Friday, 3 April 2015

Product Review: Citadel Crusade Figure Case

Greetings all, welcome to our break down of one of the most anticipated Games Workshop accessory releases - The new Citadel Crusade Case. Boasting capacity of 400 figures and new 'innovative' foam design, the accompanying video with this release, created a surge of positive remarks concerning GW's progression in non-miniature products at a some what competitive price point. The question is, is it any good? We aim to find to out! Please note this is a long article as we have tried to be as thorough as possible from a hobbyist perspective, I hope you do manage to make it past the jump and to the end, as we feel the information is useful.



Ok to get things out of the way - credentials. I myself have been collecting Games Workshop products for 26 years and spent time working in their London retail branches as a staffer and eventual manager for 6 years - If you are sitting there thinking 'ha GW staffers know nothing!' you are wrong, we know complaints and the reasons that cause them. In terms of case 'technology' I have seen and owned it all, from Citadel, Figures In Comfort, Feldherr, Battle Foam and of course KR Multicase. While I can't give you scientific facts and statistical proof, I can give you my experience and a load of pictures. Hellstrom, who has also given feedback to this article has been at this little hobby of ours for much longer than I and has a collection of cases to match his miniatures, you could easily mistake his wargames room for the back room of a GW store!




The first thing that puzzled both Hellstrom and myself was the size, the idea of 400 miniatures being stored; and the stock photos used; gave an impression of a huge case, so we were both immediately surprised at how small the actual case if compared to say the older generation of army and tank cases. Just as a reminder, this is the Crusade Case, the largest of the new generation.



Handles and locks are probably one of the most important aspects of a carry case purchase outside of foam, so I had a really good look at the comfort and durability of both these items. Sadly this is where things started to go down hill. The handle despite have a metal pin, is made of a very thin and flexible plastic. If you ever owned the previous Citadel case and noticed how flexible/squishy the plastic is, you will have an idea of what I am talking about...except with this new case it's worse. The new Crusade Case has a definite flimsier and more frail feeling to the previous generation. It is almost a guarantee that any form of weight will cause hairline fractures in the handle hinges. Pin or no pin the issue is the plastic itself and it looks like this problem permeates into the locks. The original plastic cases had an issue of the locks being incredible frail under pressure, and overloading the foam case would cause the hinges to literally pop and drop customers armies over the floor - a thoroughly nasty experience. With the Crusade Case, the exact same lock design is back but is worse, again due to how thin the plastic is. The lock is also smaller than the previous Citadel Case, around half the size and half the thickness. If you decide to carry a large load in this case, I would suggest wrapping a cargo securing strap as quite simply - The locks are rubbish.



The shoulder strap is actually one of the better parts of this case, the hooks are made of a very strong looking metal, unlike other brands we have used. However the padded area is non existent and will not provide much comfort when carrying a full load. Even if the army is fully plastic, to carry a full load of 400 miniatures will probably leave red marks on your shoulders. Further more, if you look closely at the picture of the strap ring area, the plastic is noticeably thin around this point, and is probably an area where fractures will be most visible.

"The revolutionary foam"

The first thing that worried me, was that the consistency was very similar to figure In Comfort foam, a foam notorious for compression under weight, enough said on that...

We decided on two tests for the foam, one with resin/plastic miniatures and the other with a metal figure, affectionately dubbed the 'Bokur Test'. These two test should clearly tell you how useful this case will be depending on what your army is made of: Plastic, resin or pewter.


The new foam design consists of ridged lanes in a foam box, one acts as the frame for the other foam, meaning the models below should be adequately cushioned from falling out. I saw one very obvious flaw from the outset. When you store the foam in the case, the ridges are vertical...meaning the models will be stacked on top of each without any foam in between as gravity does it's work. Remember that as you move, foot fall impact will cause the models to sift downwards. I expect that unless all lanes of the foam are filled, you will probably need to be carrying rolls of tissue with you to shove in between the models if your case if not full capacity. As it stands the concept of us gamers walking around with rolls of toilet paper in our bags probably does very little to improve our image...
We started with the 'Bokur' test which is a medium sized metal miniature (ogre sized). As you can see above, there is immediate sag in the tray meaning anything underneath better not have pointy bits as they will get broken.. 




The above photos are attempts of storage with both the inner and frame foam pieces. The frame tray does an excellent job of holding the Bokur model when supported by two additional miniatures on either side. A good start as it does go someway to proving the theory that as the case gets filled, it should get better. However as soon as I moved the tray, the Ogrun did actually fall through the ridges and nearly fell out, if there were any other miniatures underneath our dear old Bokur, they would have been damaged. When put on his own, the Ogrun tumbled worse than a Connect 4 token before launching himself off the tray completely. And please remember the way the trays are positioned above is the way they are stored in the case, so imagine that as you walk, these figures are most probably bouncing.
 

