"We're Going to Send Old Grey to the Farm... He'll Play With a Bunch of Other Bags in a Giant Field and Have All The Toy Soldiers He can Hold -- He'll Be Very Happy On The Farm..."
Isnt Old Grey Dignified?
As last we saw, Old Grey (pictured above, he's the bag) was close to forced retirement. He served me well for 10+ years, but the rips in his strap were telling and I didnt have confidence in the old man. Just like a 30 year old RunningBack, the performance is expected to drop off precipitously. (note, thats a pro tip right there for you Fantasy Football types - dont ever reach for a 31 yr old RB in the draft)
Rippin' at the seams!
As you can see, I did tape up Old Grey. This isnt the original duct tape I used, but shows just how concerned I was with the integrity of the bag. You can also see a 3-ring binder I used to hold my cards sticking out the top of the front pouch - that would be an issue I wanted to address (remember that for later).
.... In With the New.
The New Hotness next to the Old Standby
After weeks of research I eventually went with the Battlefoam Warmachine bag for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, I am a sucker for the "endorsement" -- having a good looking Warmachine logoright there in front. One of the other big selling points is that the Battlefoam bag is a bit bigger but, supposedly, is carry-on size for the airlines. ("supposedly" since I am havent personally tested it yet) I bought this bag to be portable and reliable for getting my army to GenCon no matter what continent I start on. This year its C. Africa, in a few months its going to be S. Asia -- in a few years, who knows? I need something strong and reliable and the Battlefoam people and their adverts sold me on its toughness.
The "standard load out" as Battlefoam calls it.
To put things in perspective, when I travel with my army to a con the basics of that travel involve at least 24 hours on a plane and transiting (not including going to the airport or security). It usually involves at least one transfer in an airport like Heathrow or Frankfurt, I have to go through customs and explain that, yes, I still play with toy soldiers -- and in some cases the whole shebang can take more than 48 hours. With all that movement, I absolutely need a bag that is durable and portable.
I wont go into all the nice features the Battlefoam Warmachine bag has since those bells and whistles are covered elsewhere (such as http://www.battlefoam.com/products/%28Warmachine%29-Privateer-Press-Warmachine-Bag-Standard-Load-Out.html) - but I will hit the highlights that justified the purchase of the bag to me.
Thorough stitching and a tough (canvas-esque) exterior:
Easy access and lots good (deep) pockets (that has its own built-in binder):
Let me go into the foam a bit. Old Grey's Sabol foam trays are really starting to age. They are becoming discolored and the bottoms are starting to sag. Granted, they have been to hell and back and expecting themnot to show some signs of age is unfair - but still, no one wants to nestle their little soldiers in crappy foam (that last bit sounds dirty). Even when I first bought it, I was never quite happy with the foam's bottom/base. I always felt the pluck foam was thin and flimsy. Now, the bottom never ripped on any of the foam, but I was always extra careful because I worried the foam would bend and let a fig or three slip out. Agian, us gamer types are an anal lot, and thin foam bases annoy the crap out of us (us = me).
Older Sabol foam on the left, Battlefoam on the right -- fight!
The foam that game with the Battlefoam bag was great. It was both softer and studier (dont ask me how -I think its magic). In stark contrast to the pluck foam from Old Grey, the bases on these foam inserts are made of a soft rubber (or somesuch) and create a much more stable tray, even when filled with minis. This make me very happy and is worth the extra money Battlefoam charges for their foam.
Teh sexay rubber bottom.
SD holding my space elves -- Battlefoam tray up front... see the difference?
There are some issues with the Battlefoam bag. Not the least of which is that for a bag made to carry Warmachine minis, certain minis are conspicuously too big for the standard loadout.
Square peg, round hole.
Models like Behemoth and mounted Fenris simply dont fit -- even in the big tray that is supposed to hold big models like warjacks. My othe 'jacks do fit -- Kodiak, three Juggy/Dest/Marauder, Drago... they all fit nicely. But if you think the Battlefoam standard trays are enough for the really big models in the Warmachine line you will need to look for other options.
Still, remember that the Behemoth is BIG! and WIDE! - so again, its not unreasonable that he doesnt fit. My other 'jacks fit just fine and thats a good thing.
So, great new bag - solves all my travel and storage problems, right?
Well, in a word. No.
In another word?
Remember how I have a new baby? Yeah, well thats pretty important and sacrificing a carry-on (or a check-in) on a flight for my toy soldiers isnt an option. Worse, the Battlefoam Warmachine bag is bigger and a bit heavier than Old Grey and that means a lot more hassle when I have the family in-tow. Since the plan is for us all to leave Gabon this spring and vacation in the U.S. and Canada before relocating to Sri Lanka -- and during that time I will go to GenCon 2011 -- I have to make some hard choices about luggage, carry-ons, and what makes it back on this particular trip.
Beatings shall continue until morale improves!
I expect we'll have three seats, six bags, a lot of carry-ons, fly through three continents... and, consequently, little room for a full-sized bag to carry all my Khador minis. Bottom line - when it comes down to having carry-on luggage with diapers or one with Iron Fang Pikemen... diapers win. Always. Diapers win always (keep that in mind dads-to-be).
So, while I am a very happy customer with my new Battlefoam Warmchine bag, its a wee bit too big. To be fair, Old Grey would be too big for our return back to the States as well so its not a specific fault of the Battlefoam bag. In other situations , my new Battlefoam bag is going to be perfect (such as when I go to cons on my own, without the family in tow) -- but for this summer, I need something else. Its just the nature of the beast.
I think I have the solution on order.