The Army Transport Conundrum
Pimpcron knows there is a better way.
Every week at this time, people from all around the internet gather to see if the Pimpcron will come out of his cave and see his own folly. Is seeing it, but ignoring it an option?
Well this is an issue that all miniatures gamers face eventually. What do you use to transport your army? It sounds like this wouldn’t be a point of much strife, but I have found myself fighting with this issue for years. Like my crippling Candy Corn addiction, I think I’ve solved the problem; then here it comes back again and stronger than ever.
Why Do We Need Them?
First and foremost, we need something to carry our models around in. This seems like kind of a no-brainer but it’s better than that dried sheep bladder you’ve been using to carry them around in. The other reason to use some sort of transport is to protect our models’ paint jobs, obviously. Matte spray varnish or “clear coat” will only go so far to protect them from rattling around in the hollowed out watermelon you were using to transport them. The third main reason for using a proper transport is to be a chaperon: you gotta keep the models from bumpin’ and grindin’ when you’re not looking. The minute you take your eyes off of them, they start getting frisky and reckless like middle-schoolers at a dance. Pieces start breaking off of them and you will never find those pieces again. We’ve all had this happen to us. Do yourself a favor and don’t become a statistic. All of these reasons make it necessary to actually buy or make a transport for your army. So you can finally throw away that bowl of Jell-O you usually use to bring them safely to a game.
What Are Your Commercial Options?
I’m sure you’ve all heard about the dozens of companies out there that make army transports such as: GW’s army case, Battle Foam, KR Multicase, and Sabol (just to name a few). They all have slightly different ways to safely carry your stuff, all with their own pros and cons:
Pluck Foam- This is a type of foam transport tray that is perforated into small squares so that you can make custom spaces for your models. This is a great idea but these trays are really only single-use if you pluck out custom shapes. In other words, if you pluck out foam and then put a different army in that tray, it probably won’t fit those new models very well. And of course there is no real way to put the pulled-out squares of foam back into the transport. Verdict: Customizable, but not very versatile between armies.
Pre-Cut Squares- These are trays that have square or rectangle spaces pre-cut out for general models, but not dynamic models. They work great for the old Space Marines who snuggle up with their bolter to their chest. Verdict: Generic and somewhat versatile, but only for static models.
Accordion Foam- This consists of strips of accordion-like foam that will stretch and form around your models. This works great for any army and is versatile, but it needs a full tray of models to keep your models in place. Also, some people don’t like the idea of foam actually pressing on their models and would prefer a space for their models to stand or lay in instead. Verdict: Extremely versatile, but potentially rubs your models and requires a near-full tray of models.
Custom-Cut Foam- The perfect solution to a single army using it, but it probably the least customizable or versatile once you actually own the transport. You can make any shape you want when ordering it, but you can be a bit out of luck if you change your mind once you have it. Verdict- Perfect for the precise planner, excellent for the models they are designed for, but not very versatile between armies or if you change your mind.
What Can You Do to Save Money?
The seemingly most common option is to make your own out of Tupperware or a tool box with bubble wrap. This works fine for the most part and costs almost nothing. It works very well for dynamic models or vehicles but its usefulness diminishes if you decide to add a couple different layers of models on top of each other. You have to pull out the floppy layers of models-in-bubble wrap to get out the ones of the bottom. I use this technique for dynamic models and have found a Tupperware box at Home Depot that perfectly fits in my Sabol Army Transports. So I can put regular trays on top of them. It gets the job done in a pinch, but is a bit “messy”.
I’ve also seen people make their own trays out of foam. This is pretty time consuming but you can get really nice and professional-looking results if enough time is put into it. If you purchase foam for this, it can be really expensive.
Another option is the old “Magnets and Sheet” strategy. You glue washers to the bottom of your bases and buy a magnetic sheet for them to stick to. Or you get a metal sheet and glue magnets on the underside of your bases. Either way this works fairly well and is fairly inexpensive. But if the case doesn’t also include foam, then a sudden movement can have models flying everywhere. Like if you drop the case or something.
My own idea I used for a couple years was a tray I made for my dynamic Chosen models. I bought ¼” foam board and made channels for my models to slide into from one side. They didn’t rub each other and were snug enough in the channels that they didn’t rattle around. But the biggest problem I had is that the models couldn’t be based if you used this design. It worked great for un-based models (which they were at the time), but will rub the basing materials if you use it on models that have gravel, flock, etc. on them.
We Need to Re-invent It
I have struggled with this problem over the years because all of our options are good at some things, but not good at others. The way I see it, there is no system that covers all of your bases: relatively inexpensive, versatile between armies, doesn’t rub models or bases, works for dynamically posed models, and removes tough stains from clothes. If I’m being honest, I would be willing to even drop the stain-removing criteria if it would just do those other things well. I’m not an unreasonable man.
For some reason, deep down inside my hollow metal rib cage I feel that there is a better way. I just know there is. I’m not sure what it is though. One thing I had thought of (and let me know if this is already a thing) was to make or 3D print little C-shaped clips on a board that would just hold the outside of the base and not bother the model or basing material. I haven’t tried doing this yet, but it seems that it would work well, similar to my channel idea, but no rubbing.
So do you have any solutions to my problem? What have you used or made to protect your stuff?
Want to witness my slow descent into madness, first-hand? Check out my blog at www.diceforthedicegod.com