Fresh Ideas for Compact & Protective Console Game Storage

RB Retro Collecting Interview 010

Check out Interviews #1 , #2#3 , #4 , #5, #6 (Xavier’s first interview about his arcade-powered collection), #7 #8 & #9

One of my online buddies, Xavier, known on Instagram as RetroEscape, has a strong arcade focus in his home gaming collection (as you can read in his first interview), but console games are still quite important to him.  But all that requires a lot of storage and he has a non-typical approach to storage.  Because this approach is so different than most of the “glamour” pictures you see on social media, I wanted to make sure to share this discussion and pictures in more detail with a follow-up interview.

Even if you like more of a “display” element to game storage, you might still pick up some ideas for how to store your “extras”.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and follow-up questions in the comments below.    Lets dig in…

Basic Bio:

  • Name: Xavier
  • Age – 42
  • Current Location:
  • Collecting for: 36 years (mostly accumulating since a kid)

How do you think your collection or hardware setup differs from the typical retro collection? 

My collection differs because I own games and consoles/systems I am interested in playing and don’t collect for the sake of collecting or having a “complete set” for a console/system, I have had specific targeting ever since I was a kid. The vast majority of the console/games collection (90%+) is not “preowned”, I’m the only owner and the condition shows. I’m very fortunate that my father was a huge record (LPs) and compact disc collector decades ago and by watching him as a child I’ve used and improvised his preservation and storage techniques to maintain the hardware and software for decades. I know what works and what doesn’t. As an example – Did you know that those PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) Video Game Box Protectors scratch CD Jewel Cases? Especially the larger, long jewel cases (known as “longboxes”) for the Sega CD, Sega Saturn and original PlayStation games. Solution – I place the games in a sealed Mylar Bag then place them in the PET Box Protector.

Could you just riff a bit on if your overall perspective on storage vs display and your personal view on collecting.  

As far as the Storage vs. Display routine we have to go back in time to when I was a teenager, during the inception of the 32-bit era, the 3DO to be exact. Why the 3DO? Till the 3DO came along the largest console game cases I had to deal with were the Sega CD long cases. With the Sega CD and anything prior like the Atari(s), NES, SNES, TG-16 and the Sega Genesis I had them on an old bookshelf. The TurboGrafx-16 game cases were absolutely perfect to store, CD Jewel Case size and at that time there were so many options due to the Audio Compact Disc in general, I had a plastic Case Logic CD container to take care of that.

With the bookshelf just search the console section and take out the game you wanted to play which was in alphabetical order. After some time though I noticed the bookshelf shelves started to bow as it was a cheaper unit, and after so many years, dusting the bookshelf was becoming a real chore that I didn’t look forward to. It was time for change…

With 3DO games I had to buy my first plastic container to house and especially protect the games. Why protect? I had a friend at the time that was the only other person that owned the 3DO and his game boxes were falling apart, the EA games breaking from the seams and the plastic corners all busted, the cardboard boxes getting creases and not holding up….not good. This had to be addressed in order to preserve the packaging. I had the game boxes in the large plastic container and I had the games in their own CD Jewel Cases so I wouldn’t have to put any wear and tear on the originals. Problem solved.

Some of the items he has on display outside of the storage containers

Another great solution occurred since they were in the large plastic container I didn’t have to $#@&ING dust them anymore! After this I transferred the majority of my then collection to plastic containers and anything that was a CD Jewel Case was placed in a jewel case container that had a flip-down lid to show the game titles.

Life was a little better at least for a little while…Till 32-bit was in full swing and the attack of the fragile plastic longbox cases came to be – North American Sega Saturn and the first run of PSX games. For this and SNK Neo Geo AES it’s time to get some furniture. A credenza to be exact. The unit houses anything out of scope in size including boxed consoles.
Fast forward to today and the best advice I can give…After decades of accumulating consoles and games I have almost everything in some sort of container that conforms to the packaging form factor, and utilize an EverDrive/Optical Drive Emulator (or similar device) to mitigate any damage and/or stress to a game’s original packaging.

