Two Kinds of Hobby Shops


Years of shopping for hobby stuff has taught me a couple of things. One is that you can find useful hobby stuff in non-hobby stores.  This can be the dollar store, the hardware store or even the grocery store.  The other important thing, which was reconfirmed this weekend, is that there are two kinds of hobby shops.

There’s the one that’s brightly lit, with organized shelves and clear product areas. The store has the latest products, the least amount of dust and staff who use price guns to stalk the aisles and tell you what something costs.  They also have some cute toys for the youngest children and a good chunk of things for display.


The other is like the one I went to. The lighting in insufficient and the windows, if there are any are covered over with displays, shelves or curtains that don’t get washed all that often.  This leads to lifting the products up to get a better look at them.

There are clear signs of organization, it’s just more general. Military models in that corner, cars in that corner, trains over there behind the wall, N on the left, HO on the right.”  You might find things in the wrong place, but that is part of the fun.  You might even find a bargain.  If you can’t find it, you ask and the person can take you right to it, and maybe tell you a story about how long they have had it for, where they got it, or how they sold twenty one snow January day.

In addition to all this, the store might have a whole bunch of stuff that you can’t find anywhere. The store I went to was no exception.  It was a treasure trove of stuff.  They had:

  • a whole pile of Tyco and AFX track for sale, including risers and lap counters.
  • a multi pack of N scale figures from Woodland Scenics (more than 16 sets bundled together for a bulk sale–the plastic on the outer pack had yellowed from years of indirect sunlight–but it was still for sale.
  • every scale of train from O right on down to Z.
  • Apollo, Gemini, space station and space shuttle rocket kits.
  • monster models and dinosaur kits.
  • educational models
  • cool prints of train artwork
  • a large number of slots car scales and kits (analog and digital)
  • a whole pile of tools for crafting your hobbies, including spray booths and choppers
  • RC car parts (though I didn’t see any RC cars)
  • New and vintage magazines (some real vintage ones)
  • used electronic parts for trains, slot cars, power boats and ….


I could go on listing all the things I saw, but the truth is that I probably missed a whole lot more. I spent more than an hour there just wandering around trying to buy something.  The only problem is that I really just didn’t want to.  There was nothing I could justify spending money on because I have a whole room full of half complete or unopened things to do.  I am in a bit of funk and I don’t know how to get out of it.  I thought wandering the hobby shop would help, but it only made me more confused.  Starting a new hobby or a new project is fun…but seeing all the other incomplete projects makes me sad. (I did consider a race car set, and I was looking for a large scale 1964-67 Mustang Kit…and some train cars……..

I walked away with my money in my pocket….for now.

Suddenly, I was in the middle of a car show…

cars 051.jpg

One day….



After today’s bike ride, on the way to the coffee shop where the cyclists congregate after a ride, I found myself in a car show.

Obviously this was planned, and although I don’t live in that town (I live in the one directly south) I probably should have known about it. Sadly I didn’t.  Luckily, my phone has pretty good camera (actually, I use the camera a lot more often than the phone, so I should say that my camera has a decent phone in it).

I hope you enjoy the pictures. I certainly enjoyed walking among them.

Lately, I have been interested in hot rods–particularly the deuce coupe.  The closest I will come to building one is in plastic model form.

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There’s very little I can…or need to say about this one.

This was the reason I loved the TV show Stingray.  It might have been a tad bit hokey…but man the car.

New Year…… New Plans

Today, it looks like I am going to the hobby store.  What kind of danger will I get myself into.  Hmmmm?

I really have to many hobbies, but I am sure there might be a bargain or two.  Will I be able to resist?

Lately, I have been strong, but I feel like I might weaken today.  Why?  I just have that itch to try a new model kit.  It might be an airplane, or it might be ship.  Really, it might be a dream 32 Highboy Roadster or a very detailed 67 Mustang Fastback.  I just don’t know.  If it were summertime, it might be a remote control helicopter or rocket kit.

I do know that they hobby store is a fun place to go.  I’ll be taking a friend, so perhaps he will be the voice of reason.  Or more likely, he’ll fuel the shopping trip.  My biggest goal is not to come back with any magazines.

Updates tomorrow.

Car Dreams

It may sound corny, but one of the things I want to in my life is build a Cobra replica car.  Knowing my track record with such projects, I should just work hard, save my money (maybe win the lottery) and just buy the thing.  The project would probably take too long and too much space in the garage…. but I just can’t let go of the idea.

Why the Cobra?  That and the 1967 Mustang are my two favourite cars.  It probably isn’t a coincidence that Carol Shelby had a hand in both of those cars.  They are both beautiful cars.  It also isn’t a coincidence that neither of these cars is suited for Canadian weather.  If I had them (and could afford the insurance) they would both be summer cars.  That would mean having them and my winter car….and people say money isn’t a solution.

