Appendix: Version History & Acknowledgements
History of this guide
I’ve wanted to write this guide for several years, but only started writing the guide in February 2017. Rather than limit myself to the storage options I’m already familiar with, I began by surveying nearly 200 LEGO enthusiasts from around the world. These responses were instrumental in better understanding what storage topics are most important to LEGO Enthusiasts, and gave me a better understanding of what works, and what doesn’t work when trying to organize a LEGO collection. The survey responses made it clear that storage of LEGO bricks is the highest priority for most LEGO builders.
Version History & News:
Because this guide is published online, I can make improvements and corrections at any time. This list highlights major additions / corrections, and news coverage about the guide.
- September 3, 2020 – Rewrote much of the text in Chapter 6: Additional LEGO Brick Storage Tips & Tricks to make it shorter and easier to read.
- September 2, 2020 – Minor edits to Chapter 3: LEGO Storage for Small Collections, Chapter 4: LEGO Storage for Medium Collections, and Chapter 5: LEGO Storage for Large Collections.
Light edits to chapter text and grammar. Recommended products reviewed and updated. HTML formatting updated to match styleguide.
- August 31, 2020 – I updated the charts / illustrations in Chapter 1: Understanding your LEGO Collection and Chapter 2: Organizing your LEGO Bricks.
The revised images use the same fonts/sizes used elsewhere in the site, closer matches to official LEGO colors, and consistent margins to look better on screens of all sizes. (I’ve also updated the chapter links to use secure HTTPS URL’s.)
- May 25, 2020 – I’ve started collecting examples of well organized LEGO collections for a new chapter Storage Ideas from other LEGO Artists.
It has not been incorporated as an official chapter yet.
- April 13, 2020 – Section/Chapter/Appendix prefix on page titles updated to use ‘light’ weight text instead of middle gray text. (More consistent with typography across the rest of the site, such as category pages).
- March 27, 2020 – Updated the Bibliography on Appendix: Glossary & Bibliography to use Bulleted List with Icons.
- March 22, 2019 – I’m experimenting with a more visual gallery of “Recommended Products” within the guide. Chapter 5: LEGO Storage for Large Collections is the first chapter which has been updated to this new format. (The format is based on the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide.)
- January 22, 2019 – I added a section “Considerations for large collections” to Chapter 5: LEGO Storage for Large Collections. The main new concept in that section is Storage Density, which I will discuss further in future updates to this chapter.
- December 2, 2017 – The LEGO Storage Guide was featured on thebrickblogger.com and Hacker News on 11/30. There are enthusiastic discussions about the guide on both sites and a lot of new visitors.
- November 30, 2017 – Numerous improvements to site-wide themes and book-specific CSS styling. Focus was on fixing site-wide style issues, and to improve breakout/sidebar info which supplements main article text.
- November 11, 2017 – The LEGO Storage guide has received a lot of visitors in the last week thanks to articles on Brickset, The Brick Fan, Brickfinder, FBTB, Zusammengebaut (German), and numerous other websites, LUG’s, and forums. Thanks for all the support and constructive feedback! I’ve read all of your feedback and I’m slowly making improvements to the guide!
- November 4, 2017 – Added a small section about washing LEGO bricks to Chapter 6: Additional LEGO Brick Storage Tips & Tricks.
- November 3, 2017 – Password restrictions removed from the guide, and i shared a link on /r/LegoStorage (Reddit)
- October 28, 2017 – I created custom style sheets to ensure beautiful printed pages. The on-screen style sheets were improved too to support four display plateaus: under 600px, 601-767px, 768-1023px, 1024px or higher. (600px and under is always one column of content, and 1024px or higher utilizes two columns of content in many cases, and more generous padding to increase legibility. The other two plateaus are transitional.
- October 27, 2017 – Added section “Types of LEGO Figures” about Minifigures, Minidolls, Maxi-figures, and more to: Section II: Displaying & Storing LEGO Minifigures.
- October 26, 2017 – Better experience when sharing links to this guide on social media such as Facebook. (Added basic OpenGraph properties: Beta cover image used on all pages + page-specific excerpt text.)
- October 25, 2017 – Added illustrations explaining sorting by category, part, color, and element to Chapter 2: Organizing your LEGO Bricks. Improvements to consistency throughout the guide. Second request for beta feedback sent to mailinglist.
- October 24, 2017 – Added a Minifigure Storage & Display Guide – Part II adds two new chapters looking at how to store, display, and protect your LEGO Minifigure collection. This is the last new content I plan to add before a public beta release.
- October 2, 2017 – Beta Preview Version – The initial Beta version of this guide was completed before my LEGO Storage talk at BrickCon 2017, and shared with my Mailing List. This first version focuses on Organizing, Sorting, and storing your LEGO bricks. The storage solutions highlighted in this version focus on those available in the USA.
