Friday, May 20, 2011

Tools: Organization

Today I'd like to talk about a tool that's not so much worked with as it would be utilized. Something different, I know, but still important. Organization is as much a skill as it is a tool, and an important one for this hobby. Especially with as many bitz and projects that 40K generates.

      My favourite organizer is the Small Hobby Case of which I have two. Some armies simply need more storage room than others. Of the Five armies I build, Space Marines and Ork really need the storage. They're both armies whose kits come with a tonne of extra bitz to customize their basic minis, as well as easily accepting any custom bitz we crafty types make ourselves. So there's always a load of extra leftovers. Between weapons, bodies, armour pieces, banners, small tools, both my Ork case and Space Marine case are loaded.
    It's portable, has a small profile, and can hold a lot of stuff in the various separate trays as well as the underhold. Where I keep my paints in this case, it is deep enough that a current Rhino can easily fit without hindering closing. I've managed to fit three side by side. Cases like these run around the $16 mark. I'm not entirely sure about a common brick-and-mortar place to get them, but they can be found at the online Container Store: 
   What I like best about it is the fact that it can hold all my army-specific bitz in different trays so I can grab various parts as needed at random and can be easily toted around. As for the obligatory negative statement, this thing takes up a tonne of room when it's opened. Despite this, I really like it and it keeps my bitz in order.

    If that case isn't to your liking and sounds too much like a sell-out sponsorship, I wish, I would so be buying up some of those new laser-cut HDF board terrain walkways that Micro Art Studios are going to put out. They would be great for Boarding Actions in space ships and the like. I mean, if that's too big for what you need and still want portability, the multiple compartment 'unbreakable' box is very handy. I have all sorts of uses for this; keeping similar parts for different models separated, keeping my smaller projects organized. Just holding special bitz.
   In mine right now, I've got my custom Sternguard Squad, my Honour Guard squad, my Sevrin Loth conversion, my Kor'sarro Khan conversion, the detail parts for the XV-9 Hazard Suits, my Eighth Company Jump Pack Command Squad (Shrike's Wing), various Terminator weapons. It just holds a ridiculous amount of stuff. Runs around $17, no idea where to find them to help you, reader, but it's also at The Container Store website.
   I like this case a lot because it really helps keep my small projects manageable. I admit, I am that hobby butterfly. Start a project, become distract by something shinier. Finish something else, start a new project, eventually come back to the old ones, more often than not new skills to improve the original project. This thing helps keep that relentless project starting organized. When I really need those Sternguard, I'll be able to quickly find them and finish them. Maybe.

   Now the big boss, the Nightmare Case. Any of you been through the hardware store knows all about these. Not at all meant for being portable, this is just to keep your hobby in a secure, organized location. Small projects, various bitz, tools, parts, this thing holds pretty much anything that's not a vehicle. Anything I'm not working on or not using goes into this bad boy. Space Marines, Tau, empty squeeze paint bottles, I put it all in there. Sadly, the smaller trays are just a touch too small for the 40mm Terminator bases, they need a clever wiggle to close them. But everything smaller than that is perfectly fine. I find it especially good for holding those little decorative bitz that I put on terrain. This thing is the saviour of the hobby butterfly like myself. It helps keep my work table clear and keeps everything in one, organized place.
   As you can see it even holds those especially long-term projects, like my Sixth Company Bike Command Squad. I'm not entirely sure where you will be able to find this, depends on your location. I'm not even entirely sure where to find it online. This isn't especially useful to everyone, but for those of you like me, it is invaluable. Not much more to say about it, not meant to move, holds pretty much anything.

Now believe it or not, organization doesn't need to cost money. Perhaps only a bit of time and ingenuity, but not money. If you know any women, then you'll know they love shoes. Those shoes come in handy little boxes that are great for holding bigger models or the more elaborate project. Take a gander at my little wonder box there. Large compartments using nothing more than cardboard.
   All you need to do is get some loose cardboard and cut it into strips that will fit your shoebox. For the spine piece, cut more than half way up at intervals you want, to get the amount of compartments you're looking for. I wanted eight, so I made three cuts down the spine. Then in the middle of your dividers, cut another slot a little more than half way. Then just slide them together and fit it into your shoebox. Easy as that, you didn't even need me to tell you. But I needed to fill up space. I also really like to see my own text.

   For my Ork army, I have a bunch of Warbikers. They're cool, but really big model-wise. I also make each base custom for each bike, since every Ork bike will almost certainly have different wheels depending on how they're modeled. Even during painting, they must be kept separated, and that's where this shoe box comes in really handy. Plus shoe boxes stack very nicely.

   Another 'cheap' way of storing and organizing your bitz is by recycling those trays that a lot of the old metal kits from Games Workshop come with. My Tau and Eldar armies don't come with an excessive amount of extra decorative bitz, just a lot of extra weapons, so I keep them stored in these. My Necron army, next to no additional bitz, save those green rods (I actually like them and think they look cool, especially under blue L.E.D.s, replacing the green rods usually ends up looking silly). Also, I have an Eldar War Walker waiting to be built in this one, so it's also pretty good at holding clipped out units that still need glue. It's also portable and easily fits in most things, so they're pretty handy, despite needing to buy a GW kit first. But you've probably already bought a few.

   Some armies simply do not require that much storage and organization whereas other armies need a place to stick the leftovers. Reaper Miniatures and armies for their games more often than not come with absolutely no extra parts, so simply having a place to hold them while painting them is usually enough. Space Marines and Orks are bitz hogs and just have extra parts all over the place, so organizing them is almost necessary if you plan on keeping your workspace clear of clutter. Maybe I should have added bookshelves on here as well. Either way, those are the things I use and find most useful. Hopefully it gives you some ideas or helps you get your stuff cleaned up and off the table.
   If you have something that you find useful or that helps you organize your bitz, feel free to post about it in the comments. As always, I welcome your comments, concerns, questions, flames and feedback. I've also added my rendition of Lemartes, Guardian of the Lost onto Beasts of War's miniature gallery Minirama. I simply didn't have a reason to add him to the blog, but he's just too cool to not be seen. Check him out while the Beasts of War guys try to figure out what's wrong with their Youtube account. They say they don't know what happened and are working towards figuring it out, so hopefully their vids will be back soon. That's all for now.

Signing off,

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