Collectibles Display Tips: Creating Visual Interest on your Shelves

Everyone loves their collectibles and it’s easy to throw them onto a shelf and walk away. It’s another thing to make a display that’s visually pleasing to the eye. If you’re like me and like to collect things of various sizes and shapes, getting them to all fit in a visually interesting way isn’t always easy. So here are a few tips on things that I do in order to keep my shelves from looking too cluttered.

1) Display your items by size: This may sound simple, but you’d be surprised how many collection photos that I see where people have stuff thrown all willy-nilly onto shelves and it’s hard to see anything because larger items have been placed in front of smaller ones.

In terms of figures and toys – put your largest toys in the far back, then layer in your medium sized items, with your smallest items sitting in the front.

2) Mix things up with risers & boxes: The large, medium, small routine doesn’t always work, especially if you have an over abundance of items that are all the same size. Sometimes the best move is to take your items and give them a height advantage. You can do this using boxes, clear acrylic risers (like the ones seen above on my ROTS shelf – they’re 3x3x3.5 inches, or placing things on top of other items – like mugs & glasses.

My Sith shelf is a work in progress and likely won’t stay this way as I unearth more things, but for now I was getting frustrated because I had oodles of the little Japanese bottle caps that were crowding the bottom. So I bought myself a bunch of acrylic risers and began playing around w/ changing how I had them on display. My larger Obi-Wan & Grievous bottle caps still needed to be in the middle so they went up on the risers. Then I was able to move around the smaller items – some went up on risers and underneath them in order to make them appear less crowded.

3) Group like groups together – This shelf was giving me a lot of grief because I have a whole herd of figures that will be coming to add to the shelf once I unearth them. With tons of little figures all over the shelf was really unbalanced w/ giant Sideshow Padme looming over everyone. Enter risers.

Using risers allowed this shelf to suddenly look less like “Attack of the 50 foot Padme” and more like a nice grouping of Clone Wars goodies. Risers can be stacked for more vertical interest to balance Padme. I moved my small collection of CW Padmes together to hang out beside large Padme, and then made a couple of displays with my smaller galactic heroes and bust-ups on the stacking risers. The Clones didn’t fit because of their massive blasters, so they’re hanging out in the front row on the bottom shelf. Now this shelf is ready for my Clone Wars prototypes and animated figures to show up to fill in the rest.

Both of these shelves employ all of the rules posted above. The Yoda shelf would’ve looked silly with one giant Yoda and a bunch of little guys surrounding his feet, so I used boxes to give the next sized Yodas a further height advantage. The one on the right got further boosted w/a riser. Then came the next size/wave of Yodas with the smallest ones in the front. A few tiny Yodas were sprinkled onto the higher levels so that they wouldn’t crowd the bottom.

For the C-2PO shelf Large – medium – small is in place. In the back I used a Burger King glass and a riser to elevate a couple of items. The MacDonalds C-3PO toy was too large to hang in the front, it blocked the view of the items behind it making it perfect to sit atop the glass. The riser helped to make my pretty golden C-3PO Applause mug fully visible and not hiding behind my mini- busts.

As a final tip – visually the shelf looks better if you place your tallest item in the center and then then place your items in descending size around it.


About erikab1123

Hello, I've always loved everything relating to photography. I got my first real 35MM camera when I was in Jr High and have never looked back. I love all things relating to photography - photography and playing with Photoshop!
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