Advice Needed: Putting Props Into Storage

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MattgomeryBurns

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Looking for advice from those of you who've had to pack up their props for longterm storage. My fiancé and I are expecting our first child so our guest room is turning into a nursery, and that means my collection will be getting packed up to make room for a home office where it currently sits in the loft. I'll be putting my props into a storage facility for the next year or 2 till we move to a bigger place.

When it comes to packing, I've kept the original boxes that came with props from company-produced items like HCG, but a lot of my pieces are custom bits from the fine makers here on the rpf. So they'll need their own boxes.

A couple questions I have:
  • Would you pack each prop into its own box, then fill up a larger box with them?
  • Would you line the boxes with a large plastic bag before adding the packing material and props to protect them from outside elements?
  • Cardboard boxes or plastic bins?
  • Is climate controlled storage worth it compared to a regular indoor storage facility?
  • Is there a difference in wrapping props with bubble wrap or butcher paper?
  • Anything I need to be aware of when storing props that have electronic components, other than removing batteries?
  • What am I forgetting?
I don't want to break the bank with all these materials, but I'm willing to spend a little money to make sure my props come out of storage undamaged.
I recently received a package that was protected inside with this packing material called Instapak Quick that custom fits to what's inside the box. I was impressed but it's pretty pricey. That could be an option for some odd sized pieces.
Here's how it works:

Open to hearing your suggestions. Thanks!
 

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Rik1138

Sr Member
Keep in mind that, I assume, it will be YOU moving these things from home to storage and back... So the kind of packing people use to survive the postal service is likely not necessary. Even just a layer of paper towels between items might be enough, depending on the item. Snuggle them all together in a box or bin, and just be careful not to over-stack them (especially cardboard boxes). And keep track of the heavier, unbreakable items vs the fragile ones. Don't want to store your bowling balls on top of glass sculptures. :) Extra care for really fragile things, but most things can probably live with other things in the same box...

Now, for paranoia mode: I have, at one time or another, been on the 'receiving end' of all of these issues...

That being said, every item can react differently to various materials and chemicals. Bubble wrap can stick to paint, even paint that seems to be completely dry/cured. (And sometimes paint on resin molded pieces never seems to completely cure, even after years.) Resin items themselves can get sticky if stored in a warm/humid locations if the resin wasn't mixed perfectly, or was possibly old. I had a resin replica prop for years with no problems at all, even handling it. But after one day left in the trunk of my car (by accident too, totally forgot I put it in there) it looked like it was bleeding liquid resin. I ended up just throwing it away as nothing would stop it, and the chemical basically dissolved all the paint it touched. nasty mess...
I have two other props that seem to have perpetually sticky paint. You can't really tell by touch, but if I leave them on a table for a few days, they stick to it (and the pattern of the table, if there is one, becomes visible in the paint). I carefully wrap them in wax paper first before anything else. That seems to be the only thing that won't stick to them (or the paper you remove from the back of a sticker).

So with regards to these questions: What do I wrap it with, and do I need climate control, those can be prop specific.

And where do you live? If the inside of the storage building could get over 80+ degrees in the summer/daytime, you want climate control. Excessive jumps from hot to cold over the year can discolor plastics/resins, melt styrofoam (and cause your props stored in styrofoam to literally sink into it), can deteriorate and discolor stickers and adhesives, and can cause cracks between parts made of different materials (like a plastic piece glued or bolted to a resin piece or something)...

Also, nothing in cardboard boxes on the floor of the storage unit. Assume, for some reason, it will flood and you will have a layer of water on the floor. Protect against that. If the unit has ceiling sprinklers for fire suppression, I'd stick with all plastic storage bins, with single solid lids (not those hinged ones that meet in the middle).

I've had collections of one type or another in storage units for over 20 years... In the heat of south Texas for a while. That's the kind of stuff I've seen and think about with it all... :)

And do NOT forget to take out the batteries!!!
 

MattgomeryBurns

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Rik1138 this is excellent advice! Much appreciated. I didn't even think about avoiding cardboard boxes on the floor.

I'm based in LA, so the weather is pretty mild on the Westside where I live. Although it does tend to get into the upper 80s in late Sept/early Oct.
 

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Riceball

Master Member
I'd also be careful of what goes on top of what. With LA heat, your storage area may get a few degrees (or more) hotter than the outside temp which may cause some props (depending on the material) to soften just enough so that something heavier on top of might distort it a bit. This shouldn't be an issue with good solid resin props but softer plastics of hollow ones might more vulnerable to heat.
 

scarf man

Sr Member
I suggest acid free tissue paper for fragile props, as newspaper or similar cheap papers may react with paint or plastics. Bubble wrap is a good option as well, but will cost more and can have its own adverse issues. I've learned over the years, from my other hobby of collecting Kenner Star Wars figures, that plastic off-gassing can become an issue. Depending on the age and quality of a particular plastic, degradation can become a real problem in enclosed spaces, so keep that in mind as well. Congratulations on your impending bundle of joy.
 

