Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Review: My Battlefoam bag saved my life...

...Well actually it was more my miniatures it actually saved. This is going to be part review / part Warmachine Battlefoam bag biography or indeed love letter as some of my friends would claim. Firstly I'm going to tell you all the reasons why I now wouldn't consider putting my miniatures in any other manufacturers products. Sure I've lugged mini's around a lot in the past 18 months plus in my Warmachine bag and nothing evil has come to pass. I've man handled the bag, had somebody trip over it, spilled a bottle Sprite on it. Hell my four Maine Coon cats have treated it like a scratching post and sleeping bed all rolled into one and still my Retribution of Scyrah miniatures have come through these ordeals unscathed, BUT there are three incidents that have really put the bag to the test:

  1. This happened shortly after the bag arrived, I was being picked up by a mate to go to a gaming club to play some games of Warmachine. I was running late as always and had been trying to hurriedly find everything I needed, with my bag slung nonchalantly on one shoulder I stopped abruptly at the top of my stairs and turned, I'd forgotten my dice. My heavy bag loaded to the brim with heavy Privateer Press miniatures slipped right off my shoulder and down my very steep Victorian stairs. It span mid air and smashed into the steps about two thirds of the way down the stairs, it made a dreadful thumping sound and then leaped into the air again. It finally thudded into the ground and rolled then slid to a stop by my front door traveling a good 25ft in distance from a height from a starting height of about 15ft (I've measured). Hey I don't mind admitting it was a pretty emotional time for me and yep my heart was in my mouth. I fully expected to see a bag full of bits and pieces. That I didn't and that there was no damage at all, to anything, is a testament to how exceptional a product Battlefoam produce... I also found my dice already packed away in a side pocket. Yeah I know, I'm an ejit!!!
  2. Ah yes the second incident, the one that really shows off how good the bag is also very nearly led to me actually murdering somebody. I was with a work colleague in a car park. He was dropping me off near a train station so I could get back home. I had my miniatures with me, I removed them from his trunk and placed the bag in the hatched yellow walkway for pedestrians behind the boot of his car and turned to shut the boot door. I heard a car reverse and a slight thump and then saw my Battlefoam bag squished up against my friend bumper and some idiots Toyota Yaris. I screamed, quite loudly a stream of profanity. The driver of the Yaris had stopped. I stormed to the drivers door and opened it. There sitting in front of me was a little old lady with glasses so thick it made her eyes look the size of saucers. I was about to rip into her when she said 'what did I hit this time' I replied a bag of very expensive equipment, almost my work colleagues Merc and me, 'oh so it was only a bag?'... only a fecking bag! A BAG!!!! That's over £500's worth of toy soldiers to you blind old bat. Amazingly I regained my composure and managed to not strangle the life out of the doddering fool and check my bag. While the outside of the bag was scuffed the miniatures inside were fine. Not a damn thing wrong. Again thank you Battlefoam.
  3. The third incident that made me realise it's probably not safe to leave toy soldiers around by me involved alcohol consumption, a missed train and my huge fat ass (namely mine). You see I'd been out at a friends house and had played some games while drinking. I wasn't blitzed but I was a bit 'merry' and as such my slow waddle across town weighed down by miniatures meant that I missed my train, just. Annoyed and tired I put my Battlefoam bag down on the floor next to a wall as far away from the platform edge as I could, I mean I'm not dumb after all, my Battlefoam bag might stand up to a Toyota Yaris and laugh, but a speeding train? Nope that's Superman territory. I turned around and sat down... on the bag. Not the floor, or indeed the many public benches provided, oh no I sat down on my expensive figure case, stuffed with even more expensive miniatures. I know, I know I'm thicker than two short planks. It gets worse though, because you see at that time of night the trains aren't that regular and I had roughly an hours wait. So there I sat for an hour reading a magazine and drinking a bottle of pop (yes it was pop) until my train arrived. It pulled into the station and I looked around for my bag but couldn't see it, and then it dawned on me. I'd been sitting on it. I sobered up fairly rapidly and made my way onto the train fearful of what I might find inside my bag. What I found shouldn't have surprised me in the slightest, on the top layer of foam only two of my Mage Hunter Strike Force were damaged with slightly bent sword tips, although this could have been caused earlier on in the evening when I dropped a few them. Either way nothing else was harmed in the slightest.

