If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been gearing up to start painting miniatures. I wanted to get some mini storage boxes first to see what limitations they would give me as to what size base I could use.
I’ve glued pennies to the bottom of minis in the past and wanted to switch to nickels. Well, the boxes showed up today and it looks like nickels will work!
I realize that nickels (or pennies) may seem like an odd choice. I prefer minis cast in one piece (including an attached base). Unfortunately, these bases are often too small for the mini and it falls over a lot. A coin offers a uniform base size and I find that a round base is more convenient than a square or hexagonal one. Plus the weight of a coin makes the mini more stable as well. Although I’ve been happy with using pennies, I’ve wanted to switch to nickels for the slightly larger size and increased weight.
Chessex Figure Storage Boxes
After looking around at the various options (and being surprised that there weren’t more to choose from) I decided to go with Chessex. Their largest case (which is what I went with) holds 80 miniatures. Each cutout is 1″ x 1½” x 9/16″. I was concerned that this would be too small to accommodate the penny (or nickel) bases but, as I hoped, there is adequate foam above and below for the coins to push into.
The boxes themselves are 17½” x 8″ x 2½” (which isn’t actually stated anywhere on their website). This seems to me to be absolutely perfect. Each box is big enough to hold a great many minis without being too unwieldy.
There are two heavy clasps. They seal so tight I actually had trouble getting them open but I’m sure they’ll become easier over time. There is definitely no chance of them accidently coming open while being transported.
From the bottom up: there is a thin piece of foam, followed by a 9/16″ piece (with the cutouts for miniatures), followed by another thin piece of foam. Above this there is a heavy piece of chipboard (to separate the two levels). This has a small fob attached at one end to facilitate removing the upper level. Above this is another thin piece of foam, followed by a 9/16″ piece (for the upper level of minis). Finally, there is a thin piece of foam that fits inside the lid. All this looks to me to provide excellent support all around, even if the box were to be dropped and rolled around (not that I really want to test that theory).
The first thing I noticed was that the cutouts weren’t empty. The sides of each space were cut out but each corner was still attached. I can’t imagine why anyone would want them left in place like this. With a little care I was able to remove them without tearing any of the walls. I was a little concerned that this would be a problem but they all came out without incident. With a little thought, I’ll probably come up with a use for these so I stuck em all in a box for now.
The next thing I noticed was that once I had placed minis in each of the slots, and pulled the fob to remove the top layer of minis, the chipboard flexed a little allowing the 9/16″ foam around those minis to pull away from the thin layer of foam below it. If the two pieces separated further, the minis on that level could fall through. Naturally, this is a bit alarming.
As it turns out, the manufacturer anticipated this and offers some advice. A paper insert accompanies each case and suggests that you glue the bottom piece of thin foam to the larger piece in order to provide a sturdier environment. I haven’t done this yet but it certainly sounds like it will resolve the issue. The thin piece of foam that sits inside the lid is loose and simply sits there. I may glue it in place too. In fact, I may glue the top level of minis to the chipboard as well.
What If My Minis Were Too Big?
This was a big concern. I was really afraid that the cutouts wouldn’t be big enough. There are actually a number of things you could do. First off, Chessex does offer other sizes. This case has foam with 80 cutouts (40 per level). They sell the same cases with foam cut differently to offer fewer cutouts that are each a bit larger. You can also cut out walls if you just need a few larger spots.
All of their cases include foam cutouts that are limited to being 9/16″ deep though. If that presents a problem, simply remove the chipboard that separates the two levels and glue the two pieces of foam with cutouts together. This will give you slots 1 1/8″ deep. I assumed I would have to do that but fortunately it looks like all my minis (with the size bases I want to use) will fit just fine without having to do that.
Dealing With Chessex
I have a huge Chessex gaming mat I picked up over 30 years ago that I am very happy with. Because of that, and the fact that Chessex is established and has been around that long, I felt comfortable in dealing with them.
However, their website scares me. It’s amazing that any company would have something so archaic. It’s incomplete, rarely updated, and has terrible low-quality images. If I wasn’t aware of their great reputation, I probably would have looked elsewhere. Most surprising of all, you can’t actually buy anything directly from their site. Instead, they suggest you email them an order along with your shipping info and credit card number. I’m more than a little uncomfortable emailing my credit card number to someone. Fortunately, they also list a phone number for phone sales.
Despite my misgivings, they were extremely professional, prompt and courteous (just as their reputation says). I called, the phone was answered right away, I gave him my order and info, and everything was shipped straight away. A few days later, my order arrived in good condition and as described.
I don’t have a single complaint about the company or the product.