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Custom Designing Display cases for Modulars

wilburwilbur Member Posts: 49
Good afternoon.

I am tired of the dust collecting on my modulars, but so far I have been unable to find a suitable case big enough to display multiple modulars arranged in a "street formation" The price on purchasing a custom-made case is exorbitant. So I have taken it upon myself to build one from scratch using plexiglass on five sides with a high quality plywood base.

It occurred to me that many modular collectors might have run into the same problems… custom made cases are expensive and nothing on the market is designed to be really long, moderately high (20" fits the tallest modular) and 14" deep (deep enough for street space beyond the boundary of the modulars themselves). I'm wondering if anyone here has done this before/ has products or materials to recommend/ would be interested in buying a case from me if I went through with this and made several.

I have landed on 33' inches long, 20" high, and 14" wide as the dimensions used. It is big enough to fit three modulars, plus 3+ inches of street space on the front and corner. The reasoning behind these specs is rooted in flexibility of use/display arrangements, appeal to larger pools of possible buyers (many people only own a few modulars, not all 9) and manageability of shipping options in the event that these things actually become marketable. They will be stackable, but also align-able side by side (spacing between modulars displayed in this fashion from one case to the next would be one-quarter inch) in both street row formations or town square formations (I'm hoping lego makes 12 of these total at least to complete the square.

I'd like feed back of all types from members here. I'd like to get this project rolling.

KovJonas

Comments

  • BastaBasta Australia Member Posts: 1,259
    I have thought about making some display cases, but as yet haven't done so. Your options are basically Perspex or glass, and frameless or a frame made from timber or metal.

    The problem you will run into is that to make anything half decent it will take good quality materials & tools plus time (most likely lots), which means cost.

    So if you are planning to make multiples for resale you will soon see why custom display cases cost a lot. If they are just for your own use and therefore you don't need to take into account the time then you could save a good amount of money, IMO.

    Anyway I'm not trying to be negative I hope you can make it work and if you do go ahead I would be interested in seeing the finished product.
  • wilburwilbur Member Posts: 49
    Luckily I have the tools. I'm still in the process of figuring out my construction, ei plexiglass cement or braces... Hinge door vs no door at all and allowing for the plexiglass part to simply "lift" off of the base.

    My plan is to sell them on eBay using but it now option at considerable markup, but accept offers from brickset users. In eBay when you make an offer you can list terms. I would specify here in this forum what the "at cost" discount would be, and users here could enter a "password" under terms which would indicate to me that they are a bricksetter. Then I would honor the offer.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,421
    I work with Acrylic sheet/perspex quite a bit for work so happy to offer any help I can. I am a sign maker, so it's not the main material I use but I have a bit of experience, cutting to shape (using a CNC router) flame polishing, fitting etc.
  • akunthitaakunthita USAMember Posts: 1,038
    I will be watching the progress of this with interest. I would go for no door, as it would cut into the visibility of the display. Maybe a sliding door? Or perhaps a simple lift-off version would be better, although with enough space for 5 modulars we maybe dealing with one big, heavy and cumbersome piece that that would hard to remove for play. Buy yeah, that would be most ideal; that it looks nice on display, but it does not reduce playability of the layout. Anyway, I'm thinking out loud and favorited this thread to be able to keep up...(c:
  • ricecakericecake Maryland, USAMember Posts: 879
    I don't have any modulars, but I might be interested in something similar for #10228 Haunted House and/or #9468 Vampyre Castle, depending on the price. Good luck!
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    edited July 2014
    Just use an upside down fish tank, can sometimes even get them for free if people are chucking them, though depending on how well looked after it was or how much it was used it may need some cleaning.

    If you like DIY, just get some panes of glass and fish tank sealant and make your own.
    SumoLego
  • jediami65jediami65 United StatesMember Posts: 474
    This is what I use I have the PC and others sets in mine currently up to 5 displays but 3 have DC, marvel and Mostly SW figures $65 US and you can add a light on top as well as use the top to display or hold boxes..I have seen some in this forum leave one or both side panels off to display sets across 2 or 3.
    SumoLegolegogrrl4
  • leg0fanleg0fan Member Posts: 37
    that a go0d collation you got threre
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,149
    edited July 2014
    Have a few of the Ikea Detolfs too but as is always the case with Ikea you've got to watch they don't yank the line on you. We bought a couple of the oak effect or whatever ones and wanted one more only to find they'd stopped doing them and only do the black ones meaning we either don't have another, or switch all to black. Great display cases, but annoying when Ikea switches them on you - at the time they said they were discontinuing both colours, but they seem to have reneged on that and only do them.

    Apparently there was some defect last year where the glass was cut too short so the glass sides fell out, so they recalled them all, only to find it was just a small batch and so made the decision given the recall to cancel the line, now as I say seem to have uncancelled the black coloured ones.

    Either way, I don't know if the black detolfs are back for good again now, or if it's a temporary thing still before they cancel them again.
  • wilburwilbur Member Posts: 49
    Shib said:

    I work with Acrylic sheet/perspex quite a bit for work so happy to offer any help I can. I am a sign maker, so it's not the main material I use but I have a bit of experience, cutting to shape (using a CNC router) flame polishing, fitting etc.

