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Blog Post #3 – Magnetic Tray Prototypes and Evo Rail Rubber Types

A lot of people have asked me about support for magnetized models since I started selling ShapeShift bags and trays. As you may know, the Phobos Foundry store does sell steel plate attachments for ShapeShift Evo trays… But if someone’s not too hot on using the ShapeShift system in the first place, say they already magnetized their army, the idea of getting the trays only to use them with attachments is off-putting and financially dubious.

For a long time, I thought about making a magnets-only tray that would fit Overlord and Red Baron bags, and then consistently failed to take action on that idea. The issue was that you only need a thin sheet of steel for carrying models, but the grooves in the walls of the bags are 10 mm wide and 10 mm deep. So the steel needs to be padded with some sort of light material for the trays to fit snugly in their slots. I wasn’t sure what material would be a good fit.

Finally, a wargamer reached out to me and asked me to make him some trays for his magnetized models. This gave me the push needed to pick a filler material and see if I could make trays that would work the way I thought they should.

My choice was foamed PVC, which is a very light, rather hard type of plastic foam. You won’t indent it by squeezing tightly and it creates a great backing for the sheet metal. The composite resulting from gluing the two materials is very stiff and weighs less than a ShapeShift Evo tray (which it should, since the latter has far more components).

Here’s how the finished trays look:

You might have noticed that there’s a dramatic difference between the tray on the left and the one on the right. That’s because initially, I bought galvanized steel to prevent rust from eating away at the steel. But I wasn’t happy with how it looked when compared to the plastic. So the tray on the right uses a ferromagnetic stainless alloy, which can be bought with a polished or ground finish. It’s practically a mirror finish.

I have already made and shipped trays with both types of steel for a few people. I think they’re a fine addition to the ShapeShift line of products, but I’m still tinkering with the design. Before I add them to the store, I also want to test a variant with just sheet metal, bent on a press to create a shape that would fill the slots in the bag. That’s why I consider the trays pictured above a prototype. You can buy them from me right now if you’re interested, since I have the materials to make more. Regardless of the type of steel, they retail for 11.95€, and the mirror finish is only available for the Red Baron tray size.

Once I have a fabricated steel tray to compare them with, I will decide on what should end up in the store as a permanent new product.

Another thing I wanted to write about is the rubber that’s glued to the rails on ShapeShift Evo trays. Why? Because not only is this a crucial feature that actually makes the system work at all, I also use different types of rubber and I wanted to tell you why your rails might look a bit different from the pictures.

In this terribly flash-lit photo, the light actually allows you to see the black foam against the black acrylic of the slider in front. Without it, it would be very difficult to see clearly.

Aesthetics aside, the foam in the front is EPDM rubber, which has been cut to shape and comes with glue on the back. It’s self-adhesive. I’ve been using it for many months now because of the above advantages.

The rubber in the back is also EPDM, but it has a skin around a foam core and is usually sold as a gasket. It works for preventing leaks of air and various liquids. I’d say it’s a bit nicer, but it has to be cut manually from a giant roll and then glued with standard CA glue.

Both provide the necessary grip for holding miniautres and neither will come off the rail (the glue is stronger than the rubber, so the rubber will tear before it detaches from the plastic). That’s basically it. Some people will end up with both types, so for future reference I wanted to come out and say that the differences are technical and matter to me as the manufacturer, but for the user they are functionally the same.

That’s it for this blog post guys, if you have any comments please post them below. If you’d like some magnet-friendly trays, let me know via email since I might take some time to add one of the versions to the store.

All the best,