Three great tips for displaying underground LEGO sets   

With 76417 Gringotts Wizarding Bank – Collectors’ Edition demonstrating the challenges of displaying models with underground areas, here are some tips for displaying LEGO sets that are at a subterranean level.

The reveal of 76417 Gringotts Wizarding Bank – Collectors’ Edition wowed many LEGO fans. A clever track system with twists and stops, a beastly dragon with tattered cloth wings, and the wonky bank itself was enough to make this a modern classic. Unlike a flat set like 10497 Galaxy Explorer, however, there’s nothing classic about the amount of vertical space it’ll take up.  

While it’s far from a 10307 Eiffel Tower situation, some fans have wondered how they’ll display it, given its 75-centimetre height. Others wonder what they’ll do with the bottom cavern section, as the bank is removable and pairs beautifully with 75978 Diagon Alley. Does the mostly dark grey cavern have any value with Gringotts missing? Or will it simply be parted out and forgotten?  

It’s ultimately your choice – but if you’d like to keep the set on display in its entirety, you’ll want to follow these three tips for the best way to display underground LEGO sets. Of course, this article also applies to displaying other underground LEGO sets, such as the LEGO Group’s various Batcaves and 70596 Samurai X Cave Chaos.                                                                                          

Use shelving to add verticality 

This option is expensive and unlikely to be everyone’s cup of tea. Unless you already own a shelf for your LEGO sets, and there’s enough clearance below and above a shelf level to put in above ground and below ground, you’ll be shelf shopping soon enough. However, adding the bank on a shelf above the track system and cavern would look marvelous and maintain the look the designers were intending. You’ll also still be able to attach Diagon Alley.  

Should you go with this option, in the case of the LEGO Group’s numerous Batcave sets, you might want to include a major building above it that gives it perspective on display. Gringotts luckily includes said building, while you’ll have to build your own Wayne Manor to display above the Batcave. If you’re not a fan of custom building, or you don’t have a shelf, have no fear – there are two more options below that’ll work just fine.  

Add underground scenery to help it look the part 

Wouldn’t it be nice if every Batcave came with the same level of polish and scenery as 76252 Batcave Shadowbox? Having stalagmites and stalactites lining the floor and ceiling is a classic cave look. Still, it’s surprisingly easy to add your own natural cave details to your display! It could be as simple as tacking a 2×2 cone element to the bottom of an above shelf with reusable putty to serve as a stalactite, or as sophisticated as building your own cave complex!  

Try using little ugly rock pieces (LURPs) and big ugly rock pieces (BURPs) behind or at the side of each set to create the illusion of a descending cave. Despite the hate these ‘juniorized’ pieces tend to get when included in sets, you can easily elaborate on these chunky elements, adding cheese slopes, 1×2 angled bricks, or even minifigures climbing down into the abyss for detail.  

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Use special lighting or a lighting kit to create shadows

Ever entered a dark cave with a flashlight? The shadows created by a targeted light can result in a beautiful cave display. With the custom kits available from third-party companies, you can light anything from lanterns to lightsabers. You can use household lights for an added challenge, like mini-LEDs or a small lamp. Try fitting a sheet of coloured tissue paper over a small flashlight to change the hue!  

If you’re a LEGO BIONICLE fan with a large collection, one idea could be to recreate Mangaia. That’s Makuta Teridax’s shadowy lair beneath the island of Mata Nui, as seen in the 2003 film BIONICLE: Mask of Light. If you’re crafty, the underground fight between 8593 Makuta and the Toa of Light, 8596 Takanuva, could be enhanced with a few bright LEDs. The holes in each combatant’s BIONICLE elements will cast light and create shadows all at once.

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