Wednesday, March 21, 2018

All the Skeletons You Can Eat

My Red Guard skeleton regiments are finally complete, each maxed out at 40. That's a lot of models to move around. Movement trays are clunky, especially once you need to start shimmying models around in combat. I think I have a solution...

The batch of 20 skeletons I've been working on for the past several weeks are finished. Here are the two units, ranked up in all their glory:



The skeletons were converted, using parts from the old Empire State Troops and some helmets and armor bits from here and there. This lets me tick off the "convert a model" box on the Wargame Hobby Bingo card. I'm making progress on this slowly but surely. If I maintain a rate of two boxes per month, I'll get through the whole thing this year.


When building my regiments for Warhammer Fantasy, I used as many regimental strips as possible, in four-man strips and two-man strips. The four-man strips become problematic in Age of Sigmar when making pile-in moves. Inevitably, one of the strips is out on the end near a single enemy model, and I can't bend it to get all four skeletons around him. The two-man strips are much easier, and don't run into the same problem. The new skeletons were built on 2-man strips, and I split the four-man strips in half:


I've got 11 two-man strips and 18 single models in each unit. That significantly cuts down the number of models to move, but it's still a lot to move around. There are a lot of companies making movement trays for round-based models, but even those run into the problem of getting in the way when the models pile into combat, in the same way that a square tray would. Even the ones that are designed to fit the models with no gaps don't account for when you contact the enemy and they are not in a straight line, requiring you to disrupt your models out of their slots. The trays also still have a lip, which interferes with making base-to-base-contact with enemy models. Here's a solution I'm trying out:

Magnetic Movement Strips

I have wanted to make something like this for a while, but finding the right supplies (namely, the steel sheets) was always a challenge. All the steel sheets I'd seen were too thick to cut, but the local model railroad shop now carries these tin-coated steel sheets. They are .33mm thick, which is easy to cut with metal shears. The sheets are only $1.50 so I can make plenty of strips, and it couldn't be easier:



Step 1: Use the shears to cut a 1/2-inch wide strip of metal. If you are making strips for larger-based models, they can be thicker. The thickness should be about 1/4-inch shorter than the width of the bases you'll be putting on it so the models bases will mostly conceal the strip. *Take care when working with the metal because the edges will be sharp!


Step 2: The strip will be a little curled from cutting, so carefully flatten it out again.


Step 3: Use the shears to cut the ends round. The length of your strips will vary; make them long enough to hold four or five models. The end models should overhang and cover the ends of the strip.


Step 4: Sand the sharp edges smooth all the way around the metal strips.


Step 5: Spray prime the strips and then spray them with a neutral base color. I'm using Model Masters Medium Green because that's the color of my base edges, and it looks good against my green grass mat. If you play on an ash-waste or dirt battlefield, a grey or brown spray. You could even flock the strips to match your table, but that will add to the thickness, which could cause issues that I'll explain below. The intention is to keep it simple and make the strips as unobtrusive as possible.


Step 6: Finish up by super gluing a magnet under your models' bases. Make sure the thickness of the magnet isn't taller than the gap under the base, otherwise the models won't sit flush and will appear to be floating.


And that's all there is to it. Stick the models on the strip and get fighting!


The thickness of the metal is important because if it's too thick, it will raise the models a little and they will appear to be floating over the ground. Adding flock to the strip will definitely increase the thickness. This .33mm sheet is perfect.


The models can be on the strip in a tight row, or spread out. and you can move them together and pop them off when they get stuck into combat. The enemy can move right up to them as well without a tray getting in the way.



Here's how the strips look compared to a traditional tray. You also don't need to be as precise with the placement on the strip as you do when fitting models into a tray.



The strips take a little wear from the magnets rubbing against them. That's not bare metal showing, though, it's still green, just shiny from the magnet rubbing on the paint. I used rare earth magnets for this experiment, which might be a little too strong. Adhesive magnetic strips might be a little easier on the metal and cost less than using rare earth magnet for every model.


Even if I have to touch up the metal strips with the green spray every now and then, it will still be worth it. A handful of the strips will also take up significantly less real estate in my miniatures case than the movement trays did!


I'll use these in my next game and let you know how they worked out.

'Til next time!


  1. Neat idea.
    You can get bases that are magnets if you hunt around. Gale force 9 used to do them in the U.K. and I use small round flat magnetic sheet from Hasslefree as 15mm figure bases directly.
    The other advantage is that you can store the figures in cardboard filing boxes with metal sheet stuck to the bottom and they take up less space :-)

  2. Those movement strips are great. I have used flashing from the hardware store to make movement trays, but it might be a bit thicker.

  3. Found a 6"x12" version on Amazon, but they're more expensive than Rob's $1.49 bargain. Bought some for myself, but haven't made any yet.

  4. Hi! Just discovered your blog, great information! When you mention Model Master Medium Green, am I correct in assuming the enamel version? Thank you!

    1. Thanks Michael! Yes, it says "custom spray enamel" on the spray can. I don't know if there's a non-enamel version of the spray.


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