Sunday, March 16, 2014


The Great Wall of Figures

Peter over at the Single Handed Admiral asked recently how wargamers approach storage. This is actually something I've given a lot of thought to, so I thought it merited a full post. 

Above you'll see where most of my figures are stored. These are A4 box files, they're not pretty, but they are extremely practical and Capability Savage has a cunning plan for making them more attractive to look at. These cost me between €1.50 and €5.50 depending on where they were bought, some were on sale, I pick them up when I can. They're the best storage solution I've found for 1/72 scale figures.

However, to be honest - it does not matter what sort of box you use. What matters is that it is freely available and comes in a standard size.  This is important because it allows the boxes to be stacked which is a huge advantage. When I worked in the book trade, I used to curse those suppliers that used non-standard sizes. A standard size will make things a lot easier for you. 

The Workhorse 

For figures I use A4 box files lined with steel paper. The figures are magnetised and are held in place by those magnets. This makes it a lot easier to keep things organised. While obviously, you don't want boxes that are too small, a big box is harder to transport and manipulate. Bear that in mind when you're organising your forces. Obviously if you don't intend to travel with your collection it is less of a concern, but look at how you intend to use them and plan accordingly.

Another thing I've noticed since using this method of storage.  There is a temptation to cram as many figures are you can into one of these boxes. You'll notice that there's a little gap between each group in the box. This makes it a lot easier to lift figures out and put them back in again.  You may be saving on boxes, but you'll be wasting time when you're actually trying to get at your toy soldiers. 

The field of Mars
(under construction and everything else apparently)

I'm lucky enough to have a dedicated  War Room and to be honest, there is going to be a certain amount of showing off, but I've been working on this for quite some time and I am exceptionally proud of it. The table above is six foot by four and a half feet. There are wings attached to it, so that it can be expanded to six by six and a half feet. This is the largest sized table I could reasonably fit in the room and still have space to move around. 

Observations on tables. Go as big as you can, but ensure that you leave space to walk round.  Also, don't spend a lot on it because you could get the size wrong. This cost me the price of two sheets of MDF and some hinges.  I intend to play on it for twelve months and then re-evaluate and re-think in light of how it stands up under actual play. I have two terrain mats, which I store flat on top of each other on the table. I'd like to add more funds permitting. 

But given that the table didn't cost the earth, I've no compunctions about hacking it up in twelve months. 

Storage for books and terrain. 

This isn't ideal, these shelves were actually built for figures, but needs must when the Devil drives.  These shelves were built to fill the alcove on either side of the fireplace and consequently are rather too deep for books. Most of the books here are double stacked, which isn't great for getting at them, but it was better than leaving them in boxes in the Dungeon. Eventually the plan is to shelve the Box Room and turn it into a library cum recording studio for Mrs. Kinch. Those shelves will be narrower and most of the books will be going up there. 

Scenery storage

This, I'm not happy with this. The file boxes are good because they are a standard size and they do stack, but I need to work out a way of storing the buildings in them so that they don't get flittered.

 6/10 - Could do better. 

Also with hats. 

This shelf was the brain child of my Father in Law. It's for books that you like, but don't read very often.  It looks lovely and adds nearly twenty feet worth of shelving with no discernable loss of space. The problem is that they can be difficult to get at - though I'm told there is a library steps in my future. So much so that I've been given strict instructions not to get one for myself. 

Also, it provides excellent storage for my collection of head gear. 

Armchair and storage for smokeables 

This was a Christmas gift from Mrs. Kinch and came from Lissandel House where, clever girl that she is, she picked it up at auction.  It was reputedly used by WB Yeats as it was kept in the room that he habitually stayed in.  Pipes go in the bottom, cigars in the humidor on top - with some drinkables stashed towards the back for when it's early in the morning and dragging myself the eight feet to the drinks cabinet is more than I can bear. I usually park myself here with a book after finishing nights with a drink, a smoke and a book. Drinking at 0700 is perfectly normal and is one of the things that makes me bearable as a spouse or so Mrs. Kinch tells me. 

