I've been using Sabol foam trays for pretty much my entire two years in the hobby. I finally ponied up for an actual case. See my thoughts after the break.
Sabol figure foam trays are great. They're not too expensive (that's relative, of course), and very convenient. They come in a variety of depths, and their pre-cut squares makes it easy to open fairly close-fit holes for your minis pretty quickly. If you want a closer fit, there's nothing stopping you from breaking out your hobby knife and getting a precise fit. Who doesn't want to open up their mini case and look like an assassin with all that precise cut foam?
I've been using a cardboard file box for years now to transport most of my stuff. I've also got a Chessex case and a generic hard case from Harbor Freight- been dancing around trying to figure out what I like best and what's most cost effective. I've been leaning toward the Sabol as the best all around transport system for my needs. The cardboard box had enough room for most of my minis in their trays with a little extra room on the side for dice and codecies, etc. With the addition of my Stormraven though, I was out of room. It was time to get an official case.
After reviewing the nice array of options on The Warstore, one of Trip and my favorite online shopping destinations, I decided the one I liked best wasn't even available there. The Motorpool is a double wide case built for armor heavy armies like mine. They even make custom double wide trays to fit if I ever feel the need to upgrade, but for now I can just stack mine side by side. I ordered one directly from Sabol and waited. And waited. It took over a month to arrive. These guys are in the US, what gives?
That said, the case that finally arrived was pretty nice. Good quality canvas, tough seams, good zippers, nice printing. This particular model has a flap on top for books, etc, and a Velcro pouch on the side for your dice and measuring tape. There's even a mesh pouch on the opposite end for quick access to things like blast templates if you're so inclined.
I think this case will hold up nicely to years of abuse. As for protection, well it's not a hard case, but as soft cases go it'll do pretty darn well. I'm not going to fill it with carefully painted minis and sit on it to test it, so we'll have to take my protection assessment as an educated guess. This of course assumes that you've got it filled all the way with their foam trays. A less than full soft case is not going to protect much. It should stand up to the standard bumps from going to your LGS and home just fine, but don't go checking it on an airplane.
The case is 8" deep (15" x 13" inside). That's enough for easily 2500 points of minis. I wish they had made it just a touch bigger though. You can see here that once you take some of the inside foam out, it loses its structure. The Stormraven is fine, but the Sky Ray is getting a little squished. I may cut some small sheets of styrene to use as inner walls, just for a little bit of rigidity. The outside walls have what feels like 1/4" padding which is great, but without any cardboard or anything in there, it can end up squishing your trays a little bit. Below you can see one of my trays after being stored in the case for a week. Corner is bent up from the inside of the case. Certainly not a protection issue, but it cuts a little bit of that sexy assassin vibe off of things that it doesn't all fit perfectly.
The last thing I wish I had proper storage for is some of these loose bases. I suppose I could put them all in their own tray, but between the Stormraven's gigantic flying base and all the various Tau drones I've got, there's a lot of bases that could use a little more storage. Not really a strike against the Sabol system but it'd be a nice to have. I've taken to just sticking the big one between two sheets and the drones in a baggie in the outside compartment.
There you have it. I'm pretty happy with this case. Some minor dings for aesthetic damage to the trays, but in the end it does what I need it to- gets all my gear to the game in one piece. If you do choose to buy one, I'd recommend grabbing it from your favorite online retailer rather than Sabol directly if you can manage. The shipping was pretty slow, and they never responded to two emails I sent them. Not the best customer service.