So as you can see, my Battlefoam Warmachine bag has saved me a few times from potentially disastrous situations.  In fact my Battlefoam bag makes me think of this at times:

So that's the circa 18 month life of my bag so far. Its been a hard 18 months for Tom (I've named my bag), but its still standing up to the test and protecting my miniatures, so now onto the actual review. You see I think with a product like this its best to actually live with it for quite some time before judging it the second coming of Jesus...

Product description

Princess Dinah bear on her cat throne
Its a black canvass bag with a hard plastic shell insert. The bag and foam on its own actually doesn't weigh all that much so its great the product isn't really adding much to the weight of those heavy Warmachine miniatures I was carrying around. There is a compartment to the rear of the bag that has some ring binders to store cards in ring bound card pockets. Or if you prefer some fabric pockets to store them all individually. There are even places to store dry wipe pens, this pocket is zipped sealed with two zips. There is a large side pocket for templates, tokens, dice and tape measures sealed with Velcro. On the other side is a drinks holder I've never used at all, not once, but its a nice touch, still its not big enough for a bottle of Pernod-Ricard Perrier-Jouet Champagne... or so Dinah my cat informs me. At the front of the bag is a huge pocket sealed with Velcro for storage of rulebooks and army books and on front of this are two smaller Velcro sealed pockets for storing various nick knacks, I store my token and dice in these normally. The main compartment is sealed with two zips and is where the important stuff goes, the foam. The bag I brought has the standard load out, which means 3 small troop trays capable of carrying 35 troopers each, 1 medium troop tray capable of carrying 6 light Warjacks and 16 larger troops / characters with more dynamic poses and finally 2 Warmachine / Warbeast foam trays capable of carrying 12 larger Warjacks / Warbeasts. That's quite an impressive haul of stuff if you ask me. Each tray comes with its own foam topper to protect the miniatures further.

Usefulness 10 out of 10

Even after 18 moths of abuse the foam is perfect still
This is a score given to gaming accessories and is used to define how 'useful' something is to the hobby, dice made out of ice, not very useful, a dice that always roll whatever number you require... very useful.Well my Battlefoam bag is clearly is the same category as dice that always roll the number you want. I wouldn't leave home without a Battlefoam case of some variety. Mainly because of my aforementioned misadventures, I'm sure many of you can understand why. I've not owned a product from anyone else that has come close and apart from getting shot of a few of my GW cases I've now got rid of every other manufacturers case I've ever owned. The Warmachine bag is designed for the HoMachine player it really honestly is, its not just a stitched on logo, all the pockets and little compartments are perfectly sized for all thing HoMachine. The vast majority of PP's figure range will fit nice and snugly into one of the standard cut out sizes in the three types of tray that comes with the standard load out. It is such a well thought out product that I don't think I've ever been left thinking, if only...

There are however problems with the standard load out trays with some factions more weird and whacky shaped miniatures, but Battlefoam now do a bewildering array of custom cut foam shapes for specific factions and these will match and fit your troops absolutely perfectly. On the bottom of the bag is also a zip so you can attach an expansion bag if you so desire as well. The reality is the standard load out purchase I chose was insanely versatile but with the foam and expansion opportunities now being offered there is every chance that you will find the exact right combination and product for you. I have yet to see a HoMachine miniature that made me think I don't think they have a solution for that. If you are a serious HoMachine gamer with a sizable collection then I really do wander how the hell you'd survive without one of these bags.

