About Anthony

I am: equal parts rebel, romantic and shockingly average Joe. a writer trapped inside of an ESL teacher's body. an introverted attention seeker. a teacher who hopes one day to be called "Captain, my Captain." an intellectual who can do some very dumb things. a person whose Japan experience, despite being so long ago, still exerts a strong influence upon him. a lover of books, music, beer, hockey and Pizza.

The Honda CB750F


Just a quick progress report on my hobby of model making. I decided on not starting the Junyo aircraft carrier because I wasn’t sure what colour I should paint it.  Instead I decided to do a Tamiya motorcycle.  I have always enjoyed these builds.  I also appreciate that they supply some of the wiring for the engine.

I got the parts cleaned off and prepped for painting.  I also took a good look at the instructions.  I find it never hurts to look at all of the steps first.  I might save you a headache in the end.


I am energized by the work I have done so far.  Hopefully, I can continue without becoming discouraged.



Hobby Store Questions

Today, I had time to ponder a question. What do you want your hobby store to be?


Do you want to find it in your shopping mall, in a dark corner of a subway concourse, in a suburban strip mall, or tucked away in an industrial section of town. I can find hobby shops in all of these places in the metropolitan Toronto area.  Prices seem to be cheaper in the industrial area, but less convenient to get to, and somewhat dark.

Do you want it to cover the full diversity of hobbies, or do you want it specialized? I prefer the specialized stores, even though they tend to be somewhat overwhelming in nature.  I think I just prefer the directness of the advice rather than the some general knowledge.

What made me ponder this question. Today I went to a hobby store that I hadn’t been to in many years.  They have moved shop from a bigger location or they shrunk from two stores to one.  I am not sure and I don’t want to speculate.  They have a lot of stuff crammed into the one store and it got me thinking.

They had trains (HO and N) model kits (gundam, cars, military) RC (boats, planes, and cars in multiple scales). and rocket kits.  Of course they had paint, glue, tools, fuel, spare parts, balsa wood, and even a few jigsaw puzzles.  Really, a lot of stuff…just nothing I was looking for today except some paint.

It was still fun to wander around the aisles and ponder what I could do next…if I didn’t have so many projects and hobbies to do next.


A Question of Paint


So, I am going to build the Tamiya 1700 Junyo waterline aircraft carrier.  It’s a nice little kit and I am pretty excited about it.

One small, slightly worrying snag, though.  The kit art makes it seem like the ship is green.  When I consulted people online, they also claimed that it was green.  However, the instructions clearly call for the hull to be grey–I even checked the Japanese instructions and they agree that it should be grey.


What should I do?



A Question of Money

I was listening to a radio programme yesterday on the CBC Radio.  A man who was a huge collector or something (I am not quite clear what it was because I picked up the programme as it was finishing) was talking about his spending contract with his wife.  He had written a contract that specified how much he could spend a month on his hobby.

The hosts took him fairly seriously and the guest didn’t take himself too seriously.  He also explained that he often broke the budget for “special sales/events” that fell outside of the contract.

It got me thinking about how I spend money on hobbies.  I don’t really have a budget.  I control my spending the old fashioned way….fear that I won’t be able to eat if I spend too much.

Then I started thinking about my hobbies and which ones cost the most money, which ones cost more money than I expected.  Cycling has been the least expensive.  Once I bought the bike, except for some clothes and some nutritional supplements, there isn’t a huge ongoing cost.  Of course, going on cycling trips, which I have done, costs money.  Of course, I think of these as vacations, totally unrelated to my club cycling.

I balked at stamp collecting because it seemed like something that my start off small, but grow to something huge if left unchecked.  You might start off collecting one country and used stamps and then up trying to collect the world in mint stamps.  Deluxe books for stamps cost a small fortune, not to mention inventory software and travel to stamp shows.

I suppose coins are much the same.  The book to house the almost one hundred years of the Canadian penny is probably worth more than the pennies themselves.

Hockey cards seem to have so many sets and special cards that you’d be through your budget in no time.

I suppose all collections start like that.  They start small, but they grow.  Suddenly you are spending more money on storing the collection and reading about the collection than actually collecting.

How do you set a budget for whatever your hobby is?  Is it a monthly amount or a yearly amount?



At the Unipex Stamp Show


What I said then

Do you remember when I said I was trying hard not to become a stamp collector? Do you remember me telling you that Lawrence Block, with his fantastic Keller (the well adjusted, stamp collecting, cool as a cucumber, hit man) series was creating the urge to start a stamp collection, and that I was fighting it.

Yes, I know, I have relapsed a few times. I have bought some magazines.  I have taken the catalogue of Canadian stamps out of the library and renewed it the maximum number of times.  I have started conversations online with stamp dealers (enquiries, just enquiries).  I have even purchased a few commemorative stamps for Canada’s 150th birthday.  And Lastly, I purchased and brought back some stamps from Vietnam as souvenirs.

That, seems to pale in comparison to today.

