Magnetic Storage

Magnetic storage

by: Errhile

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You recall the text I wrote about attaching models to scenic resin bases almost a year ago?

It included magnetizing their bases, and mentioned that I use metal boxes for miniature storage.

 

Well, I do. Since the beginning of my Infinity adventures. And once every so often guys in my local community start asking how and why. I mean… I guess I’ll just write it down, and maybe some other people could use that explanation for their own benefit.

 

Why magnetic storage?

 

Most players I’ve met carry their minis in special foam-filled boxes or briefcases. Big (so big my previous everyday backpack wouldn’t probably fit one of these inside!). Lots of space taken by the foam. Plus the foam can have abrasive effect on the paint. Now to mention the slots in foam rarely fit all your models perfectly.

 

And once your collection grows bigger than your case, you’ll need a separate storage box anyway. You don’t want to carry your entire miniature collection with you every time you go for a game.

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  • Here are two of my TAGs (a Gecko to the left, and Iguana to the right) hanging upside down under one of my transport boxes supported by their magnets. Gecko has 13 3x2mm magnets in the base, the Iguana – being larger and heavier – has 28 such magnets.

 

In a magnetic storage variant, you waste no space between the models. They can be stored as tight as their bases permit (arms, gun barrels and CCWs extending out of the base are no problem – just turn the model in storage to make it fit with others). The magnets hold the models attached to the bottom, so they don’t move around: there’s no abrasion, even during a bumpy ride on a bicycle. I’ve once checked it – a pretty vigorous shake was needed to make a model break free.

 

The only case of a model actually breaking free and damaging others was with a Gecko-sized battlesuit (that proxied for an Iguana before actual Iguana model was released). I was stupid enough to think 5 magnets will do for it. I’ve increased it to 9 magnets after the incident, never had any problems again.

 

Preparing the miniatures

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That’s a requirement. In the aforementioned article on scenic bases I’ve shown you how I do it (quick reminder: drill adequate holes in under the base, glue in magnets. I use 3mm wide, 2mm tall rare earth ones. 4 are enough for a standard, human-sized model, 5 for a 40mm or 55mm-based REM, and with TAGs, it can be from 9 for small and light ones, to about 20 or more for the large ones).

 

Okay, but what about models on standard bases, you’d ask? After all, not everyone uses resin scenic bases?

 

Well, glue the magnets under the base! I actually prefer 5mm wide round magnets. The new-style bases CB gives us these days are thinner than the typical standard, but come with ready nests for 5mm magnets. I prefer 2mm thick ones, though some of these nests won’t accept such a thick magnet, so I guess 1mm or 1,5mm thick will be more in order.

 

Take a bit of green stuff, put it under the base, and press a magnet into it. Then press the base against a hard surface, to have the bottom of the magnet as flush with the bottom of the base as possible (providing the best grip that way). Once you’re there, take some superglue (rather the thin variety, not the gel) and add it (in a pretty liberal way, just don’t overdo it) on the top of the green stuff. Once it dries, you’re good to go.

 

Now, one 5mm magnet works pretty well for a standard-sized model. Can’t tell you exactly how it goes with larger ones, but I guess it would do for a bike or most REMs (well maybe 2 magnets, just to be sure). For a TAG, I’d just keep adding them until I felt it was sure enough.

 

So, what about boxes?

 

I ended up using two kinds of boxes: storage and transport.

 

Storage boxes are large ones I keep my armies in. Basically, one per army – plus I have one taller to keep my TAGs in, and one as “work-in-progress lands here”. You may use any type of metal boxes – either cookie tins, or what-not. They generally aren’t expensive, unless you settle for some vintage design.

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  • That’s the inside of my Qapu Khalqi storage box. 22 by 23cm, and 6,5cm tall, it holds 49 miniatures on 25mm bases at this moment – up to 9 in a row, and easily 8 rows, giving me a maximum capacity of 72 models per box (if I keep to the 25mm bases. There are no REMs because I keep them in a separate box, together with TAGs – purely for ease of access, as the REMs are shared by all 3 of my armies).

 

What is important, though, is to have a box that is not too high (my boxes fit anything – including McMurrough, but short of a TAG – being 6,5cm tall) and has no unnecessary dividers inside (as these would make it difficult to use the space effectively.

 

I find rectangular boxes better – it is easier to line models inside, and they fit on a shelf better than oval or round ones.

 

I’d also suggest going for some style that is readily available in your place, so there will be no problem locating a new box once you decide you need one. And stack it on the top of the previous box.