Tanks obviously fit very snugly in the trays but they take a huge amount of space away from the infantry. If you attempt to store infantry around the tank, they actually get crushed, this is not ideal if you are packing a Forge World army, as the pressure is enough to break models that have been glued together and not pinned, due to the more brittle nature of resin miniatures and superglue. Plastic is not an issue as long as they are not spiky. Another consideration is anything with sponsons, we did actually do a predator test and forgot to take a picture, but the sponsons were compressed so tightly to the tank chassis that we feared breakage. Box shapes like the Rhino will do fine, but any vehicles with fragile sticking out bits will break.


The above photo of the lid from the inside. Not sure how well you can see it, but there is already a stress line going along the whole lid (the almost white line). This should give an indication of just how fragile the plastic is. Stacking anything of weight on top of this case is a bad idea, with barely any force I was able to compress the lid inwards.

Spotting fractures will be key when maintaining this carry case. As with previous versions of the Citadel carry cases, you will be looking for a distinct grey/white line going through the plastic. Typical areas are strap hook points and locking areas, basically anywhere where movement or friction occurs.

Verdict 
Travel
This is not a flight case, it will not survive any form of journey where the figure case will suffer abuse. This case will die at the hands of a disgruntled baggage handler as the plastic is simply cheap and weak. I have serious doubts as to whether it will even survive being kicked around by train or bus passengers, let along taking knocks in a convention crowd. I also would say NO to any form of weight being stacked on it, as the lid will compress and most likely crumble. The locks and strap handles are weak, and any major form of pressure will cause them to snap, I would recommend a cargo securing strap for additional support, and also to stop the lid flipping open during travelling.

Storage
The capacity is actually good depending on a few factors, in fact one of the things Hellstrom and I talked about, is that this case would be brilliant for storing WIP pieces. As a method to keep projects together, I think it is actually not bad. This case loves infantry, but be careful when storing things like spear men as they will stab the guys above them! You can store tanks in these nicely and they will not move about, however turrets need to be off and extra care should be taken when dealing with tanks with sponsons and sticking out bits.

Protection/Foam
Protection of your figures will depend simply on the material of your miniatures. The foam and storage systems is reliant on plastic figures, due to how light and durable plastic miniatures are. Of course this comes undone if anything spiky is involved as these types of parts will have free reign to stab models around it, or simply break. The miniatures do not have separate foam compartments and the way that the foam is stored in the case means your figures will be scraping up together. Protection does get better as it gets fuller, but be wary that it will become a free for all in the foam, I recommend putting larger and intricate figures in their own foam compartment as opposed to with other miniatures. If you don't care about your paint work, then this case will probably be fine for you. If you are a lover of painting - Don't even bother.

This case in my opinion is completely unsuitable for fragile resin figures and metal miniatures. Metal miniatures will simply domino down the foam ridges and crush each other, also the additional weight will put excessive strain on all the moving points of the case ie Locks and Strap points. With resin, the lack of foam compartments will simply be death to any form of resin miniature with sticking out bits - Sevatar would not enjoy a ride in the Crusade Case.

Peripherals
There are no additional compartments for peripherals and like with the previous generation Citadel Case, I advise against putting your books inside the lid. If you are already struggling to close your case, you are already in trouble, so do not even think of adding your books in there. Due to the soft foam, excess weight will also crush the figures below and the additional strain will cause the locks to break. This is what happened with the last generation of cases and was the number one complaint I faced with Citadel Storage products, this is doubly so with the latest generation of Citadel Cases.

Conclusion
You get what you pay for, the main draw is how cheap this product is compared to other companies, a shocker to most GW fans/haters. However consider what it is you are intending for the case as both the plastic and foam are cheap, weak and completely unsuitable for hard core travel. If you are shoving it in the boot of your car and just driving to the local GW, then it will be fine, but don't even think of checking it in at a airport, as you will probably end up in tears, if you don't care about painting and your army is all plastic, then this case will get you by. But if your collection is beautifully converted and painted, and mixed medium (plastic, metal etc) then this case is simply not worth the risk.

I was excited about this case, like a lot of people, but after getting my hands on two, both Hellstrom and myself were left underwhelmed as protection of our very expensive collections is fundamental. In my honest opinion this case offers non of the criteria needed for a gamer/collector who loves his/her miniatures and is simply not fit for purpose.