Do you have any games on display at all?  Or if its purely having out what you’re in the middle of playing?

For display I have duplicates of games that aren’t in “Like New” condition, same goes for consoles I have out to play games, the most beat up consoles are out and connected but not in all cases. For games that I don’t have a duplicate of, I only have the game out when I’m playing it, same goes for Arcade game boards.

When I’m not playing it, it’s “stored”. As far as finding, accessing “stored” games I maintain an Excel spreadsheet as to where it is located, but I have a general idea as to where it is as the majority is stored based on the console. Sega Genesis is boxed with Sega Genesis, GameCube with GameCube, etc. Loose carts? Again containers that conform to the cartridge form factor. Sega Master System/Genesis trading card boxes. Something larger in size? Plastic containers.

So how do you go about making sure your storage and organization is ideal?

Sure.  So, the other aspect of storing “boxed” games is how to arrange the game so no damage can happen.  North American Sega CD/Sega Saturn long cases/boxes, especially the games that didn’t come with a foam insert?  I lay them down flat with the manual facing down, this will prevent the manual from warping.  CD Jewel Case, DVD style cases like PSX, Japanese Sega Saturn, Xbox, GameCube, PS2?  I pay attention to the orientation of the manual (how is the manual held in place within the casing) within the case and place them where the manual won’t bang into the case insert (manual) holders and try to keep them as flat as possible again to prevent any kind of warping.

Ok, so lets dig into the supplies and materials you use for storing your games
Aside from the storage containers I have the games protected utilizing Polyethylene or Mylar (better) sleeves/bags and PET Game Box/Case Protectors . With the Game Box/Case Protectors you have to be careful, as these can and will scratch any and all plastic cases such as CD sized Jewel cases and Long Box Cases as I detailed in a previous earlier. For the Long Boxes/Cases I place the case in a Mylar (poly) sleeve preventing any scratching then place the game in the PET protector. For CD sized Jewel cases I just store them in a Poly sleeve/bag and into a container, no Game Box Protector needed.

Storing Game Media (CDs, DVDs, Cartridges)

For the majority of my storage supplies I shop at Bags Unlimited.

My father has bought from them for ages, since the 1980’s and not a single product as ever let the two of us down.
To store CDs, DVD sized cases, SNES, N64, Jaguar, other odds and ends and even Neo Geo MVS carts:
ULTRA BOXX Plastic Corrugated CD/ DVD BIG Box

I buy the following to seal/protect cases from them as well, they offer many sizes:
Poly Sleeves – From Bags Unlimited (see also Amazon CD and DVD poly Sleeves  and eBay for Poly Sleeves)

For those PET Box protectors I buy from Press Start Games (they used to be known as RetroGameFreak), unfortunately they are overseas (Holland) and shipping can be very pricey. I have tested many different protectors and by far they are the best quality. One thing to watch out for is since they are in Europe, if you buy say Sega Saturn protectors it’s manufactured for the European sized cases, same for Dreamcast.

For Complete-In-Box Sega Genesis cases I use the following, very secure and holds 12 games per case and love the way they stack and the fact they have latches to secure the lids.
KIS Bi-Box S Storage Box from Home Depot

For loose Sega Genesis, SMS and even 32X I use trading card boxes you can pickup at your local comicbook shop (or on Amazon or eBay), I recommend taking a cart to test as sizes vary. I prefer the ones that have two rows as the boxes are easily stackable, and the boxes retain their strength over time whereas boxes with three or four rows become weak over time.

For other loose carts such as SNES, N64, Atari and yes you can use these for Sega too I have these smaller Sterile containers. Very stackable and very portable.
Sterilite 18058606 Large Flip Top, Clear, 6-Pack on Amazon

Also, these have proven to work well as well for larger items, has latches to properly secure the lids and once again are stackable, NES carts can be placed standing up which is great cause you’ll be able to select a game easily:
Sterilite 15 Quart Stadium Blue Latch Box at Walmart 

High-Protective Storage of Valuable Game Items

Now for the nuclear storage option and for those that have deep pockets. The best storage container I have ever come across and own is this one. It contains my most valuable CD jewel case games. It can also hold DVD (PS2/Wii/etc.) sized cased as well:
Odyssey CCD300E Carpeted Cd Case With Surface Mount Hardware on Amazon

As for as the best sleeve protectors the following company makes theirs from Mylar (better than polypropylene or, unfortunately there are no CD jewel case or DVD sizes. I use the comic book sized bags for PSX, Sega CD, Saturn long boxes the place them in a PET Box Protector. Remember those PET Box Protectors will scratch jewel and long box cases!

