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I got tired of having a different army in various boxes and DIY containers. Things like tackle boxes, GW's own army cases, Sabol transports, cardboard etc....
No matter what way we go we're spending money to lug our guys around. Usually, the cheaper the route, the more damage your guys take from bumps during travel. Throughout it all there is one universal truth: foam keeps your models safe.
Armed with these thoughts, I embarked on a quest: Keep my armies safe, and in 1 box.
As a person with multiple armies, which are constantly growing, I would continually run into the issue of having too many army containers. The larger armies even had multiple containers. Going anywhere to play a game meant bringing along 3 or more cases. Then there was the trouble of storing them, these things would build up after time, massing into a literal "pile" of boxes.
So I began to search the net, there are a lot of options out there. On both sides of the big lake, various companies have sought to capitalize on our bizarre need to collect MORE miniatures. Offering different solutions to the same problem. Lets look at the options:
1. Games workshop army transports.
These come in 2 sizes a regular sized box, which sells for $50, or the larger Army case, which came about recently ($90). The larger case is twice the size of it's smaller counterpart, and can come with a variety of foam inserts designed to carry GW models exceptionally well. In my opinion, these cases are really quite nice. Sturdy and well insulated, GW set the industry standard with these things. Even the larger case is hard to argue with in terms of quality.
But quality aside, GW cases still lack something: capacity. The constrained proportions of GW cases do NOT lend themselves to larger models (like Greater daemons) or heavily tooled up/converted vehicles (like tricked out tanks). On to the next option.
2. Sabol Transports.
Coming in a variety of case sizes. Sabol transports have one of the most ingenious features available in model transportation today: foam trays that you can customize yourself. With tray sizes ranging from 1.25" to 4.25" tall, these things can accommodate almost every GW model out there (the only exception being Forgeworld models, but that’s a whole different subject) thanks to their "pluckable" foam. Even GW jumped on this wagon when they released their Larger Army case last year. But for those of us with lots of tanks or cavalry, Sabol happens to be one of the best sources out there for keeping our ungainly miniatures safe and secure.
However, though their cases can accommodate armies large or small. They still lack the security measure of a "hard" case, like those provided by GW. And if any of you have had your army; kicked, tripped over or knocked over. Then you probably appreciate the difference between a hard case and a soft case.
3. The rest.
KaiserRushforth - Good quality precut foam trays.....in sturdy cardboard boxes, then packed again in a foam case to carry multiple boxes of trays.
Though I don't have any of their products (having only recently found them) it's fairly easy to review their product from a "price vs." aspect. I work in a Print shop, so I know exactly how durable cardboard can get. It's not on par, good for storage though.
Problem: You can buy 3 of the GW foam trays for $20 US, Why would you spend +/- $40 on 4 trays in a box? With a bit of ductape and a trip to the local supermarket you can make your own box. These guys need some work still, I think. I might be desperate to keep my models safe, but I'm not stupid.
Battlehive cases – The Battlehive cases are rather nice…. if you’ve got the money to spend on them. The pictures are slightly deceiving though, read the size specs BattleHive 1 = 8.75” x 11.25”….waitaminute, that’s a file holder……..yup you can get these things from an office supply store. Toss in some Sabol trays and there you go. A good concept, but a little too costly for something with constrained proportions………and read the fine print regarding the battlehive II “Choose your own custom combination of 1", 2", 3" and 4" BattleHive® II foam inserts with .5" perforated squares for a total of no more than 11" “. 11 inches! That’s not even 1 stack inside the box (it’s 12.5 deep, and holds 2 stacks worth). This one’s a little fishy to me.
Figures in Comfort – These guys have a presence (of sorts) over on the warseer boards. They offer some good options for armies of various sizes, even some really big stuff. But be ready to shell out the cash for it. If I weren’t in the US I’d give them a better look-over, but I am. And things like shipping costs over-seas can be scary.
Those are the main players in the game.
Conclusion = $$$ regardless of the route you go, these things cost money. And believe me, after a couple of years of breaking your minis in tackle boxes, you really do begin to think “maybe it’s not that much”. Peace of mind has a price my friends. But for me even these guys couldn’t cut it.
It takes GUTS!
Eventually I came to the basic conclusion: You MUST have foam. And you CAN'T buy it in bulk.
I know, I tried. My dad is a contractor, his suppliers carried the foam WE use, the price STILL didn't work out (and lets not forget that there was the cutting that I’d have to do on my own). GW actually IS well priced for their foam sets, even compared their competitors. So, no matter the route, you're stuck buying foam from somebody. Even the larger Sabol systems only come with a certain amount of foam, usually not enough to fill the container (read carefully when buying, that's the lesson).
Now that I had the facts about foam (what a horrible pun). I began to do some basic math regarding the dimensions. I knew 2 things: Foam (from any supplier) has a universal dimension, roughly 14" in length (12.5 for Sabol). And, I wanted my Box to have a hard shell.
Lets look at some sizes:
GW foam trays = 11” x 14” x 1.5”
Sabol foam trays = 7.5” x 13” x X” Sizes ranged from 1.25” to 4.25” in depth.