More scenery storage. 

Whatever book I'm reading tends to end up balanced on one of these boxes. There's more scenery stored in them.  The red and blue boxes hold Little Wars figures. The boxes themselves were handmade by my good pal Tootsie and they are beautiful.  I hope to display them to better effect once some of the figure boxes have migrated to the other shelving.  

The swords live here at present, though once I've finished framing prints, they will  migrate to the wall - ideally placed so that they can be seized during a Robin Hood versus Guy of Gisbourne style showdown. 

You'll notice that this is the only chair in the War Room. That's mainly because I usually stand when I wargame. However, one does want to sit down on occasion and I keep some folding chairs under the table for when we have company. 

The Plastic Soldier Barracks

Plastic figures - everything gets taken off its sprue and is put in a plastic bag. I've gotten into the habit of doing this whenever I get a box of plastic figures. It helps a lot - prior to this I had stored them in their boxes and it took up a lot more space.  About six times as much in fact. There is a lot of empty space in a box of toy soldiers. Make sure the bags are clear so that you see what's inside them and don't dump everything in a box without bagging them first because you'll be looking for that one last chap in a marching pose and you'll never find him. 

The camera stuff usually lives under the table, along with some GW carry cases and the Plastic Soldier Barracks. 

The magic cave. 

This drinks cabinet is a wonderful piece of furniture and was the gift of a dear friend of mine, Ms. N. The top shelf holds drinkables, the shelf below that glassware and everything below that is a mix of paint, kits and other bits and pieces that don't really go anywhere else. Things like decals that might be effected by damp are also kept here. 

Daddy loves you all very much. 

Oh well here goes nothing

Now this is probably the best piece of storage we've been able to integrate into the War Room. It is fantastic because it allows me to have stuff close at hand without cluttering things up. On the other hand, if I'd known how much work it would take I'd have never started it. We were able to build this because of a trick of topography.  The front of our home is a good six feet higher than the back, consequently there was a significant drop underneath the floor of the room.  The original floor needed to be replaced and it seemed like the time to do it. The area was dug out, levelled, damp proofed and a concrete floor laid. 

It was a lot of work.  

I suppose the motto of this particular project is that there's storage there if you look for it. I doubt anyone will be in a position to replicate this exactly, but if you look around and use a little imagination, you can make space. 

Just packed

There's actually a considerable amount of space down there. This picture makes it look rather more packed than it is. Again, archive boxes used for storage because they stack, though there's a portion of them that have kitchen ware, etc in them at the moment while we're still working on the kitchen. Hopefully, by the time I get the main collections sorted, I'll be able to put a bit more shape on this. Coming along swimmingly.  

So to sum up. 

1. Store your figures in standard sized boxes that don't cost the earth and that can be stacked. 
2. Label things or use clear containers. 
3. Examine the space you have and see where you can integrate additional storage. 
4. Make the storage fit what you want to store. 
5. Make it work first and then make it beautiful. 


  1. I admire your organisation skills Sir !

    1. Er...I wouldn't go that far. There's quite a distance to go.

  2. Conrad
    Excellent! I do love the dungeon and the liquor cabinet. But no interpretive dance!
    Cheers, PD

    1. I shall do my best to see that there is none.

  3. Oooo, I like that bar cabinet and the trapdoor! Most ingenious.

    Best Regards,


    1. One has saved my marriage and the other saves a great deal of space.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you - I wish I could say they were just common sense, but they took me ages to work out by myself.

  5. I can personally vouch for the comfort of Yeat's chair and accessibility of the drinks cabinet and having seen the progress of towards completion of war-room over the last few years, the transformation is superb
    cheers Old John

    1. It comes along in fits and drabs, but it is coming.

  6. I see you got them decals to work out for you. That's a rather nice setup you have there.

    1. Thank you very much. I did indeed, they were a great success. I shall have to do a post on them and my fledging VBCW air force.

  7. A shot of vodka improves the breakfast fruit juice no end.

    You are clearly married to a fine lady.