What’s the best way to store collectible toys?

What’s the best way to store collectible toys?
What does your collection mean to you? Is it an investment - something you’ve identified as likely to increase in value in the future? Is it sentimental - a collection of objects you wouldn’t part with no matter what they were worth? Or is it an enjoyable hobby/obsession - something you love doing, and get a thrill from adding more ‘finds’?

Whatever your reason, and whatever your collection comprises, as it grows you’ll need to find space to keep it safe. Storage for collectibles is different from other types of storage, because your collection may hold a sentimental value as well as a financial one. It might not be a case, therefore, of just finding a safe place that’s large enough to hold your collection - storing your collectibles must be done in a way that preserves their quality, too.

Here are some ideas on storing collectibles so that they’ll last a lifetime and beyond.

1. Storing collectibles - general rules

The main threats to your beloved collection are deterioration, damage and theft. Protection against the elements and pests, careful packaging and secure storage are therefore the key features you’ll need to consider when sorting out storage for collectibles.

So, when storing collectibles:
     A. Make sure they’re clean and completely dry. Any damp will cause mould and deterioration to occur and, as collectibles are typically stored for a long time, early (and reversible) signs of deterioration may be missed. 
     B. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight to avoid colours being bleached. 
     C. Fluctuations in temperature can cause havoc with collectibles, so store your collectibles away from radiators or fireplaces, and anywhere in your home that’s affected by damp or cold draughts.
     D. Try not to handle them too much. Grease and any grime that may be on your fingers can cause a lot of damage, so minimise handling your collection, or use plastic gloves when doing so.
     E. Pack them carefully (see below for packaging ideas for different types of collectibles) and choose a storage location where they’re unlikely to be knocked over - keep them out of reach of your children and pets!
     F. Whatever type of storage for collectibles you opt for, ensure that you have an up-to-date valuation carried out annually and ensure that you have adequate insurance in place, in case the worst should happen. Remember, though, that sentimental value is priceless and uninsurable, so bear this in mind when storing your collectibles.

2. Toy storage

Toys make highly valuable collectibles - some because of their financial worth (nostalgia can generate huge demand - and drive prices sky high!), and others because of their sentimental value.

Depending on the nature and size of your collection, you might want to keep it on display, or store it somewhere safe and secure. An everyday toy storage unit in your home (such as a toy chest or bookcase with pull-out storage containers) is great for toys you want to access all the time, but for collectible toy storage, the following guidance may help.

Your toys may be in their original packaging (this not only protects them, it usually adds to their value). Protecting the packaging is almost as important as protecting the toy itself, so ensure that it’s wrapped in bubblewrap and kept inside a plastic, lidded box.

Bear in mind that over time, PVC and soft plastics can start to evaporate, leaving a sticky residue on your toys. To negate this, pierce a couple of tiny air holes in a discreet place in the sealed packaging to allow for some airflow. If your toys are loose, make sure that you pack them individually in boxes that will protect them from pests and damp, yet have enough airflow to prevent stickiness. 

Aim to circulate your toys between storage boxes perhaps once every few months to get some air to them, and to check that they’re showing no signs of deterioration.

For the ultimate in secure toy storage, you could invest in some sealed storage containers that are vacuum packed and made from clear plastic with UV light protection. Whilst non-sealed storage containers need some degree of airflow (to reduce plastic evaporation), sealed containers are designed to fully protect their contents and contain no air, thus preventing evaporation altogether.

These are costly, though, and you might prefer your toy storage to double as a display for your collection - in which case, you could invest in some display cases for your home (if you have space). These will protect your collection from physical damage, and as long as you place them out of direct sunlight and away from a direct heat source, your toys will be safe for a very long time. You can also keep a close eye on your toys, and can easily access them to inspect for any damage or to periodically clean them.

If you’re using external toy storage (such as in a self storage unit), you could store them in resealable plastic storage boxes (e.g. Tupperware boxes) to make them easier to stack. If you choose to do so, make sure each toy is wrapped in cloth or bubblewrap, and label each box so you can find what you’re looking for easily.

3. LEGO storage

There are loads of brilliant LEGO storage ideas on the LEGO site. If you’re looking for LEGO storage for the enormous amount of mixed LEGO bricks amassed by your children over the years, there are tote bag/playmat combos that work well, or you could store them in a large plastic, lidded box. 

More likely, though, if you’re reading an article on storing collectibles, you’ll want LEGO storage ideas that will show off your creations and/or allow you to store your bricks by colour/size for future creations.

IKEA has a range of storage boxes that are designed to work with LEGO pieces, or you could use any kind of drawer storage. Craft shops such as Hobbycraft have shelves and drawer units that are intended for storing things like sewing supplies, buttons and art supplies - there’s no reason why these can’t be adapted for LEGO storage. 

Again, depending on the space available in your house, you could incorporate the storage of your LEGO pieces and models in storage units in your spare room, cupboards or attic, in a display case or on shelves. If you don’t have the space, you could rent a storage unit to keep your LEGO supplies safer and dry until you want to use them. You could even pop a table and chair in your unit and use it as your quiet space for model-building!

4. Teddy storage

What sort of teddies are we talking about here? The teddies that belonged to your children that you can’t bear to throw away (or that they won’t let you?)? Or the sort of highly valuable, collectible teddies that cost a small fortune and only get more valuable with age?

If you’re in need of teddy storage ideas for cherished family cuddlies, consider:
  • Putting them inside vacuum bags, that you can then suck the air out of and store easily, on top of wardrobes, under beds, in the loft or in a self storage unit if you’re worried about them getting damp or exposed to pests at home (just don’t tell the children about their teddies’ lack of air!);
  • Popping them into hammocks that you can suspend from the ceiling in unobtrusive corners of a spare bedroom;
  • Using a hanging storage net for smaller teddies, suspended from a rail in a wardrobe.
For the latter (financially valuable bears), a glass display case is a nice place to keep them, but you’ll need to regularly dust them to keep them at their best. If you’re intending to store them out of sight due to lack of space, as with the toy storage described above, sealed storage containers are ideal but costly. 

You could also consider vacuum-packed storage bags if you’re happy that the bears are clean and dry to begin with; store these in a self storage unit so that you can be sure they’ll be safe from pests, and monitored by security and fire alarms.

5. Vinyl record storage

Handle vinyl records as little as possible, as the natural oil from your fingers can damage them. When you do handle them, hold them by the edge, avoid touching the ridges. Protect them with polyurethane sleeves inside their original card sleeves and keep them dry and out of direct sunlight.

A self storage unit is a great place for these items because you’ll probably lack space at home, and you can store vinyl records upright on shelving in your unit without packing them too tightly together. 

Remember, if you decide to use a self storage unit for storing your collectibles, you can install shelving and cupboards into your empty unit to make the most of the room height and help you to keep everything organised. Try to leave an access path in your unit so that you can reach everything without having to move boxes or shelves aside. Label all of your boxes clearly, and consider keeping a list of what’s in there by the door. 

Wherever you keep your collectibles, make sure they’re fully insured for their true value; take photos of your collection regularly so that you always have an up-to-date record of what you own, in case you ever need to claim against that insurance. Insurance won’t cover you for loss of sentimental value, so take extra care when storing your collectibles to minimise the risk of theft, damage or deterioration.

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