No I'm Not At All Isolated This Spring Of 2020, Why Do You Ask?
I adore that the military wargaming hobby is only limited by your imagination. You can limit your involvment by simply playing with unpainted miniature on the floor, or you can go hog wild and wear reenactment uniforms while playing over carefully historically researched and painstakingly modelled exakt models of a specific railroad crossing outside Stalingrad. The hobby is what you make of it.
After two and half months of isolation, I decided to try something new with my hobby that I hadn't tried before. Where players of an unmentioned space conflict wargame are showered in all kinds of hobby paraphernalia, you don't really see the same for historical wargames. When you do, you can bet it is WW2 themed. Alas, I am probably not alone in having my historical armies sit in anonymous plastic and cardboard boxes, impossible to tell a Cartaginian army apart from my Samurai.
Well, "be the change you wish to see in the world". I wanted to make something for my growing 2nd Infantry Division. In days like these, time is something I can spend. Time, and lots of cardboard boxes.
With brick-and-mortar shopping restricted, my apartment has seen a steady influx of these beauties. In this case cosmetics delivered in a surprisingly sturdy box, just deep enough to house a man. A man marching with a musket. With a bayonet on top.
Let's just say this one never found the way to the recycling station. Buckle up!
The unassuming cosmetics box was to be used as a proof of concept. My inspiration was the cartouche boxes, which would often be covered in a black or beige cloth during campaigning, with a simple insignia on them.
I picked up some very cheap spare strips of cloth, in this case some kind of linen that I think was thin enough to only have been used for curtains. This was my first of many mistakes: a heavier linen cloth would have been better. I also tried just gluing the cloth onto the box using a glue stick. An old glue stick. This was a big mistake, as the old glue turned out to clog and partly ruin the look of the cloth in some spots.
After getting a new glue stick it worked better, though I realized that I needed to sew the cloth to the box as well to make it sturdy enough. I started sewing with a darker thread, which was mistake number three (?), but it kind of worked. Or as my wife called it "soothingly homemade, almost childlike". Well thank you, I'm happy to learn that my needlework is worse than my painting.
Here you can see how I sewed on the outside cloth to keep it in place. I didn't bother to make it nice looking, as I planned to put in a different cloth layer inside. Again, a piece of leftover cloth was used, this time a thicker blue fabric.
Althrough this process I did almost no real measurements and mosly went by gut feeling and adjustments. Sometimes I was lucky, sometimes I was half an inch short. But this piece was easier to measure than the more complicated outside cover, I just had to make sure that it roughly fit into the box and lid.
The cloth was again stuck to the cardboard with glue stick and then sewn in place.
The lid had no natural way to close, so I learnt another new skill; hammering in eyelets! Of course, given that this was for the 33rd ligne, the eyelets and button would be in brass. The string is a bit of elastic chord, which keeps the lid (somewhat) shut.
Of course, one of the mission statement for the box was that I should be able to tell my new regiment apart from all other miniatures I have. With some marker pens and some black paint, the box was dedicated to the 33e ligne.
The insignia was not perfectly drawn, and the ink bled a little but more into the fabric than I expected. But there'll be no mistake what's in the box now.
The box is just large enough to house three full battalions. I'm in the process of slowly drilling magnets into the bases, two rare earth magnets per base, and then I'll put washers into the box to keep the bases in place.
The only gripe now is that the officer carrying the eagle is a tad too enthusiastic, thrusting it into the air, juuuuust a millimeter or two too high. So the lid hits it and makes it go wonky. This will be solved by putting some washers on one side as well, so that the command bases can be safely kept horisontally.
So there it is, a few hours that left my army with something unique and characterful. I also learnt some lessons, so that I think any future boxes will turn out nicer. Overall I think this kind of box suits multibased miniatures well, compared to the typical foam boxes that suits individually based miniatures. And of course you'll need to be more careful with metal miniatures, as you need stronger magnets to ensure that your new fancy army box doesn't turn into a tumbler.
Remember - your hobby is what you make of it, so don't hesitate to try something new. Cheers!
"Glory is fleeting,