As a collector I know a lot of us spend a lot of time looking for affordable ways to display our collections. As far as shelving goes I can't recommend the IKEA Detolf enough, but when it comes to risers and things that you would use to give your display a bit of depth once it's on the shelf it can get a bit tricky... and expensive.
For people with smaller collections it is reasonably feasible to just go out an purchase stands and risers that are made just for that purpose, but when you're one of those so-called mega-collectors who's collection count runs in the hundreds or thousands you could easily break the proverbial bank if you were to purchase enough of these for your whole collection. So I thought I'd take some time to share some of my more interesting finds through a series of Collector Tips.
When used for their intended purpose these little mesh letter holders don't look like much. I'd seen them thousands of times in a variety of stores, and had never given them a second thought. I wish I could spin this into some kind of epic story, but I can't. The short of if it is that I was in the Dollar Tree one day, seen these sitting on the shelf, and had a quasi-epic epiphany; turn them on their sides and they would be perfect stands for smaller figures like Legends class Transformers. I figured at only a buck a piece it couldn't hurt to grab a couple of them and see if they would work.
I quickly finished up my errands for the day, and headed back to the Nerd-Cave to grab a couple of my smaller figures to see if they would work...SCORE! They fit perfectly and the black mesh was non-intrusive enough that they didn't stand out too much when they were on a shelf with figures on them. For you Transformers collectors, these work great for figures like BotShots, Min-Cons, Legends/EZ Collection, and WSTs. Not to say they wouldn't work for things other than Transformers, but that's my point of reference.
For those of you who may be interested in finding these, I've seen them in a variety of stores like Wal-Mart, Staples, K-Mart etc., but they tend to cost between $3.00-$5.00 each at these locations. That's not a bad price, but if you need to get quite a few of these things it can get rather expensive. The Dollar Tree seems to be best place to get them, but I've noticed that they only stock them during the summer months in my area. At only a buck a piece though, it's easy to buy them by the case and only spend $10.00-$15.00.
If the black mesh look isn't quite your thing, but like the idea of using letter holders for your smaller figures, I've found these acrylic letter holders at my local Wal-Mart for around $5.00 each. They're a little more pricey, but I can't lie; they do look a little nicer. They're a little taller, but their design makes them a bit more sturdier.
Even if you can't find these specific items in your area, hopefully this will inspire you to look at some other commonly overlooked everyday items in a new light, and help you to get your collection looking just right.