Display and Storage

So since today is a holiday, I thought we'd take a look at something a bit different, that being the storage and display of my HotWheels. In the beginning when the collection was small, I would display my favorites on the top of my desk:

...something which continued up until very recently.  The balance of them were displayed on a crude metal shelf that was purchased more or less exclusively for such use:

This system worked for a surprisingly long time. I didn't give up on the shelf as a primary means of storage/display until just a few years ago, when the loose cars finally overwhelmed the available shelves. The main downsides of having the cars open like this was that the cars got quite dusty, since they were exposed to the open air; and secondly, once the kids started visiting the office, the collection slowly moved from my office downstairs into the toybox.

In the early '00s I was at a now-long-gone hobby store in Stittsville, and they had the display case that you see below on the left:

This is a nice perspex display case with a mirror back and a clear door over the front. Holding 115 cars, it cost me about $100 at the time, and that price turns out to be a real steal. I have not seen much in the way of display cases with this kind of build quality for that price even on the internet, and thats even before shipping and currency exchange factors were considered.

Next to the display are two Hot Wheels Showcase display cases, official Mattel products from 2008 (and sadly, not seen since). The build quality of these is much poorer, but they are relatively serviceable.

Both cases hold standard length cars, although the older one can hold marginally longer cars in one of the columns, as seen by the Plymouth Superbirds. There are a few cars that don't even fit in there, but for the most part I don't have any.

One other idea we experimented with was to buy pre-made Ikea minishelves and use those for display:

It actually doesn't work too badly, except for the cost. Mounting them was also a bit on the fiddly side, and the resulting layout isn't really friendly to be made denser. I have a half-dozen or so on the wall over my work table right now.

For non-display storage, I have in my closet the usual collection of cardboard boxes and storage bins, which you can see on the left below. These boxes contain a mixed assortment of carded cars, loose cars that I DLM'd, and what is left of the legendary flea market loose inventory purchase. On the right you can see a couple of "traditional" 48-car storage cases. The blue one is quite old. The black one is modern, bought this year when they were on sale at Toys'R'Us just to see how suitable they would be. It turns out to have some oddly-shaped holes which limit the cars that can be stored, and neither the blue nor the black cases are deep enough to store long cars like the Superbirds or Dodge Daytona Chargers. For $7 it was reasonable, but at full price -- something like $18 -- I'd pass. I would probably pay $10 each for more of the blue ones, though.

In between the cardboard and the traditional covers are a bunch of Creative Options Thread Organizers (Clear). These have 48 spaces, 24 on each side (well, two of the spaces on each side are joined into one, so the actual count is 46 and 23, respectively). I got these on sale so they cost me US$7 each plus shipping, which is reasonable. As you can see below, the cars are stored in individual compartments, and once you pull the product sticker off the case door the contents of the case can be examined without having to open them. It isn't a perfectly clear cover, so to examine one closely you still have to open the case and pull the car out, but frankly you were probably going to do that anyways.

The latest display option was something I saw on You-Tube in November. Walmart sells these Plano Stow'N'Go storage cases. They each have 24 Hot Wheels sized compartments. What's interesting about these is that they come with wall-mounting screw holes already in them, and the lids can be removed. When you do that, they make excellent wall-mounted modular display cases:

That's a 2x2 array of these cases, for almost 100 available wall-mounted slots. (This is just a temporary assortment of cars for display, just to see how they look.)

You can go nuts with these cases -- the YouTube video I saw showed one guy who had put them over practically all of his finished basement's walls, hundreds of cases which would eventually hold thousands of cars.

I don't think I'll go that nuts with them, but I think I may eventually take down the wooden shelving and replace them with a dozen of the Plano cases instead. The cost of doing so isn't prohibitive, and the resulting look is very nice. The only downside perhaps is the lack of a dust cover, so we might be back to having dusty cars again...

So that's where we are now. The Plano cases are cheap, easily obtainable here (important when you live in Canada!) and easily mounted. It is good to have a workable solution available.