Sunday, March 18, 2012

The LEGO Minifigure Display Case

If you have a child that loves Legos like mine does, you already know what I mean when I describe the Lego invasion that is currently occurring in our house. It's more like a hostile takeover, really. I keep designating places for Legos: large underbed boxes, stacking drawers, divided storage boxes, bookshelves...

It doesn't matter how many places I designate, those Legos will have their way with my house! I can almost guarantee that I could find Legos in every single room of the house--okay, maybe not my bathroom. Anyway, still on my quest to contain the invaders (and they've had 13 years to build up their armies), I thought it would be a fun project with MS to build a hanging display shelf for his favorite minifigures. I know you can buy these, but they are not cheap, and they only hold a few minifigures. You see, one of MS's favorite activities is creating interesting minifigures and showing off rare ones. As a result, he can never bear to put them away and they litter every surface of his room. It just looks like so much clutter! Where was he when I taught the place for everything and everything in its place class?

So last week when I was buying lumber for my yarn swift project, we decided to pick up some bits of lumber for a minifigure shelf. We really didn't have a design per se, but I kind of knew what I wanted to do. We ended up buying 4 pieces of 1/4" 2x3's. We got them home, and using a minifigure as a measuring guide, we came up with a plan and began cutting our wood.

Initially I thought that we would be able to nail pieces together, but the wood was entirely too thin. I had some Gorilla wood glue, so that was our next effort. We had two side pieces both marked with where the shelves should go. It would have been nice to have something that bonded instantly because holding a little 1/4" thick piece of wood  completely straight, waiting for it to dry, is no fun--not to mention I was doing all the shelves at once. When we felt those were fairly secure, we went about gluing the other side piece on. Somehow all the shelves were not exactly the same size (could it be the haphazard way I go about doing everything?). NO amount of pushing on the side piece would get the board to make contact on every shelf. Fortunately we had a bit of wood left over. MS had decided we would create a roof of sorts on the top with those pieces, but instead they went to bracing the back. Now we were in business.

Finally we were at the part MS was interested in, the spray painting. He had picked out a can of Lego red and was just itching to paint! We laid out a big piece of cardboard on the lawn and away he went. We tried to teach him about distance, even spraying motion, thin and repeated layers. After a lot of exasperation on my part that for some reason he couldn't perfect a spray painting technique that he had never attempted before, it seemed finished. We left it on the patio table to dry. 30 minutes later I looked outside to see the rain coming down. We ran out and picked up the wet, sticky, red shelf and hoped for the best. The next day it was dry, but very rough feeling. Hmmm, in our impatience to finish our project it never occurred to us to do a little sanding. I decided to lightly sand the little shelf and let him have at it with the spray can again. Much better.

The last part of my plan was to glue two rows of 1by's (Lego speak) to each shelf so that the men could be staggered from front to back. I did this step with tacky glue. After getting a sore back from digging through the giant boxes of Legos for the pieces we wanted, we had a pile to work with. I know, the Lego purists would gasp-- gluing down your Legos! If the men are not secure on the shelves, this whole exercise was pointless. Anyway...

Despite imperfect wood cutting, a little Gorilla Glue and some red paint yielded us pretty much exactly what I had envisioned. A small, lightweight shelf that would hold a lot of minifigures (close to 30). I wanted it lightweight so that we could use those Velcro wall mounts instead of hammering into these plaster walls. We still have to get the wall mounts, so for now the shelf is another Lego thing cluttering up a surface in MS's room!

I just did a disgusted walk through of the house and realized that Legos aren't the only thing taking over. In nearly every room I found a ball or hank of yarn or a knitting project lying about!


  1. That is the best idea!! I should really do something like this for my son. It would look great in our playroom.

  2. That is a really awesome project. Even though my son is still a baby I am always looking for future things to do for his room. Thanks.

  3. I have to make one of these for my son! He is very into legos recently! Awesome idea! :)