Regular readers will know I have a bit of a foam fetish. I’m sure it started when I discovered a hand-painted figure I’d slaved over had worn, even through a coat of varnish. Now I’m not happy with anything painted, no matter who painted it, unless I can be confident it’s cushioned in acres of sweet, soft foam.
This proves a bit of an issue if you start collecting Fantasy Flight’s pre-painted Star Wars miniatures or, indeed, miniatures of any kind. For a lot of games regularly-shaped foam pockets are sufficient. They’re great for storing X-Wing fighters on stands, for example, ready to pull out and put on the table for play. But if you want to store large ships, or Armada ships, or anything from Games Workshop’s increasingly complex and spiky figure range, you’re out of luck.
For these you need foam trays with shaped pockets. And here you run in to two problems. First, you normally want to store something alongside the figures: bases, tokens and whatnot. But what you can actually store in the tray is down to the whim of the producer. Second, shaped foam is often phenomenally expensive.
So imagine my delight when I discovered German company Feldherr. They make shaped trays for a variety of games, including two that were causing me problems, Armada and Silver Tower. And their trays are astonishingly cheap. Surely, I figured, there must be a catch?
And there is a small catch. When you get their trays it’s clear they’re using a lower grade of foam than most of their competitors. Other trays I’ve had from other manufacturers stand stiff and proud if you lift them unsupported. Feldherr trays flop limply instead. Indeed with the thinner trays you have to be a little careful that the droop doesn’t spill your precious contents all over the hard, harsh table and floor.
However, this is a pretty small catch, one easily remedied by simply making sure you lift each tray with two hands. And in return they’re not only cheap but have another overriding quality. They’ve been designed for maximum flexibility and convenience for the gamer.
One of the best examples of this is an Armada tray for the Wave 3 flotilla models. It comes with space for four of the ships. Because that’s what most shaped foam does. It’s designed for the convenience of the manufacturer, who wants to design as few trays as possible and sell you as many as possible. So trays tend to come in tandem with release waves, or to hold multiple models of the same type. And they often don’t hold much apart from the models themselves, forcing you to find storage solutions for other components.
This tray, though will hold two different types of flotilla, both the Imperial Gozanti Cruisers and the Rebel Transports. And it doesn’t just stop there. It’ll hold CR-90 Corvette models from the base game, Imperial Raiders from wave 2 and – at a push – you can squeeze in an Imperial Light Cruiser from wave 5 too. For maximum convenience all the models stay on their stands and there’s room for bases, dials and tokens too.
This flexibility extends through a lot of the trays they sell. There’s an Interdictor tray that comes with an insert to make it store a Gladiator-class Star Destroyer too, for example. They do no less than three different trays to fit an Upsilon shuttle for X-Wing, all taking different supporting models alongside it.
This is probably starting to sound like a shill in exchange for some sample trays. But here’s the thing. I was so impressed with the samples they sent me that after having used them to transport ships to combat one night, I went out and bought set and box to keep them in right away. I’m waiting on their Armada wave 6 solutions with bated breath. These are just really good trays at really good value. If you’ve any interest at all in storing components in foam, I strongly suggest you take a look.