a bit overcrowded and I have a few units who need to get their bases magnetized I thought you might appreciate seeing what I believe is, the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to go about building your own travel case. I’ll show you how I attach magnets to the bases of my minis, then how to build your own box from scratch that is considerably cheaper than other options out there.
All your Bases are Belong to Us!
I’ve seen a lot of different techniques people use to attach magnets to bases, but credit goes to my wife for this incredibly easy method: hot glue. It’s cheap, cools/sets-up fast, easy to use, and robust. It’s also quick; I can knock out a squad of 12 in less than 10 minutes without much effort. Here’s what you do:
1. Lay the magnets out on a sheet of paper you don’t mind destroying. Give the magnets some space from each other so the magnetic fields don interact; about an inch or two is sufficient.
2. Once your glue is hot enough that it’s weeping regularly from the gun tip, fill up the bottom of your mini’s base near an edge. Don’t be stingy: fill up about a quarter of their base with molten glue.
3. Place the glue filled edge of the base near the magnet and then settle the mini down onto the paper. I do it this way so I know the glue will completely surround the magnet, you don’t want a partial covering.
4. Immediately after placing the mini down, press it firmly into the paper. This will ensure no hot glue bulges out and the base is flush with the paper.
5. Repeat until you run out of bases or magnets.
6. Give everything a few minutes to cool, then carefully peel the base off from the paper. You want to leave a paper residue on the bottom for two reasons: The first is that it will help keep the magnet in place. The second is that it provides a barrier between the magnet and the attaching surface and allows to them to separate easier from one another.
If you “miss” the magnet and only partially cover it, fear not! Simply repeat the process as before but use just a little glue this time to finish covering the magnet and press extra firmly on the paper to make sure everything stays level.
Note 1: A single magnet is enough to secure troop sized units even Crisis suits will be kept in place by a single magnet. For something large like a monstrous creature you might want to use 2 or 3 spread around the perimeter.
Building a Better Box
My previous carrying box was made from a plastic container and had room for two separate levels. It worked well but it has a few problems: It’s too small to carry my whole army, the bottom piece of metal doesn’t adhere well to the bottom of the box, and the supports for the second level often detach from the sides. So let’s build a bigger/better one!
I’m going to take two pieces of sheet metal and cut them to fit. Most hardware stores carry smaller pieces of sheet metal (remember to get steel, not aluminum!) these are cheaper and easy to use than large ones. Opt for thinner pieces because they are easier to work with. One piece will be mounted to the bottom of the box, and the second will be suspended above the first to make the most out of the vertical space. To suspend the second piece I will be using a pair of wood strips mounted to the sides of the box.
Note 2: When working with sheet metal be very careful of the edges, a seemingly smooth edge can be a quick trip to the emergency room. Also please take all the usual precautions when using any sort of power tool.
1. Pick a box that is as square as possible and measure it’s inner dimensions. Make sure the size is appropriate so you don’t have to be like me and build a new one a year later. (A little too big is better than a little too small!)
2. Scribe out the dimensions of the inside of the box using a straight edge. If your box has some curves to it you might want to take a piece of paper and use it to trace out the inside of the box. Rounded corners can be made with coins or other round objects.
3. If you have a sharp razorblade or box cutter you can actually score the lines and bend the metal along those scribe lines until it breaks; this will give you nice straight lines. Be forewarned you need to scribe the lines A LOT, and it takes a fair amount of bending, but the end result is worth it. Use tin snips for curved sections. TIP: Use sandpaper or steel wool to smooth the edges.
4. Your bottom sheet should drop straight into the bottom of your box if you measured right. Don’t worry if it doesn’t lie flat, we’re about to fix that. Using a drill put a single hole through the corner of the metal AND the box then place your fastener through it, this will anchor the rest of the piece and keep the other three holes from getting out of alignment.
Note 3: I did a “wet” install by putting a dot of glue over the hole then screwing the fastener in through the glue. I followed that up with a nylon locking nut to make everything stays secure for years to come.
5. The next step is a little tricky so take your time. Measure up from the new “floor” of the box and mark in several spots where you want your upper level. Drill from the outside through the plastic and into the wood. (If you want just kiss the wood enough to leave a mark then pull the wood out of the box and finish the hole where you have more room or a better angle.) Install a fastener into the first hole you made once again to keep your alignment straight then install your second fastener.
6. At this point if you haven’t cut your second piece of sheet metal, do so. Remember that the required dimensions could be slightly larger from the bottom piece. That’s it! Now you have a double-decker box that will keep your minis from moving around and won’t rub their paint!
For those who don’t feel like counting: that’s thirty six Firewarriors, fifteen Pathfinders, twelve Kroot, twelve Stealthsuits, twelve drones, nine Crisis Suits, three Piranhas, two Devilfish chassis, two cubes of dice, about a dozen flying bases, five objective markers (poker chips), a set of templates, and a tape measure…oh and a Cadre Fireblade.
The total cost of this project was less than $20. I had a spare plastic container to use and the wood strips were left over from another project. The two pieces of sheet metal were $12, the fasteners were $3, and the tin snips were $5. If I had to buy the box and wood it would have pushed the project closer to $30. But now I’ve got a box that can safely and securely hold my entire army and everything I need to play (minus the Codex which is on the iPad) without anything breaking or getting rubbed the wrong way.
Bring it on potholes!
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