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LotR Wiki

Miniatures/Collecting/Custom Boxes

Edit this page (last edited October 3, 2005)

Category Articles

Custom Storage Boxes

This article describes how to create your own custom storage boxes for the many 25mm Lord of the Rings figures you are collecting.

  • Custom Storage Boxes
  • Introduction
  • Materials List
  • Collecting suitable boxes
  • Picking a Suitable Box
  • Padding the Box
  • Layout the miniatures
  • Cutout the spacers
  • Decorating the Box
  • Conclusion
  • Comments
  • Introduction

    Building your army is important, but perhaps even more so is storing them in a safe manner that protects both the model’s structure (i.e. no bending) as well as the paintjob on the model (i.e. no chipping). There are many third-party storage boxes you can buy of the shelf that all work very well, but they all cost money. For most of us who do not have an extra $50-$100 for storage boxes, there’s a cheaper alternative, building your own custom storage boxes.


    Store bought box, around $30 USD.


    Hand built custom box, around $2 USD.

    Through-out this article, I will show a step-by-step means of making a suitable box for my Uruk-hai army. These will be at the end of each section and start with the italicized Example.

    Materials List

    The following is a list of the materials needed to work through this article:
    • Appropriate Size Box (see below)
    • Scissors
    • Foam Pad
    • Glue (one of the following):
      • PVA
      • Wood
      • White
      • Elmer’s
      • etc.
    • Your miniatures

    Collecting suitable boxes

    There are a lot of different boxes you could use to store your miniatures. Size is important, and all three dimensions need to be taken into account. It should be big enough to hold a few rows of miniatures and at least 2 inches deep (deep enough to hold a 1 inch miniature base plus some pad-foam). I recommend a minimum of these dimensions: 6” width x 9” length x 2” depth.


    Minimum dimensions of a box to hold about 12 miniatures.

    The boxes you can use range from shoe-boxes to pizza boxes, computer keyboard boxes to post-boxes. The best ones to use are those with “tab” inserts that will firmly close the box.


    Notice how the tabs slide into the box itself, keeping the lid closed.

    You can use other boxes, but they aren’t as nice. Shoe Boxes don’t stay closed very well, post-boxes suffer from the same problem. (the ones you use to send packages in the mail with) I used a couple post-boxes for my Space Marine Terminators. While they are big and firm, they don’t stay closed very well so I have to be careful in transport. With the “tabbed” boxes they always stay nice and closed, snug in their bug.


    Boxes I’d received from a Borland convention, works but risky. Notice how the lid just folds over but doesn’t really close.

    The ones I find the easiest to adapt and use are found in the Computer world. Motherboard boxes are excellent for army-sized groups of miniatures. “Card” boxes (the ones that hold video cards, sound cards, etc.) as well as Hard Drive boxes are good for tight-groups of around 10 miniatures (I store my Fellowship group in one of these).

    Go to your local computer store and ask them about their boxes. The best stores to go to are the stores that build computers to spec. These stores typically order the parts for their computers, piece the machines together, then chuck the boxes in the trash. The more local or “mom-n-pop”ish these stores are the better. They will almost always have about 10 suitable boxes at any given moment that they’d be more than willing to give you.

    Here are some boxes to look for:


    Toshiba battery pack boxes.


    Compaq harddrive boxes. This one is very deep, about 4 inches, allows me to put two layers into it.


    Compaq harddrive boxes. I got really lucky with these, since they come with some foam already in them for shipping.

    Picking a Suitable Box

    It’s best to decide how you want to group your miniatures to know how big of a box to use. Groups are typically the miniatures you use for your army, or all the miniatures of one race, such as all your High Elves or all your Goblins, etc. Another good grouping idea are themes, such as those found in the box sets from Games Workshop. Here are some photos of good grouping examples.


    This is a Fellowship theme. It’s the 9 in the boxset plus since there was room, I added three more Hobbits (Bilbo, Merry & Pippin from the Grishnak blister).


