The Care and Maintenance of SPI Flat Pack Game Boxes

Unlike a lot of collectors, I am very fond of the old 24 compartment SPI flat pack game boxes. They are easy to stack and store with other, similar boxes, and the internal trays with their plastic covers do a good job of keeping the game pieces sorted and safe. They are also lighter in weight and easier to ship or transport than the larger “book-case” and “soap box” styles of game boxes. Unfortunately, they also have one serious flaw that, given enough time, invariably crops up no matter how carefully these game boxes are handled and stored. The flat pack’s cardboard base tends to peel off as the game gets older and the adhesive attaching it to the plastic tray dries out. This is a tremendous pain because, once the cardboard base separates from the thin plastic vacuum-formed game tray, these flimsy trays become very susceptible to damage.

Over the years, I tried a number of different approaches to solve this problem, and, like most things in life, the first attempts were all unsatisfactory for one reason or another. First, I tried using different types of adhesives to reattach the base to the plastic: the better glues tended to melt the plastic, and the weaker adhesives didn’t last long enough to matter. Next, I tried using Scotch Tape®, but these fixes were unsightly, and the tape tended to dry out and split with age. Tape also tended to leave a sticky residue where any old piece had peeled away. So, clearly “Scotch Tape®” wasn’t the answer. Having, by this point, become thoroughly frustrated, I declared “total war” on my rapidly multiplying collection of flapping game boxes and resorted to metal staples. And while the staples did hold the bases and the plastic trays together securely, they quickly revealed problems of their own. Staples, as should come as no surprise to anyone but me, rust with age; while the holes they produce, it turns out, weaken the plastic and create potential faults for future splits. Clearly, staples weren’t the solution to my problem. After the staple debacle, I was completely out of ideas and basically gave up. And then I experienced an epiphany!

While visiting a hobby supply store in search of something completely unrelated, I found — quite by accident — the solution to my game box problem: “Craft Glue Dots®.” For anyone who has never used them, these are thin little double-sided oval-shaped adhesive dots that come attached to a narrow tape-like roll. In my own case, I have found that the ½ inch size is perfect for reattaching a loose SPI cardboard base to its plastic tray. The pattern of dots that seems to work best is to place one dot on each corner of the cardboard base, one dot in the center where the die compartment meets the base, and then to fill in the short sides with two additional dots, and the long sides with three of these useful little beauties. The only real trick is in perfectly aligning the base and the tray before pushing them back together. Once they have been rejoined, ordinary finger pressure is sufficient to seal the bond all the way around the perimeter of the game box. I have now been using these adhesive dots for well over ten years, and not a single base has ever come loose once it has been reattached. Given these results, I recommend this repair technique highly.
On a similar note, I strongly suggest “Windex Wipes®” as the perfect tool for cleaning SPI flat packs, particularly if they have been exposed to thick dust, smoke, dirt, or even mildew. I have found that these tissue-like wipes are especially useful for cleaning older games that have come from collections in which the games have been stored unprotected in someone’s basement or garage.


  • Joe: Thanks for this VERY HANDY advice. I too love the SPI flat packs, but have been quite distressed since moving out the arid SW as nearly all of them have come loose. Needless to say, I shall give your technique a try just as soon as my lovely better half can locate some glue dots for me! I only wish I had a lot more of them in my collection.

  • That will do for me too!

    Now to find some in the UK.


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