Thursday, 21 June 2012

Movement Trays: Slap That Base

An army’s got move around… something The Wehrmacht should have considered in 1941 when looking at their invasion plans and trying to calculate the number of Little Chef restaurants on the road to Moscow.

My methods of getting warriors to the business end of the Battle Board has been an ongoing evolution:

1. Assemble a 20-strong regiment and give them a gentle push from behind.
(That lasted about one battle. I was an impressionable 13 year-old and White Dwarf never showed any trays in their battle report pictures. Let me tell you: turning corners was no fun.)

2. Cut up pieces of hardboard and balance them upon it.
(A long-standing and versatile solution that caused much plummeting of models when they were carried around.)
(All right, it was my Dad that did all the cutting.)

3. Purchase resin-moulded movement trays from Terrain Warehouse.
(This was before Games Workshop released their cheaper, plastic modular trays, but the resin ones are sturdier – which is good for metal armies. And already made to fit – which is good for the lazy hobbyist).

Following my plan to fully complete each and every one of my armies, I intend to provide them all with properly painted, flocked and finished movement trays (and as long as they never have to change formation or nuthin’, I’m all set).

Step One: Base

Purchase your resin-moulded movement tray. Despite the GW alternative, I’ll stick with these ones – I plan to magnetise the miniatures and these feel like they would be more secure holding them down.

Step Two: Undercoat

I used a DIY-shop green gloss, which took a long time to apply. Spraying with Chaos Black will be the way forward next time.

Step Three: Cover with textured paint

Some of the new range – I love this stuff! Although it does go quick. I used up a whole pot of Stirland Mud on the 9 movement trays of my Dogs of War army (only 1 coat, but I do tend to glob it on). Calculating the different sizes of the trays, this gave me 3,240mm length of coverage.

Worth the cost, as I don’t enjoy working with PVA and sand/flock (although the amount of pots I would need to re-base all 150 Dogs of War miniatures was enough to deter me – I did seriously consider it in the early stages).

Once this was done, I drybrushed with Desert Yellow.

Step Four: Glue on static grass

Patchy grass seems to be the default look for Warhammer movement trays, but I couldn’t think of a better way to depict a ‘typical’ battlefield (I intend to get more adventurous when I have to base armies for wasteland, forest and hill). I like leaving most of the mud showing beneath, as covering it entirely in grass would seem to ‘fuzzy’ (like Moss Man from the He-Man toy range).

After this, a coat of varnish to keep it robust.

Step Five: Stick on adhesive ‘rubber steel’ sheet

I have a whole post due about my trials with magnetism.

Step Six: Add regiment

Ready for battle! Hmm… now the tray looks good, but those green miniature bases could do with toning down a shade or two…
*reaches for paints*

Step Seven: Repeat for all movement trays

All Aboard The Tufty Grass Express!


  1. That's an interesting post. I wish I'd known you were magnetising - I'd have liked to discuss.

    I bought some rubber steel and rare earth magnets a while back and the hold wasn't even satisfying enough for squat plastic night goblins...

    Also, I plan to use stirland mud to base ALL of my skaven. What's your estimate (laying it on thick, as you have) as to the number of 20mm square bases one pot would stretch to? And, now the trays are varnished, what's the staying power of the grit in the paint?

    1. I only bought a sample of rubber steel and a couple of different-strength magnets. I'm trying them out this week, so will see how that works (they certainly stick to each other quite persistently). I’m surprised that your magnets wouldn’t even hold itty-bitty plastics – from my research, I thought the danger was they would be *too* strong to detach.

      As for the textured paint, (and feel free to check the maths here), I covered over 3,000mm length (and say 10mm in the height of the tray lip), so that’s 30,000 sq mm coverage. With 20mm base needing 400sq mm coverage, you’d get 75 bases covered. Allow for the bits of the base covered by feet, a bit more sparse in the application, and the fact that there was a little left over in my pot, you’d easily cover 100 bases, and could squeeze it up to 125-50 at a push.

      I think that’s well worth it, given than working with sand and paint is such a flocking hassle (boom boom!). One coat of this gives you enough of a texture to drybrush, and that’s all you need for a respectable finish (certainly enough for rank and file). And it looks pretty good too (as I said, I was *almost* going to rebase the army - I'll certainly consider it for new armies).

      You might want extra coats, or thicker applications, for bigger bases (like Rat Ogres) – and the paint does allow you to ‘push it around’ and build up more interesting layers with further coats.

      Are you sure about Stirland Mud for Skaven - could be an awful lot of dark brown in that army. Blackfire Earth would give you a ruddier look, or Astrogranite for subterranean feel (hmm, maybe I need that for my Dwarves). I guess it depends on what fluff you want for the army (if Clan Moulder, I would go with Blackfire Earth - it has that red-clay feel I associate with them. Like the goop the bred Uruk-Hai in LotR films).

      In terms of staying power – the odd loose bit of grit has come off, but it seems quite solid (the varnish layer is more to secure the static grass). I’ll give them a kick around and let you know...