Sunday, May 24, 2015

Zombicide - Storage

After deciding to paint the original Zombicide game, Prison Outbreak, Toxic City Mall, Rue Morgue, and a couple Zombie box expansions, I thought to myself "How am I going to store all of these painted figures?"...  Throwing them in a ZipLoc bag isn't going to be good on the 'ol paint job and storing them in the original formed plastic containers just takes too long to put back in - not to mention half of them wouldn't fit anymore due to modifications I've made to them.

All of the miniatures I've painted prior to these are metal and there are far fewer of them so I had just bought hard-case foam like this.  I would have needed at least six hard cases plus something special for larger figures such as abominations.  After spending so much on the figures and paints already, I really didn't want to spend another couple hundred on foam cases.  I also looked into BattleFoam and other foam tray solutions, but they aren't cheap either.

Fortunately, a friend of mine who is extremely organized in everything he does showed me his solution for the various games he plays.  He buys jewelry trays from Gems On Display as well as a case which holds six of the trays stacked on top of each other.  Six trays and the case - including shipping - turned out to be $36.69 - close to the same price as a single hard foam case!  Make sure to verify the title of the product page for the trays is "Plastic Stackable Jewelry Tray-Full Size-2".  The "Leatherette" wrapped wooden trays do NOT work well as they do not lock together and slide all over...I learned the hard way...

The trays then needed to be lined with metal.  You can buy "Flex Iron/Steel" metal sheets that perfectly fit at Dave's Baggage Train, but since I was trying to do it on the cheap, I went to Home Depot and picked up a 24"x36" sheet of galvanized steel for under $10.  To cut it, I needed a tin snips anyway so I'm not counting that as a dedicated cost to the project... ;)  The metal was cut to fit nicely inside the tray and glued in with Liquid Nails caulk.  Another important lesson learned was to apply the Liquid Nails in lines and do not spread it out all over the bottom of the tray.  Apparently the adhesive softens the plastic of the trays a bit and causes them to sag...  You can really apply the adhesive fairly sparingly as it won't take much to keep it in place.

The third components are tiny magnets 1/8"x1/16" (3mm x 1.5mm) to put in each figure's base.  I already had a Dremel, but needed a 1/8 in. Shank High Speed Multipurpose Cutting Bit.  It is special compared to a regular 1/8" bit due to not having a large taper on the front which would have cut through the base before making the hole deep enough.  Thank you very much to Magnus Rydin for the great tutorial over on Board Game Geek!

To avoid losing my mind trying to cut the proper depth, I made a jig using the depth guide on my Dremel combined with a piece of wood with a hole drilled out about twice the diameter of the bit.  I was then able to extend the bit through the board to the right depth.  It was then just a matter of visually aligning the miniature's base and pushing down the base flush with the board.  It resulted in a perfect-every-time hole that only occasionally required an Exacto Knife to clean out a stubborn piece of plastic.

I then placed several magnets on a scrap piece of sheet metal.  A small drop of Loctite Gel Control super glue was then applied to the hole in the base (a bottle of that stuff is good for hundreds of miniatures).  One of the magnets was then slid near the edge of the metal and the miniature's base can be pressed onto it.  Now, the metal can just be set on top of a paper towel covering some scrap wood and the miniature can be slid off of onto the paper towel with magnet embedded.  The paper towel did a good job of wiping off the excess, but I still laid the miniature on its side until the glue had plenty of time to dry.  Slide the next magnet over to the edge and repeat the process.
Rare Earth Magnet counter-sunk into the plastic Zombicide base.

This whole process may sound a bit confusing and complicated, but it was really simple once it got going.  I did about 300 of them in about an hour once I got the process down.  If anyone is interested in more details, comment below and I'd be happy to go back and add a few more photos and describe anything else in detail.  For now, I'm just recording what I did as an outline so I can remember the steps I did after a few months pass.

Here are the current trays filled with all the Zombicide figures I have thus far:

Not counting pre-existing tool purchases, this is a very economical and compact technique to store a large number of miniatures.  It is super-quick to access and put away the miniatures which really relieves the drudgery of setup and tear-down of the game.

