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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.