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Subject: Counter trays: GMT vs Chessex rss

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Xander Fulton
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Quick question on this. I'm obsessive about sorting out my counters for games, and so have always used counter trays. I tended towards the 'Chessex' style, because that's what my local hobby shops (Bridgetown, here in PDX) always seemed to stock.

HOWEVER...looking at another BGG members picks, I'm kind of astonished at what may be a difference in capacity.

For instance, Avalanche Press's Panzer Grenadier: Afrika Korps. I used the Chessex trays, and fit this into two sheets:



...while I see GrogGamer managed to fit the same game into one GMT tray:



What I was wondering is...is this kind of what other people find? I generally estimate that one 'full' countersheet (basically, the roughly 8"x11" sheets) can be easily sorted into one Chessex tray (with plenty of cells to have every unique unit type in its own). I can put 2 full sheets into one tray in a PINCH, grouping more units together than I'm usually happy with. But it does work.

What about GMT trays? How many sheets fit 'easily' into one of those?
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Bill the Pill
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I have trouble opening Chessex trays without counters flying about the room.
GMT counter trays keep the counters in the tray, but open far easier. And seem to hold more counters than Chessex.
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Xander Fulton
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grimstuff wrote:
The GMT trays hold quite a bit. For example, I can fit all the counters to Combat Commander: Europe in one tray. Some of the squads have to double up, so they don't have a compartment all to themselves, but its still fairly easy to pick out a needed unit. THe only beef I have with GMT trays is they like to loosen up after a while, meaning the lids don't snap on very tightly. However, I just bend them a little on the sides so they snap on more firmly and that seems to do the trick.


That wouldn't be a HUGE issue for me. I stack my game boxes 'flat', so the lid shouldn't get much opportunity to pop off.

The real question is the counter density. I've put off some game purchases I'd otherwise have been interested in, as I could easily see by the number of counters that it wouldn't even BEGIN to fit back in the box with the 'Chessex' trays. If the GMT trays are roughly the same size, but pack them much better... (I do have an understanding that the GMT trays don't "stack" nearly as well - so if in a situation where you couldn't fit everything in one of them, and had to 'stack', you may end up better back at the 'Chessex' trays.)

Curious about the number of full countersheets-per-tray as a 'max', though.
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Drew Heath
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I can't give you a head to head comparison, yet. Ask me again in 3 weeks when my Chessex trays get here.

I was over at my friend's playing CC:E last night and he has all his counters in the one included GMT tray and... it sucked. There were WAY too many counters per cell and getting one specific united always resulted in a digging-fest.

YES, you can get them all into one tray, but why the hell would you want to? Unless you've got the fingertips of an infant.
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Skip Franklin
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I have been replacing my Avalon Hill counter trays with Chessex trays. The latest version of the Chessex trays are better than they used to be (the old ones have Chessex imbossed on the lid). After opening the new trays (a skill in itself) the lid stays open and does not fly back and partially lock like the older version.

A skill.
When opening the tray you must slide you hand in under the lid after popping the two locks on the front corners before finishing the opening process while holding the tray down.
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Chester
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Shad wrote:
I can't give you a head to head comparison, yet. Ask me again in 3 weeks when my Chessex trays get here.

I was over at my friend's playing CC:E last night and he has all his counters in the one included GMT tray and... it sucked. There were WAY too many counters per cell and getting one specific united always resulted in a digging-fest.

YES, you can get them all into one tray, but why the hell would you want to? Unless you've got the fingertips of an infant.


Much better to put all the common counters in one tray, and then each nationality in its own tray. You can sort in detail that way, and it really speeds up set-up. I'm able to fit all those trays and the decks in the two Combat Commander core boxes this way.

This is probably the game where I benefit the most from using counter trays vs the little plastic baggies.
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I have found something else to store counters in I really enjoy - Pill boxes with snapping lids.

7 Compartments for 1.50 on average that snap in place, and fit very well in game boxes.



I found the above for just under 3 dollars in AC Moore - 14 compartments perfect for 1/2" counters. 12 of these will fill one layer in a GMT box - that is a lot of compartments.

