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New in-depth ultimate "LEGO Storage Guide" (Free guide!)

tomalphintomalphin Member Posts: 250
edited November 2017 in Collecting

I'm Tom Alphin, author of The LEGO Architect book. For the past 6 months, I've been working on a new in-depth guide exploring LEGO Storage topics.



I'm pleased to announce that my LEGO Storage Guide is ready for people to enjoy (and give feedback.)


The guide is extensive, with 10 chapters and around 50 pages of free content:



The guide is informed by detailed surveys of around 200 LEGO enthusiasts.  The data analysis helped me prepare LEGO storage recommendations based on the size of your collection and other factors.


The guide is well researched... 
It contains results from a detailed LEGO Storage survey with about 200 responses, learnings from interviews with top LEGO builders from around the world, and recommendations based on numerous articles, books, and forum discussions on bricksetforum.


LINK: http://brickarchitect.com/guide/ 


I hope you enjoy reading the guide, and I can't wait to hear your feedback! I will continue improving the guide in the coming weeks, and am tracking your suggestions for future improvements in the acknowledgements section.  


 

Sincerely, 

---tom

 

P.S. I'm eager to hear - what's your favorite LEGO storage product?  

arathemisJonathanChauomniumCovistluxcatwranglerJohnyk668Mr_Crosscaterham7akunthitaYodaliciousricecakeToc13MattPetersenpharmjodwardmJackad7GoldchainsHanzohleonffumsanderscanon03raygunnSumoLegovwong19datsunrobbieew027kiki180703MrGudzMynattAtbricksLittleLoriGalactusWicksy80FollowsCloselyMarshallmarioCymbelineBrainsluggedOnebricktoomanylegomentalWesterBrickssonofrich2

Comments

  • arathemisarathemis Member Posts: 598
    This is really great stuff (only read first 5-6 pages)... Will get back with more feedback once I`m done reading. For now, just wanted to thank you for your efforts and for sharing this.
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    I had a look at the minifigure storage section. Personally, rather than storing them assembled (and holding the accessories as in some of the pictures) I prefer to store them disassembled but sorted, which doesn't seem to get a mention. I also find that there are many more choices than the 2x3 in and 3x5 in bags. For example, a lot of BL sellers seem to use 1.5x2 in bags for a single build minifigure, I find 3x4 in or 3 x 3.25 in bags better than the bigger 3x5 in ones.

    As can be seen in the storage discussion threads, the best solution is do what works for you.
  • CoviCovi Member Posts: 334
    This is really fantastic! A huge thanks for all the effort you've put into this and for sharing it with the community.
    I will read it more in depth tonight at home.
    The funnel tray was something I didn't know and I will certainly get me one of those!!!
  • kbenjeskbenjes Member Posts: 70
    You are a huge resource in this community, from the Brick Architect book to your labeling efforts. I look forward to reading and providing feedback. Great work!
  • Switchfoot55Switchfoot55 Member Posts: 3,269
    I've been a huge fan of your labels and insights for awhile now. I look forward to reading through the guide!
  • tomalphintomalphin Member Posts: 250
    @Covi, The funnel tray was a recent discovery for me, too.  It's an indispensable tool if you store multiple parts or colors in the same container.

    @Switchfoot55 & @kbenjes, Thank you for the kind words.  I'm glad you like the labels, and I hope the guide is valuable, too!

    @arathemis, Thanks! I' look forward to your feedback!

    @CCC, I will need to look into those alternate sizes.  3x3.25" seems like a great size - the wider zipper makes it easier to get parts in or out!

    thanks,
    ---tom
    pharmjod
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    ^ I'm UK by the way, so it may be that we have different size bags. Although I think the tiny ones are fairly universal for drug-dealers worldwide!
    omniumSwitchfoot55
  • omniumomnium Member Posts: 831
    I too thought the guide was a good read. Thanks @henrysunset! I'm pretty much following your large collection guidelines already. Although my minifig story is a mess.

    I looked for a funnel sorter on Amazon and was pleased to see that the price varies from a mere £35.65 to a whopping £204.01. Postage not include.

