Saturday, September 25, 2010

Litko's Rank Movement Trays

Normally I would do product reviews on my Dale's Wargames blog, but as this product is related to my Wooden Warriors I put it here.

Once upon a time I used steel bases for my miniatures and laid magnetic sheets down in boxes for storage. It was after basing a Philistine DBA army, and being so proud of the basing, that I realized that the 40mm x 40mm chariot base I had used was not actually 40mm square. In fact, as I lined up the army I noticed that a number of bases were off by a few millimeters here and there, and sometime not even squared. It was at that point I stopped using steel bases.

So, casting about for a replacement I decided to try Litko's laser-cut wooden bases. I those the thickest ones, so  my fat fingers can grip them rather than the miniatures, and I never looked back. That is all I use for DBA or other similar games.

For my wooden warriors I have been mounting them on round 1" discs (1 1/2" for mounted figures) and it suits my purposes for skirmish games. But, my final goal is to be able to use these for mass games too, so I've been casting about for movement trays. I had seen Litko's skirmish trays, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. Then they came out with the horde trays, but again, not quite what I wanted.

Recently (or at least recently known to me) Litko released rank movement trays, which looked to be exactly what I wanted. These allowed me to line them up nice and neat. A single tray is $4, so it is not a "budget wargaming" item, but I wanted to experiment with the concept to see if I wanted to try and build my own.

Here is the package you get, along with one built in a standard way.

There are four pieces for a two-rank tray: the bottom, the front and back cut-outs, and a center cut-out. If you order three- or four-rank trays you get an additional center cut-out for each rank; a one-rank tray has not center cut-out included.

Gluing these together is relatively simple, but unless you use a very quick-bonding glue, you will need to clamp the pieces. As it was, one of the packages I purchased had a warp in the bottom board, so wetting the board a bit and clamping it helps take that out.

I used white glue with a couple of dots of Gorilla Glue Super Glue. I should have used wood glue, for a better bond and a water-resistant finish.

One major point: 25mm is not the same as 1", when you are dealing with the tolerances of a laser-cutter. I had to sand down the edges of the 1" bases to get them to fit in properly.

I tried two experiments. As my figure's bases have magnetic sheet on the bottom, I wanted them to stick securely in the tray. The first experiment was putting magnetic sheet across the whole of the bottom wooden base before gluing on the top cut-outs. This worked, but not as well as I hoped. Magnetic sheets do not stick well to other magnetic sheets, but prefer metal.

The second experiment was to glue a metal sheet to the bottom wooden base before gluing on the top cut-outs. This worked fine, but cutting metal sheets to an exacting size is not easy. But the hold was of the strength I wanted while the magnetic sheets were not, so metal sheets it is.

Here are the boys in their new trays.

Now, all I have to do is get the trays exactly the size I want. These are 5 figures wide by 1, 2, 3, or 4 ranks deep, but I want them in 3-figure wide sizes with 1" (not 25mm) holes and I want two 1-rank bases to be the same depth as 1 2-rank base. I may have to email Jim at Litko and see what it will cost. In the end I will probably have to find a cheaper method of building these myself.

I knew I should have bought that laser-cutter a year ago, when I was thinking about it!


  1. Hi Dale,

    Have you thought about a home-made decal for your shako plates?

    Enjoy your blogs, etc.


  2. Yes, I just have not published the pictures. Rough month... :(




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