Playing with Fire

Display Cases

By Michael J. Legeros


Let's look at display cases.  Keeping things dust-free can be a tricky proposition-- matching the case to the collection to available wall or floor space.  Cost should be low and visibility should be high.  That is, you should see more of the inside of the case than the outside. With an eye toward practicality, here are some inexpensive--or at least less expensive-- ideas from the author's own collection.


This china cabinet was purchased for $100 from someone at work.  Has two glass shelves and a wooden back and is great for larger-scale models as well as raised aerials.  The bottom has been modified with white cardboard on top of old cassette tape cases.  This raises the bottom to the level of the glass door.  Regular white paper is taped to the back of the case to better accent the colors and details of the displayed models.




I found this wall unit years ago at a local toy and hobby show.  Someone in the Carolinas (or maybe Virginia) was making them.  Pretty sturdy, though the shelves are bowing a bit.  Strips of white cardboard are taped to the back, again to accent colors and details.




This wall unit was purchased on the Internet, from a custom cabinet company that I can't recall.  Originally delivered with four shelves, I later ordered two more.  Again, that's white cardboard taped to the back.




Wal-Mart stocked these curios a couple of years ago.  The back is mirrored, which I covered with white paper.  The case also came with an ornate "head piece" that I left off.




For displaying your Diamond Plate models, these $5.99 showcases (sold at K*B Toys, among others) are great.  That's white cardboard over a black plastic base. 




For displaying Diamond Plate #5, which is too tall for the last case no matter if the aerial is raised or not, this clear container was purchased at Michael's Arts & Crafts.  Alas, not all of their stores stock same and it's priced around $17.  Use a coupon.




Got a model that's slightly too tall for one of those $5.99 cases?  Use a piece of cardboard that's longer than the base, so the lid rests on the cardboard instead of the plastic.




Here's your standard, assembly-required curio cabinet, bought on sale at Service Merchandise before they went out of business.  The top shelf is tall enough for 12" action figures.  The bottom shelves contain an extra piece of glass that a local glass maker made for about $15.   And to prevent dust from seeping in around the doors, clear plastic binding bars (from an office supply store) are attached to the edges.




Would you believe a case for displaying golf balls? Found this one at a roadside flea market.  Removed the tee pegs and added white paper to the back.  Voila.

That's a Code 3 ambulance on the fourth shelf.





This is an airplane case, thus the wider size.  Though harder to find, they're great for displaying several models at once.  As for the Code 3 helicopter, it's raised using one half of a... hockey-puck holder.  Sports memorabilia store for that one.




Here's a clear acrylic case that a local hobby shop was selling. Had a scratch, so I got it cheap.  Has ten compartments and a mirrored back.

Those are Code 3 Suburbans across the top.





This clear acrylic case was purchased online from K&S Industries.  Has 70 compartments and a mirrored back. 

Fits most Matchbox-sized "cars," but not the aforementioned Suburbans.  They're too long.





Finally, here's a $9 aquarium from Wal-Mart holding a Franklin Mint E-One tower.  More white cardboard on the bottom, raised with more cassette tape cases.  The top is a thin piece of Plexiglas purchased from and cut to spec at Lowe's.




A version of this column originally appeared at Code 3 Collectibles.


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Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros