Wudugast over at Convert or Die recently posted a thought provoking article entitled A Right Pile Of Potential. Several bloggers, myself included, exchanged comments. In his response Wudugast asked me –
“Regarding dioramas, how do you manage to store them? Just my painted models take up a hell of a lot of room and as I’m getting more into building terrain and larger models that’s just exacerbating. Sooner or later I might have to call a halt anyway, that or sit out in the street and reach in through the window to paint models in a flat that’s floor to ceiling with miniatures. Unless you’ve turned part of your house into a museum of dioramas (which I’d visit right away, but I suspect SWMBO might not have let you…) you must have some kind of clever storage solution to call upon – words of wisdom always welcome! 🙂“
Now if someone asks me a question I always like to answer it as best I can and this was no exception. However, as I typed away I soon realised this was not going to be a quick win. In next to no time my brain immersed itself into a level of detail way beyond the original question (as it is inclined to do) and before I knew it I had created an article rather than a short reply.
We all will, if we haven’t already done so, reach a point in our modelling lives where space becomes a problem. This is my story of the various stages I went through and how I got to where I am today.
In The Beginning
When I first started modelling I painted single 54mm figures and put them on simple bases. When the figure was complete it found its way on to a display shelf in a spare bedroom (these were the days before the kids arrived). I wasn’t a prolific painter by any means back then, mainly because I was working, and the shelf was long so display and storage wasn’t a problem. There was one issue though – dust. The figures got covered in the stuff.
A very early TIM covered in dust. I must speak with the lady of the house!
To over come the dust problem I manged to find via Military Modelling Magazine (the internet hadn’t been invented at this point!) a chap who ran a small business making bases with acrylic domes. The company was called Wire Mill Turning but no longer appears to be in business. I’d like to think the guy has retired rather than passed away. These domes became my standard form of basing and display and remained so for many, many years. As time went by so I gathered more models but an additional shelf or two kept things manageable.
No dust on the figure but plenty on the dome! Where is that woman?
In modelling terms retirement brought with it pros and cons. More time to do more modelling saw more models getting completed. I decided I needed to do two things. Firstly, I decided to drop down in scale because 28mm figures take up less space than 54mm. Secondly, doing dioramas would take longer to do than single figures so I wouldn’t produce as much stuff. Dust would still be a problem so I needed to find somewhere I could buy acrylic type bases and boxes. Fortunately Paul at Just Bases came up trumps with the dust covers and so I headed off into the sunset. All was going well until I realised that my theories that 28mm figures take up less room and that dioramas would slow me down were complete bollocks. Even at 28mm scale dioramas take up a lot of space and in the time it took me to paint a 54mm figure I can paint at least 10 in 28mm scale!
You might recognise the two dioramas on the left and the right. Dust free under Paul’s dust covers.
Wall Mounted Display Cases
I decided I needed to move away from larger dioramas. Smaller bases but with as much detail as possible was now the way forward. Acrylic domes and cases would have to go, I needed a wall mounted display case, ideally two, preferably three. I knew negotiating with She Who Must Be Obeyed would prove to be a challenge but I didn’t think it would be worse than Brexit (that’s a word we haven’t heard for a while isn’t it). In the end we settled on a compromise and I was told I could have one!
The wall mounted display case. Nice but far to small and I only have one!
A case I bought for doing a large western diorama has become a temporary display case
I decided only the best models would go in the display case. The only problem was that I like them all. They are all a part of me. It would be easier to decide which child to keep and what one to let go. In next to no time (we are talking minutes not hours or days) I was out of space. Nothing for it but to seriously go into garage storage mode. Fortunately I already had a racking system in the garage, I just needed to create a lot of space on the shelves and buy some storage boxes. This turned out to be a bigger project than anticipated but I got there in the end. I am, however, now facing a problem which I recognised well over a year ago. I am almost out of garage space!
The two racks left and centre are full of model boxes. I’m told I cannot have the one on the right but I am working on it!
A Year Or So Ago
With storage space becoming an ever increasing problem I faced the inevitable question – “Is it time to give up modelling?”. It took a split second to conclude that the answer to this question was no. All well and good of course but the storage problem didn’t simply vanish as a consequence. As part of a new strategy I decided on four things.
- I would start to paint figures and base them on 25mm bases. This would allow me to display them at home and at shows using the storage solution per the photo below. When I reach the point where I have too many to display (which I have now done!) I can store them away in foam trays (again see photo below) and transport them using the case that came with them (this storage and transport system is made by KR Multicase and I picked mine up at Salute 2019). The case holds 120 figures and by comparison takes up very little space. The foam inserts come in all shapes and sizes and you can even go down the bespoke route;
- I would start to sell figures on Ebay. Why have a hang up about keeping every figure? Practicing and keeping the best for myself is how I saw it. Making money was not the aim although breaking even seemed sensible. What matters most would be knowing someone was willing to part with their hard earnt cash for something I had done. Is there a bigger compliment?;
- I would challenge myself with one exception (see 4 below) to try to restrict my dioramas to bases of 4cm x 4cm;
- If I did produce anything larger than 4cm x 4cm it would be because I wanted to create a competition piece either for my club, local shows or the Telford Nationals.
I have four of these acrylic cases for my mini’s but all are now full up
Foam case system by KR Multicase. For storage and transport.
The Current Position
As things currently stand I am pretty much sticking to my 4 point plan above. It is why you aren’t seeing any new buildings or much larger dioramas, something had to give (at least until one of the kids moves out!). I can create more space if I need to. We have a very large garden and I could tackle the shed if I wanted to but for now I am happy doing what I am doing.