If you're anything like me then its a lot easier and quicker to buy more models than it is to clean and assemble and keep up with the backlog. Limited editions, Kickstarters, armies that start and then fizzle out, gifts etc.... there's a whole roster of means in which we end up building up and up and steadily find ourselves dealing with a mountain of boxes and sprue and half built stuff which sits there glaring at us. So I want to take a quick moment and go through some of the methods I've found help me both organise my collection and also help me as I work through them so that I've can at least remain in control of the unfinished mountain of models no matter how big it might get!
I should note that, of course, the best way to avoid building such a mountain is to pace yourself and control your buying to match your building rate, but at the same time I know we all suffer from time to time with consumer weakness; plus with limited edition programs out there (such as Privateer Press Minicrate) and all those massive Kickstarters which can land whole armies in our laps in a single day; well its easy to fall behind.
1) Storage of boxes. Depending how big your mountain becomes you have to find a means to stack and sort the items so that they remain both easy to access and yet not so stacked up that they fall over each other, crushing stuff underneath. I also find it helps retaining a sense of order because its then a lot easier to dip into it and go for something that catches your fancy, rather than get demoralised when that spark of inspiration hits a wall of being unable to find anything. It also means its a lot easier to keep track of what you do own, though as time passes we all forget a few things in our collection; which is a nice surprise when you come across them once again!
My mountain isn't too vast so I've started making do with a few stacks of boxes around, but also using a wooden coffer. Whilst the large and authentically old do sell for quite a significant sum of money, there's a good range of more modern builds and in various sizes which you can find in various antique shops, furniture shops and, my personal favourite, auction sales. Local auction sales can be great for picking up stuff like this at pretty affordable rates. Just be sure to check the hinges and that the base is made of good quality wood - you don't want one of those flat-pack situations where the base is thin ply that bends if you put any weight on it.
Here's a look at how mine is right now:
Apologies for the odd angle of the photo. You can see its holding a good stack of boxes of various sizes, some rule books stacked down the back and some open boxes. I've even got one box on top which is just the inner container. With the lid down it keeps the dust off and keeps everything inside nice and safe from damage. The top can even be further stacked with boxes or items or, if you're short on space, lamps and general desk items. This is a smaller one, there are ones two or three times the size that can easily fit into the corner of a shed/room/garage.
2) Storage of "bits". Half started projects, bits from built miniatures, miniatures without a box remaining (ebay/secondhand) etc...
For this I used to have a box that I threw most of these things into, until the box got too stuffed and I had to branch out. I also found a box a nightmare because it never really held anything in any sense of order, so finding something could turn from a 5 minute idea into a half hour hunt. So I went and got myself a metal filing cabinet (again I got this very cheap second hand at a local auction). I made sure to check the draws as some models of filing cabinet have holes in them, which are not use for storing lots of small miniature parts. It now stands proud in my room and is an effortless means to storing and accessing parts of my collection.
Here's how I've broken mine down into stages:
The top is a general mish mash of plastic wallets, movement trays (unbuilt), foam inserts from blisters (these can be handy to help pack into packaging when transporting models); bases that have no current use (lots of rectangle/square ones).
The standard size of filing cabinet that holds papers will easily hold sprue of various sizes. This is a great way to store stuff that I'm currently working on or which I haven't got a box for. It keeps it very safe from any wear and tear and is very accessible to just dip into. I can even place full or part finished models in the draws as I work on them. This avoids issues of things getting knocked off the work desk or half finished stuff piling up and getting in the way of other stuff.
BITS! This is mostly the contents of my Tyranid bits box that I started years and years ago. It's that disorganised box that I mentioned earlier. With the trays not having any gaps in them its an ideal means to pour in the parts and at least keep them safe and accessible. Whilst this method of storage is very space efficient you can easily see how finding anything in there is going to be a bit of a hunt and there's a very high chance of losing parts in there and forgetting that I ever owned them.
Bits Part 2! This is how I've started sorting things now. You can see a plastic box from GW
(that you'll often get with finecast models and with all the old metals) holding a selection of parts; plastic wallets which hold different kinds of bits and small plastic case pouches (they had screws in them at one time - a good means of recycling if you do any DIY around the house). The plastic wallets I now make a lot of use of and will store things in sensible selections. For example you can see a pouch of wings there which are some spare wings I picked up for converting some models. By keeping them in their own bag they are effortlessly easy to grab. I've also done this when building models, for example with my Slaanesh demons I've taken to keeping all the spear heads, bodies and arms in a single pouch (even from seeker and chariot kits) since they swap over between the models. Meanwhile all those parts that are larger (banners) or which I'm not likely to want regularly, such as all the spare spike wheels from chariots, are all in their own bag. By not only keeping things in bags ,but organising it to that similar things are kept in their own dedicated bag I make it effortless to place my hand on a specific part or selection of parts when I need them.
So those are some of the methods I use for keeping my models in order besides from wobbly stacks of boxes in corners and tables strewn with bits and parts. If you've got some of your own methods please do feel free to share them below and keep this thread up and active so others can benefit from the info! Certainly things like storing bits in plastic wallets can be a massive time saver for those new to the hobby or those building up big armies.