    Seems so reasonable, I bought a few spare ;-)
  • CoviCovi Member Posts: 334
    Hi Tom, as promised I've reread your document. It's really really nice and I really want to complement you on how you write. It reads easily.
    One thing that popped in my mind: you describe alot of systems/ways to sort of which each have their own pro's and cons. Maybe it's not a bad idea to add a small evolution of someone and how storage stuff purchased on the beginning of their collection still has a place. I recognise alot how I sorted my bricks and I still use the big drawers I used in the beginning.
    Like others also suggested I would idd add something about the UV and dust. For me that's the reason why I keep most of my bricks in Really Usefull Boxes (for dust) and certain pieces into not transparent boxes.
    PS: For some spare and rare parts, so really parts of which I dont have many in my collection and which are for me not so easily put into a specific group, I use the PaB cups:
    transparent: check
    sturdy: check
    dustfree: check
    cheap: check, I already paid for them :-)
  • HanzoHanzo Member Posts: 607
    Yeah, I am going to come back to this for sure.  I am trying to sort by specific part into nuts and bolts organizers now but it is a very daunting task to me.  Thanks for posting from what I read so far this will come in handy.
  • CoviCovi Member Posts: 334
    Plastic soup containers (like these) are also really great to get you started to get organised very quickly or to handle your not so obvious parts.
    Oh, and they are cheap. :-)
  • tomalphintomalphin Member Posts: 250
    @omnium - Thanks for the kind words.  If you find a more cost effective funnel tray for UK LEGO builders, let me know!

    @covi - I'm glad to hear that the guide is easy to read!  It's a pretty dry and technical topic, so I tried to ensure the text was easy to follow and utilized images, bulleted lists, and other tricks to keep it simple.

    I will think about ways to better show common evolution of storage, although I feel like this is covered reasonably well by the progression from no sorting (small collection), to sorting by category (medium collection) and finally sorting by brick or element (large collection).  Do you have something in mind to make this clearer?

    I will eventually cover topics of UV and dust - it's in the backlog!  Also a good point about PaB cups.  They are "free" if you buy a lot of parts at retail, and it's a good option for seldom-used parts like you suggested.

    @Hanzo - Which Nut and Bolt organizers have you tried?

    thanks,
    ---tom
  • CoviCovi Member Posts: 334
    Well you can do this maybe by adding an interview with someone and some photo's how that person his storage equipment/area/setup has evolved.
  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Member Posts: 4,260
    I read it yesterday. It's really good, and I think the only criticism is that some of the solutions are quite US-based - for example the funnel tray, I couldn't find anything similar available for a reasonable price in the UK. Also the drawer storage boxes, there is no company in the UK which produces a system similar to the Akro-Mils system. You can get the odd drawer box which is similar, but there's no actual full system.

    As for me, I use a combination of those drawer storage boxes for the small stuff, along with lots of 1.6L and 3L Really Useful Boxes for anything larger. I also have a few 9L (or similar) boxes which contain everything else - all the parts which I may only have a few of.
  • omniumomnium Member Posts: 831
    @omnium - If you find a more cost effective funnel tray for UK LEGO builders, let me know!
    I read it yesterday. It's really good, and I think the only criticism is that some of the solutions are quite US-based - for example the funnel tray, I couldn't find anything similar available for a reasonable price in the UK.
    This is the closest I've found. I've not bought one as it ships from USA, so I can't recommend or comment on quality/size:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tidy-Crafts-1510-Funnel-Tray-6/dp/B001AQRJ9S

    £4.60 including delivery from USA.

    IAlso the drawer storage boxes, there is no company in the UK which produces a system similar to the Akro-Mils system. You can get the odd drawer box which is similar, but there's no actual full system.

