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How to Build a Tiered Minimate Shelf

Posted by Luke Porter on 9/10/2015 to How To

I put a lot of thought into how I wanted to display my Minimates collection. I didn't want it to take up too much space, and I wanted to see all of the characters - even the ones in the back of the collection. I also wanted it to be versatile and customizable. I came up with a tiered display system that is completely made up of Legos. 

This has been my set-up for over 6 years now, and I still love it. I have gotten a lot of requests over the years on the specific configuration and Legos used. This post will give you detailed instructions on building this tiered display system, and will offer some tips on other modifications you could make.

How to build it

This display is built in rows, and the base of each row is composed of 4x8 Lego plates (I will cover where to buy these in a later section). The first thing you need to do is measure your display area's length and depth. Each 4x8 plate is 2.5" long. Figure out how many you can fit horizontally, and that is how many plates long your rows will be. Each plate is 1.25" deep, but you want to leave 0.50" in between rows for characters with big capes behind them or large guns in front of them, so plan on 1.75" per row. Figure out how many rows deep you can fit, and that is how many rows you will be creating. You can see in the photo above that my shelves all have 4 rows.

Start with your 4x8 plates and lay them out horizontally:

Next, put another layer on top of these, offsetting the first row by half a plate (4 studs). This will keep the row held together, and will make it easier to move and change later.

Now put 4x4 Lego plates on the end caps:

Now you can begin putting 2x2 Lego bricks on top of the plates. Leave 3 studs open in between. You will see why later.

For each row deep, you will want to go 1-2 bricks higher so that the characters are visible in the back.

The first row will receive no bricks. Now you can start adding the stands. Leave a small gap (1 stud) in between stands. This is helpful for characters with wide capes, or bulked-up characters. This style of stand has the studs in the back row, which is what I use. You can start adding the stands to the tops of the bricks in the other rows. Center the stands on the brick.

There is another style of stand that is slightly less deep, and has the studs in the middle. It comes down to personal preference and what quantity of stands are available at any time (see the Where to Buy section below).

Now you are ready to add your Minimates! I recommend starting with the back row first, and working your way to the front, so you don't knock any figures down in the process.

Minimate Display Tips

  • Some character's feet will not work well on the studs - use a tiny bit of display putty on top of the stud.
  • Some bulked-up characters do not fit well on either type of stand. In that case, I use a 4x4 plate, along with some display putty on their feet.
  • To swap out a character, I find it works best to remove the entire stand with bricks, attach the new character, and replace it in the original position.
  • If your display area is longer than 25", I recommend building these in more than one section. It makes it much easier to make modifications later.
  • I dust my shelves once per year. I take everything off, and use dust wipes or a damp rag to clean these.
  • Adding some LED lights to your display really makes it come alive. You can see how I added lights to my display  here.

Where to Buy

I buy all of my Lego parts from  BrickLink.com, which is kind of like an eBay site for Lego parts, with different sellers offering different parts for different prices. It has an incredibly useful feature called the Wanted List. After you sign up for a free account, you can add parts to your Wanted List, and even put in the quantity you are looking for. Then it will match you up with sellers who have what you need. Here is the list of parts used in this display:

Make sure to check if the seller has a minimum order amount, and you can also filter by sellers in your country to save on shipping. You can also check out for parts at Lego's official store at  shop.lego.com.

Here are the original videos I made about my shelves from a few years ago:

Good luck with your displays!

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