A *Literal* Case Study
Recently I picked up some Infinity models (more to come on that soon) and found myself in an interesting conundrum. There’s not really a lot of great, small factor cases out there for small squad mini games. The kind of stuff you’d use for Kill Team 40k, Infinity, Deathwatch RPG minis, etc. Sure, there are some cases out there, but they all have issues. Size, options, quality, etc. (Battlefoam, yes, is nice but super expensive for something this size.) The following is a brief and hopefully helpful explanation of my thought process for the project, followed by the actual build guide, such as it is.
So, I sat down and thought about some features I might want in a case:
- Small. Low model count here, so no sense having unneeded bulk.
- Protective. I fancy myself a painter, and don’t want my stuff chipped if I can help it. Foam is your friend.
- Cheap. Good general policy for a scratch-build. Also makes it accessible for others to build.
- Practical. Utility value. Can go in a backpack or fly solo. Hold dice or tokens when need be, etc.
- Visibility. I want to be able to see which one has which army, without opening the case up.
- Latching. You DO NOT want the lid coming off of one of these.
- Reconfigurable. Efficiency of storage grows exponentially with small cases if you can change out the configuration.
With these goals in mind I starting thinking about my next door Menard’s store… Not the big tackle boxes, but something more in line with those little clear cases you use to sort bolts, bits, and various gubbins. Selecting the right unit would be key, not only to meet my above criteria, but also to ensure the interior of the case could accommodate both model AND the protective foam. I also acquired tertiary materials required for building the case. I’d recommend making at least two at a time for maximum value.
Assemble the Troops!
Here’s our shopping list:
- Tool Shop 15 Bin Storage Case – $6 at Menards (buy 2 if possible)
- Craft Foam 12×18″ Sheet 2-3mm – $1 at Michaels (buy 2 if possible)
- Double Sided Permanent Tape – $3 at anywhere. Seriously, CVS even
- Soft Foam Pieces – left over pluck foam is free? I’d recommend 1.5″
- X-Acto knife
- Permanent Marker Black or Silver
- Ruler – You’ll want one
As mentioned above, I’d recommend buying and building for two. This is more efficient, more affordable, as you already have to get things like tape and there’s enough for two. I like this case due to the prominent handle, clear front, strong latches and removable trays that can be swapped out for more or less of the double wide slots, allowing as many Terminators/ TAGs/ Remotes as you’d like. One other note here, you can use adhesive backed craft foam if you’d like. It saves you some time with tape, but is a little harder to place in one of the steps. It’s also a little harder to find, and I can’t attest to permanence of the adhesive, but it’s likely fine.
Let’s Build It!
First thing we want to do is line all the removable trays with foam. I’d recommend starting on the narrow ends of the small trays first. We want to cut a strip from our foam longways, that is 45mm across. Take this strip, and cut it into rectangles 33mm wide, and slightly round two of the corners on the short end. Eventually, we want to have 24 per case of the rectangles pictured below, if memory serves it will take two or three of those long strips to get enough pieces.
Once you’ve gotten the foam cut out, attach it to the sides of the tray with two strips of double sided tape, one 5mm from the top of the tray, and one towards the bottom. It should go in rounded side down, like this. Got any Netflix to catch up on? Now’s the time!
Once the ends are done, we need to get the main foam strip in. This foam piece will wrap around the remaining three sides to fully protect the model. This step is a little abstract, as the length of foam strip you need will vary based on how tightly you pack the foam into the corners (it starts round like a ‘U’ and has to be flattened some). You can start with cutting out more strips, the width of which should be 43mm. Take the strip, pinched in a U shape, and insert it in the tray until it’s both flush with the top of the tray and sort of… pushed into the corners. Mark it, and use this as a guide to make 12 more of these rectangular strips (24 if making two). Mine ended up being about 43x112mm, but your size may vary slightly. Once we’ve got our pieces made, place one piece of tape longways on the bottom piece of a tray, and then 2 pieces on each of the sides like before. Pinch the foam in a ‘U’ shape again, and making sure to have it centered on the bottom of the tray, press the strip down into the corners. Press the sides down into the tape, for about 20 seconds, keeping the foam flush with the top of the tray. Repeat 11 (or 23) more times!
Now that the small trays are done, we need to do the three larger trays. The process is essentially the same, with a few small changes. Remember, the depth doesn’t change, but the width will. The flat side pieces get scaled up, but with the height unchanging at 45mm. They also become a little more trapezoidal, and while you may need to trim them to fit, 70mm is a good place to start. I tapered down to about 65mm on the low end, and again rounded the corners. This scale increase also means the longest strip piece will grow. Again, bend into a ‘U’ and find the right length. Mine is now about 157mm long, with the same 43mm width. Once again, place tape in capital “I” shape on the bottom, adding the top and lower pieces to help keep the bottom flat. Add your two strips of tape to the side as before, curve your foam piece into a ‘U’ shape, and insert it in the tray. Don’t forget to tuck into the corners to ensure a nice fit. After finishing all 15 trays, this is what you should be left with.
If we were only going to store the tray horizontally we could probably stop here, but we’re going for maximum value. To this end, we’re going to pad the top of the case with soft foam to keep the models from banging about. If you can get or already have extras from pluck foam, I’d recommend using that. You can buy blocks of similar foam from craft stores, however. If you’re going this route, just make sure it’s soft, compressible, and won’t react poorly to adhesives. Place a slightly over one inch piece of tape on a 1.5″ piece of foam.
These little foam bricks should be placed one per square on the lid. Try to place it about 2mm above the L shaped pieces used to keep the trays in place. We want to do this on each square, even the larger trays. This allows you to swap parts, as well as keep larger models like TAGs secure.
Once these are done, make sure you can close the lid, and test a model or two to check the fit. It should close with very light pressure, and lock securely.
That’s pretty much it! I think it’ll be super practical, especially for skirmish based games and demos. I hope this helps you make a small squad case of your own, or at least inspires you to try making a value storage container of your own. I’ll leave you with a few more parting shots.
Until next time, keep painting!