    I thought the Draper/Raaco system was pretty much the same thing? I have these:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Draper-Expert-Drawer-Storage-Organiser/dp/B009VYBALO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510058393&sr=8-1&keywords=draper+expert+drawer

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raaco-RAA126762-Parts-Storage/dp/B0001JZYAG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510058464&sr=8-1&keywords=raaco+drawer

    Draper are blue, and Raaco are black, otherwise, they are identical in equivalent sizes.
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    I think the other advice when chosing a storage solution is to go with a company that are well established and likely to keep making the same product for the foreseeable future. I made the mistake of buying a load of tackle style boxes from ALDI or LIDL a number of years ago and they were great, and cheap. But then they didn't stock them again for ages, and when they did tackle boxes again they used a different design and they didn't stack on the old ones (different dimensions). So you need to future proof your storage if you want it to remain continuous.

    And you never buy enough at first.

    omniumCupIsHalfEmpty
  • HanzoHanzo Member Posts: 607
    @Hanzo - Which Nut and Bolt organizers have you tried?

    thanks,
    ---tom
    Not sure of the brand, got them from Harbor Freight, 40 drawer, clear.  My biggest issue is just the sheer number of different elements.  And that's without sorting by color. 
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie Member Posts: 1,813
    Great work Tom, lots of helpful information.

    If you're having trouble locating funnel trays, try your local pizza restaurant. Cut the corner off a pizza box, instant funnel tray, and they come in multiple sizes.

    In the Displaying Minifigures section, LEGO has (at least temporarily) come out with a second option, the Ninjago Play and Display case. Perfect for displaying 24 minifigures straight out of the box, 48 if you add risers, and plenty of room for oversize figures. I cannot recommend stacking these cases, the lip in the base is very shallow. I'm hoping they sell well enough to prompt LEGO to release more variants.

    I wanted to get Akro Mils cabinets after downloading your labels, but I found Aldi Workzone cabinets that are very similar for less than half the price. As @CCC points out, they might not get restocked, or the dimensions might get changed. Workzone appears to be an Aldi "house" brand, so I have hope they will get restocked, but I bought 10 to ensure it would at least take a while before I need more. 

  • PaperballparkPaperballpark Member Posts: 4,260
    omnium said:
    @omnium - If you find a more cost effective funnel tray for UK LEGO builders, let me know!
    I read it yesterday. It's really good, and I think the only criticism is that some of the solutions are quite US-based - for example the funnel tray, I couldn't find anything similar available for a reasonable price in the UK.
    This is the closest I've found. I've not bought one as it ships from USA, so I can't recommend or comment on quality/size:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Tidy-Crafts-1510-Funnel-Tray-6/dp/B001AQRJ9S

    £4.60 including delivery from USA.

    IAlso the drawer storage boxes, there is no company in the UK which produces a system similar to the Akro-Mils system. You can get the odd drawer box which is similar, but there's no actual full system.

    I thought the Draper/Raaco system was pretty much the same thing? I have these:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Draper-Expert-Drawer-Storage-Organiser/dp/B009VYBALO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510058393&sr=8-1&keywords=draper+expert+drawer

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Raaco-RAA126762-Parts-Storage/dp/B0001JZYAG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1510058464&sr=8-1&keywords=raaco+drawer

    Draper are blue, and Raaco are black, otherwise, they are identical in equivalent sizes.
    The funnel trays (including that one) have narrow funnels - not good if you've got larger pieces in there!

    Also, I do have one of the Raaco drawers, but both are quite a bit more expensive than the US equivalents.
  • omniumomnium Member Posts: 831
    The funnel trays (including that one) have narrow funnels - not good if you've got larger pieces in there!

    Also, I do have one of the Raaco drawers, but both are quite a bit more expensive than the US equivalents.
    For sure, that funnel tray is not a patch on the one from the guide. A pizza box as per @datsunrobbie would work better :-)

    As for the price of the Raaco: yes, everything is more expensive this side of the pond. I've found the Raaco/Draper ones on sale quite a few times over recent years and the last one I bought was £20 delivered from paperstone.co.uk, which seemed fine to me.
  • tomalphintomalphin Member Posts: 250
    I wanted to share a quick THANK YOU to everyone who has offered positive feedback about the guide or recommendations to make it better. 

    I've received more than 40 comments on my website, great feedback on this forum and numerous emails today.  I'm still working through the feedback, and adding changes that I hope to make in the future to my backlog.