Detail 9 out of 10

The back pocket card storage space is a genius idea
The detailing on the Warmachine bag is actually quite nice. The logo on the front and back are pretty darn cool, I also like the fact the bag is black. The shoulder strap is comfortable and has a nice rubber grip on it that make the bag more comfortable to carry. The zip on the bottom of the bag means there is scope for expansion of the bag at a later date. The shear amount of pockets and places to stash things is nice and although the drinks holder has never been used by me I have seen others use it. The biggest plus point and the detail which shows Battlefoam really thought about the product is the back pocket with those ring binders for card sheets. Its a really nice touch and shows that the bag is a HoMachine bag, not just because it has a nice embroidered logo on the front but because every component and a part of the bag has been specifically designed with the HoMachine player in mind and owning the bag has actually enhanced my experience of the hobby, now how many of you can claim the same about a miniatures bag? Its made carrying all my stuff around so much easier that I now do far more of it, and game more away from my home. Its made storing my miniatures easier, its made playing the game easier because my cards are now ordered, its just improved my quality and amount of gaming time.

Quality 10 out of 10

Tybs wandering if he could push Dinah off the bag

I might not use it for drinks but it is useful
Its been kicked, tripped over, sat on, driven into and flung down a flight of stairs!!! Still not convinced? Its had four Maine Coons use it at various times as a scratching post and sleeping bed and trust me that is severe punishment!!! Its still standing, its still protecting my miniatures its still the exact same bag I owned nearly two years ago now. This bag has taken more punishment than any other previous carrying case solution I've tried, and while others have failed me, this bag hasn't. Sure the Warmachine stitching on the front has become a bit frayed and tatty, what with being driven on and having cats pick at it I'd expect it too... and yeah the bag might have the odd scuff mark on its bottom, remember it was dragged along the floor by a car, its still there doing its core function of protecting my miniatures better than anyone elses product.

Its the foam. I don't think I can really write a review of a Battlefoam bag without mentioning the foam can I? Romeo enthusiastically waxes lyrical about his foam, sometimes so much so I actually worry about his mental health. However until you've held his product I don't think you can truly understand just how good it really is. I do think though that Romeo might want to choose his words better when describing it, people seem to equate durable with hard or harsh or scratchy, but its not at all. The clever thing about the foam tray construction is that their is a more rigid, yet soft substance at the bottom of the try. This means that the trays retain their shape even when loaded with heavy miniatures meaning that when they are stored away in the bag the tray won't bend or deform, opening up gaps for miniatures to slip out of, you know like you GW plastic cases do or the many solutions I've tried from other manufacturers. This is arguably the biggest advantage I've seen over other companies products.

The quality of the stitching and buckles is very high
The foam walls themselves although made of a denser foam than other companies products is still soft and doesn't have a scratchy feel to it. It cushions miniatures while also providing a space for them to occupy that will retain its shape meaning there is no scope for pressure to malform the tray under normal carrying (and some not so normal) conditions and therefore bend, break or chip miniatures in them. I think some people need to wrap there heads around the idea that something can be strong and yes 'durable' while also being soft and gentle on your miniatures. Trust me its brilliant stuff. The final thing I'd say on Quality is just how well made everything is from the metal clips, to the fabric and components to the stitching. My other half has an exceedingly expensive camera and some really expensive lenses to go with it, but her 'professional' camera bags are not as well made as my Battlefoam bag and trust me that's high praise.

Service 6 out of 10

I ordered my Warachine bag at a time when demand for it shot through the roof (around the time of its launch). I don't think Romeo and co actually had any idea how big a product launch it was going to be and Battlefoam have clearly grown from strength to strength since. However at the time I waited just under 3 months for my bag I believe. I have to say I was kept informed and any queries I may have emailed to them were answered incredibly quickly and professionally... but still the wait wasn't good, and neither was the damned thing getting stuck in customs for a few weeks here in the UK, but I can't blame Battlefoam for HM Customs now can I? Subsequently however I ordered a red Malifaux bag and a Limited Edition black P.A.C.K. 720 and both arrived in ridiculously quick time all things considered and of course we now have Battlefoam UK so things should be getting even better.

