Posts Tagged ‘LEGO sorting’

Storing your LEGO

February 4, 2014

So I just recently was asked on my Facebook page about how to properly store your LEGO. What’s the best way to sort them? By part? By color? By kits? Just dump it all in a box?

Well, I wish there was a simple solution, some magical formula that I could give you that would instantly be the answer. Unfortnately, as most AFOLs (Adult Fans of LEGO) know, there is no magic formula. And sorting and storing your LEGO will change as your collection changes (and most likely grows).

The solutions that worked for me when I was a child, heck the solutions that worked even 5-10 years ago, won’t work for me now and I will have to reevaluate it probably in another 5 years or so — if not sooner.

When I was a kid, I kept all my LEGO in one box, but early on I realized how frustrating it was to find that one particular piece, as it was always at the bottom of the box. So by age 11 I had started sorting my LEGO to a small degree.

Now, I sort and store my LEGO by part and color. My storage system is certainly on the extreme side, very similar to the storage system that I had when I was a Master Model Builder at LEGOLAND California. But I need such a system as I literally build day in and day out. I have to know where all my parts are at all times.

Most of my LEGO are in drawers like these
LEGO Room 6

And my desk looks like this
LEGO Room 2

LEGO Room 3

Now it is rarely this clean, as I tend to be a messy builder.

When I was younger I just had 4 of these “nuts and bolts” drawers (I call them that since you usually find them in hardware stores) where I stored all my little LEGO elements — weapons, feathers, food, etc. As you can see that set of 4 has grown…

Here’s a close up of the “nuts and bolts” drawers
LEGO Storage 4

I also have a fairly large collection of these official LEGO storage drawers (which unfortunately they are phasing out)

LEGO Storage 2

I like to keep one element per set of trays, its a nice way of seeing how many of what color you have.

I have a lot of the LEGO drawers and containers, as you can see in this picture.
LEGO Room 1

This is in no way all my LEGO, and I have tons that still needs sorting (which is a constant problem for me).

But enough about me, what’s the best thing for you to do? Well as most of you probably don’t have quite as much LEGO as I do, there are some steps you can take to solve your storage problems.

1) Sort by part, not color — its much easier to find a particular color in a bin than a particular element type in a sea of one color. You don’t have to have everything super sorted like I have it. You can put similar things together — technic parts, tiles, clips, etc.

2) If it is your child’s collection, involve them in the sorting and storage process or it will never work — You can have all the LEGO perfectly sorted for your child, but unless they are involved, and actively sorting the bricks themselves, it won’t work. The only reason my LEGO sorting has worked for over 25 years is that I was the one who initiated it when I was younger. My parents didn’t care how I stored my LEGO, but I did, as I took my collection seriously from a very early age.

3) Don’t keep your LEGO sorted by kit — unless you are an adult collector that wants to keep them organized this way, I highly discourage keeping your LEGO by the kits they came in. The whole point of LEGO is to mix them up. The new LEGO Movie addresses this very issue.

4) Sort them by how you build — depending on your building style, that can determine your sorting and storage system. If you are a car builder you want lots of wheels, tires, rims, etc. If you build castles you want castle walls, gray elements, roof elements, etc. Since I build anything and everything, that is why I have a super sorted collection. But the things I use with regularity — bricks, plates, tiles, etc — are in the easy to reach places while the things I hardly ever use — castle parts, technic, wheels, etc — are accessible, but not in easy reach.

5) Start your storage and sorting small — You don’t have to do it all at once. I’ve been doing it since I was 11, and my storage system is constantly changing as my collection grows and fluctuates. You can just get a few “nuts and bolts” drawers, a few containers. Then as your collection changes your storage can change.

As a side note there are a couple Flickr groups about LEGO sorting — LEGO Storage Extravaganza and LEGO Sorting

So, what do you do to sort and store your LEGO?

Sorting — What not to do

July 29, 2012

I don’t know if you’ve seen this video or not. On one hand it looks impressive. And sure, a huge pile of LEGO poured onto the floor and then sorted out is pretty impressive to the uninitiated. A true AFOL however, is not uninitiated. If you have any sort of large collection and if you’ve bought any large quantity of LEGO at one time you’ve done your own fair amount of sorting.

Now lets examine the video. Sure there’s 100 LEGO boxes, but from the looks of it, they are all the same LEGO box. And sure, ripping open all the plastic bags and dumping them on the floor may look dramatic, but its not very effective or logical.

LEGO bricks come in sets of bags in a box. These bags are either sorted by steps (i.e. — 1, 2, 3, etc.) or in size. These sets look to be one of the basic creator brick boxes. So its just basic bricks in different colors and sizes. If they are in fact the same LEGO set, as these seem to be, the more logical thing is to open all the same types of bags. So then instead of going through a huge pile you have a smaller pile but with all the same types of parts.

What is more difficult is when you have to sort an assortment of various sets that have very little in common. Now of course everyone has their own process of how to sort and store their LEGO. I even wrote about sorting a couple of years ago.

I am in fact currently in the process of sorting quite a lot of LEGO. Its not 100 sets, but its probably in the range of at least 30 and up to maybe 50. I’m not sure as I didn’t really count the amount of sets. But these are not the same set and that makes a big difference in how I sort them. In this case, you have to do levels of sorting. Not just one large sort. You can’t even really do that with any sort of practicality, there would just be too many pieces. And, you have to remember, I sort everything by piece and color.

So my first step is to sort into — plates, bricks and “other.” Something like this —
Presort 1
And before you ask, yes those are full and no, that isn’t all the LEGO I have to sort.

Once all the elements are in their pre-sorted state. I go to the next level. The bricks and plates get sorted by size — 1×1, 1×2, etc. Then they get sorted by color and get put away (yay!). The “other” is more complicated. I sort them out into tiles, slopes, minifig accessories, etc. Then I sort them out by size or style, then by color (if needed) and finally they get put away too.

So your sorted elements can look something like this:

I know it sounds like a lot of work, and it is, but when you need to be able to get the exact part you want, exactly when you want it, as you are building, it makes all the work worth it. 😉