    In the meantime, I encourage you to keep the feedback coming!  As Huw noted in the article on the Brickset homepage, I want to make this the ultimate guide on the subject.

    Sincerely,
    ---tom
    Coviomniumsid3windrdavetheoxygenmanstluxpharmjod
  • CoviCovi Member Posts: 334
    Tom,
    For me it's already the ultimate guide. ;-)
  • ggfileggfile Member Posts: 19
    I haven't read all the posts yet so I don't know if this has already been mentioned, I use mason jars. 125ml jars work great for all those Itty bitty parts you only have a few of.  I have several hundred 125ml jars of Itty bitty pieces.  250 and 500 ml jars work great for most larger pieces. I have use for 30-50 1L jars only (3 or 4 cases only) and I have a spare parts collection of 100,000+ pieces. Currently building a wall shelf to put it on. Total cost: less than $2000 to store all my LEGO.
  • CoviCovi Member Posts: 334
    @CupIsHalfEmpty Thanks for sharing your setup! Nicely organized! Love that muffin and tea pot. :-)
    CupIsHalfEmpty
  • AtbricksAtbricks Member Posts: 4
    @CupIsHalfEmpty I have the exact same drawers :-)

    Thanks for the work Tom, will read and share feedback.
    CupIsHalfEmpty
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 283
    @henrysunset

    Love the guide! 

    I've shared this photo with you before but I think it's relevant again here for context.

    Standard plates are stored by color and type on the right in ArtBin Super Satchel slims, and Bricks by color and type in ArtBin Super Satchel's. I've hot glued 2x4 plates to the front of each bin and attached a brick of each color to the front for identification. Some colors share bins, common colors get their own. 
    I'm in Canada and I use the same ArtBin boxes - They're pretty good! My strategy is to store one colour in a bin, except for colours that have few parts. For some colours this means I can put all the bricks into a slim bin, for other colours I have multiple bins. I'm up to 5 black bins: 3 slim, 2 deep. 

    Incidentally these boxes are also sold directly by "Flambeau" as "tufftainer" with part numbers like 9101T and they can be cheaper that way. The boxes are basically identical (except the snaps are black) - Flambeau makes them for various vendors under different brands. Michaels Canada sells the single-compartment deep boxes, which you can buy with their weekly coupons - the only problem is the snaps and handle are bright pink (they used to be white - why do they need to pinkify everything, I'll never know).


    CupIsHalfEmpty
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 335
    edited November 2017
    For those who can't find an affordable "funnel tray" - you can easily create our own in a few minutes with some basic shop tools and small amount of wood - both easily obtainable from your local home improvement store. Or, if you want to totally geek out, you could easily make one out of Legos too (:

    For that matter, if you had the interest, you could create your own larger sorting device that works something along the way a coin sort mechanism works, to sort things by size.
  • CupIsHalfEmptyCupIsHalfEmpty Member Posts: 545
    edited November 2017
    @MrShinyAndNew

    Yes I've seen the ones at Michaels, but they don't sell the divider ones unfortunately. 

    Another item of note is the bookcase I use is an Ikea Billy "15 inch Deep" Bookcase which unfortunately Ikea discontinued a couple years back. Looks like MrShinyAndNew has the same one. 
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 283
    @MrShinyAndNew

    Yes I've seen the ones at Michaels, but they don't sell the divider ones unfortunately. 

