There are many challenges to overcome in collecting Star Wars stuff, whatever it may be. Foremost amongst these is the issue of space to store, or display. Interwoven with that problem is the question of whether you should keep things sealed in their packages. Those tricky questions will be tackled in later posts, but they are relevant to todays topic, displaying opened figures.
Hasbro released a small range of figures in 1995, breaking the drought of Star Wars toys that had been more or less continuous since Return Of The Jedi faded from cinema screens. By the time the 300th figure was released, a beautifully detailed Boba Fett, I had fallen behind. Now there are over three thousand different 3.75″ figures and I no longer collect to keep on card. I’m opening my figures primarily to reduce the amount of space taken up by a lot of packaging. The same box that holds a dozen carded figures can hold sixty to eighty bagged figures without putting too much weight on the flimsier items like Lightsabers. The other benefits of bagging figures are…
- Accessories will not get lost when not displayed with the figure.
- Paint will not wear off against other figures in storage.
- Dust and liquid spills will not affect the figures and soft goods.
I recommend adding a character name to the bag so that secondary weapons and other accessories can be matched up to the figure again easily. The simplest way is to cut the name from the card when it is being opened, but a piece of paper with a quick note will do if the card is already gone. Some accessories come taped to the plastic insert tray, and can be cut out of the tray still taped in place to protect anything that needs support in storage. If you want to keep a second gun with the figure but not held in hand, it can be attached to the stand or shelf with a small blob of Blu Tack.
Bags come in a variety of shapes and sizes but as long as they have a good sturdy ziplock function you will be fine. I found a range of childrens sealable snack bags at my supermarket which came in a box of 100 for £2.00, so even a large collection can be stored fairly cheaply. Once those toys are opened up, and you know what you want to display, we move on to the next step, getting them to stand up and be seen.
Because of the sheer volume of figures available, there is no one size fits all stand. Male and female figures quite often will have different sized feet, and therefore different sized peg holes. Robots, aliens, and characters that don’t have traditional feet will all require their own special solutions. Below are the stands I most commonly use, and the figures they suit best. I recommend the supplier I use, Vintage Star Wars Collectables, I have always had excellent service from them. You can find them here.
- Large disc, ideal for Black Series Figures
- Small disc, ideal for modern figures with small feet. Usually a smaller foot will have the peg hole nearer the toes, and it will be very shallow.
- Thick rectangle, ideal for vintage 3.75, and large Black series figures like Vader and Chewie.
- Thin rectangle, will suit most modern 3.75 figures, the wider base allows for the spread foot heroic poses a lot of figures are sculpted into.
The next thing to consider is where, and how these figures are going to be displayed. That is going to depend on your budget, the space available, if you own or rent your home, so many things to consider. A lot of people opt for traditional shelves, with figures and vehicles displayed ‘open air’. While that is an impressive look, and has a friendly 70’s feeling, it also leaves you open to dust accumulation as well as pets and sticky fingers. A very professional look can be achieved with Perspex cases, but for anything beyond a selection of items, you need to look at shelving options. The solution I use is very common among the collecting community, the IKEA Detolf which will be covered in greater detail in a future post.
Everyones collection is going to be different, and require a different mix of supplies. I looked at getting shop display cases for a long time, and had the perfect display case pictured in my mind. In reality however, shop display cases were without exception, extremely heavy and expensive, so my collection stayed in boxes and the years went by. However you intend to display your collection, make sure you take these factors into account.
- What space can I devote – and measure up before getting your shelving to avoid disappointment.
- What stands and cases do I want – and how much is that going to cost?
- Can I take it with me if I have to move, and can I get it through the door of my house?
- Can the floor support the weight of heavy glass cases full of toys?
- How much time will I need to devote to cleaning my collection to keep it looking good?
The most important point of all is to get these things on display, otherwise what good is a Star Wars collection?
For more inspiration check out the collectors archive at Rebelscum. It’s largely focussed on boxed/carded items but you will still see a lot of different sized and shaped rooms and the solutions people have found to display their toys.