- April 2017 – The main sections of the guide became clear after reviewing the survey data. An introduction helps readers understand their LEGO collection, a chapter on how to sort LEGO tackles this topic, and separate chapters focus on Small (unsorted), Medium (sorted by category), and Large LEGO collections (sorted by part, or part+color.)
- March 2017 – Created a survey for LEGO Enthusiasts to understand how much LEGO they have, where they store their LEGO, and what storage solutions they like, and storage solutions that they tried but do not like.
The following are a few of the readers who contributed ideas which helped me write this guide. If a specific change was made based on their feedback, a note is included below their feedback.
Thanks again for showing your support by sharing your great ideas!
- Sean Edmison – I learned a lot from ideas shared by Sean and other builders during the LEGO Storage roundtables that he hosted at BrickCon 2015, 2016, and 2017.
- Ralf Floris 2017/10/03 – Suggestion to add a section about creating an “index” indicating where the parts are stored in your system.
2017/10/03 – Added to Chapter 6: Additional LEGO Brick Storage Tips & Tricks.
- Andreas Lederer 2017/10/26 – Suggestion to add information about Maxi-figures to the LEGO Minifigure guide.
2017/10/27 – Added section “Types of LEGO Figures” to Section II: Displaying & Storing LEGO Minifigures.
- Jean-Marc Nimal 2017/11/07 – Jean-Marc sent a link to the original LEGO Storage bag, released in 1977.
2017/11/11 – I added a photo of this vintage storage bag to Chapter 3: LEGO Storage for Small Collections.
- Robin Sather 2017/10/06 – Robin is one of only 14 LEGO Certified Professionals. He explained his entire storage solution, which includes rolling carts which each contain the common parts in two colors, additional storage for less common parts, and two levels of overflow storage for bulk brick. He treats the cart like a painter’s palette – refilling it as needed (from harder to access bulk storage in boxes and bags). I want to include the idea that your core purpose of your primary storage is ease of access – it doesn’t need to include all of the bricks you own. (Also one of several people who suggested use of advent calendar insert for storing sorted bricks.)
- Paul Schaffert 2017/11/08 – “I’ve found that there is a step up from tackle boxes: cases with individual bins. Stanley makes a popular one in shallow and deep sizes. They have the advantage of removable bins like a drawer organizer but also locking lids that keep all the parts in like a tackle box. The bins can be rearranged between boxes of the same depth, allowing your collection to grow organically.”
2017/12/03 – After this suggestion from Paul (and many other people), I added these organizers with removable compartments to Chapter 5: LEGO Storage for Large Collections.
I also want to thank the following readers for corrections and editorial feedback: Ella, Peter Hoh, Steven Johnson, Brian Green, Steve Thrm, Pascal Gauthier, Jason Mork, Stefan, LaRene.
This is a list of changes and additions which I hope to make in the future. As I make changes to the guide to address their feedback, these will mode into the Acknowledgements section.
- Didier Enjary 2017/11/10 – Didier reminded me to add a brick-built LEGO color palette to the tips and tricks section.
- Nathan Stohlmann 2017/11/10 – Nathan asked if there was any evidence indicating that bricks will become fatigued or damaged when stored stacked together, or left assembled in a model. I didn’t know, so I started this forum discussion. I’ll update the guide when I learn more.
- ShaydDeGrai 2017/11/14 – They suggested a standardized grading system for each storage solution instead of the current “best for” comments. “It might be worth offering a deeper discussion regarding some of the drawbacks/trade-offs each storage option and organization method has… rated against several axes such as: speed of retrieval, space consumption, “rummage-ability”, time/effort to set-up, time/effort to maintain, extensibility (as size of collection grows), vulnerability (how easily can this system get undone by kids, pets, movers, drunken party guests, etc.), “MOC-ability” (the ability/level of effort to find a wide variety of parts in just the right colors for a given MOC).”
- Christine Coste 2017/11/03 – Christine suggested that I do a better job of explaining the benefits of organization. Great idea!
- Josh Chase 2017/10/03 – Suggestion to include some of the smaller Sterilite drawers as an alternative to Akro-mils style drawers for very large collections.
- Keith Fisher 2017/11/08 – Keith suggested ‘picture rail/shelf’ that is only a few inches deep and modular as an another option for minifigures.
- Raymond 2017/11/08 – In the transition from sorting by part, to sorting by both part and color, consider storing contrasting colors in the same bin. (White and Black, Red and Green, Blue and Orange, etc…)
- Roloff de Jeu 2017/10/03 – Suggestion to include inexpensive food storage containers as an alternative to plastic bags or more durable plastic boxes. (Great for temporary storage when building models or sorting new parts.)
- Kevin Thomas 2017/10/07 – Kevin suggested rolling carts typically used for plants to make your storage boxes or drawer cabinets easier to move around your home or workspace.
- Roloff de Jeu 2017/10/26 – Roloff suggested that I include a side-by-side illustration showing how hard it is to find a specific part in a drawer of black pieces, and how easy it is to pick the black part out of a drawer of just one part.
