Review: Econo Bases by Gale Force Nine
My miniature painting focuses almost entirely on RPG figs these days, as I’m not involved with any mass army games at the moment. I paint minis from a very wide spectrum of manufacturers, many imported from the far corners of the earth. One consequence of this is a great deal of trouble with bases.
Most tabletop wargames makers have long since followed the lead of industry monolith Games Workshop and embraced so-called “slottabases,” separate plastic bases with precut slots to accept a matching tab cast onto a miniature’s feet. It’s a good system, easy for the end user, and provides a wide and stable base that is also a fine canvas for decoration and further embellishment of a favorite model.
Unfortunately, outside the wargaming sector there is no such consensus. Some makers like Reaper use slottabases, but even some major players like the Foundry persist in using the old style of basing on their minis, in which the base is just a flat(ish) platform cast directly onto each fig’s feet.
There are a lot of problems with this approach. First and foremost, metal is expensive, prompting manufacturers to cast bases as just as small as possible, often regardless of the impact on tabletop stability. Worse, many cast bases sport uneven bottoms, exacerbating stability problems. Finally, decorating a tiny cast base is virtually impossible. Often the only choice is just a quick coat of boring grey or brown is the only choice available.
Though these are all substantial problems, there are too many highly desirable minis out there on cast bases to simply ignore. Clearly the solution is to rebase the problem figs, and the good folks at Gale Force Nine have come to the rescue with their excellent Econo Bases.
Econo Bases are cut from sturdy High Density Fiberboard (aka Masonite), which gives them admirable strength and durability. In “civilian” life Masonite is commonly used in construction for things like doors, walls, house siding, and even flooring, so it obviously has the toughness to handle any stresses it’s likely to encounter on the tabletop, from spills to falls.
Thanks to their mundane material, the bases are dirt cheap, averaging out to $0.06 each for 25mm squares. They come cleverly packaged in Chinese-food style cardboard takeout boxes, either pints or quarts. A pint of bases is a LOT, so think hard before ordering a quart!
The Econo Bases are available in four shapes (hex, oval, square, or round), and are custom-cut to just about any size you care to name in 1mm increments. When I bought my package of Rounds I discovered that a good rule of thumb is to match the base to the scale of minis you plan to use with them. Since I had a large number of 25mm figs to base, I chose 25mm diameter bases and they’ve worked out just fine.
In addition to correcting many of my minis’ alarming tendencies to fall over, the Econo Bases also help fix a problem that has often bothered me when using slottabased minis and cast base minis on the same board. The slottabases add substantial height, greatly exacerbating any scale mismatches between minis from various manufacturers. The Econo Bases are about 3mm thick, and help create a “level playing field” that lets my whole minis collection play together a lot more smoothly.
Another benefit is that the uniform sizes of the Econo Bases make it much easier to use cast base minis in rules systems
OK, I sound like an infomercial for these things, but they really are great. I’ve used them to base dozens of miniatures and couldn’t be happier with the results. Cheap, durable, and highly effective about says it all.
Even a product this great has a few minor drawbacks. If you’re a real sticker about detailed bases (as I am), it can be troublesome since some makers use relatively thick cast bases on their figs. This means a big lump around the feet of the mini once it’s been superglued to its’ Econo Base. I solved it by spackling over the cast base and essentially sculpting a new top for the Econo Base flush with the mini’s feet. It’s a bit of work, but easier than it sounds if you’re a reasonably dab hand with a putty knife.
Alas, the Econo Bases seem to only be available direct from the GF9 website, so if all you want is a pack of bases you’ll be stuck paying nearly $8 for shipping a $10 pack of bases, which is annoying. Still, GF9 sells all kinds of neat stuff, so odds are you can find something else to bulk out your order, or else team up with a pal or two and split the shipping between you.
Overall, I love the Econo Bases. Even with the shipping cost nearly doubling the price of the pack I bought I still think they represent a good value, and I DO have enough to last me a very long time. Minor quibbles aside, I rate these bases a very strong buy.
Note: The zombies are from Mega Miniatures. The sledgehammer-armed zed is from their pack of Modern Zombies, and the WIP one to the left is from a different pack that will be reviewed in the future.
Pros: Cheap, Durable, Address a number of common mini problems
Cons: Only available direct, Scenic finishing can require extra work
Final Verdict: 4/5
Source: Purchased from Gale Force Nine
Popularity: 13% [?]
No related posts.