Now that you have these numbers you can begin to formulate what box sizes you might require. I wanted a stack of GW trays (great for infantry) and 2 stacks of Sabol trays (for my tanks). So I needed a box that was at least 14” x 26” and hopefully 14” deep as well.
Hard vs. Soft
A minor debate in the wargaming community, many prefer hard cases by default, they offer an obvious external layer of protection from the elements (both natural and human). They also prevent crushing.
Soft cases offer 2 things that hard usually can’t – Price and Size.
So you must personally weigh your options here. Which is more important to you? Storage or survivability?
Well, by The Emperor’s short hairs, I want both.
There are only so many types of large, "hard" cases available, many are made for transporting musical instruments, or delicate equipment. So that's where I started. Armed with my foam dimensions, I began to browse the various makes and types of cases in the world today. All praise be to the information age.
Firstly, in my own back yard, I found these guys: The Atlas Case Corporation.
Who are they? Well, they’re manufacturers of cases, duh. More specifically, they’re an ACTUAL manufacturer. All the companies listed above are actually middlemen for companies like these guys. And browsing through their catalog you’ll come across many cool cases, sturdy reliable…and expensive as all heck. Everything from blow-molded cases (like the GW cases), to ultra-cool pelican cases. In every size imaginable. With these guys you could make the Cadillac of army transports…….if you’ve got the money.
More importantly, you get to see something you normally don’t. How much these things really cost. A case identical to the GW size costs the average Joe $34, before foam inserts. These are the retail end of things, you or I can’t buy them at wholesale, which requires orders of more than 100 units. So while cool, these guys don’t really help that much. But they let us know, our needs have a price.
The next thing I found, that matched, was a case called an LP200. Designed for carrying (safely) LPs (or records, for those that don't know), it seemed to be the match I was looking for. It has internal dimensions of 14x14x28, a hard shell (really hard) and is actually lined with felt. They come with wheels even! But they tend to be costly, anywhere from $75 to $125. Remember, that's before you buy the foam. So I'd found the perfect case, but not the perfect price. But now I had the dimensions I wanted. So I began to look into various other areas, specifically "chests" or "trunks". The web wasn't very helpful here. Furniture isn't something you see much of on-line.
The reason I made the jump from music cases to furniture? Shipping costs. Something the size I was looking for was bound to cost me some serious $$ online, just for postage. That meant it was time to start looking locally.
I browsed things like luggage, looking at soft cases. Finding many, priced quite well for storing either GW foam or Sabol foam. Usually sized 12"W x 7"D x 16"H, that’s enough space for 5 GW trays. And only $15. So for the price of about $60 you can fill it with foam and cart 180 models around. Find a deeper one (by ½”) and you can beat the large GW case by $30, and tote around 216 models! It’s a soft case, but the Price is Right! Similar to Sabol prices though, so this really becomes a personal choice.
I found many things in various furniture stores, all of them came into the same range as an LP case......then I found it....right under my nose (so to speak). During our spring-cleaning, my Dad wanted to get rid of some old clothes. And that's when I saw this in the attic:
Specs: 15wx10dx29l Price: FREE! Actual: $18.50 (from Wal-mart, Seasonal).
I had my box. Now to fill it! The box "could" contain the following:
2 stacks of GW size trays, 8 tall, totall = 16 trays, 576 figures, with space left for books and misc.
4 stacks of Sabol trays, totaling 10" tall each, again with space left over (not much though). I went for a combination of both:
8 GW trays (6 actually, I had a spare set to start, $40), and an assortment of Sabol trays (6 at $7.50ea, $45) for tanks and the like. Total (if you do it yourself): $123.50.
It replaced 4 boxes for me, and I have yet to fill it. AND, GW screwed up my order for their trays at first, Sending me only 2 separate trays (instead of the 2 SETS I'd ordered) so I ended up with spare trays on top of it all.
I don't recommend this route for those of you with 1 or 2 armies. I DO recommend this idea for those of you with LOTS of stuff that you don't intend to sell off, or multiple large armies.
To contain the amount of guys I have I'd need 7 GW army cases (3 of the new bigger ones) or at least 3 Sabol Battalion sets.
The end result:
If you're serious about keeping your armies safe. And you're tired of having multiple containers. This IS the way to go.... I’d even consider the LP case, it can hold more (just a bit, due to the height, but at least 1 more GW tray tall) and is secure even for going through luggage handling in an airport.
I'll be adding wheels to mine shortly as well (an easy thing to do).
The problem: Since I built this beast, I've decided I need 1 more.
3 of my friends are following my example now. And I hope what I've learned here can help others with their similar situations.
wow, big post. edit 4/11/07 now bigger.
Last edited by Carot; April 11th, 2007 at 20:10.
Nice transport case. I still use the cardboard box with little foam and cardboard again to section things off. Not very protective but it gets my army to one place(although I must carry superglue all the time lol ).
Have been meaning to make a new one, this lends some inspiration on my own maybe.
Nice work and a nice find.
I updated the content, adding various links, details and reviews etc.
Should I add a section on DIY boxes? I've got a few lying around that I can do photo comparisons of.