If you thought moving was hard, try to do it with a 7,000 piece Lego set.
Recently, I moved out of a Los Angeles apartment I’d been in for six years to a house in the San Fernando Valley. It’s a big deal, of course, and something my wife Jayne and I had been planning and saving toward for a while. And yet, as exciting and grown up as the whole prospect was, when we began the actual, serious business of house hunting I almost didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to do it because it meant I’d have to move... a lot of stuff.
It’s not a revelation to talk about how much moving sucks. Because it does. Moving. Fucking. Sucks. But on top of that general dread was the fact that I’m a bit of an obsessive collector. Posters, Lego, various toys and prop replicas, DVDs, books, you name it and I probably collect it. So to move them all was more than a daunting task. It was a nightmare. And I mean that literally. I had nightmares about it.
You may be wondering what could be so bad. It’s just moving. Throw the stuff in some bubble wrap, write 'Fragile' on the side and call it a day. Well, you see, that would be okay for normal people. However, my wife and I are not normal people. Our entire apartment was covered in framed art. And I do mean the entire apartment. You can watch a tour I did at this link right before we started taking things down to move. It’s literally hundreds of frames expertly puzzled together in a manic look most people hate. But we love it.
Plus, if you’ve seen videos like the one above of me building the largest Lego set ever created, you can begin to imagine how many fully constructed Lego sets are on display. So moving those, as well as framed art, as well as a 50-inch wide flat file filled with hundreds of pounds of posters, on top of everything else a normal person would move was, as I said, scary. It was ever scarier when we got hit with a massive penalty.
Quick aside to explain: everyone told us buying a house in the Los Angeles area was damned near impossible. But it wasn’t for us. After about three months of looking, the first house we put an offer in was eventually accepted. The whole thing happened months before we expected it to, which was great – but also bad, because we were in a lease until the end of the year. So, to break that least, we had to put in two months notice and pay a $4000 (£3,194) penalty, which sucked almost as much as moving. However, we then knew we could stay in our apartment for two months and, in that time, slowly move everything into the new house, which is exactly what happened.
Just a small fraction of the frames waiting to find a new home in our new house.
Twice a week, at least, for two months, Jayne and I took two cars full of crap to the house, which is about 20 minutes away from the apartment. The majority of those trips were framed art and fragile collectibles like Lego sets. Now, if you look online about how to move Lego sets, most people suggest taking them all apart and putting them back together. To me, that was not an option. I love my brick creations but they take hours, days even, to put together. I’d rather them stay intact, thank you very much. So it became about figuring out ways to move not just those, but also hundreds of framed posters and works of art.
The art was relatively simple. Take them off the wall, carefully line them up on a newly-purchased handtruck, bring them to the car, neatly stack them on top of each other separated by towels or sheets, wrap the piled-up frames in towels or sheets and then put a few heavy boxes up against them so they wouldn’t move. Sometimes those boxes were also filled with smaller frames, also stuffed with things to make sure they didn’t scratch. Then it was a matter of driving slowly and carefully to the house and unloading them. Done and done.
I can’t imagine what the process would have been, or what it would have cost, to move further than 20 minutes away, but luckily that’s not a story I’m able to tell.
Legos in plastic containers were a lifesaver.
The Lego sets were, actually, a similar story. My friend Jonathan suggested large plastic containers to move them. This way, if something fell off, it was contained and easy to find. So we bought a few of those and very carefully moved them into those containers. All went well until we got to the massive Lego Millennium Falcon. We couldn’t find any container big enough for it. We found one that came close, though, and it moved to the house with only minor hull damage. It was its very own version of the Kessel Run.
So over the course of the two months, Jayne and I moved all of the posters and Lego builds to the house. We moved other stuff too, but we concentrated mostly on things we knew movers would struggle with. Then, as the move date approached, I realised that my poster-filled flat file was going to be more of an issue than originally thought. This thing is seriously massive, seriously heavy, and filled with lots of very easily damaged limited paper.
My flat file in the new house. Tissue box inserted for scale.
An artist friend suggested moving each draw individually. However, you can’t walk through a doorway with a drawer because it’s too wide. You have to tip and angle it. To do that, he suggested applying pressure to keep the posters from moving when it was being tilted to get through the door. There was some huge risk in that, though. So, over the last week before the move, every trip to the house came with a stack of 30-50 posters, flat, in the back of my car. It turned out that you could stack flat posters pretty high on the handtruck and, as long as you didn’t nick the corners going through doors, it was fairly painless. With the flat file eventually empty, the movers moved it with ease, not having to worry about damaging the valuables inside.
Oh, and as for all the action figures, Hot Toys, Master Replica lightsabers and more... we had been renting a storage unit to keep empty boxes in for most of those items. So it was just a matter of picking them up, repacking each item and then moving them normally. It took some foresight but it worked out.
All of which is to say: moving is really hard. But it’s even harder if you have geek shit to think about – valuable, fragile shit you love and trust no one else with. Our movers were great but I think they would have been less great if we told them they had to move 300 framed pieces of art when they arrived.
So that’s my story. What’s yours. Do need tips? Hints? Feel free to chime in with your own stories.
All Images: Germain Lussier