Long story short:
I’m taking over the basement now that the youngest of my stepkids is out of the house1 and turning it into a space for my computer and my nerd stuff.
Read about the first phase of this project here. Now that I’ve built my desk, I’m devoting the rest of the room to my Star Wars action figure army, lightsaber armoury, role-playing game books and everything else I can’t bring myself to part with. I hesitate to call my stuff a “collection” or to refer to myself as a “collector” because the fact of the matter is, I am a serial offender with regards to the first rule of collecting: Thou shalt not open.2
Yes, I know it affects the “value” of my toys, but I don’t buy them as investments, nor am I counting on them to be the basis for my retirement. Having said that, I don’t play with them like I used to play with my old toys, many of which ended up in pieces, melted or damaged beyond repair, but I do like to swing a lightsaber around every now and then, or chase one of the grandkids around the house with a Republic gunship, the Battlestar Galactica or a Nerf gun.
The second phase of my basement project is mostly display surfaces for my things.
About 12 years ago, I built a shelving unit out of 1 x 12 planks of wood that has an acrylic cover on the front to keep the dust out. Sadly, that unit was too tall to fit in the basement with its drop-ceiling, but that’s nothing that couldn’t be solved with a jigsaw, right? So I lopped the top shelf off, trimmed down the sides and used my Dremel to cut the acrylic.
I also had Home Depot cut some more plywood down to make two large shelving units that I could use to display some of my larger pieces, namely my Republic Gunships, Millenium Falcon, AT-AT and starfighter fleet. I assembled these with my nail gun and reinforced the joints with wood glue and screws. Between these two cases are shelves to hold my TV, satellite box, Blu-Ray player and stereo receiver.
When I showed him pictures of what I built, my father pointed out that the size of the shelves limits the size of the TV I can put downstairs, but that’s not really that important to me. First of all, we don’t watch that many movies. Second, when we do, I’ve got a bigger TV in the living room with a surround sound stereo hooked up to it. Plus, I wanted this space more to show off my stuff than have a home theater room.3
I also moved a book case that was in my old room to the basement, and this is holding the books I want to keep and some other things. My wife–who is not a keeper of things–tried to get me to take our old books to a used book store for credit, but they were only going to give me some absurdly-low amount of money for one box of about 50 paperbacks (less than $10), so I took that box, plus eight others to the local public library. I figure that if I’m not going to get anything out of them, I’d rather people be able to read them for free than have a store make money off of them.
My last major building project was a gun rack for my arsenal of Nerf blasters and a wall-mounted stand for my lightsabers.
Then the really fun began.
You wouldn’t believe how much dust can accumulate on an action figure in 15 years, even behind an acrylic door. Well, maybe you can.
I spent the better part of four afternoons/evenings moving all of my action figures and vehicles from my old computer room to the basement, then dusting them and finding a new setting to display them. My wife commented that I must really want them to look nice, since I loathe dusting.
Part of it has to do with my allergies. I swear to Allah/Cthulu/Odin/Yahweh/Zeus that I have been hopped up on Claratin and Sudafed for the last two weeks and I’m getting tired as hell of it. The other part is that short of taking a lot of time to clean out every nook and cranny of the injection-molded plastic, there’s no good way to get it all.
My view on dusting is boils down to this: Dust is like a boa constrictor; if you can see it and it’s not moving, it won’t hurt you.
So my sinuses have been wrestling with an anaconda for a week now.
Initially, I had envisioned building doors on my big cabinets to keep the dust out, but after reading up in some woodworking books/forums and talking with some guys I work with, that’s a very expensive and skill-intensive process. I could probably do it, but for right now, that’s not in the cards.4
Most of my stuff is now moved, although I still need to hang some trim and dress up the rough edges. I bought clear plastic storage bins, some with lids and some without, to hide some of the junk, and I need to figure out what I’m going to do with all of my posters and stuff, but I’d say I’m about 95% done right now.
I cringe at the thought of what my wife has planned for “our” next project. 5
- Plywood – $350
- Wood stain, glue, nails and other supplies – $70
- Storage containers – $45
- Time – about 40 hours
- Action figures, lightsabers, etc. – I don’t even want to think about it
- Very soon he will be off the payroll. ↩
- At Star Wars Celebration VI last year, I was standing in line with my convention exclusive Commander Ganch (the red clone trooper in the pictures) with a very nice couple. We got to talking as nerds are wont to do, and when I mentioned that my new clone trooper would look nice on the shelf, the girl’s eyes got wide at the mere thought of taking a collectible out of its packaging. If I had my dream car (1967 Corvette roadster), I’d take it out and actually drive it, too, not keep it in a climate controlled garage and just stare at it. ↩
- Because then the kids and grandkids might want to come into my room to watch movies. While I don’t mind that, I do mind having to keep an eye on a bunch of 4 and 5 year-olds who will either abuse my toys like I used to or whack one another with my lightsabers. ↩
- Eespecially since I just bought another lightsaber. Don’t tell Mrs. Vraeden. ↩
- Actually, I know what she has planned: “my” former room has a lot of really ugly wood paneling, so that’s coming down, we’re replacing the insulation, hanging drywall and putting in new carpet. And by “we”, I mean “me”. ↩