TIM’s Evolution Of Display & Storage

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

The Garage

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.

  1. 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;
  2. 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?;
  3. I would challenge myself with one exception (see 4 below) to try to restrict my dioramas to bases of 4cm x 4cm;
  4. 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.


19 thoughts on “TIM’s Evolution Of Display & Storage

      1. It took a me a while to set up my spreadsheet for my painted and unpainted models, but once it’s done once it can be maintained easily. Just remember to keep a back up!

        Liked by 3 people

  1. I feel your pain. I do love disposing of a box that new models come in, but then I’ve got to get somewhere for the actual figures. I’ve bought some new cases, but it’s going to be some task to get the figures into them to clear some shelf space.. and so round and round we go!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you, that’s a far more comprehensive answer than I was expecting! I’m also rather tickled that Goobertown posted a video, which lead Scent Of A Gamer to write a blog, and then I wrote a blog about that, and now that’s inspired you to write a blog – I feel someone needs to break the chain before this gets out of hand! Anyway, thanks for the very entertaining article, you’ve certainly given me a lot food for thought. As for your own collection, you have a large garden so perhaps encourage the kids to take up camping? That should free up two rooms easily!

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This was a great read on an interesting topic. It is inspiring and reassuring to see someone who has been at this way longer than myself has found a way to store everything and keeping hobbying in the long run. I will definitely keep these ideas in mind as I progress in my hobby “career” and I appreciate you sharing your perspective as well.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Very interesting post and I liked having a sticky beak at other bits and bobs in your photos. Eg good to see you have “First Blood” on the shelf. Excellent book. Also interesting to see that you have your garage stocked with food, I’m wondering where the gun safe is though hehe. I think the shed idea is a good one for later on down the track. You could dedicate the whole thing to your figures and also create a work studio in there too. Attach a couple of bedrooms, a kitchen and a bar and I’ll move in as well yayyyyyy.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Not sure if I ever mentioned it but I collect first edition books, partly as an alternative investment and partly because I love the books I own. First Blood is a cracking book. The gun safe is there but for security reasons I can say no more! The idea of having my own studio does appeal. I’ll let you know when to buy your ticket! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great Post Dave ,can see your problem but to see mine you would have to multiply it by 100% ,the other problem I have is that the figures I haven’t painted let alone put on a diorama are fast catching up in area space to all the finished dioramas.
    As I have spoken to you some time ago about retiring and you advised me to do it gradually, well that failed due this bloody virus thing and me being in an essential business so I’m now hoping to slow down at Xmas and finish up in April, clean up and sell and move up country.
    Funny thing is I have been checking out properties up there and guess what mate I found one with a small museum that goes with the house and a couple of acres !!! Haven’t told the wife yet though!! maybe it the answer to my storage needs eh! got to laugh mate!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wow that sounds brilliant mate, you have to go for it! Retirement is all about doing your thing so you must put your modelling first. The wife will love it too. Make her see it that having your own space is better than invading hers 24 hours a day and you will be home and dry! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. She is keen to get out of Melbourne but we will have to wait and see how the museum goes down ,Funny thing is Dave, I think the old sign on the building itself says” Old England Museum”, I cant wait to get up and find the history of its origins with the real estate agent.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply to patmcf Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s