- Erik Kraan 2017/10/26 – Erik suggested that I go into more depth into how to efficiently sort loose LEGO. I do mention the two-stage approach, but perhaps this would benefit with a whole chapter. ex: Disassemble one set at a time, or all at once? How many categories for initial sort? What about a brick sieve? Also worth mentioning that it is beneficial to separate larger and smaller parts when only organizing by category, since smaller parts fall to the bottom of a container, making them harder to find.
- Nik 2017/11/04 – Nik asked if it is better to disassemble LEGO Minifigures for storage to reduce brick fatigue. I think that the topic of brick fatigue is a good one, and should talk about it in general, not just for minifigures.
- Christine Coste 2017/11/03 – Christine also suggested that I offer advise in how to form groups. “…the decision-making process for those pieces that can’t be clearly categorised. I definitely find this most difficult with the overlap or in-between categories. What approaches to this are useful, pros and cons?” This is a specific aspect of developing your own taxonomy that I want to cover. (She also called-out that an introductory chapter “Understanding LEGO” which defines bricks, plates, technic, minifigures, bionicle, and other core concepts could be valuable for novice readers.)
- Janet 2017/11/07 – How to store printed tiles? Janet suggested: “I store decorated tiles laid out on small baseplates so that I can see what I have quickly.”
- Christoph Bartneck 2017/10/26 – Christoph is the author of The Ideal Order, a highly personal novel which explores the lengths one LEGO fan goes through to organize their LEGO collection (and their life). I want to expand on the topics of developing your own taxonomy by adding a chapter or appendix to this guide looking at different taxonomies which can be applied to organizing your LEGO collection.
- Steve Parmley 2017/10/12 – Steve re-iterated the importance of considering storage costs, sorting time, and purchase cost when thinking about buying more LEGO. In a world where you can order any part ever created in just a few days, you are unlikely to save a lot of money buy purchasing LEGO parts just because you “might” need them in the future.
- Ken Lilly 2017/10/26 – Ken reminded me to include information about “about plastics and how they affect storage. Example, there are some differences between how polyethylene and polypropylene plastic bags function, and there are also a lot of polyvinyl-chloride baggies out there that simply should be avoided.” He also reminded me to discuss the impact of UV light on LEGO Bricks, especially certain colors like White.
- Jack McKee 2017/10/10 – Jack offered lots of products and tips for builders with diverse needs such as fine motor control or limited eyesight. I hope to incorporate these ideas in the future.
I think this guide is a good start to explaining how to sort and it goes a long way toward answering the questions I’ve heard from newbies who have never sorted yet but are starting to get the itch. However, I’d expand the section on choosing a storage scheme to give more detail on how your typical building approach might inform your storage. A lot of people like to build sets and not really anything else, but they can’t have all their sets assembled at the same time, so they store 1 set per bag or something like that. It would be interesting to see your take on various approaches for set archiving.
Also, some builders build functionally while others build visually. If your creations are insensitive to appearance but sensitive to colour, then sorting by part trumps colour any time. But if your creations are meant to be displayed first, sorting by colour (and part) is important, because your eye will notice a wrong colour even if it never notices that this creation is super-fragile due to being built entirely out of sausages (or whatever). Being able to find the parts you need, or being able to visualize what you have available can be important when you’re trying to use a rare colour for something.
If your collection is optimized for moccing but you still want to be able to build kits from instructions, being able to conveniently do this will depend on how many containers you need to open to get the job done. Does building the Haunted House mean you need the sand-green, black, grey, and brown bins? or does it mean you need bins for all the part categories?
Finally, some thought should be given to how much you like sorting parts and are willing to maintain the sorted collection. There’s no point in investing in boxes if you’re not going to keep the collection sorted, and it takes time to put stuff away. A partially sorted collection may be much easier to maintain and be a more realistic goal for many people.
Tom, you are creating a great resource for us. Your free downloads and unique ideas are very cool.
Would it be helpful to add something about common tools that can make building a bit easier? As an older AFOL, I depend on the following tools: Museum Putty (holds MOCs–is removable); Magnifying Glass Stand with light (helps with visual instructions); Food Shovel/Scoop (flat and metal–helps scoop up parts); Sortkwik (helps hold on to parts); Long Tweezers (helps grab small parts); Slanted Drafting Board with lip (helps seeing more of the parts); Rubber Shelf Liner (helps parts stay still); Lazy Susan (helps with rotation of MOC as you build); and more…
Jack, this is a very insightful comment, and rather than just add a few items to my existing tips and tricks section, I think it would be even better to put together a list dedicated to “model-building tools to increase efficiency and comfort”.
I would love your help in pointing out specific products which you have used and work well. I do not use products like Museum Putty or Tweezers, and would be worried about products that could damage LEGO bricks – more information is most appreciated, so I can share it with others.