Storing and organising our LEGO are problems we all face and it can become a major headache as your collection grows. There seems to be very few products on the market that are perfect for the job and affordable in quantity so most of us make do with whatever we can find that's at the right price.
Recently there has been discussion in the forum about what an ideal LEGO storage system would look like and in it I mentioned that I was looking into acquiring some Really Useful scrapbook drawers, which are a relatively new product. I've now bought two so I thought it would be useful to post something here about them.
Really Useful Products will be very familiar to those in the UK as a manufacturer of high quality and attractive plastic storage boxes in a wide variety of sizes. I'm sure virtually every AFOL in the country has at least one being used to house some of their LEGO collection. I'm don't know how widely available they are in other countries but the website does appear to serve a number of others.
As well as the familiar boxes with lids held on by clip handles it also produces drawer systems that can be stacked to any height. Recently a new range has been introduced to accommodate the larger paper sizes typically used by scrapbookers (12" square, I believe) which doesn't fit in the standard range.
What makes them particularly suitable for use for LEGO storage is that an insert is available that's the full height of the drawer which divides it into 15. Such an insert is not available for the standard sized drawers, the one available is only half-height, which might be suitable for some storage applications, but didn't suit mine.
I ordered a couple of ten-high towers and inserts for every drawer in which I intended to store my bricks and plates in the 10 basic LEGO colours. With inserts they work out at about £10 a drawer which sounds expensive and soon adds up but when compared to the value of the parts stored within I think it's pretty cost-effective and money well spent.
The internal dimensions of the drawer are 320 wide x 370 deep which when divided 3 x 5 provides 15 compartments 105x70 mm, 80mm deep. This makes them large enough for anything up to 12 studs long, so as a result my 2x16 plates are stored elsewhere. 15 compartments are not enough to house every size of common plate, so I've had to double up a few sizes (1x12s go in with 1x10s and 2x10s and 2x12s are combined, small round plates are mixed)
The dividers are fixed which has advantages and disadvantages, of course. On the plus side, it's impossible to accidently remove the one between the 1x1 and 1x2s which would result in a tedious sorting job, but on the downside they can't be reconfigured to accommodate larger parts. On balance, I'm glad they are fixed.
The compartments are large and deep which is excellent for storing a lot of the same part but not so good for small quantities of different parts because it would be a nuisance having to dig around in them, potentially spilling parts over the sides, while you hunt for the one you're after. So, ideal for basic bricks and plates but not for, say, minifig accessories.
Are they the last word in LEGO storage systems?
- They are made of a high quality plastic that's softer than ABS (so won't scratch it) and are manufactured to a high standard
- They are relatively inexpensive, particularly when compared to systems designed for industrial use
- Without inserts the drawers hold 9 litres and are perfect for storing large bulky parts or vast quantities of the same part
- With inserts they are particularly suitable for storing a fair quantity of basic parts that you probably have plenty of
- But, the compartments are too large to effectively store a large number of different small parts.
- When retrieving parts you are not hindered by lids and don't need to pull the whole drawer out to get at them, which you do if using a tower of regular RU boxes.
- There's no end-stop or catch, so care must be taken when withdrawing the drawer fully to avoid dropping the contents on the floor.
- It's a shame that the compartments don't fit 16-stud long parts in them.
So, no they are not, but they are perfect for some applications. They certainly fit the bill for what I use them for but I will continue to use my smaller drawers for specialised parts. However, if and when I can find space to squeeze a couple more towers in my room I'll buy them for slopes and tiles.
If drawers half the height were also available, with inserts that divided them into 20 or so, Really Useful Products would have almost every LEGO storage eventuality covered.
What do you use to store your LEGO? Let us know in the comments. Include a URL to an image or the supplier if you can.