Every miniatures gamer has reached the tipping point where their collection of tiny, painted, figures outnumbers their available storage and transportation options. A couple months ago I faced that problem and with characteristic vigor researched the best solution for my dilemma.
Recently some of you wonderful readers have been facing the same task. You’ve shared your concerns with me and I am happy to guide you to finding your best solution. Naturally my solution is my best fit. It will not be your best fit nor should it be. However, it will provide a glimpse into the available options so you can determine what works best for you.
Step 1 – Determine Need
It is very easy to run out half cocked and buy the first empty bin you see. That may prove useful but more likely than not it will not sate your long term needs. You must analyze your collection to see how much you have. Eyeball the mass of plastic. I counted all 512 of my War at Sea models (this number has grown since then). I factored in the release of Flank Speed, which will add 40 new models. Previously I bought 3-5 cases of each set but have chosen to purchase no more than 2 cases of Flank Speed. I will need to house another 120 models. Clearly I needed something that can expand to my growing needs.
Step 2 – Determine Use
After pawing through the collection it is important to create a mission statement for our solution. What are we looking for and what do we want it to do? Do we want to take it with us when we game? Will it be stationary at home? What criteria must it meet? Durability? Affordability? What are our likes and dislikes? Is there a brand we love or hate?
I used a big plastic toolbox for all my figures. It wasn’t ideal but it held them. I couldn’t easily find what I needed but they all fit. I stored my card in a 3-ring binder and put the binder and a notebook (hiding my rules, islands, maps, etc) in a messenger bag. Did I want to use a similar method? I did not and opted for an expandable carrying case. It needed to come with me when I game, house my entire collection, and allow me to quickly find the models I need. I needed it to be affordable, I am paying for my wedding, and durable. There’s no use buying something that will grow with my collection if it will fall apart in a few days.
Step 3 – Window Shop
The collection has been reviewed and the use has been determined. Now what? Search online of course. I spoke with fellow gamers online. I talked to people I play with. I looked in Google. I quickly realized there are a LOT of choices for us. But, not all of them are good choices. Window shopping allowed me to narrow down my list to a couple options. After spending a week searching I was torn between two different options. My heart was set on a Flambeau Kwikdraw 8010 tackle box (as of this posting Walmart has it for sale at $28.88) but it was so big. Did I really need something that large and expensive? Luckily, my window shopping quickly resolved this issue. I found the perfect store with the best price for this item. I bought mine from Walmart’s online store, and picked it up in their brick and mortar location to save on shipping, for $48.13 (also covered a Flambeau Tuff Tainer tray to replace the deep one that comes with the tackle box).
Step 4 – Moving Day
The new storage system has been bought and picked up. The daunting task of moving the collection from the old to the new must commence. This calls for a game plan. I calculated that I would need 2 trays per set. One tray would hold my Allies and the other the Axis. Methodically I moved my American carriers from their old home to their new. I put the battleships next followed by the cruisers and finally the subs and auxiliary ships. The main benefit of these Flambeau plastic trays is customization. They come with plastic dividers allowing you to create the right size space. I made big ones for the larger vessels and small for the subs and destroyers. Utilizing my plan the move was effortlessly completed. All ships went into the trays housed in the tackle box’s belly. All aircraft and game aids into the top compartment.
Step 5 – Retrospection
The days of planning, saving, researching, and moving the collection into their new home are over. It is important to take a deep breath, grab a beverage, and take a good long look at what you’ve done. Then ask yourself a very important question. Are you satisfied? This is a big undertaking and it helps to spend time looking back at what you did and what you would do differently. You also need to try out your new system. I had mine ready two days before my weekly game night. I brought it with me, made people jealous of my shiny gear, and loved how it made my life easier.
There are a lot of different options out there. Maybe a bunch of plastic trays are the best choice for you. Put them in a duffel bag and you’re on your way. Maybe you want a small plastic tackle box to hold just what you need to game. You’ll leave most of your stuff at home. Perhaps a large Tupperware under the bed storage bin is ideal. Store all your models in sealed plastic bags inside and carry it with you. Or, maybe you’ll benefit from a plastic tackle box like I have.
I am very happy with my Flambeau Kwikdraw 8010 tackle box. I normally don’t shop Walmart but they had the best price around on this. It retails on the Flambeau website for almost $64 but why pay full price? I take it with me to my regular War at Sea game and it holds everything I need. I still house my stat cards in a 3-ring binder and bring that with a notebook in a black messenger bag. I know when I get Flank Speed that I won’t be able to carry all 3 sets with me in this tackle box. But, I can take out whatever trays I won’t need and replace them with the ones I will.
Got questions? Need more help? Leave a comment below and we’ll do our best to help. Hope you found this helpful and good luck in choosing your storage system.