Guide to basing wargames figures using Sally 4th Flexibase magnetic bases and steel vinyl movement trays.
I have been gaming now for over 30 years. I like painting and I like gaming and I love looking at lovely based figures but I hate actually getting down to basing up figures. In fact the only thing that I hate more than basing figures is re-basing them when you change to a different rules system. There is something very demoralising about prising figures of their scenic bases to clean them up to start rebasing them again. One of the problems that I found with basing miniatures, four or six to a base was that it was very difficult to apply filler, paint, glue, scatter without getting them on to the legs of the figures you had spent so many hours lovingly painting.
After a lot of thought I came up with, what I believe is the perfect solution to wargames figure basing. I know base all of my figures individually on 20mm round magnetic bases. The bases are made from a laminate of MDF and magnetic vinyl. I then make a movement tray that holds the number of figures needed for an element in that rule system. In this case I am collecting an Arab / Saracen army which I intend to use to play Saga Crescent and the Cross, Deus Vult and Hail Caesar. These rules have different basing requirements. Saga is a skirmish game, so needs individually based miniatures, although I prefer to start the game with them mounted on irregular movement trays to speed up early moves. Deus Vult and Hail Caesar both require miniatures to be based on rectangular bases containing a variable number of figures. Using the Sally 4th Flexibase system I can have individual figures on magnetic bases which can then be stuck on to steel lined vinyl movement trays of a size and shape to suit the game they are being used for. No more re-basing...EVER!!
1. A typical Sally 4th Flexibasing kit containing figure bases made from MDF / Magnetic Vinyl, and movement trays made from a MDF upper that needs to be glued onto a MDF / Steel Vinyl laminate bottom.
2. After gluing figures to their bases with a strong glue (I use either Bostick or 5 minute epoxy type glue), I have applied some flexible household filler from a tube and smoothed it around the base to hide the unsightly plinth that figures are cast on. I have also added a few blobs of filler on to the movement trays to add a little undulation.
3. A selection of small pieces of gravel and pieces of cork bark has been glued to the movement trays to represent rocks and stones. The bases and the movement trays are then painted all over with PVA glue and are dipped into a pot of basing material. I use a mixture of Woodland Scenics fine and medium tan coloured ballast with a little sand added.
4. Once the pva glue has dried the figure bases and the movement trays are painted using Deep Mahogany Quick Drying Wood Stain. This is far better and cheaper than using inks and it has the benefit of binding the scatter material to the base.
5. When the woodstain has dried, which should take around 30 minutes the bases and movement trays can be drybrushed. I do a lot of modelling and what my bases to match in with my terrain so use household emulsion for drybrushing bases and terrain features. The colours I use are Kangeroo Sands and Magnolia. If you are using Acrylic hobby paints you are looking for a Desert Sand and a Bleached Bone colour.
6. I will be using these figures on desert or arid rocky plains so rather than having large flocked areas I have added small areas of foliage. I have used Woodland Scenics Burnt Grass for clumps of long grasses and a mixture of Woodland Scenics Medium & Course Turf in Burnt Grass and Medium Grass colours to represent small shrubs, bushes and other ground cover.
Here is the same 12 figures on the irregular movement trays that I use for Saga Crescent and the Cross.
When the unit gets into combat or needs to occupy a terrain feature such as a building, wood or wall the figures come out of their movement trays and can be positioned individually.
The benefits that I have found from individual magnetic basing / steel movement tray are:
Links to products used in this article: