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Foam-ing at the Mouth

MT Updated
Foam-ing at the Mouth
There Will Be Games

Hello. My name it Matt and I am a foamaholic.

It started at my high school role-playing games club. Everyone running a game would want to bring in painted miniatures for the session. Some of the older kids had folders of foam-lined cardboard to cushion the transport. They claimed these came from electrical component boxes, but I  never managed to snag one. So, each week I endured the misery of seeing hours of painting work ruined by chips and wear. 

It gave me a fetish for varnish: even now I double-coat all my figures once in gloss and once in matte. But that was easily satisfied. The craving for foam was not.

Fast forward many years. Custom made foam trays for figures are now available online. My entire Warhammer collection is comfortably ensconced in its pillowy embrace and I am happy. Fast forward some more years and I start an X-Wing collection. Even though I didn't paint these models, I'm as obsessive about protecting them as I am about all painted models. Shaped foam for these figures exists, but is expensive and impractical. And I also want to store my ships ready-assembled for minimal setup time. What's the solution?

Re-purposing my Warhammer foam, of course.

That's a custom pick and pluck tray from Figures in Comfort which you can shape to your requirements. But you can be cleverer than that with foam. They also sell trays for card collections with long, tall slots. I used to use them for giant bats. Guess what else looks a lot like a giant bat?

Voila. Now all I need is a way to store all those lumpy, awkwardly shaped Armada ships. Mine are still in the blisters they came in. But I digress. See, foam isn't just for figures. As the previous example shows, they're also quite good at keeping certain kinds of components, like cards, in neat order. So what might happen if you made an insert exactly the right size to fit in a card game box? This:

That's a Netrunner insert from Mini Foam Studio, and it's pretty awesome. It holds a lot of cards and you can customise it to hold different combinations of cards and tokens. You might think it's mild overkill for a card game, but it's undeniably convenient. And it only hints at what else you can do with foam.

After many years of naysaying on Cosmic Encounter, due to Games Workshop's dire edition of the game, I fell in love with the FFG printing. So much love, in fact, that my frequent and lavish attentions completely destroyed my box.

Jeb saw those photos and swears there's a cat hair in one of them. Since I don't own a cat, it must actually be a pubic hair instead. That's how much I love the game.

You can't buy replacement boxes, which is a major oversight on the part of publishers everywhere. And with expansions continuing to appear, the problem was only going to get worse. Tape and glue provided only so much comfort. Every time that box came out, I got worried it was going to disintegrate and send little plastic saucers everywhere.

Enter Mini Foam Studio with their stupendous Cosmic Encounter insert.

This is a thing of engineering genius. It keeps all my components in place while adding rigidity to the box. It sticks to the box base and, for good measure, I glued mine to the sides as well. See the white bits? Those are pieces of foam I've turned upside-down with the sticky bit on the top because I'm not using them right now. But they  will hold stacks of ships or extra cards or tokens as required. The planets sit proud of the insert in the corners and there's room to put the rules in the middle

It's very clever. They've just run a Kickstarter for a Dead of Winter insert, and I'm looking forward to that becoming available too. My lifelong craving for foam is finally paying off, saving my X-Wing and Cosmic Encounter collections. Who know's what's next. Let some foam into your life, and we can find out together.

There Will Be Games
Matt Thrower (He/Him)
Head Writer

Matt has been writing about tabletop games professional since 2012, blogging since 2006 and playing them since he could talk.


Articles by Matt

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Feelitmon's Avatar
Feelitmon replied the topic: #244974 08 Mar 2017 15:20
I haven't spent any real time in miniatures gaming, so I haven't had practical experience with foam. This has me really intrigued, especially as it relates to normal board game inserts. I really like the idea that it can add solidity to the box without adding a whole lot of weight.

Oh man, and I had just gotten sort of good with foamcore, too...
JEM's Avatar
JEM replied the topic: #244975 08 Mar 2017 15:23
I got some foam when trying to organise my Shadows of Brimstone figures but that stuff can get expensive very quickly, and I ended up throwing all the minis in fishing tackle boxes anyway.
SuperflyPete's Avatar
SuperflyPete replied the topic: #244999 09 Mar 2017 10:37
Matt, I'm just as bad as you. I bought 200$ in pick and pluck foam from a discounter once, and used it to store 10x 3 foot by 2 foot by 1 foot deep tubs of Dwarven Forge stuff, all cradled in foam. All of my miniatures are encased in foam. All of my terrain is encased in foam. The irony is that I've never damaged a stored piece of terrain and am pretty careful with tape measures....but the fact remains.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #245002 09 Mar 2017 13:18
Does anyone know where I can get a foam tray for storing 15mm miniatures? I "accidentally" just bought about 100 of them.
Michael Barnes's Avatar
Michael Barnes replied the topic: #245005 09 Mar 2017 15:26
Just get the 1" ones and store them sideways in it.

I bought about $100 worth of foams from Miniature Market back when they had a sale at the beginning of the year...they were almost half price and I got "enough" for all of my Warhammer collection. Except not. Really just enough for about half.

I've got them from 1" up to 4" and they hold MOST stuff well. Some of them I've plucked and then wound up with a better layout. The kind I have are made to go into the GamePlus bag, but I just have them stacked up on the shelf. I've really got them more to store the minis than protect them, although I did haul all of the Sylvaneth over to a friend's a couple of weeks ago and all of those ridiculous branches survived.

What's annoying is that newer figures are VERY 3 dimensional and that can make them harder to put in a foam.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #245006 09 Mar 2017 15:30
I've never been a fan of foam. Always used big plano cases, putting tissue paper into slots and wrapping painted figures. Store all of my WHQ stuff in a couple of HDX cases from Home Depot as well. Those are pretty nice.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #245009 09 Mar 2017 16:47

Michael Barnes wrote: What's annoying is that newer figures are VERY 3 dimensional and that can make them harder to put in a foam.

It's a conspiracy, maaaaaaan