How-to guide: Displaying your collection of models

17 March 2009
imports_CCGB_exampleofadisplaycabi_77365.gif Example of a display cabinet
Deciding how to display your collection of models - replica cars, diecast buses - can be tricky. Display cabinets are one solution... ...
How-to guide: Displaying your collection of models Images

If, like most of us, you have spent many an hour and some of your hard earned cash lovingly putting your collection together, whether by design or by accident, you will have quite a collection of models. But do you put your treasures in the loft, under the bed or in the wardrobe for safe keeping, of course, kept neat and tidy in their boxes or do you put them on display for all to see?

There are all sorts of problems when trying to find storage solutions; from talking to people, there is always the question, ‘where do I put it?’ or ‘will the wife let me put a cabinet in the living room?’! Some collectors are lucky enough to have their own room for their collection, but more often than not collectors’ partners are happy to allow the models to be on display.

Ever since collectors first started collecting there have been display cabinets. In the early 1990s there were so many suppliers and manufacturers that the market was flooded with a large variety of all shapes and sizes with varying prices; some 15/20 cabinet suppliers were vying for customers. Now there is a choice of five main manufacturers who are still producing quality display cabinets for collectors.

It comes down to personal choice as to what is suitable for each individual collection – so what are the choices? Colour of the frame and carcase is dependant on the colour scheme in the room where the cabinet is to go and all manufacturers offer a wide choice, from a painted carcase with choice of frame colours and backing, to real wood finishes in oak, pine, mahogany or walnut.

The choice of door hanging, or not as the case may be, is another matter for the buyer to consider. There are three choices – hinged doors that open like a window, take-off frames i.e. you remove clips and take the whole glazed front off to access your models, and sliding doors, although these are not 100% dust proof.

Collectors also need to decide on shelf width; these are available from 2”, 3”, 4” and 6” and the size depends on which scale you collect, or if you collect a variety of scales. To simplify the problem, the 2” is suitable for soldiers, 3” for Lledo and most 1/43 scale models and 4” for 1/76, 1/54, 1/43. Having a 4” width also enables you to put your model at an angle, therefore maximising the amount you can display. And trust me, when you first start to fill your prized cabinet, your models will be sympathetically spread out, but as time goes on and your collection grows, you will squeeze as many in as possible! The 6” width cabinet is suitable for 1/24 and 1/18 scale models and with a little imagination will take most people’s collections, or part of it.

Toyman Displays Cabinet To help decide which cabinet is best for a particular collection, you will first need to find out the length of cabinet required. Most come in either 24”, 36” or 42” lengths, but you will need to take away approx 30mm as this is the thickness of the carcase. Cut a piece of paper to that length then cut it to 2”, 3”, 4” or 6” wide strips and think of them as glass shelves. Put your models on whichever way you think is best. Count how many shelves you need and add one more for the bottom, then multiply that by how many models you have on each shelf and that will give you a good idea how many items you can get in one cabinet.

To complicate matters even further, there are square cabinets, i.e. 24” x 24”, vertical, or horizontal. Then there is a choice of fixed shelving (although this does tie you to a certain height of model) or adjustable shelving, which allows you to put any scale model in one cabinet.

Wall cabinets have been available in these formats for many years and are still popular to this day, but with the introduction of the Corgi Aviation Archives’ collection of aeroplanes, the wall mounted cabinets are unsuitable for display purposes and one or two cabinet makers have produced free standing cabinets to cater for this larger plane (these aren’t 100% dust proof, however).

With the introduction of the 1/12 models, mainly, for example, Suntar buses and the larger plant and farm machinery models, there was a need for individual cases and one or two manufacturers have taken up the challenge here, offering a wide selection of one-off table-top display cabinets, mostly made in the new clear plastic, which come complete with a choice of bases. The use of plastic covers is now becoming more popular, as the new acrylic is crystal clear and manageable if creating a seamless finish and, as a safety factor, if accidentally knocked over or dropped, it doesn’t create a safety hazard with children around.

So, if you are in the market for a display cabinet, whether it is a wall mounted, free standing or table-top model, all collector’s magazines carry adverts for the products.

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