Verdict 1/5

If after reading this, you still want to get one of the new Citadel Army Cases CLICK

Thanks for reading,

DiStudios & Hellstrom
Send The Eighth

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31 comments:

  1. Hi my spiky models always tend to break during transport. It is verry frustrating that after a few months of intensive gaming most of the models have lost their spears, flagpoles and my fully painted gets reduced to a heap of half finished models :S

    Are there any good ways to transport spiky ork / bloodletter sized models with lots of non plastic conversions ?

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    1. Thanks for checking out the post!

      I completely understand where you are coming from. For spearmen you have a few options:

      KR Multicase have a excellent and affordable selection of cases that use soft foam, the foam is high quality and the case durable, despite being made of card (don't be put off by that). Further more, there are different foam cuts available, so you can choose compartments to the size you want..usually 3" I think for spearmen. 'Pick & Pluck' Foam allows you to also make custom compartments, again really useful for pointy bits.

      The other alternative is Battlefoam which uses harder foam, more costly but completely bespoke. You can create personalized foam to the shape of your model, much like a gun case, which means perfect fit.

      Both are great choices, and both offer custom foam, which is foam cut to the shape of a current model (GW or otherwise) ie Rhinos, dreadnoughts etc Battlefoam is the more expensive of the two, but has the most options.

      Definitely check out the ranges of both those companies, it will be worth your time :)

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  2. Thanks so much for the review Chris! Really covered a lot of questions I had on the case!

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    1. Thanks for checking out the post Greg!

      Both Hellstrom and I felt it was important to get all factors out there, no matter how ugly. When it comes to transporting our collections, I feel there is no place for misplaced positive bias.

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    2. It's completely true! That's the reason I held off reviewing mine until after it had been through "the fire of airplane transport".

      One thing that is VERY important about all these cases (to point out). Foam is abrasive. The models will rub up against the foam during transport. For table top models, with varnishes and such, this won't result in much damage to the coats over time. If you don't varnish your models though, it will eventually take off paint.

      For competition, there really seems to be only one case you can transport figures in currently, and that is the tablewar cases. They use a system that holds the model in the center of the case, with nothing touching them. (has to be carried on).

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    3. Excellent point, foam abrasion is important and also a source of constant disagreement between BF and KR fans lol.

      But in all seriousness I think the new Citadel case actually promotes foam abrasion, due to the ridged foam and also the fact that the tray ridges are vertical! As you see from the Bokur test, it won't take much to cause the models to congo line down the tray...

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  3. That's a nice article,I wondered about the product (the foam mostly,as I am always trying to find more effective ways of transporting large amounts in small spaces).

    What I wondered is,do you have any experience with Feldherr products? They're pretty big here (Germany) and very cheap for the quality. If you do,maybe you could give me an impression whether the foam is better or not and somesuch (the case isn't really important as I already own a bag and a large case).

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    1. Thanks for checking out the article!

      I actually own an older Feldherr bags, so in terms of foam quality I would need to get a current product to do a fair comparison. However based on my existing Feldherr product, the foam is comparable to KR foam but a little more coarse. I think one of the problems in this situation is that KR and Feldherr share a similar product line, and naturally with KR being UK based is cheaper/easier for Brits to obtain for the local consumer. I will check with Hellstrom to see if he has a current Feldherr product and if so we will do a foam comparison with Feldherr included :)

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    2. Nice,thank you! Looking forward to what your results are,if any. Don't worry about it too much though,just felt like asking since this new kind of foam GW presents did look interesting for me (40k Ork player),as I have so much infantry and walkers - the prospect of "just putting them anywhere" in foam of course sounded more alluring than the current situation of having exactly one spot for each larger model.

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    3. Perhaps a mix of pick and pluck & convoluted foam would be the solution, it would still provide excellent support and also be customizable for your army?

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    4. Sadly, I don't have a Feldherr case in my collection so can't help there. Maybe will see if there are any at Salute later this month.

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    5. Yeah I am using pick and pluck mostly for my army and it does its job well mostly,the thing is just that Walker A has to go in place A,Infantry B to K have to go into their places and so on,because the foam is plucked exactly for certain models. Now that I have started collecting Necrons as well,I have to do the same for them obviously,as they won't fit into most of the special Ork places! Hence the prospect of having ONE general foam as GW promises with this new system was of course alluring.

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    6. It's a tough compromise to make at any rate, space and cost vs efficiency. A regular reader named Greg made an excellent alternative suggestion. Worth having a look at the very least, just for ideas of what is on the market.

      http://www.tablewar.com/categories/Cases/

      Totally unique as in it looks like a mobile display case as opposed to foam carry case.

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  4. Thanks for such a comprehensive review, I was just looking at these cases in GW yesterday and almost picked one up as they looked good. Silly though it sounds, I hadn't twigged that the slots ended up vertical when the case was picked up and that's a massive thing as you point out with regards metal models. I shall consider myself lucky to have not bought one and will stick to KR, so thank you for saving me money!

