Monday, March 14, 2011

Steel Bases from Precision Wargames Supplies - A Review

A battalion of French provisional grenadiers,
HAT figures who have some service - individually mounted. Transferring them to temporary bases is a job which oppresses my gentle spirit

As I have mentioned in my previous posts, I've been in a bit of pickle with basing of late. My figures are based individually which means that I can and have used them for a wide variety of games by slapping them on different sabot bases.

Aside: Sabot is a word meaning wooden shoe in the original dastardly French. It is pronounced SA-bo or Say-BOT if you want to annoy French speakers in the neighbourhood. Speaking with greater volume and slowly adds to the effect. Try this at home.

However, this has proven unsatisfactory for Command&Colours: Napoleonics has the current crop of bases are too big and are bodged together from card and steel paper. Their particular sin is that the troops have to be transfered to them before making it onto the battlefield. This is a dreary task and one that has actually dissuaded me from setting up games.

What I needed was a base that would allow me to move each unit as one piece. I could happily move lads about if I needed to form square as it is not that common an occurrence and the square isn't likely to be going anywhere. The base would need to be steel so that the figures will stick to it and capable of being stuck in a steel paper lined box, so that units can be stored on their sabot bases and brought out in quick time.

Enter Ian of Precision Wargaming Supplies, who makes steel bases for the discerning wargamer. I wrote to him asking if he could produce affordable bespoke steel bases in the appropriate size (5 inch by 2 inch). Not only did he get back to me within six hours, but he offered to send some samples to "try before you buy."

If you like your customer service prompt, friendly and seasoned with increasingly bizarre steel based puns, you'll like Precision Wargaming Supplies.

But what of the product?

Samples from Precision Wargaming Supplies - two 1 1/2 square bases and a circle

The above samples arrived the other day and I managed to mess about with them this evening. Neatly cut steel, covered in black enamel - they are neat, regular and hold figures well. They are not so thick (a touch less than 1/16 inch) as to add too much to the height of the figures placed on them, but still thick enough to be picked up by sausage fingers oafs soused with gin.

You can see above some Newline Neapolitans (actually French) lounging about on one of the 1 1/2 squares. However, the magnetic material I use, which is designed for adding signs to the sides of vans is not so powerful as to hold the figures in place in the box. Another layer of magnetic material will have to be added to insure that the sabot bases don't move around while in transit.

Layer of magnetic material added to the bottom of the base

Adding this layer this just about doubles the thickness of the base, which is not unattractive and makes it easier to pick up. The attraction of the magnet is strong, so that despite some experiment shaking, the figures didn't move around at all. One slight problem I noticed was that the attraction of the magnets was so strong that I had a bit of difficulty removing the base from the box at first. This isn't a major issue as removing them from the box is something I will have to do only once per game and it does mean that the figures are quite secure in their box. I suppose I could add a tab of ribbon to the back of each base to give me something to break the seal with, but that is something I shall have to think about once I have the finished product in front of me.

The figures provided by Ian for forty bespoke bases were as follows.

Spec Qty Price Cost
5 inch x 2 inch 40 £ 1.25 £ 50.00
Sub £ 50.00
P&P £ 15.00
PayPal -£ 3.25
Total £ 61.75

On the face of it, this seems quite expensive. The cost is equal to that of raising one regiment of foot from scratch. On the other hand, forty units is sufficient for the largest game of Napoleonics I am likely to play and will allow me to base up most of the units that I am likely to use on a regular basis. The bases will allow me to actually play with the figures I have spent so much time collecting without taking an age, but retaining the cast of thousands look so to dear to my heart.

I'm convinced.


  1. Sounds like a sound basis for bases.

    btw I meant to say that the lads looked quite splendid at Corunna.


  2. I think you're right - pricey but how much frustration will you save yourself during set-up and tidy-up? (not to mention valuable playing/drinking time wasted!)

  3. Might be worth price checking these guys....

    ...their biggest are are 10cm x 5cm which may be too small - but they do bespoke sizes as well... this thing is the biggest ones are 2 for a £1 - I make that roughly half your other supplier..... well less anyway.....

    1. I have been using Precision Wargames Supplies for a number of years now. They are the more pricy end of steel basing but I have found many of the cheaper options have poor tollerance levels on the sizes suppplied. With PWS they say precision and thats what you get.

  4. Good luck with the new war-game table project. It looks to be a good size for gaming. Stop by my blog when you have a chance: