Saturday, July 17, 2021

Off the Shelf and Back Again - a Hobbyist's Holiday!

 

When I got my first apartment, way back at the start of Medical School in 1977, I knew I wanted to take the bulk of my armies with me. Once I settled in, I bought first one and then a second "assemble yourself " faux walnut particle board shelf units. Not bad at all for the price, really. They went with me to my next apartment in medical school, then my room in a 4 bedroom condo rented \with 3 other students, then my apartment as an intern, then the apartment my wife and I moved into when I was a resident, then the condo we lived in when I started my medical practice, and finally our present home, where they have been for 33 years. About 20 years ago we had some pretty significant basement flooding, and that damaged both of the units. Between that, progressive sagging from the weight of all that lead for more than 45 years, and a looming crisis in storage space for my collection, this winter I decided it was time to replace the tried and true shelf units.


Over time, I had added this steel shelf unit


to the second "walnut" unit (note the sagging of the lower shelf)


Then a lightweight, easily assembled plastic shelf unit


and then a second of the same (sharp eyes will note some sagging already occurring after just a few years). Lead is heavy!


With shipping, all steel units were too expensive, and local DIY stores didn't seem to have any steel units on site. So I ordered some on line.. "Muscle Rack". 

Made in Vietnam! The units are solid steel, but the shelves are fiberboard, but supported on all 4 sides which should reduce sagging. They were assembled easily enough, until it became clear that 4 key parts were missing; considering that they weren't included on the parts list (!), perhaps unsurprising. Emails to their support line went unanswered, but an eventual phone call was answered pretty promptly, the missing parts sent out and received in a timely fashion. I completed the shelves prior to the Punic Faith game last month. 


While I was at home on vacation last week (during most of which the weather was very unseasonably cold and rainy!), I unloaded one of the old shelves, which was really deteriorated, and broke it up and removed it. The old grey steel shelf unit was unloaded, moved into the vacated space, and re-loaded with troops. 


The first new shelf was placed adjacent to the old one, after more box shuffling, the second old shelf removed, 


and the second new shelf unit placed adjacent to the first. 


The two plastic shelving units were similarly unloaded, moved, and reloaded. The 2nd old shelf unit was reassigned to hold a good part of the many old paperback books I can't make myself discard yet.  

Having moved the well over 13,000 25/28 mm figures of my collection, for any who are interested, I'm going to do a broad overview of same, shelf by shelf. 


The top shelf of unit #1 is all French Napoleonics, with the Imperial Guard to the left of the picture. 


2nd shelf, 1st unit is more French Napoleonics to the right, then Kingdom of Italy, then Saxons, Wurttemburgers, and Badeners. 


3rd shelf, 1st unit is Nassau/Rhine Confederation minor states, Kingdom of Westphalia, Duchy of Warsaw/Poles, Danes, then Spanish.


The bottom shelf of unit 1 holds terrain walls, fences, hedges, orchards, earthworks, etc


I don't waste space - on top and above the units are more boxes with various terrain items. Veterans of my Historicon games will recall helping me carry those big boxes in and out. One of my dear patients, Mrs. Garrity, now sadly a few years gone, would send me a huge box of wonderful grapefruit every Christmas. We enjoyed them a lot for many years, but I really coveted the large, sturdy boxes they came in, which were promptly recycled, as seen. 


Unit 2, top shelf is the home of the rapidly growing White Menace - Napoleonic Austrians. 


Unit 2, second shelf has more Austrians, including the Tyrolese Rebels, then my Russians. 


Unit 2, third shelf has more Russians, followed by Swedes, Portuguese, and Brunswickers At far left are the generic wagons of the Commissariat. Each bow will hold up to about 90 infantry, 40 cavalry, or 10 guns with crew. 


2ndunit, bottom shelf has custom made hills, Wizardkraft Rivers, and some of my Superior/Galactic Knights starships. By the way, the clear plastic shoe boxes (with color coded lids, which, inverted,  serve as the troop trays) were all purchased back in the 1970's. They were carried at a regional retailer, Caldor stores. They would periodically go on sale there, and whenever they did I would buy as many as I could afford, in as many different colors as I could find. Many still have price tags on them (which were annoyingly difficult to remove!)


Unit 3, "over the top" storage for more terrain items!


Having exhausted my supply of 40+year old shoe boxes for my ever growing Napoleonic collection (the sharp eyed will have noted there are still a few gaps for further expansion) , the rest of my troops are now housed in Really Useful Boxes. Unit 3, top shelf are all Renaissance troops. 


Unit 3, second shelf houses my Napoleonic Prussian army. 


Unit 3, third shelf has my Napoleonic British army. 


The bottom shelf of this unit holds the rest of my Starships.


Unit 4, top shelf, has primed figures awaiting their turn on the painting table, and some of my English Civil War troops. 



Unit 4, second shelf is Ancients - Polybian Romans, Carthaginians, Byzantines. 



Unit 4, third shelf holds my Hussite Army, Teutonic Knights, Sassanid Persians, and Palmyrans.


Unit 4, 4th shelf holds Renaissance Gendarmes, Renaissance Light cavalry, and Bill McHugh's Late Medieval figures, which await a refurb and rebasing project. Note some space for future growth - a scarce commodity!


Unit 4, bottom shelf has more terrain - Lodestone buildings and many trees. 


Unit 5, top shelf has more English Civil War troops. 


