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wdmartin

Travelling with minis

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I'm not sure if this belongs here or in the Off-Topic Rampancy section; if I've guessed wrong, please feel free to move the thread.

 

I'm going to be GM'ing at NorWesCon and GenCon this year.  I don't live anywhere near Seattle or Indianapolis, and will thus be flying with the minis I'll need.  Are there any pitfalls or gotchas I should be aware of when flying with minis?

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When security x-rays the container with the minis, metal minis will look like shrapnel.  That bag will be searched.

If you can, I'd carry-on that bag, because you can open the minis up before hand, so at least the TSA can see what is supposed to be shrapnel . . . isn't.  Also explain to the agent that these are fragile miniatures. You cannot stand too close to the agent when they are inspecting the bag, so best get the information to early. 

 

If you check the bag, place a letter in the bag, attached to the mini case, "Fragile- Miniatures for display" or something similar.  It might help save them from rough inspections.

 

Note that I'm unsure what plastic miniatures look like under the x-ray.

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I have carried on my miniatures in multiple trips, and haven’t had any serious problems.  I have my troops on multple figure bases (mostly) in these 6 liter Really Useful Boxes lined with magnets. (Steel on the bases). Two 6s should fit under the seat; two 6s and a 12 with scenery should fit in the overhead. The magnets protect from jostling, and I haven’t seen a security freakout over the x-ray.  83078713-0972-4DCF-949C-16E3E61D89E5.thumb.jpeg.2da5e78daef13c3cd30c15611ab55309.jpeg

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Plastic miniatures are generally pretty easy - like Rob Dean said, use clearly-labeled transparent plastic containers for them. Label them "Gaming Miniatures", and Do Not label them "WAR-gaming minis"...

 

 I've found that a highly-detailed list of the contents (and the purpose thereof) of a bag or suitcase, left immediately and prominently visible when the bag is first opened, goes a long way towards sidestepping TSA molestation...

I've flown to a couple of conventions since 9/11, and everything that might seem suspect is packed in clear containers, clearly labeled as "Hobby Tools", "Costuming Equipment", etc., and packed so that it's easily accessible when the bag is opened.
 

 

 On a side note -

 

Bring Sir Forscale with you as a sample... If you show him to them right at the start, they may not go through the trouble of searching the bags.

 

Edited by Mad Jack
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The only thing I'll add is that you should avoid wrapping any minis. I traveled once with a mini intended as a gift, wrapped in bubble wrap. It was unrolled carelessly and wound up crashing to the stainless steel inspection table. I should've known better, since the wrap meant the weird blob in the X-ray scan was effectively invisible to the human eye, and TSA kinda has to open things like that.

 

If your minis are in trays, and can be easily seen by lifting the cover, you should be fine. I've actually had some good conversations with TSA agents who play WH40K or Warmahordes.

 

I've never tried to check minis. Paints and tools, yes, but never had a problem with those (always in clear, labeled bags).

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Excellent pointers, thank you very much!

 

My initial plan involved using one of those black plastic cases from the Reaper kickstarters -- you know, with the foam inserts that have a tendency to rub paint off minis if you don't also wrap them in tissue or similar, which I had meant to do.  It sounds like that would likely have led to an unpleasant experience with TSA involving a long, slow painstaking unwrapping and rewrapping of figures, slowing down everyone in line behind me and potentially causing damage.

 

So ... now all I need to do is look into magnetizing things and getting a clear case.

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@Rob Dean -- I think I've got figured out what to do about the box and the magnetic bottom for it.  Is there anything in particular you use for the steel on the base of your minis?  Just washers and superglue?  Something else?

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On 3/12/2018 at 1:03 AM, wdmartin said:

@Rob Dean -- I think I've got figured out what to do about the box and the magnetic bottom for it.  Is there anything in particular you use for the steel on the base of your minis?  Just washers and superglue?  Something else?

 

Sorry to have been out of the loop most of the week; a lot of my troops are on washers. I had to go to the web and ensure that I was getting "NOT stainless" steel washers; the stainless ones are less magnetic.  (Zoro Tools is the name of the supplier I've used.)  For the multiple figure bases, I have them on wood, with the bottoms covered with a "flexible steel" base from Litko. This is some sort of iron filings in plastic material and is pretty easy to work with.  They come self-adhesive and can be readily trimmed.  Actually steel (also available from Litko and others) would probably have a little more grip, but would be hard to trim if it didn't match the wooden base exactly...