The figures stick very well to the metal allowing the trays to be turned upside down and tapped on without any figures falling off.  Even fatties and abominations have no trouble with moving around or falling off.  Only the A-Bomb from Rue Morgue posed a problem - it is taller than the 2" tray depth.  Thanks to the flexible nature of this solution, I just used some Liquid Nails and glued a small piece of tin on one of the vertical sides of the box.  Now the A-Bomb sticks to the wall like Spider Man.  Out of paranoia, I did put three magnets in its base, but that was total overkill.  You can see the A-Bomb clinging to the wall in the bottom left tray in the picture above.

Each tray is capable of holding 96 miniatures which means the six-tray case can hold a whopping 576 figures!  That might not be enough to hold every single miniature included in all of the base games, expansions, and Kickstarter exclusive content, but by my calculations it will hold everything I hope to buy at some least until Zombicide: Black Plague comes out!


  1. I also have a dremel, i bought just for this. But the speed of the bit throw the miniature around, how did u secure the miniature? Or did your dremel have a slower speed. I bought a cheap one and only have slow and fast. Slow is pretty fast sadly

  2. I just hang on tightly to the miniature. A sharp bit and a high speed should work just fine. How much is it getting thrown around? The only thing I can think of is that I push it down rather quickly and firmly so the bit doesn't have a chance to wander.

    I was planning on making a counter-sunk slot for the base to exactly fit into and allow the hole to be perfectly centered each time, but just doing it by hand worked well enough for me so I didn't bother.

    Please post back if you continue to have trouble or if you figure it out - your experience could help someone else out.


  3. first thanks for the posts, awesome idea. Thanks for the reply, your suggestion seems to be the best for storage of zombicide and other minis. I bought a dremel 770 its seems there is a fast and a slow setting, per the instructions the slow is 6500 rpm. I also am holding the miniature in my hand. What dremel do you have and do you know what speed?

    My progress so far:

    relooking through the post I dont have a jig or a depth guide, you think that might be the problem?

  4. The jig and depth guide will definitely make all the difference. You can probably rig something up to avoid having to buy the depth guide, but you definitely need to make some sort of jig to get consistent (and fast) results.

    My dremmel is packed up and in storage in oreoaration for a move, but your dremmel seems fine. If you can't get the depth guide nor jig, you can try setting both the miniature and dremmel on the table and pushing the base onto the dremmel. I tried a few like that, but th e results weren't great (several drill-throughs) and it was about 20x slower than with jig\depth gague.

  5. For warning, I feel like a dumb ass. The link is not the the 2 inch trays. I bought 26 and most of the miniatures are too tall. Didnt notice until I laid all of the metal in them.. Pretty costly mishap. But the storage solution is amazing, if the right size. No sure how i missed that from the text of this post and the listing on the website.

    1. Thank you for pointing out the incorrect link! I'm sorry the trays got to your door before you found that I had the wrong item linked. I've updated the link in the posting to prevent anyone else from falling into the same pitfall.

  6. I love your idea for this. I was wondering if you know any places that ship the tray cheaply to Canada. I tried that jewelery place, but was $40-50 for just shipping 4 trays with bag.....

    1. Hi there! I'm sorry, I'm not sure where else to acquire the trays as inexpensively as the jewelry shop mentioned above. I don't know why their shipping is so ridiculous out of states. All I can suggest is that you contact them directly and ask if they can offer any less expensive means of shipping.

  7. Hi Ryan,
    Thank you for sharing your storage solution for the Zombicide miniatures. How did you organize the rest of the game contents? The dimensions of the trays appear to be too small to hold tiles, much to my disappointment. I'd hoped to fit everything into the carrier, but the tiles prevent this option.
    Any suggestions?

    1. Mark,

      I too was disappointed that the tiles do not fit in the trays. I ended up just using the original Zombicide boxes to hold all of the game components. I consolidated everything into two of the boxes - one for all of the tiles from all of the expansions and one for everything else (besides the miniatures of course).

      I can still carry everything around in one trip so it works out fine for me.

    2. Ryan,

      Thanks for the rapid response. Considering the age of this post I wondered if it might take a while to see any feedback. I'm keeping this idea in mind in case I can't find a better storage solution.

      Thanks again,

      - Mark Lane