    My first set of Moria Goblins from the Fot R set. I ended up buying another set of Goblins, so I’ll probably move these into a larger box.


    Due to my love of Space Hulk, I have a lot of Genestealers. This is my main box, it’s double layered to hold them all (and I still had about 10 left over).

    The key to note here is to make sure that the chosen box will hold all the miniatures of your group. I use smaller boxes with smaller groups, larger boxes with the larger groups, and even multi-layered boxes for the really large groups. It’s best to take the box you want to use, then actually lay the miniatures in the box and see if they will fit.

    Example:

    Knowing the size of my Uruk-hai army (21 awkward miniatures), I decided to see if they would fit in one of my Compaq harddrive boxes which measures 9”x10”x2”, shown here:

    To make sure before I went forward, I laid all the miniatures out inside the box. The tricky part was the Pikemen, with their extra-long pikes. I decided I would double up on them to conserve space as shown here:

    Padding the Box

    To make it so that the paint doesn’t get chipped off your miniatures, you should always put some kind of padding in the box. Egg Crate Foam Pad works the best. Go to any local department store (like Walmart, Shopko, etc) or bed/bath supply store and look for Egg Crate Foam Mattress Padding, they typically are only around $10 to $20.

    Here are a couple of suitable pads to look for:

    http://www.domesticbin.com/IBS/SimpleCat/Product/asp/product-id/63488.html

    http://www.laurenslinens.com/chirpadeggcr.html

    http://www.wvmarketplace.com/Mall/Catalog/Product/ASP/product-id/63488/store-id/1000004977.html

    http://www.moldingsbest.com/LECFull.html

    Measure the box you are padding and cut three pieces, one for the top of the box and one for the bottom. The third piece is for the “spacer” between the miniatures. Using woodglue, glue one piece onto the top of the box and one piece onto the bottom. I usually glue so the “egg” pieces are facing inwards, though you can decide on your own which way is best.


    Measure, mark and cut the foam.
    Three pieces were needed for these post-boxes, the Top, Bottom, and a filler.

    Example:

    For my Compaq boxes, I was lucky and only needed to cut one 7” x 9” piece of foam since the box already had some foam on the top and bottom of the box to pad the harddrives.

    Layout the miniatures

    After the glue has dried, place the third piece of foam you’d cut from the previous step and lay it in the box. Then take your miniatures that you plan to put into the box and lay them out ontop of this foam in the way you’d decided from the previous step. Once you’ve got the optimal layout of the miniatures, take a pen and draw a small outline of each miniature.

    Example:

    I’m drawing outlines of each miniature for cutting later (see below).


    Here is the foam with all the models outlined.

    Cutout the spacers

    Remove the third piece of foam from the box and with a pair of scissors, cutout the shapes of your miniatures. This can be done in one of four ways:

    1. Deep Squares. Don’t follow the shape of the miniature, rather just cut a square that the mini can fit in. This allows for a little bit of reusability if you ever want to change who goes where. Big problem though is the loose fit, the miniatures tend to flop around in transport.

    1. Deep Shapes. When cutting, follow the shape of the miniature as much as possible. This allows for a tighter fit, the mini won’t flop around in the box so much in transport, and it also shows where the different miniatures fit.

    1. Shallow Squares. Similar to Deep Squares, you cut a square shape rather than the outline of the miniature, however don’t cut all the way through the foam. This lets miniatures sit in the foam and keeps them from “flopping” too much. Very useful if your box is maybe too deep for the foam.

    1. Shallow Shapes. Similar to Deep Shapes, follow the outline of the miniature, however do not cut all the way through, leaving a pocket for the miniature to lie in. Advantage is an even tighter fit, however it’s a little more difficult and time consuming to cut. You can also sometimes forget which model goes where when packing up.

    Example:

    For my army, I chose Shallow Shapes. After having done this for about 8 different boxes, I’ve found that Shallow Shapes works best in keeping the models where they belong. Here you can see how I cut (notice how I’m pushing the foam out), then how the model lays into it.