One last item of interest….you know those little packets you find in items such as shoes or sneaker boxes, other items as well? Those are desiccant/silica gel packets (“poor man’s” Damp-Rid if you will), great for keeping things moisture free. I save and use those where needed. It’s a great aid in protecting manuals, tray inserts, and even prevents rust as in the staples used in manuals! I use these packets where I don’t have a dehumidifier setup. Please note these packets become less effective after two to three years depending on the environment they are placed in (technically it doesn’t expire, it can be “reset” and used over and over again) and I only use them where items already have a protective sleeve.

Here is an example, packet in play but each of the CD cases (games) are protected with a polypropylene or mylar sleeve in case the packet (desiccant/silca gel) is compromised.

Storage Consoles & Other Large Items

As far as storing larger items such as consoles, large console peripherals such as lightguns and arcade sticks (boxed or unboxed) I recommend the following line of containers due to their size and strength (especially when stacking them). Please note there are a wide variety of sizes but these ones from Home Depot are the ones I find to fit my needs

Another method mentioned earlier is the use of furniture like a credenza to house boxed consoles and larger format games like 3DO, Neo Geo AES and even Retro PC games!

Have a loose console, or smaller retro console arcade stick?  I use UPS and/or FedEx padded polybags. Most retro consoles will fit and you’ll be able to seal it so it’s a nice snug fit.

Extra Photos of Collection Storage for Reference & Inspiration


23 Comments

The Hammond says:

Thanks for sharing! I really enjoyed seeing another ‘collector’ put the same level of care and caution into their games. Sleeves, silica gel, and (mostly) watertight bins is a great way to keep things preserved. I like to keep my games in IKEA Billy cabinets with covered class doors – out of the sun but still on display. I did the bin thing for awhile, but then I just ended up forgetting what I owned.

I should note there are some good ‘rechargeable’ silica gel dehumidifiers out there, I keep one in each cabinet. After a few months you plug them in to warm them up/dry them out.

racketboy says:

Thank you and glad you enjoyed! And thanks for the tips

Personally, I use Google Sheets to help me keep track of what I have.
It’s especially helpful that I can look at it when I’m on the go and considering buying something.
I put my wishlist on there too so I have a shopping list of sorts.

AngrySquirrel34 says:

There are lessons I should learn from this article, but boy, is that a lot of work haha. Almost makes me more keen on selling my vintage collection, seeing how it’s supposed to be done (and seeing what I’m not doing).

racketboy says:

The cool thing is that everyone is different and you can pull little tips here and there that might help you on your journey.

At the same time, there’s also nothing wrong with pruning a collection. But don’t do it just because it seems like you’re not “doing” things the “right” way. You be you 🙂

AngrySquirrel34 says:

Haha thanks. I was mostly joking (though I do need to prune my collection a bit) and expressing a bit of guilt at my neglect in going to the lengths your friend here has gone to in preserving some valued artifacts from my gaming life.

Goatlll says:

One of the more difficult tasks I have found recently is finding proper protectors for special editions. There are a number of places online that have bespoke solutions but nothing all inclusive. There is a place on ebay that I used for my switch and Wiiu xeno games, and I love the end results but I would love to have a more practical way to get protection for oddly shaped special editions, like Persona 5 or Metal Gear Solid 5.

Droid Party says:

There are some fantastic ideas in here. I will have to implement some of them as my collection is getting a little out of hand. Thanks.

racketboy says:

Thank you! Glad you found it useful!