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Thanks for getting back!  I've been working on assembling a box like this, and so far it's going ... middlingly.  Is that a word?  It is now, I guess.

 

I bought one of the Really Useful boxes; I wasn't quite sure what size to get, and opted for the one labeled "9 liters".  This turned out to be rather taller than I needed; it's about six inches deep.  On further research, I really should have purchased one of the "4 liter" models.  So ... I guess it'll easily accommodate taller figures, should I wish to transport one!  But I think something the same width and length but shorter would have served my immediate purposes better.

 

The first sheet of magnetic material I got turned out to suffer from two problems.  First, it wasn't actually adhesive!  I misread the description -- it was designed for use with bumper stickers, the idea being that the adhesive part comes from the bumper sticker, not the magnet.  Second, it's barely magnetic.  You need full surface contact across a large area to get proper magnetic adhesion.  So I chalked that up to experience, chucked it and tried again.

 

I got washers at the local hardware store.  They're stainless.  They don't adhere worth beans.

 

My second attempt at getting a magnetic sheet went rather better.  I opted for one called "8" x 10" Adhesive 60 mil Magnet Ultra Thick", which is 6 millimeters thick.  The magnetism is a lot stronger, and this time it actually came with an adhesive backing.  The sheet was a bit too short to cover the entire bottom of the box, but it came in a pack of five sheets, so with an exacto knife, a good straight edge and some careful measuring, I sliced of a 2.25" chunk of a second sheet that fills that gap nicely.

 

At the same time, I thought I'd try ordering some magnets for the bottom of the mini.  So I ordered some "Square Adhesive Fridge Magnets ! 90 Pc Craft Magnetic tape 20x 20x 2mm and holds up to 2.5 ounces!" from Amazon.  They come in a sheet of pre-cut 1x1 inch squares with adhesive on one side, and their magnetism is fairly strong.  I've experimented with a few now, and they hold the mini to the mat in the bottom of the case fairly well.  But occasionally I'll find patches weird interference patterns, I think, where the magnets fight with one another because the polarities don't quite match.

 

I still have time!  I'll have a go at finding some washers made of actual ferrous steel instead of stainless.

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Progress!  I went to Menards, and they had a bunch of washers labeled "galvanized" which proved to work nicely.  The 5/16" outside diameter works nicely on 30 mil bases, and fits perfectly inside the bottom of a standard Reaper base.

 

It's unfortunately a teeny bit too large to go inside the base on one of those pre-painted WizKids plastic figures. I have a bunch of those, so I'll have to go back and get a bag of the next size down -- the 1/4" outside diameter ones.

 

Question, though!  What do you do about slotted bases?  The slot opening prevents the washer from snugging down into the base.  It reduces the surface area for glue a LOT, which makes me worry about bond strength.  My first impulse is to fill the gaps on the bottom of the base with green stuff or milliput so that there'll be sufficient surface area for the washer to attach to.  Thoughts?

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What I do about slotted plastic bases is not use them...::P:  For slotted figures, I bought 20mm and 25mm round by 3mm thick wooden bases from Litko, and there’s plenty of grip area on the bottom for attaching magnetically active material. Pictures in the morning...

 

 

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Here’s a Stonehaven slotted base figure in primer on a Litko base, two different sizes of base, and the flexisteel base bottoms, one unpeeled self-adhesive side up (white) and one steel side up.DCE69985-EC77-438D-821A-E4F2D296520B.thumb.jpeg.ca65c2ad37cc7b37fd918d9b985a01f1.jpeg

 

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Very nice!  But I still have to deal with my existing slotted bases. ::P:

 

There aren't very many of them, fortunately -- just a few, because I usually wind up cutting them free of their foundation and pinning them to a resin base instead of using the slotted one.  And I've got plenty of green stuff on hand, so stuffing them with putty is a viable option.

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Stuffing them would probably work...I do have a couple of things on plastic bases, but there was enough contact area for the flexisteel base bottoms to hold. 

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Aaaand ... voila!

 

IMAG1706.jpg.12cd4680729e6b9a85788908e214ccaf.jpg

 

Everything is working smoothly.  I even found a smaller Really Useful Box, slapped a sheet of magnet on the bottom, and now have a dice box that fits neatly in there.

 

IMAG1707.jpg.19b469f6e6e1bd43b6bb50ffa76e97ba.jpg

 

IMAG1708.jpg.589b9c180190e7cad04ec3c36460255f.jpg

 

Many thanks for all the tips and assistance, especially to @Rob Dean!

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