Geek-Craft: Magnetize: A Review of A-Case +
If you saw my desk right now, you'd call me a hoarder. You wouldn't be exactly right, but you also wouldn't be far off. I buy, paint, and play with miniatures. I play games like Infinity, Malifaux, and hope to be grabbing Star Wars Legion soon. If you also push little metal/plastic men around a big table and wage war, you know the great struggle that is STORAGE.
Storing miniatures is an often talked about topic. Just google it and you'll find hundreds solutions. I've tried a lot of them and I've found that many of them work. But at the end of the day I needed a storage solution that wasn't just a heavy box of foam and bits at my house. I needed a solution that stored my minis, but also came with me to the store to play.
Enter: The A-Case + from A-Case. This case is a bag wrapped around a metal frame of removable shelving that you put your miniatures on. Just put magnets on your miniature bases, put your minis on a sliding shelf, and zip this thing up. The miniatures won't fall over or shift around. It's beautiful.
Yes, magnets. By glueing magnets to the bottoms of your miniatures bases, you give yourself a new option for storage that is super easy, won't rub paint off, and more convenient for playing/storage. Oh, and did I mention it's cheap? Magnets are cheap and you can even get them from A-Case, so you don't have to run around looking for rare-earth magnets. Just super glue them on and you're set. (If you want to know why I don't prefer foam storage, see Why I prefer magnets over foam at the end of this review)
The shelves where you put your magnetized miniatures slide out of the frame. This is super convenient when setting up to play since you can just slide the whole shelf out and take it with you to the game table. In addition, the frame has so many shelf brackets that you can set up all kinds of configurations and even add more shelves. When I ordered mine, I got one extra shelf and now I use four! A-Case says their case can hold up to 360 20mm base miniatures. I haven't tried, but I have tons in there right now with plenty of room leftover.
The A-Case + comes unassembled, which may seem daunting. I assure you, it's not difficult. There's a video here where they show you how to fold the thin sheets of metal (no tools necessary) and in about 30 minutes you have an A-Case + ready to go. It's a pretty cool assembly, actually, but if you don't have decent hand strength for some reason, you can always get a friend to help.
The metal frame and shelves aren't the only features of the A-Case +. Pins come with the shelving to allow you to lock a shelf in place. They are easily placed and removed and aren't strictly necessary for when you're transporting your A-Case. I transport mine without the pins in place and only use them when I leave the bag open and unattended (like at the game store when I'm just using a single tray at the game table).
The A-Case + features a strong handle on the top for carrying, as well as, a comfortable shoulder strap with a pad. I like the shoulder strap a lot. It's the kind you find on a decent laptop bags. Also, on the A-Case+ is a large velcro pocket that can hold lots of game or painting accessories. And to help you decorate your A-Case, the case features soft velcro straps for patches.
In addition to the bag itself, A-Case makes an accessory called a "Brush and Tools Case". It's a case that folds or rolls and is held shut by velcro. It has so many pockets for brushes, exacto knives, etc. You put them in the case, fold or roll it up, and it fits perfectly in the velcro pocket on the bag so those things aren't rolling around. Oh, and it has room for more patches! Great accessory.
The Price and Final Thoughts
The A-Case + retails for $79 USD with three shelves, six locking pins, and 50 magnets to get you started. Compared to other case options out there, this is a good price. Foam bags can cost $50+ and you'll likely be spending close to $100 to hold as many miniatures as an A-Case + can hold. Did I mention it comes in eleven color options?
In conclusion, I like my A-Case quite a bit. Once you sit down and glue magnets on your miniatures bases, this is the solution you'll love for transporting and storing those miniatures. In addition, the whole frame is metal, so you can stick miniatures to the sides or undersides of shelfs, meaning oddly shaped minis aren't a problem at all. And for games like X-Wing, you can fit even more ships by doubling up.
Full Disclosure: I purchased this A-Case with my own money. While talking with A-Case about using images from their site in a review, they offered to send me a free "Brush and Tools Case". I liked it so much that I included it in this review as well. They were very friendly.
Thank you! If you'd like to continue the discussion:
Why I prefer magnets over foam
I didn't want to bog down the review with this earlier on the page, so it's here in case you're interested. I've had a lot of foam storage over the years. It has a couple cons that irked me enough to keep looking for other solutions. I don't like the process of putting minis in foam or taking them out. It's a cumbersome process of shifting layers of foam around in a bag, being careful not to break any plastic parts or bend metal. All the while, the foam is rubbing the paint right off your miniatures! In addition, having to treat foam like frail eggshell all of the time gets old. And so, I switched to magnets.