It’s been a couple of weeks since our last look at armor building: after The Force Awakens, I needed to take a bit of a break from armor construction, but there is something that we can chat about in the meantime: storage.

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The new TK still needs some work after I trooped in it, something that I need to detail in an upcoming post, but that’s for another weekend. This weekend, let’s talk about storing the armor.

Storage is one of those things that you really don’t think too much about when you’re building this stuff, but once it’s constructed, you’ll want to do something more than just keep the pieces lying around. For one thing, with all of the separate parts, it’s easy for something to go missing, or worse, for something to get damaged.

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Before the armor gets put away, it needs to be cleaned after each troop. Going out in public means that you accumulate scuff marks, general wear and tear, and sweat. A magic eraser will take care of some of the marks that appear, and there’s other cleaners that are a bit easier on the plastic. A bottle of fine scratch remover is really useful to have on hand, and some sort of wipe is good to give the inside a quick clean before it goes back in the box. The underarmor and gloves go into the wash.

Before putting it away, it’s also good to take note of any major issues that need to be fixed: straps that might have popped, seams that need to be glued, or cracks that need to be dealt with.

For years, I’ve kept my armor boxed up until it’s needed. I’ve bought a bunch of Sterilite 30 gallon totes, which fits everything really nicely. Other troopers go for some more sturdy options: there’s a ton of options out there. If you build armor with the intent on trooping with it, I’d recommend getting something with wheels or good handles: this particular tote isn’t the most sturdy, but it is cheap and stacks well.

You can’t just dump your armor in a box either: it has to be put away. Fortunately, it packs really well: The abs, kidney and butt plates can bit put together so that they don’t take up any space. That goes on the bottom (take care that the abs buttons aren’t facing out: otherwise, you might need to repaint them.

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Then, I put the forearms in the upper arms, and those two inside the shins, which in turn, fit right inside the thighs. Those two together go into the chest / back plates, which in turn sits on top of the abs, kidney and butt plates. The helmet gets tucked in at the top, and the gloves, handplates and other random smaller pieces go inside that. The belt goes on the side, and the boots are placed on either side of the chest. Together, it’s compact, and it all fits together.

I’ve been using a slightly smaller case for this new TK, and the smaller size means that I can’t put my helmet in - that just rides along when I pack it up. Some troopers go out and by a surplus army helmet bag, or have one made up, which helps to protect the bucket and keep it from harm while transporting it.

Something that I’ve found, as I accumulate suits of armor (I’m now up to four in my household), is to keep the cases consistent. This helps with stacking and storage.

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Finally, I mark down an inventory on the lid: all the parts that go in the box get written up right there. That way, I can mark down exactly what goes in every time I put it away. There’s been at least one troop that I’ve gone on where I’ve missed a vital part (such as underarmor, handplates, boots or something like that) and I’ve had to sit out. That’s not fun.

The other option is to forgo the box, and mount it on a mannequin. This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for years, and recently, I was able to actually get my hands on a couple.

Mannequins are expensive: they tend to run into the hundreds of dollars range for well-built ones, but they’re extremely useful. Back in July, GAP announced that they were shuttering 175 stores across the United States, and the practical part of that presented itself to me earlier this week: as one of our local stores closed, they were selling off their fixtures, including mannequins, and they dropped the price down to $30 each. That’s a steal, and I bought three. (I should have picked up a fourth).

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With the three, I mounted the armor on each one. Clothing goes on first, then the abs, chest, legs, and arms. These mannequins aren’t exactly the right size, so they look a little deflated standing in my basement. If I end up mounting my older stormtrooper permanently, it’ll require some adjustments to make sure that it looks right.

There’s some issues with mounting the armor like this: they’ll be exposed to whatever’s dust and grime is in my basement, and they could fall over if someone runs into them. (Fortunately, the bases on these are heavy). Given that these will be broken down and used regularly, I’m not too concerned with it, but if they do become display items, they’ll need to be cleaned or generally maintained. Plus, they could use some modifications: the helmets are perched on the necks, but I’m a little worried that they can slip off if there isn’t anything stuck on the top to hold them in place.

On the plus side, I now know how Tony Stark feels.