Lego Minifigure Display Case
Written by Torben Jensen
It's probably all in my head but my Lego minifigures seems to actively attract dust. It's like it's sending out little come-hither signals to all the dust hiding around my apartment to gather on and around my minifigures. It’s the bane of my collection and no matter what I do to combat dust around the apartment it always seems to come back, which creates a unique problem. Not to mention the health issues associated with dusty environments. It only takes a quick Google search on the connection between dust and allergies to show us why we should be keeping our precious Lego minifigure collections as clean and dust-free as possible.
I mostly use the Lego builds and minifigures as subjects in my photography, so naturally I’d like to be able to just grab whatever set I want for a shoot - without having to worry about its condition - and head out the door. It puts quite a damper on my inspiration to find them covered in dust that will then take ages to edit out.
There is a general issue with displaying minifigures that don’t belong to a set, for instance. Unless you have a dedicated space for them, the minifigures don’t have a natural place in a collection. Options include lining them up on a shelf, on your desk, distributing them around your city (like I do); often they just accumulate in drawers and boxes because they have nowhere else to go. In any case, neither of these alternatives address the dust issue. Small accessories and companion pieces also tend to get separated and go missing after a few weeks.
The same goes for Lego sets. Most of my sets are displayed wherever I can find room for them in my tiny apartment, and because I have more sets than I know what to do with, many of them end up on a shelf in the cupboard or get dismantled and put into Lego storage, labelled in a freezer bag or in a plastic tub. And again, bits go missing and the collection starts to lose its value.
Now, the issues storing and displaying minifigures are addressed differently by different people. Some prefer to have a dedicated room for their extensive collection, while others with more limited means might settle for shelves in the bedroom. The Lego answer for Minifigure display, is the Lego Minifigure display case that fits either 8 or 16 and looks like a rather large 1x4 or 1x8 brick. It's not a terrible design, but it's not the most aesthetically pleasing one either. It feels like this Lego product was created with a younger audience in mind. Also, how do you personalise something like that? The limited colour options and the somewhat clunky design might work for some people, but it didn’t work for me.
So when I recently gifted myself the Lego Ninjago series 20 minifigures I started looking into how I could display them without having to clean them on a regular basis. I also wanted easy access for when I go on a photo shoot. The obvious solution would be a Lego minifigure display case that could accommodate both smaller builds and minifigures, that doesn't take up too big a footprint in the apartment, and preferably comes with a lid or opening front panel for easy access. Since I’m not much into DIY, I will not maim myself in my attempt to make one. If you’re handier than me, then go ahead, that could well be the solution to your problem. I decided that throwing some money at the problem instead and keeping all my fingers is sensible enough to me.
So it was great timing when I got to review a Lego minifigure display case from Papimax. It has a 17x30 stud base, which can be displayed as a flat surface or built up into a three-level structure. With the two removable levels you get to choose whether you want to use just the base, set up a two tiered or a three tiered construction. It comes disassembled in a small box, with each side and level wrapped in its own plastic sleeve. There are no assembly instructions but the build is so straightforward, no explanation is necessary. The assembly only takes two minutes and no tools are required.
I didn’t really have any expectations but I hoped this product would solve many of the issues explained before. It looked like it can protect my investment from dust, allow me to display the sets and figures easily and have a relatively small footprint. On the other hand, it really is just an elevated base plate with the optional additional levels and a transparent plastic shell; a very simple, unobtrusive construction, nothing more. Contrary to the Lego product, the low-key design allows the focus to be on the contents and not the case itself. Also, if the extra layers are not needed, they can be hidden under the base plate.
The structure is very lightweight and for that reason it feels a little flimsy. The levels don’t fit as sturdily as average Lego bricks, so you need to be careful when you add or remove content. It also won’t keep out any pets or children. Yet, all in all, it does what it promises and it doesn't look like it would break easily. Its simple construction allows the case to stand on its own and adapt to its owner's needs, be it a simple protective case or part of something larger and more creative.
What can it hold?
As I mentioned above, the levels can be removed to fit your particular setup, which makes this product very adaptable. When both levels installed, it fits one series of minifigures comfortably but can hold even two entire series without any problems. With two rows on the top level, one row on the middle level and three rows on the base itself I managed to fit around forty figures. Granted, that makes the setup very crowded but it still looks good.
Of course, not all people are interested in collecting and displaying minifigures, so it got me thinking: what about an entire set? Since the Lego minifigure display case is 17 studs deep and relatively tall, it can accommodate the Yellow Submarine, the DeLorean, Penguin Arctic Roller or even the camper van from the Vacation Getaway set just fine. As you can see, the case is excellent for smaller sets, but you will struggle to fit anything bigger than those. If you put some more creativity into it, you could, for instance, tile the base in a road pattern for your Lego Speed Champions racers.
However, my favourite potential use for this product is to set it up for actual MOC scenes and scenarios. Like I mentioned above, the base plate is large enough to accommodate one or more vehicles, so the creatively inclined could build flooring and backdrops for a Lego Friends photo studio or even construct elaborate foliage to create a nature scene.
The case feels a little plasticky. The base and the levels are made of relatively low quality, light plastic but the overall look of the product is not cheap. It creaks a bit when you’re putting it together, but once assembled, the flimsiness is hardly noticeable. There’s another small inconvenience that needs mentioning, though. Since the different sides slot into one another but don't lock together, the case can fall apart easily when you take the lid off or remove it from its base. Naturally, this is only problem if you need access to your minifigures often or if you're not careful lifting it.
You could argue that size is also an issue, as the Lego Minifigure Display case isn't very big, but keep in mind that this product isn't designed for larger sets. So, while it won't hold a modular building, such like Ninjago city, The Black Pearl or a Star Destroyer in there, you will be able to display and protect your collection of lego minifigures or your Ghostbusters Ecto-1 from the evils of dust just fine.
In short, the Good Stuff about this Lego Minifigure display case case:
- It’s simple to assemble and maintain.
- It can display your smaller sets or lego minifigures clearly.
- It can be adapted to suit different display scenarios.
- Its size allows it to fit on almost any shelves.
The Bad Stuff:
- It's plasticky.
- It's too compact to display large or just taller sets.
- Comes apart relatively easily if not careful.
Would I recommend it?
Yes, with the caveat that you need to be aware of its limitations. Dust may be devil incarnate, for it causes allergies, makes Lego look dusty and grimy, and ruins the look and feel of pretty much everything. This Lego minifigure display case is a great way to ensure your sets and minifigures remain in pristine condition while on display. However, once you accept the slight flimsiness and that it only comes in one particular size, your imagination is the only limit in exploiting its vast possibilities. All in all, I think this product does a good job helping you keep the clutter to a minimum and protect your precious Minifigure collection.
But what do you think? How do you go about displaying your Lego?
Do you have some other solutions/ Lego Minifigure display cases to display and protect your small sets and minifigures?
or perhaps you have a great DIY Lego Minifigure display case solution to share?
Let us know in the comments below.