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6 - How to Base a Grav Tank?

Osario 4000 Grav MBT
(pack of 5)
Product #
Suggested Retail Price


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10 March 2000converted to new format
26 September 1998page first published

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5,641 hits since 19 Mar 2000
©1994-2023 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Normally, I base all my 1/285th and 1/300th scale tanks on rectangular steel bases. I do this for two reasons:

  1. it encourages players to handle tanks by their bases, not by their fragile gun barrels
  2. it allows me to store the tanks in bins lined with magnetic sheet, so the models don't bang around when being transported

But my problem in this instance was that I wanted to give an instant visual distinction on the tabletop, between grav tanks and conventional tanks. Looking for advice, I went to friends and readers for help:

Steve Jackson of SJ Games
I based my GEVs on bits of cardboard, about 1/16" thick, cut considerably smaller than the model's base and painted flat black - so if any of it shows, it still looks like shadow. Worked very well. And very easy and cheap.

John McEwan of Reviresco
Hi Bill: Just drill 4 small holes in the bottom of the vehicle and put ordinary dressmakers pins cut to size in the holes. Paint the pins camo to whatever color your table top is. If the pins are set back a bit they are hard to see looking from above or above side, and the vehicle really looks like it is hovering above the surface. I have done that with several blowers from my own Days of Empire line and it looks good. Good Luck.

Andy O'Neill
If you want them just off the table, a piece of balsa painted black or to the same colour as your terrain would be easy.


Wire - drill a hole in the base of your tank. Bend a piece of thin wire or a paper clip into a base ( triangular is easiest ) with an upright, and glue into the hole.


Thin clear plasticard is easy to cut with modelling knife or scissors. Cut a base. Cut a longer thin strip, and bend into a circle or similar, to act as a support. Glue a with a couple of blobs of clear household-glue between tank and base.

Try buying the clear acrylic flying bases from GW or Grim Reaper (I just saw a box of bases for their Star Blazers miniatures). But don't use the posts, and instead mount the grav tanks directly on the clear six sided base. (Use a small tab of sticky-tack - makes it easier to remove the ship from the stand to indicate grounding). Each tank looks like it's on a 'cushion' of energy, plus you could add the clear flight sticks to indicate tree-top or higher flight. This solution is simple. Good luck.

There was lots of good advice, and it helped sharpen my ideas about what I was trying to do. For instance, I began to realize that I wanted to be able to distinguish on the tabletop, not just between grav tanks and tread tanks, but also between hovercraft and VTOL/aircraft:

  • tanks - on the ground
  • GEV's/blowers/hovercraft - barely off the ground
  • grav tanks - about 1/4" off the ground
  • VTOL/aircraft - on flight stands

One problem I ran into was that while the Osario 4000 was a hollow-bottomed model, not all of my other grav-tanks were, and I wanted a solution that would work for all of my anti-grav vehicles. For instance, one problem with using glass beads was that my hollow-bottom models would end up at quite different heights, depending on how big the hollow was and where it met the top of the glass bead - it looked too funky to me.


I started to wonder if I couldn't find something ready-made that would work just fine as a transparent 1/4" tall base. Scouring craft and hobby stores, I discovered:

  • 1/2" x 1" beveled sequins, with "mirrored" bottoms
  • clear beveled tiles, 1/2" x 1/2", made for a new line of craft products
  • flat-bottomed glass beads, used for flower arranging
  • very small (1/2" diameter) plastic cups, which I could "behead" to get a transparent ring

I considered cutting my own bases from acrylic sheet, but had absolutely no experience with doing that. Everyone warned me away from doing that:

Steve Jackson of SJ Games
I've worked with acrylic. Fun, but not easy. Used to cut it on a bandsaw and polish it with sandpaper, then fine sandpaper, then a buffer. Lots of work.

I had a thick acrylic clipboard that I had received as part of a recent class, and sacrificed it for the cause. What a pain! I could see that cutting bases was not going to be for me...