TopSpot123 says:

There are a bunch of good tips here. I do essentially the same with older games and systems, but not quite to the same degree. If you are looking into a solution like this, I always recommend looking at the products from Really Useful Boxes. They make extremely durable plastic bins in many media-friendly sizes and I feel they are priced reasonably considering their quality.

I have a (very old) YouTube video showing my version of these ideas. In case dropping a link is frowned upon here, you can search for the title: Storage Tips For Your Video Game Collection – Games and Systems | Game Room Ideas.

racketboy says:

Thanks for the feedback and I greatly appreciate the extra tips!

Andy P says:

Wow, that’s a very clean and organized collection. If one has the space for containers like that, it is definitely a viable option. I should probably take better care of my high end games, but I’m not of fan of opening too many layers to get to the game. I also like by games on display. It’s cool to see other methods though.

racketboy says:

Yeah, everyone’s different and you can find a hybrid of different levels that works for your situation 🙂
Thanks for checking in!

Retromangia says:

This is by far your most enlightening article posted in a long time. So many juicy nuggets of wisdom to be read here. It’s nice to see someone take the time and think outside the box. Would love to know how this Xavier stores his loose manuals with some photos for inspiration. That’s one area where I have difficulty storing them safely, mainly because they come in all different shapes and sizes. I’ve began placing them in protective bags (like the ones listed above), but I can never find the right sized box to hold them safe and secure so they won’t flop around. Xavier would love to hear your thoughts on this. Anyhow, thanks so much for the great article Racket! -JD

RetroEscape (Instagram) says:

Retromangia – It depends on the console (game manual) sizes. As an example for Sega Genesis, Master System, Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Atari Jaguar, use USPS Small Flat Rate Boxes. And mark the boxes as to what’s inside. The boxes due to their size remain strong and you won’t have an overwhelming amount of manuals were you end up damaging them. I also recommend that in each box you place a small silica gel pack so the manual staples (don’t oxidize) and paper (stays dry). For large format like arcade board manuals I use larger USPS Medium Flat Rate Boxes. And don’t forget the mark the boxes with “This side up” when you store them, I place manual spines down. Hope this helps….RetroEscape

racketboy says:

Thanks, Retromangia for the support! It’s been a fun conversation 🙂
And thanks, RetroEscape, for the extra follow-up!

Dogbert says:

LOVE this article – please continue to update this!

If I may make a slight suggestion? For a new article, could you make separate headings for platforms that can easily fit in x or y box/storage bins?
Like for example… something bought from Home Depot would be perfect for Vita and DS games but would be incompatible for PS3/Xbox 1 games, etc? I hope that makes sense…???

Thanks in advance.

racketboy says:

I saw RetroEscape replied to you down below — might want to give it a look 🙂

Gongxilla says:

I’ve recently been looking into new ways to store. As years ago I changed my collection from cardboard boxes (bad idea) to plastic bins (when I could afford dozens) but now those bins have begun to break down… due to weight from stacking and changes in temperature.

I just came across those *new Home Depot bins with the yellow lids and glad a collector gives them the thumbs up.

The container store just started offering some as well with a foam gasket around the lids to provide a better seal with the latches.

Thanks for this article!

Dogbert says:

@Gongxilla

Do you, or anyone else have suggestions for bins/containers that keep the games locked in as SNUG as possible?

I was looking into “IRIS Large Divided Media Storage Box”, but the availability for Canada is out of stock (for a long time) or they are super expensive.
I could import it from the USA, but it’s super expensive with shipping/currency exchange.

Sigh….!

Hi Dogbert,

What game boxes/packaging you looking to store? Also those IRIS and KIS plastic boxes are practically unicorns now.

…RetroEscape

Darin L Herrick says:

I just want to say a heartfelt thanks because I read this article then went to Target and bought a bunch of Sterilite boxes and packed away all the low priority games. Now I have my home and life back!

And my marriage is on much better footing as well…

racketboy says:

That’s great to hear — it’s always nice to hear that some of our “different” topics resonate with some many people 🙂

Dogbert says:

I guess I’ll just stick to what information is provided in the article.
Shame, was hoping the comments section would be active, but it’s my own fault for posting a comment so late.
*SMH*

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