Boxology

So let’s take a quick break from Spanish-American War ships and talk about figure storage or stuff storage. If you are a real miniatures gamer, this is a problem. Not only is storage an issue but getting figures from one place to another is a puzzle, which unsovled can lead to tragic consequences. The fall from grace. The sudden stop when miniatures, terrain pieces and assorted gaming ephemera take flight and evoke tears. Yes, as a matter of fact, this has happened to me.

I’m always amazed at the work my colleagues do to safely schlep their stuff around. Despite all the money that goes into buying figures and terrain bits, the countless hours of painting, modeling and creating, it never ceases to amaze me that in this golden age of miniature wargaming there isn’t a single sure-fire commercial answer to storing and moving about one’s figures. Whew! That was a long sentence. A sign of exasperation to be sure.

This is your basic Michael’s scrapbooking plastic box. Usually they cost about eight bucks, but it’s not unusual to get them 50% cheaper. They have the snap clasps and are perfect for holding my planes. I have lots of planes and lots of Michael’s boxes.

I’ve resorted to lots of measures to do what needs to be done with my little men. I’ve resorted to lots of plastic boxes that I’ve lined with sheet steel roof flashing, then I make sure to magnetize my figure bases and that usually takes care of miniatures slip slidin’ away. For my planes, I also put them in plastic boxes lined with styrofoam. Their brass pins are nicely held by the stryrofoam. Note: I urge against using the extruded foam balls that are mashed together. It’s harder to create re-usable holes for your pins. Use the good stuff, the floral blocks if you can get it. It tends to be a little more expensive, but you’ll appreciate the difference.

Another example of a scrapbooking plastic box. These have clasps on hinges and are generally a bit stronger than the Michael’s boxes. Good for holding miniatures without flags or long spears. I usually get these at Jo-Ann’s or Hobby Lobby. Usually I can snag them for about $12. This holds my British light infantry and grenadiers from our Concord game.

These plastic boxes are usually made for scrapbookers. For miniatures, I’m especially fond of the boxes with twin hinges. The boxes tend to be a little sturdier and the hinges works better than the boxes with the plastic snaps. They are also a bit more expensive. I usually pay about twelve bucks for them at Jo-Anns which seems to have them perpetually on sale. My planes usually go into the Michael’s boxes. They have the cheapy snaps which are okay because the planes don’t weigh much. These are regularly eight dollars, but I can often get them on sale for half that.

These boxes work great for 28mm figures on a base that doesn’t include a standard bearer. Flagmen are a crapshoot. If you like big flags or tall flag poles forget it.

This flat picture box holds my SAM-2 site from Cold War Goes Hot game Daveshoe and I ran a few years back.

Of course, these aren’t the only boxes that I use. There are the cardboard variety too. But you can’t use just any box. In our house, we do a lot of online shopping, and when the goodies arrive inspecting the boxes is often celebrated as much as unpacking the orders. But every ol’ Amazon box is just not going to cut it.

Ah, jeez-I lied. I actually do use Amazon boxes, almost exclusively for terrain bits. These jungle pieces were for Cold War Goes Hot, an air game featuring a hypothetical air assault during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I use carboard boxes that are deeper for figures that are taller. For example my Dorian Hawkmoon army for Dragon Rampant uses this box to accommodate the really tall Eureka standards.

For the most part, it’s really important that a box be tall enough and that it be sturdy enough. Boxes that close at the top won’t work. There just isn’t a way to keep them closed but accessible enough for them to be useful to me.

There are two sources of boxes I like best. The first is Tilebar. We’ve done lots of remodeling at Chez Smyth the last five or so years. We’ve also done lots of tile work. The Tilebar boxes came with tile samples we’ve ordered. And if you knew my wife, you’d know she likes to look at lots of samples before making a decision. While the indecision might make me crazy, the boxes made that frustration worth it. These are sturdy, pretty square and fairly deep. Unfortunately I only have a few of them.

Tilebar box holding masted 1/600 ACW ships. The Niagara–far left–needs a bit of a repair.

My absolute favorite box comes from an online clothing maker, Ash and Erie. Because I am short with short legs and arms, I order a lot of my clothes from these guys who cater to those 5’8″ or shorter. They make pants that are the right length to go with my girth, and shirts that don’t have arms two inches too long. Because I’ve been losing weight over the last couple of years, I’ve ordered more from them.

My wife accuses me of ordering from Ash and Erie just because I’m so over-joyed at getting their green and white boxes.

These boxes are about 13″ X 10″ X 3.5″ so they aren’t large. They are super sturdy, well-made all around with a front closure. The box comes in a larger size to hold larger orders, but because their line of jeans and shirts are spendy, I don’t order in large quantities or very often.

Boxes are important to our hobby and good boxes are like gold. Just some of my thoughts. Maybe you have a few of your own.

Kevin’s eager box stash waiting to be called into service.

3 comments on “Boxology

  1. Good for you reusing boxes so well!

    For my microarmor, I use the I-94 storage boxes (https://i-94enterprises.com/products/storage-boxes/).

    For 1/2400 ships I use Sterilite Small Clip Box Clear with Green Latches with foam layering the bottom. I can fit about eight boxes in a larger two handled cloth box. It works well enough, though once I was putting the bigger box back in its place, got distracted, didn’t place the box right and it tumbled down. I had a lot of ships I needed to glue back together.

    • kgsmyth55 says:

      Thanks James. I have some of I-94 storage boxes I originally bought for my planes. Mistake. They were much better for tanks. Sorry to hear about your little accident. I think we all have at least one story to tell like that.

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