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I use the plastic "fishing tackle" boxes.
Put something on the bottom to keep figures from sliding around.
Inexpensive at Wal-Mart and Canadian Tire (and get Canadian Tire Money).
Dear Paint dog & Friends,
Excellent topic. I think I'm hearing two challenges, (1) Long-term storage for figures put into action, and (2) New sets awaiting their turn to be called up for active service.
For my active collection, I too put my individual figures in fishing tackle boxes/trays, PLANO brand from Walmart (Cheapest but excellent quality). But my figures are not based; they are loose. Other bigger things that a fish can't swallow such as tanks go into cardboard boxes bought from a real "Box Store."
For my waiting figures not ready to be taken off their sprews, I take all out of their beautifully art-work boxes and put each set in the least expensive (cheapest) sandwich Zip-Locks, and then put the flattened boxes and each set still on their sprews into Freezer size Zip-Locks. of which I can fit at least 5 sets into. This saves me at least half of the space of a soldiers box.
Then all goes into Sterilite plastic file-letter/legal paper size, stackable drawers with clear fronts.
Anything bigger, you know, MARX Playset size goes into cardboard boxes and set on top of the plastic stackable drawers all the way up to the ceiling.
I print-out fake wood prints, slide them inside the front of the clear drawer, then label it very simply, such as F & I War, ALAMO, AWI, Napoleonics, ACW, US Cavalry, and so on.
Simple is best, so that's my solution to a fairly large collection that keeps growing. Lastly, if something is too big, such as oversize Playsets like "Guns of Navarone" mountain, it stays in it's box, is set inside a garbage bag to keep moisture and dust and grease, or worse and goes into the garage.
I call my entire collection "MY LIBRARY" so I do have a folding step ladder to reach all the way up to the top.
I hope it helps but it sounds like we are all pretty much on the same page.
P.S. Amazon sells some of it's items in some nice Playset quality boxes, so I keep those and make some really neat Playsets with them, or storage - and 1/72 size too! I try not to waste anything before deciding to cut up anything and going into the Recycling Bin.
Mine stay in their boxes until I paint them then they tend to go in file boxes. I also use the plastic drawers mentioned above and any suitably strong boxes I get hold of... I really need more room...