One of the bigger problems vexing historical miniatures gamers has also been one of the most obvious. How in the heck do you store all those figures in a way that protects them?
There’s been a lot of solutions to the problem over the years, and some have worked better than others. We’ll be discussing some of the ones I’ve seen and implemented! But trust me, there are a lot of methods out there!
The custom-built foam tray available in a variety of container options is as old as miniature gaming. The manufacturers and types of containers vary but typically hold between 100-200 25mm miniatures (there are foam inserts to handle just about every type of miniature out there). There are tons of manufacturers of foam insert cases out there, but here are two manufacturers I think are pretty good for the money!
One of the best containers I’ve seen is the Army Transport by Sabol Designs, which my wife got me for my birthday. They’re a fine brand of containers. And the best part? They’re portable! You can put a lot into the foam inserts, and there are even inserts for your rules sets. Sabol also makes a variety of inserts where you can carry 25mm Napoleonic figures on Tuesday and 15mm Saracens on Wednesday. It also has a shoulder strap, a hand carry strap, and a very durable design. I rather like the case, and it’s good for someone with a small to medium collection or to bring figures to a game from a larger collection!
Another container manufacturer I like who does things exclusively for historical miniatures gamers is Dave’s Baggage Train. Dave sells a variety of storage solutions for armies large and small, and like the Army Transport, they are all designed to be mobile.
They also sell a variety of inserts, both foam and magnetic, to help you keep those armies from moving around in your storage case.
In many cases, many gamers on the miniatures side of the hobby come up with their own storage solutions. I know I have. One of my go-to places for storage and organization is The Container Store. That home of dozens of happy organizers has plenty to offer the miniature gamer. Some items I am familiar with are:
The Humble Clear Shoebox
What can I say? It slices, it dices… okay, it doesn’t do that. But it’s versatile. I’m still using the ones I bought almost ten years ago. I’ve stored unpainted figures, tools, paints, and just about anything else you might need in one of these. Put a magnetic sheet on the bottom, and you can store a layer of figures in one of these (granted, you’d be wasting a ton of space). But at $2.19 a pop, they’re a bargain that cannot be beaten. And as for unbreakable? Yep, they are that. I’ve dropped them in a variety of ways, never had one break. Every miniatures gamer should have at least ten of these.
3-Drawer Storage Chest
This is the mainstay of my 20mm miniature storage solutions. Why do I like it? Well, for one, it’s compartmentalized. Two, it’s easy to add magnetic sheeting, thus making it into a solid magnetic storage system. And three? The drawers are modular! I own four of these things, and one drawer fits any other unit. They’re a bit pricy at $59.99, but I was smart and waited for the inevitable sale. So, when I have a game, I mix and match the drawers with the forces I need for a given game, which means I don’t have to carry as many of these things. One drawback is that they’re kinda big.
Just to give you an idea of how good a system this is, let me show you some shots from my own work with these systems.
I highly recommend them for any miniatures of 20mm and smaller.
Tie Gift Boxes
You would not think this a solution to your miniature storage needs, but the humble tie gift box from the Container Store is a really good solution for 6mm armies, especially for tank heavy games! The process is simple: simply mount your 6mm miniatures on a metal base, my favorite being Wargame Accessories, who has a solid product line for any of your metal basing needs. Then, simply glue the metal base to the underside of the figure or infantry stand.
After that, line the bottom of the tie box with some magnetic sheeting. I got some online at Walmart, but the stuff is fairly common. An additional step, if you wish, is to create “unit grids” in your favorite graphics or desktop publishing program (I used Publisher), so you can create whole unit sets in each box. This really speeds up the setup for games!
Here’s an image of what I’ve done with these boxes!
Another source for some DIY ideas is Michael’s. I use their Photo and Craft Keeper by Reflections for my 15mm stuff! It’s also suitable to store large units of 15mm and it’s what I am going to use for my Russian Civil War project!
Another option for 20mm and larger vehicles are their scrapbook cases, which are tough, retail inexpensively, and with the addition of kitchen drawer liner, a great carrying case for vehicles.
To conclude, the options are limitless, and with a little research, you can find a solution that works for you. It only needs to be three things:
- Fits your figures and protects them.
- Is relatively easy to implement.
A little internet research will be all you need to get started!
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(This article is credited to Jason Weiser. Jason is a long-time wargamer with published works in the Journal of the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers; Miniature Wargames Magazine; and Wargames, Strategy, and Soldier.)