12 * 7 = 84 compartments - that is plenty for even storing monster games efficiently.


At Wal-Mart you can get these;



2.97 a piece = 14 compartments that store larger counters these fit comfortably as a pair in a MMP/GMT box, providing 28 compartments.

I have The Napoleonic Wars and Clash of Monarchs sorted with these things - the CoM sort uses the smaller ones, so that every player has a force pool in their hands without passing the tray around or dumping counters out on the surface.

For my ASL SKs, I found the 14 compartment one to be great for sorting Squads - one 7 compartment row has all the Squad's breakdowns in it for easy access.

For the cost, compartment for compartment, a dead heat, but locking compartments make them super deals.

You will also find these things in 'Books'; like this;



At AC Moore, they cost about 30 dollars, less that 40% Internet Coupon for one item, and el cheapo storage. I just pulled the caddy's out and threw the cover in a junk drawer.

Even at 30 dollars, it comes with 12 7 compartment containers - that is still a good deal.

BTW, almost all these caddies have one side that is curved, so it is easy to remove stuff by 'finger scooping'.
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I've seen Bill's pillboxes in action, and can testify to their superiority over other counter storage methods. As soon as I get a chance I'm heading to AC Moore in search of these things.
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Luke - I bought all they had in Grensboro in the small size about a month ago - 9 boxes of them hanging on a J-Hook.

I was at the AC Moore on Wendover in Greensboro just last week - and they were still out of stock, but I did grab that book cheap.

BTW, this is the same store I get those hard back poster frames at.

Wal-Mart always seems to have the 14 compartment caddies in plentiful stock.
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Daniel Corban
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GMT trays all the way.

The old Avalon Hill trays are neat. They have nice and big storage, but have the flipping possibility when open.

Chessex trays are (were?) no good.

Pill boxes, bead boxes, dollar store whatevers are terrible. It is so hard for me to get counters out of square, deep holes like that. Worst of the possible choices.

GMT trays are great since the lid is totally removable, yet stacks under the tray. The lids can stay on tight if you run your fingers around the edges every once in a great while. They have 20 compartments. They are light. They stack perfectly.
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Xander Fulton
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Shad wrote:
I can't give you a head to head comparison, yet. Ask me again in 3 weeks when my Chessex trays get here.


Be sure to update the thread - I'd be interested in a head-to-head, here!

Shad wrote:
I was over at my friend's playing CC:E last night and he has all his counters in the one included GMT tray and... it sucked. There were WAY too many counters per cell and getting one specific united always resulted in a digging-fest.


I confess I have some confusion on that argument. The GMT trays have too MANY units per cell vs the Chessex trays? You are aware the GMT trays have 20 cells per tray vs 16 per tray for Chessex, right? The Chessex trays you have to try to fit MORE units per cell (or buy additional trays - which is the route I've taken, but it starts getting tricky fitting them all back in the game box, then).

Shad wrote:
YES, you can get them all into one tray, but why the hell would you want to? Unless you've got the fingertips of an infant.


Well, the goal is...to put all the game components, back in the game's box. Whether it NEEDS to be one tray or not depends, of course, entirely on the game.

Wilhammer wrote:
I have found something else to store counters in I really enjoy - Pill boxes with snapping lids.


Eh...I've worked with those before, but...I can't TELL you how uninterested I was with them.

To me, fitting all the game components (including all maps, rules, and counters) back INTO THE BOX IT CAME IN is critically important to me. Small condo, limited storage space and all.
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Andy M
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GMT trays are vastly superior, but don't seem to fit in some boxes, so you have to compromise.
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"Pill boxes, bead boxes, dollar store whatevers are terrible. It is so hard for me to get counters out of square, deep holes like that. Worst of the possible choices."

These Craft Mates are not all that deep, and they have that one concave side, making it easy to get stuff out. I suppose the reason for the concave side is the original purpose - removing pills by the elderly.

