Display Shelf for Lego Dimensions Figures

LEGO figured out the magic formula that makes me happily open my wallet in exchange for oh-so-cute minifigs from a multitude of worlds.  It’s called LEGO Dimensions.

Image Credit: Lego

 

 

Why wouldn’t I like it?  You start with Batman, Wyldstyle and Gandalf teaming up against the Wicked Witch of the West, Lord Business, Joker and many other villains across the DC and Warner catalogs.

That’s just the starter pack.  I’ve bought several more level packs and fun packs, like Emmett and his backhoe, the Ghostbusters, Chell from Portal and, of course, Dr. Who. It’s great fun to play, swapping the characters and vehicles out as I explore the various worlds and levels.  Plus my seven-year-old son loves to play with me, and he’s great at the game.  He finds all sorts of stuff that I miss, and we love finding secret spots and solving puzzles.

There’s just one problem.  The minifigs take up space.  A lot of it.

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I do not have a LEGO problem. Not yet.  Soon, my precious, soon.
I looked up ideas for storing Lego minifigs, and there are a ton of them on Pinterest and scattered around the internet.  The problem is that those are for regular minifigs, not the Dimensions with their circular stand.

I toyed with various ideas, like taking the stand off and using Velcro to attach it to a backing behind the minifig, but I didn’t want to be constantly reattaching them to their base or, worse yet, lose a RFID-chipped base under the couch.

Finally I decided to make my own display.  I had an empty spot on the living room wall and a surfeit of scrap wood in my garage.

The first step was determining the height of the individual shelves.  I made some scale sketches and placed my minifigs on them.  I ended up using the sentry turret from Portal as my guide since it was the tallest minifig I had at around 9 cm tall.  Using that as my baseline, I made each shelf 3.5 inches high.   Next it was just a matter of determining the number of shelves I wanted and adding up the shelf height + wood thickness.

Final dimensions were 26 1/4 inches tall by 18 1/4 inches wide (17 inches wide plus two 3/4 inch side frame pieces).

The scrap wood came from some IKEA shelving we had bought years ago.  It had holes in it to adjust the shelf height, but this build was more of an experiment than a fine furniture piece, so the holes didn’t bother me.

I trimmed the wood pieces to 2 inches wide on my table saw, then cut the side pieces and 7 shelves.

Lots of sanding to smooth the surfaces.  I even got my son to help.

Next I measured out and marked where the shelves would go.  After a couple of them, I got smart and put the side pieces together to minimize translation errors.

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I used a piece of shelving to mark the width of each shelf on the side pieces.
I used Gorilla wood glue and clamps to put the shelves together. A damp towel was handy to wipe up the excess glue that oozed out as I tightened the clamps.

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After taking a critical look at it and an intuitive guess of how much glue actually stayed in each join, I decided to add some stability by using two finishing nails on each shelf on each side.  Drilling a pilot hole before nailing minimized the chances of the wood splitting.

Next came the finishing, and my husband put his foot down when I pulled out my trusty blue chalk paint.  “Everything in our house is blue,” he said, “even your hair.  I demand some black!”

So black it was.  Technically, the paint color is Graphite.  It’s chalk paint from Annie Sloan.  I love the way it covers, and the wax finish is both easy to apply and hard as nails once it cures.  Plus I didn’t have to worry about runs from polyurethane varnish, something I still have problems with.

The next-to-final step was to pull out the couch and cringe at the accumulated dirt back there before cleaning it up.

Rather than trying to eyeball it, I used a level to make sure it was perfectly straight on the wall.

I’m so happy!  Now my Lego Dimensions minifigs have a proper home instead of congregating in a giant clump on top of the TV cabinet.

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Of course, Lego just announced Phase II with a dozen more properties. Eyeing my display shelf, I can already tell I’m going to have to make a bigger version this fall.

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Lots of room to build a bigger shelf.
That’s okay.  I have a lot more scrap wood in the garage, and I used up all the Graphite paint.  Next version will be blue.

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The Kid and the Chocolate Cake

I’ve always thought of myself as an honest person.  In fact, when asked what my core values were, the first one that came to mind was honesty, followed quickly by fairness.

However, having small children around can play havoc on one’s personality.

Our son was around four and, like every other child, he talks.  And talks.  And talks nonstop.  He’s also socially demanding, meaning he can’t even conceive of playing by himself.

One Saturday  I had experimented with a dessert called molten chocolate cakes.  They were delicious!  The recipe made four little cakes, and there were three of us.  There was one left over, and I told my husband not to touch it on pain of death.

Sunday night, I spent my typical 45 minutes getting the kiddo settled for bed.

“Read me a story!” Done.

“Get me some water.  Please?” the polite portion of the request added after some prompting.  Done.

“Tuck me in.”  Done. For the fifth time.

“Kiss me goodnight.”  Done happily.

Ah, at last the rest of the evening was mine.  Hubby was busy shooting bad guys with his friends on the computer, and I had a date with a cake.

Ever so carefully, I upended the miniature cake out of its ramekin onto a saucer and microwaved it gently until it was warm and gooey, just as it had been when it came out of the oven.

I settled onto the couch with my little chocolate circle of heaven.  The spoon broke ever so gently through the partially-baked crust, spilling the molten portion onto the plate in a wavy stream reminiscent of its namesake.  I scooped a piece onto my spoon and lifted it to my lips, closing my eyes in anticipation of the warm, chocolaty explosion about to burst over my tongue when I heard it.

Pitter, patter, scuffle, scuff — it was the sound my son makes as he shuffles down the hallway to ask me for “just one more thing.”

I took a deep breath, set my cake on the coffee table and plastered a happy smile on my face.  “What is it, sweetie?”

He answered in a drowsy voice, “Mommy, I need more water.”

At least it was easy to fix, I thought as I refilled his water bottle and steered him back toward his bedroom.

Just when I thought I was safe, his next question struck dread into my heart.  “What are you eating, Mommy?”

I knew that if I admitted to eating cake there would be no getting him back to bed without sharing.   Then there would be sugar hi-jinks and demands for more cake and more bedtime stories and more tuck-ins and…

And I just couldn’t handle it.

The only thought in my overworked mind was “that’s MY cake!” and I wasn’t about to share.

Thinking fast, I hit upon the perfect deception.

“It’s eggplant,” I told him with a perfectly straight face.

He smiled up at me with that adoring and trusting face.  “Okay.”  His demand met, he trundled back to bed.

Guilt demanded that I give him at least one more good-night kiss, but hovering in the back of my mind was the thought of my molten chocolate cake, sitting lonely and forlorn on the coffee table.

I hastened back to my abandoned chocolaty love.  It was every bit as delicious as the first time.

And my sense of honor?

Parenting is all about making hard choices: letting kids fail, giving up your Saturday afternoons to birthday parties and sports games and watching cartoons instead of Game of Thrones.  Occasionally, concessions must be made.

In the case of the kid versus the chocolate cake, I plead for parental sanity.

Why write?

Science fiction, fantasy, horror.  Essays that are personal, lyrical, meditative or opinionated.  How-to’s.  Slice of life.  Practice for my day job.  Practice to turn it into a job where I’m working for myself.

Yes, mainly practice.

Learning to construct sentences simple and elegant.  Hopefully both at the same time.  Honing logical skills of deduction.  Constructing well-reasoned arguments.  Indulging in the occasional rant.

I don’t expect to draw an audience.  If by some chance, you stumble into my humble blog and read something that makes you think, I would love for you to leave a comment.  Praise or criticism, as long as it’s earned on the basis of the writing and nothing else.

To borrow a phrase from one of my favorite on-screen antagonists, “That’s all.”