Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Thirty Years War: Bases for 6mm figures for Tilly's Very Bad Day

Battle of Noerdlingen 1634
My normal practice for basing multiple figure stands is a combination of 2mm MDF and sheet steel. This gives the figures stability in transit when I put them in boxes lined with magnetic sheeting and on the table because of the additional weight. The depth gives you something to pick them up by.

However, I was not keen to use 3mm+ deep bases for figures that were themselves only 6mm high. Because of my firm requirement for steel over MDF, my friend Ian suggested using steel alone but that seemed fraught with difficulties as it is actually very awkward to prize a thin steel sheet from the magnetic plastic without having long nails or damaging the figures.

Printed template for mass-producing storage trays.
Ian suggested that if I inserted a sheet of paper between the surface of the storage boxes and the bottom of the bases, the bases would remain adequately in place but I could use the paper to 'peel and lift' them away when it was time to deploy them.

This worked a treat - thank you, Ian - and I've even started to create little paper trays so that the bases can be lifted out even more easily. Trays made from 80 gsm paper are a little weak and probably won 't last. 160 gsm card interferes with the magnetism. Somewhere in between I expect 100 gsm or 120 gsm paper to provide an optimum trade-off.

This arrangement would save me 2mm of unnecessary, artificial height. But something still tells me that it is a risky idea. Bases 3mm+ deep will give me (and others) something to grab - other than the figures themselves - when moving them around the table. Perhaps I will add the MDF after all!


  1. If you want a thin, firm base and can live with 40mm x 20mm, 40mm x 25mm and 40mm x 30mm, then the Kallistra bases are very good. However, they are not deep and you will end up holding the figures, though additional varnish on them may make you happier about that.

    1. Norm

      Thanks for the suggestion. I'm always grateful for help! However, the sizes don't fit the required profile at all. Also, I am not a lover of plastic bases which I have always found to be too slippery!

      I'm now definitely going down the MDF + steel route. The steel should be on it's way and I've just ordered the MDF.

      Apologies if I have wasted everyone's time here! On the other hand, I do have some 15mm near-future Sci-Fi armies which are based on steel alone. It's a long story. Basically I put the infantry on steel coins without MDF and then I put everything else on bare steel sheet rectangles to match the same height.

      That was unusual for me, but those SF figures and other gear are robust and I'm not worried about other players handling them. If, when completed, I find that pulling them out of the boxes is too traumatic, I will utilise this 'paper tray' solution. So the idea of the paper trays is not entirely void of interest or merit, even though I won't now be using it for this particular project!