I have run in into those Pill Boxes with the real deep sides; not sure if they even work for old people as pill holders.

I despise PLANOs for that deep well issue, and worse, the lids on those thing are not 'counter tight' when closed, still allowing limited migration when flipped.

For me, counter trays are now something to get rid of - the lids for the Chessex ones I hate due to the 'catapult' effect, the GMT trays are OK, old AH Trays don't snap lid at all.

The best counter trays I have ever used were the ones you got in old bookcase SPI games.


"INTO THE BOX IT CAME IN" is what the Pill Boxes also accomplish - better than CTs in my experience.
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Gene Baker
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Wilhammer wrote:

These Craft Mates are not all that deep, and they have that one concave side, making it easy to get stuff out. I suppose the reason for the concave side is the original purpose - removing pills by the elderly.


I like the craftmates as well. The curved bottoms an cheap price make them my first thought for storage. The locks can be a little annoying at first, but you also know things aren't gonna spill everwhere.

Also the "flatish" top make for easy labeling.
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Thumis Dalidalisa
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Shad --

Since you live in China, I'd suggest you just buy these "jewelry boxes" off Taobao. For 75 cents you can get a thin 15 compartment box with a tight snap. Two or three or four will fit in the bottom of any wargame box and I've found them perfect for sorting counters for both wargames and Euros.

http://www.taobao.com/view_image.php?pic=Wx0GGlFDXA1VUwMFWx0...

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Drew Heath
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XanderF wrote:
Shad wrote:
I can't give you a head to head comparison, yet. Ask me again in 3 weeks when my Chessex trays get here.


Be sure to update the thread - I'd be interested in a head-to-head, here!


Will do.

Quote:
Shad wrote:
I was over at my friend's playing CC:E last night and he has all his counters in the one included GMT tray and... it sucked. There were WAY too many counters per cell and getting one specific united always resulted in a digging-fest.


I confess I have some confusion on that argument. The GMT trays have too MANY units per cell vs the Chessex trays? You are aware the GMT trays have 20 cells per tray vs 16 per tray for Chessex, right? The Chessex trays you have to try to fit MORE units per cell (or buy additional trays - which is the route I've taken, but it starts getting tricky fitting them all back in the game box, then).


I was addressing the poster somewhere above me who said the ONE GMT tray included in CC:E was adequate. I assure you, sir, it is not.

As for the function of the trays themselves, I have no complaints, but nor do I have much experience to draw conclusions from.

Kolumel wrote:
Shad --

Since you live in China, I'd suggest you just buy these "jewelry boxes" off Taobao. For 75 cents you can get a thin 15 compartment box with a tight snap. Two or three or four will fit in the bottom of any wargame box and I've found them perfect for sorting counters for both wargames and Euros.

http://www.taobao.com/view_image.php?pic=Wx0GGlFDXA1VUwMFWx0...


You rock my world.
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Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
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Recently, I buggered my back up and was off work for two weeks. I was put on medication that consisted of heavy-duty painkillers, anti-inflamatory drugs and diazepam. The overall effect of this cocktail was to reminded me vaguely of the sixties, or at least give me some serious flashbacks.

But, I digress. I had to take different doses at varying times of the day and, considering the combined side effects, was a little apprehensive of overdosing. My doctor recommended that I invest in a pill box, which I dutifully did. In fact, I invested in several of them when I realised they were ideal for storing wargame counters. The partitions will hold 5/8" chits and each subdivision will accommodate eight thickly cut units. A single box is divided into seven days and four "times" giving 28 compartments in total.

I currently use four boxes for Bitter Woods and its expansion. They can be picked up relatively easily from most pharmacies (drugstores) and cost about £4 ($8) each. Have a look at the image in large format.

Highly recommended for any game.

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I have been eyeballing those particular Pillboxes for storage - thanks for the report!

Looks like it would be excellent storage, especially for games with schedules of arrival like Bitter Woods.

It is rather fitting to use Pillboxes to store counters in wargames....
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Thom Hall
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Wilhammer wrote:

I despise PLANOs for that deep well issue, and worse, the lids on those thing are not 'counter tight' when closed, still allowing limited migration when flipped.