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    1. I am sure that there were many people who missed this. I know I did, which is why I ended up pre ordering it. At least it meant that we could review it for you :)

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    2. Thanks for checking out the article, I am glad you found it informative!

      The vertical placement is something I noticed very early on, but wanted to test first before making any conclusive comments. The Bokur test is really aimed at gamers with a high majority of metal/pewter miniatures, to show them what this can or cannot do.

      The new Citadel cases in my mind are designed with only current and new figures in mind - plastic, which is fine, as it is part of the overall product push towards full plastic. However, for gamers with metal figures, this simply won't do the trick and I feel it is a missed opportunity to cross market the product.

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  5. Hello, I have read this article and the questions to our Feldherr - foam. We can send you some samples. So you can try out for all actually foam trays. Cheers Sven

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    1. Hi Sven, some samples would be fantastic, I know a few people and groups I am involved in are very interested in alternatives like your brand.

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    2. I have sent you a email regarding this.

      With thanks,

      Christopher

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  6. Hi Christopher. Thank you for the detailed review. I hope you wouldn't mind if I run some ideas by you. This is the only case that's readily available in my country, and I've narrowed my options down to either this or magnetized tackle boxes.

    If I go the Citadel route, I was thinking about customizing the case. Do you think any of these mods are feasible:

    1. Adding reinforcements to prevent fracturing. I was thinking about bolting on old measuring sticks to make the sides sturdier.

    2. Removing the plastic clasps altogether and transplanting some metal clasps from an old tool case.

    3. Changing the orientation of the case so I carry it sideways. This way, the figures are right side up, and the chance of them crashing into each other is lessened. I tried carrying a 13" wide container and it isn't uncomfortable. I just need to attach a second handle, and figure out a way to stop the case from tilting side to side during transport.

    I don't mind making the mods, since having one big case is more appealing than having to manage several tackle boxes.

    Thanks again!

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    1. Hi Wolfpuppet, thanks for checking out the post and commenting.

      With the amount of modifications you are considering of doing, I would actually advise getting a large tool box or large flight case (which might even have foam in it already) and ordering foam separately as needed. Tool boxs and flight cases are strong enough and more importantly large enough (depending on which size) for most miniature armies and should be as easy to get hold of as a fishing tackle box. Added advantages are wheels and locking points (which will cost a little bit more). Amusingly, most miniature carrying cases are just re branded tool/flight cases, with a premium price thrown on top.

      Hope that helps, if you need any more info, always feel free to ask! :)

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  7. Thanks for the excellent and in-depth review

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    1. Thank you for checking out the post and the kind words! :-)

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  8. Thanks for this in-depth review. Keeps me from buying one, because your tests exactly show the stuff I feared with these cases. Have to see what I will do with my Hordes stuff then.
    I own a Feldherr XXL already and it looks much tougher than the GW thing, its just too big for easy transportation.

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    1. Thanks for checking out the post, I am glad you found the content useful. We are hoping to get hold of other brands of foam/storage solutions for review in the future. What I am hoping is that eventually we will have a comprehensive selection of articles; available to the community; that ensures that everyone (new or veteran) knows that there are alternatives on the market.

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  9. Thanks for the review. I was thinking about suggesting it to a frind (LOL) but I'm not going two. ((Luckily, I have 2 of the old big Citadel cases and 2 bigger Pelican Case replicas))

    Thanks man!

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    1. Thanks for checking out the post, and I am glad you found it useful!

      When I first saw the cases, I did see some potential in the new foam cuts, but as you have read, it simply does not offer protection for anything outside of plastic, which alienates a lot of collectors in my opinion.

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  10. I recently purchased one and flew half way around the world with it. While I don't think I would ever check it as luggage, it did great as carrying-on.

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    1. Glad to hear you had a positive experience with the case, I really hope you never find yourself int he position of having to check it into cargo, as the thin plastic and small clasps will not survive the strain.

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  11. And I should mention that I filled it with all kinds of plastic, metal, and resin models.

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    1. I have actually tried the Crusade case myself with mixed medium models (part of the test) through London . I used metal figures up to the size of 40/50mm in combination with plastic and resin figures (all painted mind you).

      The case took some heavy knocks from other people via luggage etc during my trip. When I checked post journey I had broken figures, mainly fine details like spears and damaged paint work. One of the reason for this was, the way figures were stacked on top of each other and compressing (especially the heavier metal models).

      I am happy that you did not experience any issues with your own case, but my pedestrian trip results were enough to put me off the Crusade case. I prefer separate compartment foam to give full cushioning to the model.

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