Thursday, 12 January 2012

045 - Review - Battlefoam Malifaux Bag

Before Christmas I'd been searching around for a new case to store and transport my growing Malifaux collection, which currently lives in an old GW hardcover carry case. When I say "old", i mean "very old", the one that opens in two halves, each of which had a pair of eggbox type foam layers to holds models in the troughs and grip them between the peaks. Although it's served me well (and even survived a couple of falls down flights of stairs!), the continuing influx of new figures and crews, and the fact that it doesn't hold models larger than 30mm very well, necessitated an upgrade.

I'd heard of the Battlefoam Malifaux bag, and it immediately sprang to mind. The stitched Malifaux logos and the bespoke pockets for card decks, dry-wipe markers and stat cards made it seem the ideal product for what I needed. It comes with 76 slots on two regular trays as well as a pluck-foam tray for large models, which sounds like more than enough for around 5 crews.

With my Xmas cash in hand, I sent off for the standard load-out case.

Unfortunately, on unpacking the bag and having a look inside, I quickly realised that this wasn't the bag for me. I should point out that the quality of the product is excellent - it's a very well made and sturdy bag. There were 4 features, however, that I didn't like and seemed like design flaws to me.

Firstly a small issue, none of the pockets are big enough to hold Stat cards that have been opened up and laminated. There is a pocket which would fit them nicely when folded in half, but as all of mine are laminated I had nowhere to keep them in this bag. The fact that the bag includes two holes for dry-wipe markers therefore confuses me, as it would be a bad idea use these pens on unlaminated cards.

Secondly, the foam that comes with the bag fits far too tight for my liking. That goes for both the dimensions of the tray (it was quite a struggle to remove the top two layers of foam to get to the pluck foam below) and the depth of the trays in the bag (the foam extends over the edge of the bag past the zip, even when the case is empty). The fact that the foam was too deep meant that the edges of the top foam tray occasionally got caught in the zip, and the corners had to be squashed in and got mishapen (still with no models in it).

My third issue was with one of the trays, namely the thinnest one which is called the 1" tray. As you can see below, the tray is not deep enough for a 30mm base, which protrudes from the top of the tray by about half a centimeter.

I should explain that I already knew about this pre-purchase, through combining the product description with a basic knowledge of maths, but in honesty I assumed that Battlefoam would have done something to make it work, perhaps with a foam lid to cover the exposed pieces. But alas no - the protruding part of the model (which will include the edge of your base insert if you use those) will press against whatever is used to cover up that tray. Which brings me to:

Fourth, and lastly, you can see in the above picture that the trays are made of two separate materials. The edges are made of the typical soft foam, but the base of each tray (the darker layer) is made of a more rigid material. I'm not sure what it is, I think it's a more dense type of foam, but it reminded me of a surfboard in its texture. This is the material that will be rubbing against any models on the lower trays that protrude, or dont fit tightly in their sockets. I didn't want to rub one of my painted models against this stuff to test it out, but I'm not at all confident that it wouldn't scrub off paint rather quickly. As for the models protruding from the top tray, they rub against the inside cover of the bag's lid, which is made of a course fabric. There's no foam top sheet, and no room to squeeze one in if you wanted to since the bag is already too deeply filled with foam.

Battlefoam do offer a custom loadout at an increased price (and the bag is already rather expensive), so it's possible that a different tray set could have solved one or two of these problems. If you have your heart set on this bag I'd recommend looking into the custom options and staying clear of the "standard" loadout. 

Regretfully, my Battlefoam bag has been returned, and I am waiting for delivery of a different bag. I'll make a similar post in the near future when it arrives.



The Dark Templar said...

Very interested reading your take on the Malifaux bag Mike. I love my Malifaux bag, but don't use the 1" top layer at all for the very reasons you flagged up. I know it won't take long to fill the bag at the rate I'm accumulating models but my intention was to go the custom insert route and order some new trays direct from Battlefoam UK.

Totally understand your perspective, and your decision to return the bag. I look forward to see what you replace it with.

Victoria said...

Victoria has a frownie face. I was looking forward to purchasing one of these bags someday!!