 

The storage box is just that: storage. It has to protect your models from dust, and allow you easy access to the ones you need when preparing for a game.

 

Transport boxes are what you need to actually bring your models to wherever you play. Only those models you need for a given list. The major requirement here is to have them fit into your standard bag / pack / whatever, and preferably in upright position. To have the minis stand on a horizontal surface rather than cling to a vertical wall. This will be affecting their stability positively.

 

Again, they should be as tall as you need for your models, though if you have extra-tall models like TAGs, it is not a bad idea to have either a taller general application box, or a separate box for the TAG only (especially true since the TAGs on their 55mm bases eat up  a lot of space these days!). Alternatively, you may use the walls as extra figure space, but I must admit – I rarely use that trick for anything else than very light models (G:Servant REMs, Deployables, and my scratchbuilt REMs that are almost entirely made of plastic).

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  • Inside of one of my transport boxes. Originally, it was a box for some collectible cards, I think – bought it for a penny at a flea market. As you can see, it can hold 15 models (or a TAG – it is tall enough – and 8 models, IIRC), and it is 7,8 by 12,5 cm, and 11cm tall. I’m actually looking for another one (with similar footprint, but lower)…

 

Well, here you have it. It really works for me. And it makes me really feel sorry for my opponent when I take two nicely sized tin boxes out of my backpack (and unload two combat groups-worth of models out of these) while he hauls a large plastic briefcase with all of his models…

Bryant "Claudius Sol"

Aerospace Engineer, Programmer, Gundam enthusiast

10 Responses

  1. KedzioR_vo says:

    Yeah, I use similar boxes to travel with my minis and I’m very happy with them 🙂

    PozdRawiam / Greetings!

  2. Evert says:

    Awesome! Have you at some point considered using a wall with a whiteboard for storage? That would both be very efficient use of space as well as being a cool way to display your minis.

    • Errhile says:

      No, I haven’t.
      I assume that you use the term “whiteboard” for a metal dry-erase board (sorry, English isn’t my native language, so I stumble over such details once every so often ^_^).

      But I don’t think it would be a good idea – for two reasons:

      1. The models would have no dust protection. Unless I made an enclosed cupboard with a whiteboard back – and I belive it would be more trouble than it is worth.
      2. A massed display of Infinity minis would, in my case, take over 100 models now. That’s a mass display by my standards, and making it difficult to showcase individual models. So it would make no sense for me… Besides, I wouldn’t consider it much of a sight when the models essentially hang on a wall…

      I do own such a metal board, I might try setting all my models on it and taking a photo as all the stuff hangs on the wall. Just… not in the next few days.

    • KędzioR_vo says:

      I have a magnetic board on my wall, but I don’t use it as a showcase of finished minis – they’re in a glass cabinet 🙂 I keep my WiPs on the board, it’s nice because it gives me more free space on the desk 😉

      PozdRawiam / Greetings

  3. Thanks for this article. I think this is something I need to do with my models. I’ve been making custom foam trays using layered foam. This is nice because I can pack them in tightly but handle protruding weapons. However they have no protection if the box is turned upside down, and as you mentioned the foam can rub at the paint.

    I assume these are rare metal magents

    • Errhile says:

      Indeed they are – as written in the text, I use 3mm wide, 2mm tall, round rare earth magnets (precisely, neodymium ones).

  4. Zagdag says:

    Downside of magnets:
    1: They will grab the tape measure
    2: You have to remember to pick up models from the base, otherwise you will likely break them off the base altogether (this might not be a problem for resin bases, but my drones break off easily if I am not careful)

    Plus side:
    1: You can use a cool lunch box, like my fallout 3 one, for transport
    2: Screw lunchboxes, use a transportable CD box. I found one of these at a thrift shop. Its about 6″x6″, padded sides, zips along the side so that the CDs would ride flat end parallel to the ground. I got cheap steel plates (for wood frame construction I think, 1/8″ thick at most) that fit perfectly. This allows me five or six “trays” that hold about ten to fifteen models each, and I can change the hieght of a tray by putting it on a different rank on the CD holder. I may do this at home for display too, since a cool rotating rack should be easy to find.

    Thanks for the cool article. Glad to see more people working with magnets, the future of war games.

    • SgtHulka says:

      That CD Idea is great. I’ve been using a metal toolbox I may start keeping an eye out for an inexpensive CD box.

  5. David Roseborough says:

    What are you using for drill size to make those holes for the magnets?

    • Errhile says:

      Actually, 3.2mm for 3mm magnets, IIRC it is a drill meant for wood. I happen to have such a drill from some project ages ago.

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