I’ve mentioned this before, but the lack of cost-effective LEGO minifigure display cases has bothered me since I started collecting them. Putting my minifigs safely away in a cupboard just isn’t what I imagined for my collection. Things changed last week when I was doing one of my periodic searches for ideas on where to buy or how to make such a display case. It was on this search that I learnt the term ‘shadow box’, which is essentially a deep picture frame.
Fortune favoured me as another search turned up some shadow box-type frames on sale at Makro. So I picked up three of these for R130 each and started working on a plan to convert them to suitable display cases (with my dad’s help). They weren’t deep enough, and lacked an obvious essential – shelves.
The next step was a trip to the hardware store to collect some suitable materials to increase the depth of the frames and to add shelves. We also picked up some backing board that was a bit more sturdy than the cardboard that came with the picture frames.
After cutting out all the wooden pieces, first to form the frame the increase the depth of the box, and then the shelves, the parts were nailed and/or glued in place using professional tools such as empty craft beer bottles. As it turns out, these were perfect for even spacing of the shelves. The bottom shelf was made a bit bigger (using larger bottles!) for those minifigs with fancy hats or large weapons that wouldn’t fit in the normal shelves.
Once the glue dried, it was time to paint everything white to match the original picture frames. I gave the important parts that would be visible (shelves, backing board, outer edges) two coats of paint, and gave one coat to the original frame as well to make sure the whites matches. Once all of that was dry, I cut up a large grey LEGO baseplate and glued the strips to the individual shelves. We used silicone to glue the glass of the original picture frame into place.
Finally, when everything was dry, I arranged the minifigs into the first complete case. The back is designed to attach to the front with screws, so that they can be opened if need be. The first is shown below. All three completed cases are shown at the top of this post.