I recently dusted off my big old box of BattleTech miniatures and opened it to find an assortment of miniatures I had collected over the years, some painted, some partially assembled, but most of them still in their original blister packs. If I was going to assemble, paint, and take these miniatures out to play, I would need some way to transport them safely, so I decided to make a couple of foam trays.
What You Need
A4 sized plastic containers (about 50mm in height).
Hot glue sticks.
Assorted sheets of foam, no more than a metre in length. I bought some dense 5mm thick foam, and some soft 20mm thick foam. If you’re lucky, you may be able to get some off cuts for free.
Hot glue gun.
Scissors are sharp. Hot glue is hot. If you manage to injure yourself while handling foam, you’re clearly doing something terribly wrong.
I was going to keep the design super simple so that I could build these quickly. I would have a sheet of foam at the bottom and top of the box, and a grid pattern of foam strips to make up the walls of the cells. This way, each miniature would have its owns space to bounce around in, surrounded by foam. After measuring a few BattleTech miniatures, I came up with a couple of simple grid designs, one which had 18 generously sized cells, and the other with 20 snug fitting cells. In both designs the foam walls would be 10mm wide.
How Its Made
I began by cutting two pieces of 5mm dense foam to line the top and bottom of the container. I didn’t worry about cutting them precisely to size, close enough was good enough. I hot glued one of them to the inside of the lid and I marked out how I would arrange the foam insets on the other.
Next, I cut a bunch of 10mm wide strips of the soft foam, once again with little care for precision. Since the foam I had was only about 20mm high, I needed enough strips for two layers to build up the walls.
Then it was simply a matter of cutting and hot gluing strips foam onto the design I had marked out. Clearly, this isn’t rocket science, just glue down those foam strips and cut off the excess. The only consideration I made was to overlap the 2 layers of strips for better stability, like each layer of bricks overlaps the layer below it. For example, for the bottom layer I glued down long strips horizontally and short strips vertically, but for the top layer I glued down long strips vertically and short strips horizontally.
And that was pretty much it, enough space in each container for a company and a half worth of BattleMechs. Although I had spent a few dollars on the foam, I probably still had enough for another 10 containers, so the major cost of this project was the A4 containers I used.