Making Your Own “Invisible” Mini Redux: The Base

In my first post about how to “make your own custom invisible mini,” I expressed some doubts about how the base turned out. In fact, I’ve retried the method I outlined there several times since, and every time I’ve gotten the same less than ideal results. I subsequently developed a theory that cutting a hole in the middle of the base before shrinking somehow interferes with the shrinking process, and warps both the base and the hole in the middle. I had to find a better way to base my invisible mini. Listed below are three ideas I came up with, my reactions to their appearance, and thoughts about the time and money involved in their implementation. First up:

Cut the hole in the base after shrinking

So, since the theory was that the hole messes up the shrinking, I decided to try shrinking the base first, and then cutting the hole in it. Unfortunately, I do not own a Dremel tool, so I tried using a 1/16″ bit in my cordless drill; the idea was to drill a row of holes, and then file out the wavy edge until the slot was the right size. Frustration ensued.

My thoughts: Have you ever had a plan in your head that seemed really good, and then you tried to execute the plan, and found that you’re an idiot? That’s what this was like. First, the “non-slotted” piece of plastic did not shrink any better than the ones with the slot cut before shrinking. So before I even tried to drill the holes, this method was behind the 8 ball. Then I started drilling the holes; it involved precision work, and a good deal of profanity. I do not recommend this method. I didn’t even finish, I quit halfway through. You’d need to sand the edges of the base to even them out before you even got to the part where you try to drill a series of holes, then more filing… just save yourself the trouble.

Next Up: The Binder Clip

The next option is to use a binder clip. Either “small” or “mini” are the right size, and if you work in an office, you most likely have access to one for free. I suppose I should tell you to ask your employer before you take a single mini binder clip home for personal use. At any rate, once the invisible mini is clipped in, just remove the little handles, and voila! A base!

My thoughts: Ok, so this method is cheap (especially if you have access to one of these at work) and incredibly easy. Here’s the thing though – it’s ugly. I just don’t like the way it looks. It looks like I’m using a binder clip as a mini stand; that’s not what I want. If you don’t mind the asthetics of this solution, it will work fine, but it’s definitely not for me.

Final option: Buy something

So my third option was to buy a base. Now, before you suggest it, the 1 inch square bases they make for metal miniatures don’t work. I tried it, and the slot is too large. But you can get little stands that work perfectly. The Shrinky Dinks site sells 20 for a dollar. They are red, so you don’t get the overall clear plastic “invisible” look. If you absolutely need that, I’ve located a retailer in Germany that sells clear ones. I didn’t do the currency translation, and I don’t know if there’s a minimum quantity you need to order. If you have to get 50 though, that’s more bases than you could ever hope to need. Unless you’re building an invisible army, in which case, good for you.

My Thoughts: This is absolutely the way to go. Is it DIY? No. Is it relatively cheap, easy, and good looking? Yes. There’s not much more to say than that.

Two final somewhat unrelated notes

 I was at the craft store the other day, and I noticed they sell packs of “Shrink Plastic.” I don’t remember the exact price, but I belive it was cheaper than online. You might want to check with your local store to see if they have something similar.   Also, I heard rumors online that they sell the little bases at craft stores too, but I couldn’t find any.  Perhaps you’ll have more luck.

Finally, the retailers I linked to in this article are certainly not the only ones selling this stuff.  A Google search for “game pieces,” “card stands,” or “board game supplies,” will yield more results.  Here are a few more for you: 1, 2, 3, 4

Enjoy!

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