    Notice how you have to cut at an angle, and even push the foam around to get a ShallowShape? cut.


    The model lays very nicely in the shape. You may need to lay the model in a couple times to make sure it lies nice and snug.


    ShallowShape? is usually so tight, that even holding the box upside down the models will still remain in their packaging, providing ultimate protection in transport.

    Decorating the Box

    Although you’re now pretty much done, the box still looks like a cheap, miscellaneous box. Since Lot R is all about high quality, you may want to decorate your box so you don’t look like a total cheap-o. You can paint the boxes, use magazine pictures, etc. Look online for some Lot R pictures that matches the theme of the miniatures you’ve put in the box and print them out. http://www.theonering.net has a great collection of stills from the movies. If I’m using mini’s from a boxset from GW, I typically cut the boxset up and glue that onto my custom box.


    This is a box of the models from Weathertop. Cutting the GW box, I glued all edges around my storage box. Notice how the entire GW box was used. Don’t really know why I felt I needed to keep the back or even the sides of the box, but I did.


    This box is my collection of high-elves, and scouring the web I found a few good pictures to make a collage for the cover. I was a bit uncreative with the rest of the box and simply painted it blue.

    Example:

    Being uruk-hais, I decided here to give the box a red and brown camouflage paintjob. On the top of the box, using Photoshop I created a collage of uruk-hai shots from the movies and printed it out and glued it on. Lastly, I applied a layer of varnish to the printout, ensuring a long lasting life for my custom box.


    Since the picture isn’t very square and there’s a bit of room on the bottom of it, I may later decide to printout a “Lord of the Rings” logo, or perhaps Uruk-Hai or something to fill it in, but it’s good for now.

    Conclusion

    This is a very affordable way to create boxes that will keep your miniatures stored safely. All in all, it only costs around $1 or $2 a box. You can try some variants too, depending on the boxes you find. For exampe, Cell Phone boxes are good to use. Some boxes that may be too thin would only require two sheets of foam (with the bottom sheet having the “cut” sections, Shallow cuts I’d recommend). Etc.

    -- Shnar Gru

    Comments


    I love the article. Thanks for the idea for storage boxes.

    -Elvenknight009
    Great layout. I did something similar for my Cave Trolls using a plastic "baby-wipes" box and old mattress foam that happened to be lying around. I never knew what that bumpy foam was officially called until now!

    -- Os Bad
    that is great.

    i share your like of genestealers, theres noting better then watching hands and claws rip apart space marines, then came the terminators......who the genestealers whooped, only to be killed by lascannons.... anyway i will leave the rest of the feedback on the thread on tla
    hehehe. I love Space Hulk. Never played a game that literally made my palms sweat. Tense, fast paced, and you didn't have to collect a whole ton of miniatures, only 10-20 Marines and a bunch of Genestealers. That is until the Genestealer expansion came out, then you had to start getting hybrids. Painting Marines was a snap too, since they were very uniformed. Lot R painting is a lot more difficult since each model is typically very different. Genestealers on the other hand were not that easy to paint, tons of washing and dry brushing. I should post an image or two of my completed models. I'm very tempted to try the Dipping technique on my remaining Genestealers (and I have a bunch of them).

    -Shnar Gru


    I Really like the layout for the boxes I just did a box last night. Good thing for me is I know someone who can get free foam

    Excellent, whomever-you-are. Fortunately for all us, the foam really isn't that expensive, about $10 US for enough foam for about 15 boxes. I'd love to see some pictures of how they turned out, if you have a camera

    -Shnar Gru

    -Captain Of Gondor Converter
          For all converting needs come to me
    

    Hey Shnar, nice to see that you've got this article up on TLA!

    -King Of Gondor
    yah,I gave you a star!

    -Citadel Guard
    I should really make a box like this for my Rohan Army...

    Neix J

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