Playing with Fire


By Michael J. Legeros


Let's start the New Year with a collection of random collecting tips, plus one question:  what's was last year's best model from Code 3?  I say the Detroit ladder, hands down.  What's your pick?  Let me know and I'll include the results in next month's column.  Now, some tips:


Dome Stacking. Here's how I store older Code 3 packaging. Domes are stacked according to size, as are the cardboard bottoms. Shipping sleeves are folded flat. Plastic bases are piled into a container. Screws, ladder clips, and other extras are stored along with the authenticity certificates in the cardboard bottoms, and hopefully not lost at a later date.



Door Removal. Curio cabinets are great for displaying models, except that the cabinet doors often block quite a bit of the view. My solution? Take 'em off! Remove both the doors and the hinges, then head to a home improvement store for a piece of custom-cut Plexiglas®. Secure with tape, Velcro® strips, bubble gum, etc.  You won't believe how much better it looks.



False Bottoms. The base of a curio cabinet often sits "below" the door, and thus below the line of sight. Solve this particular problem with blocks of wood or other stackable objects, such as old cassette tape cases. On top of those I place comic book boards, scored and folded over the ends of the blocks. Check your local comic book shops for these. They're cheap. A box of 100 costs five or six bucks.



Flattened Boxes. For storing packaging from brands such as Siku and older Conrad and Cursor, try folding the boxes flat. Remove any inserts, open the end flaps, and stack accordingly. If the package has a cool apparatus photo, you can easily scan the box at that time.



Helo Stands. To display helicopters or other aircraft, I stand a plastic trading card case on its side. Or sometimes two of them, glued end-to-end. A dab of wax on the skids / pontoons keeps the thing from sliding off, whenever my clumsy self bumps the display case.



Non-Flash Digital Photography. For better color when taking digital pictures of your collection, first get a $20 tripod at your neighborhood discount chain. Next, use your camera's timer to snap the shutter. Play with exposure modes as well. The timer / tripod combination will negate any camera shake, so you can use existing light instead of an overpowering flash. And if you position the camera really close to the model, remember to activate the "macro" mode.



Shelf Saving. Code 3 and similarly-scaled models are but a few inches high; curio cabinet shelves are often a half-foot high. Optimize that vertical space using "shelf savers" designed for kitchen pantries. Kitchen accessory stores have 'em.



Waxing Poetic. The single most useful accessory in my arsenal is hobby wax. Available at craft stores, it's great for attaching broken pieces that you don't have time to glue. Or affixing mirrors that are a little loose for their predrilled holes. Or just holding something up, open, or still. One "jar" lasts forever.



Wee Baggies. Found at paper shops or craft stores, these re-sealable baggies are great for storing packaging screws, replacement parts, and other odd accessories. I use a permanent magic marker to note which bag goes with which model.



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


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Copyright 2017 by Michael J. Legeros