Unit 5, second shelf holds my Egyptians, Sea Peoples, Hittite, and Canaanite troops.


Unit 5, 3rd shelf has my Assyrian army, plus my Wizardkraft rivers. 



Unit 5, 4th shelf has some Ancient specific terrain and my Macedonian and Mauryan Indian armies, the later slated for major expansion.


Unit 5, bottom shelf has 25 mm buildings and swamps. 

 Other locations in the basement have the unpainted lead pile, more terrain, my D&D single figures, my 1:1200 Napoleonic sailing ships, my 15 mm Renaissance Galleys, and my collection of rules, and assorted dice, cards, and other gaming paraphernalia. My history and uniform reference books are mostly upstairs. Phew!


38 comments:

  1. A very neat, well organised and awesome collection !

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    1. Thank you Gary! I don't know how I would house it all without a basement!

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  2. Really organised and splendid collection. I have a number of these boxes with handles and I must say they are great.

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    1. Yes, the Really Useful Boxes (a product of the UK, I might add) are outstanding. Really Useful! :-)

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  3. Great post Peter and what an incredibly impressive collection you have built up over the years. It’s always wonderful to see the array of troops that fellow gamers have acquired over the years.

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    1. Thanks, Peter - other aspects, not as much - the big collection of rules, reference and history books, additional terrain, ships, painting and basing supplies, gaming accessories, etc. The "Lead Pile" is pretty organized now... although it seems to shrink only very slowly! :-)

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    2. Hmm, skipped a line in replying!
      Thanks, Carlo! In my more sane moments, I begin to think I have nearly enough! :-)

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  4. Noe that is some wonderful storage!

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    1. Thank you, Neil. I want add lables to the RUB's - next organizational project!

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    2. Maybe the line skipping thing happened again...I'm not Neil 😉

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    3. Indeed not! My apologies, Keith.

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  5. You have a lovely collection.

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  6. Fantastic - that really is The Grand Tour! Good units to store what is a truly fine collection - I'm taking notes, since I have a growing cupboard crisis here!

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    1. Thanks, Tony! I think there is enough space for the anticipated expansions as well.
      Famous last words!

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  7. Nice to see you replaced those dubious shelves! Such a collection should be secure. Great to see the parade of shoeboxes as well.

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    1. Thanks, Joe. Doubtless you will recall Caldor stores, too!
      The better of the two shelves was used as a mass paperback storage bookcase. When I took the really degenerated unit apart, it was literally only still standing because it was wedged between the grey steel shelf and the refrigerator on the other side!

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  8. Wow! This is truly an impressive wall of lead.

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    1. Thanks, Jon. Definitely that wall would stop a fair amount of radiation!

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  9. I have been struggling with reorganizing/managing what I thought had grown to be an oversized collection. Having seen how harmoniously you are existing with a collection that makes mine look like a starter set, my perspective has changed: I am less anxious about downsizing now :) (PS. I am slowly but surely converting to Very Useful Boxes, which I see prominently in use in your collection).

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    1. Glad to provide an excuse for continued expansion of your collection, Ed! :-)
      I quite carefully determined the optimal spacing of the shelves to maximize the storage capacity for the box sizes I use.

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  10. Great shelves for a fantastic collection!

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    1. Thanks for the kind words, Aaron! Glad you like them!

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  11. Wow! Staggering amount of figures you have, Peter! I like the look of the ones you have in the clear bins - clever way to store/display them upside down on the bin tops.

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    1. Thanks, Dean. I would get more of the clear plastic shoeboxes if I could. The plastic is rigid and can break; they disappeared from mthe market by about 1980, replaced by flexible translucent plastic that just doesn't work the same for storage and supply. Started uding the RUB's about 12 years ago.

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  12. Speechless…

    I have shown your collection to the current Mrs Broom, who I suspect will no longer be able to chide me on the amount of space my chaps take up.

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    1. Remember that I have been paining figures since about 1968, and that the oldest fingers seen here date back to about 1973 (very much still in use). Aside from my original Napoleon armies, which were Scrubys and Hinton Hunts, and which I gave away about 30 years ago, I pretty much kept everything that I have ever painted.

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  13. Those old shelf units were certainly good value!

    Like Broomy, I shall show my wife your collection 😁

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    1. Yes, I got a great deal of mileage out of them for sure!

      I still remember being in awe at age 18 of the collection of Charlie Sweet, when Joe, I and others from the University of Connecticut, visited him at his home in Bristol Connecticut, for a game. I think it safe to say that I have quite a few more troops now than Charlie did, although many of his he actually cast himself!

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  14. Very organised Peter, and something I keep thinking I must attempt myself.

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    1. Thanks, Lawrence; it has been a work in progress for 30 years, LOL!

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  15. Splendidly organised collection of lead! The RUBs are an excellent product!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks, Iain. Yes, the RUB's are excellent. I think it was Eric Burgess who first introduced me to them.
      Now, to add labels to them...

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  16. A regular Smithsonian of wargaming. One day you will decide you need a bigger basement.

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    1. The ideal plan is not to exceed the capacity of these existing shelves (oh, well, and the ex-legal shelf unit, now freed up, which can probably hold about 500 - 600 figures... :-)

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  17. I love the organisation part. Yours looks to be functional but yet displays the figures somewhat too.
    Regards, James

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    1. Thanks, James. The RUB are translucent; it would be even better if they were clear!

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