Price 7 out of 10

Now as much as I love the bag and as much as I'm sure its a fair asking price in many ways, when I purchased my Battlefoam bag from the USA the exchanged rate wasn't all that favourable and the shipping was steep, not to mention the fecking Customs charge on top. All in all I think the bag probably cost somewhere in the region of £180+ to get to me and that's steep in anybodies money. I couldn't in all consciousness advise people therefore to import from the States, however I no longer have too. There is now a  Battlefoam distributor in the UK who will service Europe and that means no import charges to deal with and cheaper shipping costs. So if I was buying the bag now it'd cost me £127 including tax and shipping, still not cheap but far more reasonable for such a damn good product, I'd give it an 8.5 out of 10 at that price.

Overall 9 out of 10

Tybs being an utter Arse... AGAIN!!!
Yeah so the services wasn't fantastic coming from the USA and it took an age, and yeah we had huge problems with customs when it got here and yeah it was pricey. However I was importing a huge bag from the states in an even bigger box, I should have expected HM Customs to have spotted it. It was also a really busy time for Battlefoam and those issues haven't come up since when using them. Plus the majority of those problems should now be alleviated in the main for us Brits and Europeans by Battlefoams UK operations. The biggest factor though in the high overall score is the fact that the bag just does its primary job of protecting my miniatures so very, very well. I just wished that the Battlefoam bags weren't so damn attractive to my cats!!!

I'm really not sure any of the other products I've tried over the years would stand up to the sort of punishment my Warmachine bag has, in fact I know other products haven't stood up to the rough and tumble of just carrying things around all that well. Its for this reason I now own a Battlefoam Limited Edition P.A.C.K. 720, a red Malifaux Battlefoam bag and have an Infinity Alpha bag on pre-order. I'll be buying more Battlefoam product as well as I also have my eye on the Spartan Games bag too, its just that currently being unemployed and skint has scuppered that purchase for now. In short I don't think there's a better product on the market. Peace out!

Award of an 'Approved by Cats' seal

It was bound to get one, but here's what the panel of cats had to say:

Macavity: Welle teh bag has bein here fur qwhyt a while now, and givun how mutch puneshmunt teh master has givun it I must say I is a ver, ver impressed kitteh.
Dinah: Yes, I too is ver, impressed with the bag. Only probullem I see wtih it, is taht teh bag is not meant fur catz sittings, so we is not allowud to sits on it fur ver long. Tis ver annoying at times he has to move it while I is taking the napings.
Macavity: Yes when it moves during a nappings it can be froostrayting, espesually as is big enuf fur a cat as musquelar as I am...
Poppy: You meen phat!!! I is ver likings its abiluty to be a bed and a skratchin post at teh saymm thyme. Ver versutile bag.
Tybalt: Yeah, the handulls make fur ver gud chewings and as all nice an texturred on meh teeff. An Poppy is ver right fur a change, it also makes a gerate skratchin post, espesually as teh non furry one hates meh doin it.

So this is the first official award of teh... sorry the 'Approved by Cats' seal in a new review rather than retrospectively. So its a joyous occasion. I know I said it wouldn't come out very often as an award but seriously it couldn't not be given to such a fine product. My Retribution of Syrah force would be toast by now if it wasn't for this bag... I only wished it wasn't quite so popular with my cats. Seriously its covered in cat hairs and Dinah dribble!!! Yep she salivates while sleeping on my bag, princess my ar...


  1. I'm REALLY wondering how many accidents that lil' old lady has been in...

    Great review...
    I mean, as long as the kittehs approve, I'm good.

  2. SinSynn the thought of that mad old Battleaxe driving around scares the hell out of me... she actually said 'what have I hit this time?'... now I think if you're uttering those very words while driving a car, something somewhere in your brain must be screaming 'WE SHOULDN'T BE DRIVING'. Well it would be if it was me.

    Still the bag is brilliant I'm really excited about getting the Infinity bag, which should be out by the end of the month... and as everyone knows I'm an Infinity nutcase!!! I'll review that bag as well and I'm currently writing up a review of the Malifaux bag that I own.