    Another item of note is the bookcase I use is an Ikea Billy "15 inch Deep" Bookcase which unfortunately Ikea discontinued a couple years back. Looks like MrShinyAndNew has the same one. 
    Yup! Actually I bought the extra-deep one by accident, but it turned out to be perfect. I wish I'd bought two more at the time.
  • playwellplaywell Member Posts: 2,280
    Anyone in the UK know a good place to get a large number of 2"x3" small bags. At the moment I just have my minifigs in larger boxes and I try not to shake them too much to avoid rubbing but I think cheap bags might be the way to go.
  • CCCCCC Member Posts: 20,526
    I bought 1000 on amazon for about £3.50 last year.
  • alaskaguyalaskaguy Member Posts: 335
    SMC said:
    Anyone in the UK know a good place to get a large number of 2"x3" small bags. At the moment I just have my minifigs in larger boxes and I try not to shake them too much to avoid rubbing but I think cheap bags might be the way to go.
    You may want to consider getting a vacuum sealer.  You can package them up real tight that way - and can cut the bags to whatever size you need.
  • AstrobricksAstrobricks Member Posts: 5,436
    Harbor Freight has funnel trays for $3.
  • tomalphintomalphin Member Posts: 250
    SMC said:
    Anyone in the UK know a good place to get a large number of 2"x3" small bags. At the moment I just have my minifigs in larger boxes and I try not to shake them too much to avoid rubbing but I think cheap bags might be the way to go.

    I bought 1,000 for about 10$ at a restaurant supply shop.
  • GalactusGalactus Member Posts: 260
    @henrysunset I'm currently reading your guide and have some feedback for you. How do you prefer it? Through this thread, a pm, as comment on the guide page itself, or something else?
    I'm at Chapter 3 a the moment.
  • tomalphintomalphin Member Posts: 250
    @Galactus
    Any feedback is welcome, and you can send feedback however is most convenient.  I've been working through feedback received via email and as comments on the website. 

    (I guess comments on the website are easiest, since they are automatically correlated to a specific page of the guide?)

    Look forward to the feedback!
    ---tom
  • FollowsCloselyFollowsClosely Member Posts: 1,295
    I am looking for some tried and true methods for storing loose minifig parts. I'll start with heads. I have 2 drawers of heads. Currently I have the sorted by:
    1. Color (by bin)
    2. Sex (by stack of heads)
    3. Double/Single Side (by stack of heads)
    4. Facial features, such as glasses, pupils, etc...


    However taking all the stacks out and lining them up is cumbersome. It took me 15 minutes to find the figs for the MMV set pictured above. I can see connecting them to plates, but that would drastically increase the space needed to store.

    Any tried and true solutions out there?
    datsunrobbie
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie Member Posts: 1,813
    @FollowsClosely I only have about half as many loose heads, sorted the same way you sort them. I store legs the same way, and have another bin for hats, hair, and helmets. When I'm rebuilding minifigures I usually start with the torso and then try to match up the other parts.

    Instabrick comes in handy for identifying torsos. If not found there, I use Brickset's Browse by color in knolled view to search. Then I move to Bricklink to see all the minifigures that contain a particular torso and see what I have to match up. If the torso is unique or only has a couple of matches, it is easy. to determine if I have the whole minifigure. I find it more difficult when the torso could belong to a couple dozen minifigures.
  • gelkstergelkster Member Posts: 922
    I'm guessing I have a lot fewer spare heads than others here but I like to use crappy bricks & make a rack & just pull out a head when needed 

    560HeliportBumblepants
  • SumoLegoSumoLego Member Posts: 15,215
    That reminds me of the Halo Prison from Minority Report, and the VX gas from The Rock...





    Yes, love me some Nic Cage..
    560HeliportBumblepantsWesterBricks
  • FizyxFizyx Member Posts: 1,332
    I am looking for some tried and true methods for storing loose minifig parts. I'll start with heads. I have 2 drawers of heads. Currently I have the sorted by:
    1. Color (by bin)
    2. Sex (by stack of heads)
    3. Double/Single Side (by stack of heads)
    4. Facial features, such as glasses, pupils, etc...


    However taking all the stacks out and lining them up is cumbersome. It took me 15 minutes to find the figs for the MMV set pictured above. I can see connecting them to plates, but that would drastically increase the space needed to store.

    Any tried and true solutions out there?

    I haven't tried this myself, and it may depend on what your end-goal with storing the minifig parts is, but I've often thought that it might be worth sorting them by theme (as much as you can, of course, since there is sometimes some overlap) at the highest level, then breaking them out into smaller groups like you have.  Especially if you are often looking for them to put together for specific sets or use cases, I think that might help to get you to what you're looking for faster.  But again, haven't actually tried it myself, just something I've thought about.
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