Fate intervenes

Today, I succumbed to fate. I am not sure how I discovered the information, but I did. I guess I will blame it on random internet searches….or Google.  Anyway, I found out that there was a stamp show relatively close to where I live this weekend.  To top it off, admission was free.

So, I went to my first stamp show. Having been to train shows, and model shows, I know the ability to not spend your money is hard at these things.  There’s probably something to tempt you there.  They’ve got catalogues, magnifiers, books, cases, a wide variety of tweezers, and of course the stamps themselves.  I sort of guessed that I would buy the catalogue of Canadian stamps.  If I can’t have the stamps, I can at least see what they look like.

As for the people, while I did not see any children, I saw both men and women, young and old. I saw people checking off numbers in small notebooks, unwieldy pieces of paper, and even a few ipads.

Some dealers were organized and others were haphazard, but all were knowledgeable. In fact, I should probably add that everyone was very friendly.

Lessons learned

What’s my takeaway from this?

  • You’re bound to spend more money than you budget for.
  • There are lots of friendly people in the hobby.
  • There are some attractive women who collect stamps (I met one who was interested in Japanese stamps and wished I had asked her out for coffee).
  • The stamps themselves aren’t necessarily expensive.
  • There are way too many categories of stamps and stamps. You could get swamped by it all.  One dealer, told me that if I jump in, it would be better to pick one country or one theme and stick with it.  It’s good advice, but nobody else seemed to be taking it.
  • You’ve got to invest not only money, but also time in the hobby.

My overall experience was good. I saw many interesting things, but was able to hold off buying.

Near Misses

I was hoping to get the Canada Post Souvenir car for my birth year.  Sadly, many dealers mentioned having it, but deemed it unworthy to bring to the show.  I understood.

I did find the Calvin and Hobbes stamp set I wanted, but thought the price was a bit uncomfortable.

I did come across something that made me almost buckle. There was a collection of Japanese stamps in hingeless mounted albums.  It was fairly complete.  The price was ….certainly more money than I had, ….or that I could spend…..but I wanted it.  I really wanted it.

Thinking upon it now, hours later, I still want it.

I did pick up an inexpensive set of bicycle stamps. I don’t know whether this is the start of a collection, or just a passing fancy.  I had spent quite a bit of time talking to the dealer, and felt I should spend a little money at his booth.

I don’t suppose I could start a kickstarter campaign that would allow me to buy stamps…



Arc de Nanoblock


I had a little time to tackle a nanoblock kit I picked up quite a while ago.  I put it aside to procrastinate about other things.  I finally decided to tackle it.

The kit had a few unique pieces.


The instructions were clear.  I especially like being told what pieces will be used in each step.  It is a logical and useful way to proceed.  Despite my big hands, with the help of tweezers, I was able to construct this one without too much difficulty.


I like the overall look of it, but I wish that nanoblock would come up with some better trees.  I know it would mean another tooling and a new part, but I think they could use them in many kits, or sell them separately so people could retcon their old kits.  If you buy one of their deluxe kits, you’d want some pretty cool trees, wouldn’t you?

What’s left over when it is all done is pretty much at least one of every piece in the kit.  A good policy, I believe.




Stocking Stuffers


There is a tradition in my family of getting Christmas stockings. I assume it is the same with every family who celebrates the consumerist side of Christmas.  What I don’t assume is that the stuff in the stockings (which I call stocking stuffers, but MSWord seems do disagree with) is the same.  I have seen some stockings full of stuff that would be considered “big” gifts in my house.

In my case, most of the stuff filling the stocking comes from the dollar store, or is chocolate, lottery scratch tickets, or personal hygiene products. This year, amid all that stuff, I got some Panini stickers and the album to put them in.

Having checked their website, it seems like Panini makes a variety of products to entice collectors and fans of sports, comics, animation, and others. From my childhood, I mostly remember hockey, rock stars, and famous battles.  My students have told me that the World Cup (of soccer) is a guaranteed seller in their country.  I suppose they sell it here, but I have never seen it.

In this book there are 505 stickers needed. The book came with ten stickers.  With each pack containing 7 stickers, one would have to buy 73 packages of stickers without getting doubles.  It seems like a huge investment to me.  This seems rather unlikely.  According to the website in Canada, you could buy each card for 22 cents.  That means approximately 111 dollars.  Definitely cheaper than buying packages of cards.  Of course, you can only buy 40 of them….so they say.

In this age of collecting, there are lots of little frills; foil cards, all star cards, rookie cards, skills competition winners, and of course a break down of the Stanley Cup finals.  No trophy case, and not all team logos have stickers.  Some teams arenas have pictures….not sure why.

This would be a good job for me.  I would love to design some collector series.  Maybe cards.  I wonder how you get that job?  I will save this thought for another blog.

As for fun…..once a collector, always a collector. I still get a minor rush out of these things.  Opening the package, scanning through them…. feeling rewarded when I get a new card, or a special card….feeling disappointed when I got another double.

This was a fun stocking stuffer, but I don’t know if I will continue buying them, or even trying to complete the set. Maybe, when the season is over, there will be a drastic reduction in price.  Or maybe I will just buy some hockey cards…