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animator

Well-Known Member
Looking for advice from those of you who've had to pack up their props for longterm storage. My fiancé and I are expecting our first child so our guest room is turning into a nursery, and that means my collection will be getting packed up to make room for a home office where it currently sits in the loft. I'll be putting my props into a storage facility for the next year or 2 till we move to a bigger place.

Congratulations on the impending addition to the family!
 

chazzychaz

Well-Known Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
My wife and I recently sold our condo in preparation to build our dream home. I packed all my props in bubble wrap and then layered bubble wrap between layers. most of my props are lightsabers. I disconnected batteries packed all in uhaul boxes. its very dry here in Idaho so no mold to worry about. If you live in moist climate I would suggest silica gel packs. Good luck
 

MattgomeryBurns

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Buy 100 silica packs on amazon for under $9. Toss a couple in each box to absorb humidity. But go with climate control storage and have the silica as back up.
I didn't even think of this, thanks!

I suggest acid free tissue paper for fragile props, as newspaper or similar cheap papers may react with paint or plastics. Bubble wrap is a good option as well, but will cost more and can have its own adverse issues. I've learned over the years, from my other hobby of collecting Kenner Star Wars figures, that plastic off-gassing can become an issue. Depending on the age and quality of a particular plastic, degradation can become a real problem in enclosed spaces, so keep that in mind as well. Congratulations on your impending bundle of joy.
Great to know, thank you.

Congratulations on the impending addition to the family!
Thanks! I might sneak a few Items into the nursery ;)

Remember not to go too tall, the box on the bottom can only take so much weight. And while it will be fine initially, you might come back in 6 months and find the bottom box slowly collapsing, which will eventually cause the whole stack to fall over.
Great point.
 

RedheadKevin

Active Member
Crate them up and move them to a storage facility in Nevada
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el toro

Sr Member
I recently packed several props into storage space also. I placed everything in original boxes if applicable and then stored them in large rectangular plastic storage bins from home depot. The plastic bins are meant to keep out cardboard- and glue- eating critters and protect against the fire sprinklers going off (provided there isn’t a serious fire). btw I bought the same bins as recommended by the nytimes article - Home Depot HDX Tough Storage Totes. They’re relatively inexpensive and the 55-gallon ones fit nicely into a 5’x5’ storage space.

Also, I checked with my insurance to cover everything in storage. In addition, I’m using two industrial locks to dissuade potential thieves. Also check the ceiling of your unit to make sure it has a solid steel ceiling and not a hard mesh one.
I paid for several years up front in order to lock in a good price, and to avoid the wild monthly price fluctuations that are common.
I elected for climate control, as I live in an area with harsh winters and humid summers. I used to live in LA and my parents and siblings all live there though so I’m familiar with your weather. I guess you could get away without climate control as you’re close to the beaches and not in the sweltering Valley. Btw my storage space maintains the temperature at around 70 degrees.
Finally I checked the reviews for numerous storage places and most of them had terrible reviews. Just do your homework before settling on a unit.
 
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MattgomeryBurns

Sr Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
I recently packed several props into storage space also. I placed everything in original boxes if applicable and then stored them in large rectangular plastic storage bins from home depot. The plastic bins are meant to keep out cardboard- and glue- eating critters and protect against the fire sprinklers going off (provided there isn’t a serious fire). btw I bought the same bins as recommended by the nytimes article - Home Depot HDX Tough Storage Totes. They’re relatively inexpensive and the 55-gallon ones fit nicely into a 5’x5’ storage space.

Also, I checked with my insurance to cover everything in storage. In addition, I’m using two industrial locks to dissuade potential thieves. Also check the ceiling of your unit to make sure it has a solid steel ceiling and not a hard mesh one.
I paid for several years up front in order to lock in a good price, and to avoid the wild monthly price fluctuations that are common.
I elected for climate control, as I live in an area with harsh winters and humid summers. I used to live in LA and my parents and siblings all live there though so I’m familiar with your weather. I guess you could get away without climate control as you’re close to the beaches and not in the sweltering Valley. Btw my storage space maintains the temperature at around 70 degrees.
Finally I checked the reviews for numerous storage places and most of them had terrible reviews. Just do your homework before settling on a unit.

I sorta overlooked the Home Depot HDX Tough Storage Totes, but they look so much more affordable than the Iris Weathertight Totes.
Great call on the insurance. And I'll keep an eye out for the ceiling materials. Great advice all around - everyone has given solid pointers. Much appreciated.
 

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