Sunday, March 29, 2015

Display cases review

Protecting our Creations

I am a firm believer in protecting our creations.  One of the ways to do that is to cover them in glass or plastic.  
When I first started making miniatures, I didn't worry about this.  I was naive to say the least. This was a lesson that I learned the hard way.  As I finished my projects I set them around the house.  Typically on a shelf away from kitties or kiddies.  After a few years some of my minis succumb to the dust.  Real life - my real life - doesn't include dusting every week. There were other effects from being unprotected - color change - although that wasn't as obvious as the dust.
Recently I purchased some additional covers.  I wanted them because I had projects that I never bought covers for and I was displaying them in a public setting so wanted the protection from stray fingers. 
Because I know that it is important to cover and protect and also that I don't have a lot of funds to spend on miniatures period, I am always looking for good solutions at good prices.  

Glass domes

Typically, my local Michael's and Hobby Lobby have two sizes available: 8x12 and 4x8. These two sizes are good, but often I want something shorter than 12 but wider than 4.  My recent purchase was via Amazon. I found a 8x8 dome and base for what I considered a good price.  One thing that I have experienced with domes is that they can be too thin or too thick.  This recent purchase is too thick.  But I will use it.  It isn't as if I can identify that before ordering. If they are too thin, then they break more easily.  I broke a dome trying to open the package it was in.  Search for glass domes 8x8 or other size if looking on Amazon. You will get other sizes as well.
Other domes that I have used are cheese domes.  The disadvantage to these is the knob and how short they are. I made mine into a temporary display.  It didn't come with a base so I made one from foam core board.

Glass cases

I have a wood and glass basketball case that I got second hand.  These are the kinds that M and HL carry nowadays.  I have not really wanted these because of the big wood trim around, but since I have one now, I am not as bothered by it.  The advantage to buying at M or HL, I love using their coupons.  But I still consider them pricey.  I just have to remind myself these are an investment in my art.  
There are other types of glass cases - the seamless ones.  I don't have any of those.  Never found one that I wanted to use.  
The big disadvantage to any glass case/dome is the weight.  But the pro is that the glass is easier to clean, although glass can be scratched.
In addition to HL and M or ebay, can get these at Amazon too.


When it comes to plastic, I have been leery of buying these.  But thanks to a product called Brillianize, I am more likely to use plastic if it fits the size I need.  This product allows one to clean the plastic and polishes it as well.  It does need to be used with a soft cloth and not something like paper towels. I got mine at Amazon as well.  I ordered Brillianize with the soft cloths.
My new favorite plastic case is a football case 11.5x7x7.  I have tried two brands with same style: UltraPro and BallQube.  I got both from Amazon at different times.  These are two U shaped pieces that fit together snugly.  Dust protection this has.  They do come in a UV version for a few more dollars and it may be worth those extra if we think about the colorfast aspect.  UV protection will delay fading.  I don't know timing so this is just a consideration.
Both of these brands in the football case have round circles on the small ends.  Don't be fooled by pics that don't show these circles as they will have them.  These are to hold a football in place.  I believe they are molded in so unlikely to be removed easily or even giving a clear view if force-ably removed by say a moto tool.  
I used this for my Nursery Rhymes project. Although these pics do not show the round thing one can see the U shaped aspect.  The round thing I worked around so that when the case is closed over the project it doesn't obstruct the view of anything.  Which just means that as I added the three blind mice, I made sure they weren't under the darn round thing.
I do recommend that one open the box immediately upon arrival.  Inspect the plastic case closely.  My first one was damaged, but it was several weeks from arrival to when I removed the plastic covering.  I took it from the cardboard, but not the thin plastic.  

A slightly smaller size - is designed for a mini football helmet 7x5x5.  I have one of each of these brands.  In this size, I am going to stick with using one from BallQube.  It is made just like the football size one - but without the round circles for the end of the football.  The UltraPro version I have has edges that flare.  Think of an H on its side that is a box.  These flares aren't a problem, just looks and style wise BallQube is my preferred style.  
One of my 1:48 houses has needed a case for awhile.  I decided that if I was willing to chop off the corners of the roof, I could get it to fit in a 4x8 dome.  But thankfully with the new BallQube mini football helmet one that chopping is unnecessary. 
My local HL also has a third style by Pioneer Plastics.  This style is two pieces.  The bottom fits up into the cover.  The cover has boxy edges.  I used one in this style that is baseball size.  At the link, you can't see it in the box, but can see the base. This is a fine cover depending on what goes in it.  This brand comes in a variety of sizes, basketball, football, baseball, mini football helmet, softball and maybe even golf ball.  Depending on the packaging some have an extra plastic base usually in black.  My local HL has them without the base in the basketball size for around $20.

I also have used 4x4x4 cubes.  These I got mine from Uline which meant I had to buy a full case. I think I have seen these at the local hobby chain stores.  They are two part compuression fit with a more typical box and lid style.  I have used these frequently for my smaller scale projects. 
There are also this similar size that are two u shaped pieces - the old style photo cube. I pick these up even if slightly scratched and use them as risers when I display things.

One size that I am searching for is 6x6.  I have two cases (5x5x5 ) that I got on clearance from HL years ago.  These are really nice cases with a wood base.  I haven't seen anything like them but could be am looking in the wrong place.  They may have been intended for softball display but would give more room than softball requires.  Works fine for me of course.
Another solution I have tried is plastic doll cases.  There are different types.  One style I tried was a molded black plastic base, flexible plastic sides (they come flat) with a molded clear plastic cover.  These have a flimsyness about them, that I have steered away from. But one advantage is that even if too tall, they can be easily cut down.  However, don't let you cats knock them over - as they can crack.  
I also recently purchased a doll/car case at my local hobby chain store 12.5x5x5.  This one is two piece compression fit as well.  The base (back for dolls) fits up into the lid.  I bought two of these at M and they hold several projects at once.  They aren't  tall laid this way, so hence having more than one project in same case.  I would be unlikely to use this as they show for dolls the long side up and down as a dome would suit my tastes better.
Another type of case to look for is ones designed for displaying cars.  These are best for one story 1:48 scale.  

Of course another option is a custom made case.  Prices vary here, so check more than one site.  I bought one about 10 years ago from a miniaturist.  Sadly that person is no longer with us, but I know there are others out there.

There are of course many other sizes and I have used some of them.  Included a compression fit 2x2x3 to make small rooms for 1:48 scale, gift display boxes - the ones with the black base is the bottom, not an extra thing.  All of these will work, it all depends on the size of the project. 

Other sources for cases besides the local hobby stores like Hobby Lobby and Michael's and online like Amazon or ebay are sport shops and thrift stores.  Also any place that sells collectibles might have different sizes and styles.  When it comes to thrift stores this is always hit or miss, but I have gotten some great deals this way. 

Bases can be then made from foam core board, builders foam, wood (if you have the right equipment), cake stands or candle stands.  

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