    Can you tell me what thickness I would need to use to make it sturdy anough to stack? It would look like a nice bookshelf in the end. I was thinking 1/8 but if I can go less it's definitely cheaper.
    akunthita said:

    I would go for no door, as it would cut into the visibility of the display. Maybe a sliding door? Or perhaps a simple lift-off version

    The door would be plexiglass as well and hinge from the bottom front face. It would lock in with magnets at the top. At least if I go that route that's what I've settled on in my mind. Honestly the loft off method is the best but it all depends on weight/thickness.
  • ShibShib UKMember Posts: 5,421
    I certainly wouldn't go any thinner, if my conversion is correct 1/8 is about 3mm, we tend to use no thinner than 5mm to keep things sturdy.
  • Brick_ObsessionBrick_Obsession in a "Brick" house - Calgary, AlbertaMember Posts: 656
    I just had someone quote me to make my cabinets. He is charging roughly $290 per linear foot which includes everything from materials, paint and glass. Still, in the grand scheme of things it is very expensive since I am putting in roughly 36 linear feet of cabinets. I have decided to do them myself. I have a pretty good idea what to do and should work out, will post pictures when I am nearing completion.

    The problem with someone making them then selling them it going to be transportation costs. Even if they are made like Ikea based stuff, the costs with regards to weight and shipping pretty much ends it.
  • BrickDancerBrickDancer Dunes of TatooineMember Posts: 3,639
    I recall another long time Bricksetter having a custom case made for the UCS Falcon. Sounded like the perfect case to fit it so should have been around 4' x 3.5' (Falcon is .5' shorter on each side). The costs were decent, but the shipping cost did indeed make it less attractive as a whole, just as Obsession is pointing out. But in the end, is there really any cheaper alternative for cases this large? But the value from not needing to dust the sets and staying forever clean on display is priceless.
  • wilburwilbur Member Posts: 49

    But the value from not needing to dust the sets and staying forever clean on display is priceless.

    I forgot to mention that the plexiglass I'm looking at is also UV blocking, which prevents long term sun exposure and discoloration.... A HUGE reason to spend a little money to protect the investment. And by investment I don't mean resale value per se (there certainly is that) but just value as a whole. If you're gonna put $1500 or more into a toy display, regardless of whether you want to sell it later or not, you ought to protect it
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,886
    I have one of these Ikea units, http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/80206530/

    Its two halves exactly fit three modulars each, although its height, 36cm, is not tall enough for the likes of the town hall.
  • bmwlegobmwlego Long Island, New YorkMember Posts: 802
    Nice @Huw. I like those as they don't seem cheap looking. Classy.
  • Sethro3Sethro3 United StatesMember Posts: 819
    Those might be worth the price, but it looks expensive. But it does look nice too. Does it block UV?
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,886
    Here it is, looking slightly cluttered with most of the Architecture boxes on top if it!

    Those are the only 2 modulars I have built at the moment but you can see the 3rd baseplate fits alongside them with about 5mm to spare.

    It'll block UV as much as any pane of glass will.
    chuckpAngel_CDrmnezfalconthunders
  • woony2woony2 UKMember Posts: 336
    I've made a few display cases from Perspex (plexiglass) for various sets. If you want to do frameless which looks the best if done well you will need to mitre all the edges as butted joints look awful. Framed boxes can look good and are less critical in the Perspex joint area, if that's the look you want.
    As @Shib‌ has pointed out 5mm thickness is your minimum at those sizes. Any thinner will bend and sag, and certainly won't cope being stacked.
    I've cut Perspex on a router table and the results are good enough for your own use but I'd return anything I'd bought as it wouldn't be good enough for me if i was shelling out money.
    I had perfect results when I milled them at work on milling machines (both cnc and manual).
    I think bigger units would require jigs to hold them together whilst joining, this is what I'm slowly working on at the moment so i can make a case for my ucs super star destroyer.
    I'd hang fire on any door or hinge mechanism until you have perfected your Perspex technique as this will just add complexity and make the finished item less clean looking.
    My last piece of advice would be to read up on working Perspex and practice plenty on small scraps as it could get expensive very quickly if you ruin large pieces. Good luck and keep us posted on progress.
    Pitfall69
  • jediami65jediami65 United StatesMember Posts: 474
    Huw said:

    Here it is, looking slightly cluttered with most of the Architecture boxes on top if it!

    Those are the only 2 modulars I have built at the moment but you can see the 3rd baseplate fits alongside them with about 5mm to spare.

    It'll block UV as much as any pane of glass will.

    Huw: Thanks for sharing he photo, that's actually pretty cool, I had seen these cases in Ikea but thought they were to small, I am going to get a few for my office.
  • tomahawkertomahawker Member Posts: 185
    Wow, thanks for posting this.  This looks like a great solution.  Can you estimate how much you spent on the materials for this case?

    Did you have to cut the beams or were you able to use standard lengths?
  • woony2woony2 UKMember Posts: 336
    @tomahawker All the lengths were cut to exact size to fit my road plate.
    I am fortunate in that all but the corner cubes for this case were offcuts from projects at work, so it only cost me £11.88.
    I did some quick calculations from the UK makerbeam supplier and my local perspex shop and the total would have been about £83. So not cheap, but this is buying small amounts, if you wanted to make lots of cases obviously buying in bulk and being clever with your cut lists would reduce this significantly.
    SumoLego
  • tomahawkertomahawker Member Posts: 185
    Thanks @woony2.  Yes, that's probably too expensive for most situations.  On the bright side, this should work great with cut glass, which is cheaper and easier to obtain (at least in my area).  Also mirror panels could be used for the back and bottom if desired.

    I checked for US suppliers of Makerbeam and could only find Amazon, and they seem to be out of stock on some key lengths.   :/

  • Sethro3Sethro3 United StatesMember Posts: 819
    Great idea. Too costly it seems. I'll keep looking.

    I keep telling myself that I will just get into woodworking and make my own stuff. I'm sure there some innate hidden ability in there somewhere..
  • monkeymonkey Member Posts: 235
    I think if making a one off case DIY may make sense, but if the idea is to make many cases and then stack them etc, I don't think there is a solution that would ever beat (or even come close) to the likes of Ikea in cost.
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