Friday, September 21, 2007
How to organize and store your collection is a challenge for all LEGO fans. After I wrote about the very cool LEGO stacking bin, my curiosity was whetted and I decided to investigate the other choices - the ones used by most LEGO collectors, and few more esoteric options.
The best option for you will depend on many variables, including:
- How many pieces you have
- The types of pieces you have: blocks, robotics, etc.
- How you like to play/build
- Your space and budget constraints
Ways to Organize
momready.com suggests organizing by color.
wikiHow is the single best reference I've found on the topic of LEGO sorting and storage, and it suggests a progression of organizing approaches, as the collection grows: all together, by set, by size, by category, by part, by part and color.
Products to Consider: Specialized
1. For beginner collections, the LEGOs might simply be stored in the container they came in, especially if they came in a plastic box like this.
2. The LEGO store has a new category called storage, with only one product right now: the LEGO Store & Carry Case. The case has four removable, stackable trays with different sized sections. Update on June 12, 2011: The category, and this product, have disappeared from the LEGO store website.
3. The Kydz building table from Jonti-Craft has a base plate (LEGO or Duplooptions) and optional storage tubs underneath.
4. An interesting specialty product is BOX4BLOCKS, which sorts the LEGOs through a series of trays with different sized grids, so the blocks end up in a tray with similar sized blocks.
5. LEGO Education has storage bins in five different sizes. In many cases, the bins have small drain holes in the bottom, so you can wash and drain your bricks. Update on June 12, 2011: I'm only seeing two sizes of boxes now.
6. LEGO Education also has small parts storage cabinets in 44-drawer and 64-drawer sizes.
7. Robotics Learning Store sells cases designed specifically for Mindstorms.
Products to Consider: Other Widely Used Options
Of course, there's no need to use products designed specifically for LEGOs.
8. Plastic bins and boxes of all sorts are popular options. JaZilla recommends some options on Squidoo. Nate Jacobs shows his collection of bins on Flickr. Tom has a LEGO room and lots of bins. Matt uses the plastic tubs that mushrooms come in.
9. Miguel Agullo has some plastic buckets with compartments that he says work wonderfully for his LEGO Technic pieces, but are hard to get.
10. When it comes to Mindstorms, tool boxes are a popular option. Jason Bartholme uses a Stanley ten compartment organizer. Peter Hoh on The NXT Step uses a Stanley Professional Deep Organizer, shown above.
11. Some folks really like Plano fishing tackle boxes; fans include David Bau and Ralph Hempel, who provides a nice photo.
12. Storage cabinets from companies like Akro-Mils are also popular; Jon Palmer at Zemi has a LEGO room with eight Akro-Mils storage cabinets.
Products to Consider: Other
13. Eric Harshbarger uses some old library card catalog cabinets.
14. Amazon.com shows that someone likes using scrapbooking carts and cases. Update on June 12, 2011: The Amazon tags only point to one scrapbooking product right now.
15. And then someone suggests storing them in socks: red LEGOs in red socks, etc.
16. And here's a picture from a LEGO store, courtesy of sylvar/Ben Ostrowsky.
Finally, I'm indebted to wikiHow for pointing me to Remy Evard's essay on the evolution of LEGO sorting - which illuminates (with great humor) the continual storage challenges facing serious LEGO collectors.
Update on Nov. 28, 2010: Read my latest post to see some new options from Brikcrate!
Update on August 12, 2011: See my latest finds for Lego storage.
[lead photo by feesta / Jeff Easter]