The plano 3701 series is half the height of their normal boxes and work great. Counter trays aren't adjustable and therefore inferior IMO. Not to mention the faults mentioned above like catapult effects and the stupid half-assed flap on the AH trays that broke when you tried to keep the lid closed. shake All of the counter tray solutions in the past have allowed limited migration of counters between reservoirs or worse yet they end up loose in the box. Every time I moved, I would go back through all my old SPI/AH games to discover which counters have jumped ship and wedged themselves in the box lid or some such heh After doing that a few times I went to bagging everything and then just using plano cases or trays for the games currently on the table.
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Dan M
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Is anyone able to tell me the size of the Chessex and GMT trays? I have some AH/VG games that I'm looking to get counter trays for but since the GMT box is bigger than the AH/VG boxes I'm not sure if the GMT trays are sized for the GMT box or if they will fit inside the AH/VG boxes.
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Chessex;

8" x 11" x 3/4" - 16 compartments

GMT style:

8 1/2" x 11 x 3/4" - 20 Compartments.

If *I* had to get a counter tray, it would be GMT style, though Chessex counter trays are thinner and stack tightly, and its sloped tray bottoms are nice for scooping counters out.

I have both styles, and they both fit in AH and SPI boxes.

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Xander Fulton
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skars wrote:
Wilhammer wrote:

I despise PLANOs for that deep well issue, and worse, the lids on those thing are not 'counter tight' when closed, still allowing limited migration when flipped.


The plano 3701 series is half the height of their normal boxes and work great. Counter trays aren't adjustable and therefore inferior IMO.


Do you have measurements for this one? I honestly find working with the 'Chessex' boxes - most the time - easiest to manage. I definitely like the stacking capability of them. However, I DO have (or are looking at) a few games that they won't work for. For example, APL's new Arctic Convoy: Naval Warfare in the Far North, 1941-1943. 3 sheets of counters, and only a 1" thick box! I know I can fit a SINGLE Chessex counter tray in it - I am pretty sure a SINGLE GMT tray, too - but these are both very, very short. How deep are the plano boxes?

skars wrote:
All of the counter tray solutions in the past have allowed limited migration of counters between reservoirs or worse yet they end up loose in the box.


FWIW, I've never seen that happen with the 'Chessex' trays. Given how deep into the cell the lid snaps down, I can't imagine how it would even be possible
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Tom Grant
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If the game has a low counter density and larger counters, I don't mind the Chessex trays. I've learned how to minimize the risk of exploding counter trays, largely by bending back the lid a few times before putting the counters into the tray. And if an explosion does occur--well, it'll be fewer counters to re-organize, in these cases.

However, they're the exception that define the rule. The GMT trays are great. While the "digging out the counters" irritant does occur occasionally, I'd rather deal with that problem than exploding counter trays. Plus, the GMT trays consume less space, while open, since the hinged lid of the Chessex trays effectively double the table space, when left open.

Maybe it's just me, but I also have a harder time estimating how many counters can fit into the oddly-shaped Chessex compartments. Not a big deal, but worth mentioning.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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I far prefer the Chessex trays. Once you get used to opening them so they don't catapult, they are awesome. They stay locked through nuclear blasts. The sloped compartments make getting counters out a snap. And they stack very well. I don't use any other trays if I can help it.
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Xander Fulton
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sdiberar wrote:
I far prefer the Chessex trays. Once you get used to opening them so they don't catapult, they are awesome. They stay locked through nuclear blasts. The sloped compartments make getting counters out a snap. And they stack very well. I don't use any other trays if I can help it.


Well, this has TRADITIONALLY been my position, yes. However, as noted - issue comes up with games that definitely won't fit in a single 'Chessex' counter tray, but the box is only 1" thick...so definitely won't fit MORE than one of ANY kind of tray.

I'm curious if the GMT trays can step up and fill in this gap. Or if other options should be pursued.
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