I came close to buying the 67 mustang once.  I went to look at it with the hopes of purchasing it, but the owner, despite making the appointment, didn’t stick around to show it to me, or even talk to me.  I guess he didn’t like the cadence of my voice over the phone.  Luckily the car was parked outside his house (not a great option in winter in Canada).  His neighbour talked to me about it, but he didn’t give me the hard sell and I was able to leave with my money in my pocket.  Realistically, it wouldn’t have been a good purchase.  I was in the middle of my studies and within a 16 months would be off to Japan.  I didn’t know that at the time, but it is funny how fate works out.

I have never been close to that car again, but I still think about it.  I have seen them build those cars on various TV shows, and every time I have been a little envious.  I really need my own TV show.  They could let me build my dream car and document my mistakes (and probable injuries) for everyone to see….. I had better start working on my pitch.

In England, there is a car company called Caterham, which allows you to build one of those funky roadsters you see in British TV shows from time to time.  It comes as a kit and you assemble it.  It sounds like a dream, except that I watched those guys from BBC’s Top Gear get fed up and argue constantly about it.  They said that you might get satisfaction out of building it, but everyone else around you would go completely bonkers.  Of course, according to the video you can buy it assembled for an extra 2000 British pounds.  I am not sure what would be best.

Winter seems to have started early this year (there is snow on the ground), so I guess I had better put off the idea until spring…or I could just let it nag away at me all winter.  Such is the life of a dedicated hobbyist.


When I started model building the choices were pretty clear–cars, planes, or tanks.  At least that is what I thought.  After just a few short visits to hobby shops I came to realize that cars meant, cars, trucks, race cars, motorcycles, and other commercial vehicles.  Planes meant military, as well as passenger planes.  And tanks meant every piece of military hardware that has ever existed.

What makes someone choose a particular subject.  For me it was my love of the 1966 and 67 mustangs.  For a friend it was a love of Star Wars and old war movies like The Great Escape.  Another friend loved motorcycles incredibly, but could never convince his parents to let him have one, so he settled for a shelf full of the scale replica version.

The reason is probably not terribly important.  As long as there is a hobby shop to meet those needs, those needs can stretch from wide and far.

Of course, it can work the other way.  A trip to the hobby shop could spur you to build something you had never considered.  This is especially true if the shop stocks lots of  unusual things from far and wide.  I once came across a shop which sold model kits of scale versions of musical instruments.  I remember one of the kits was of a replica Beatles drum kit–sadly there was no Ringo Starr figure to go with it.

As you can imagine, if you have been following this blog, I might have started out with the Mustang, but that doesn’t mean that is the only kit, or type of kit that I have bought or somehow managed to add to my collection at no cost to myself.  A man can get bored building only one type of kit.

I have (built an unopened)      race cars


                                                military half tracks

                                                a Japanese aircraft carrier

                                                a helicopter

                                                a garage with tools diorama

                                                family cars

                                                Japanese robots

                                                One KFC outlet

                                                Several train buildings

                                                a Japanese Castle

                                                a large trailer for hauling liquids

to name a few

And the strange thing is, if I were to enter a hobby shop tomorrow and they had a kit of an old pinball machine, I would probably buy it and put in on the shelf next to the rest of them.

For me the inexhaustible variety of kits is a blessing.  For the potential newcomer, I can only guess such a variety is daunting.

The origin of the species

The model kit  that started it all out was a 1967 Mustang. I am pretty sure I will never get to own the real thing, so a model is the best thing I can ever hope for.  At the time, die cast kits weren’t as popular as they are now, so I had to build my own


I believe it was the Revell kit, but it could have been AMT.  You have to understand, the 1960’s mustangs are part of my top five cars ever (I lump them into one group  because if I didn’t most of my top five would only be one car.)   To this day, I have built the kit more than once.  I still haven’t built it to my satisfaction, and I expect to build a few more of them before I shed this mortal coil.  Back to that first kit.  The art on the kit box depicted it in white with blue stripes.  I bought a can of white spray paint, some black and blue Testor’s paint and I was off.

I’d love to tell you that I produced an award winning model right from the get go.  sadly, that was not the case.  I did a pretty good job on the muffler.  The engine came out fairly well, and the seats were acceptable.  The rest of it was pretty bad.  I think the wheels stuck out too far, and fell off more than once.  As for the paintjob….I wouldn’t recommend spray paint for anyone’s first time out.

The reason I decided to take up building plastic models can be traced to a friend I have had since junior high school.  If he weren’t still a friend, I would probably use the word blame rather than reason. 

I visited his house and upon entering his room discovered, on his desk, his work in progress.  He was probably 60 percent done painting and building a plastic model kit of the DeLorean from Back To The Future.  I was fascinated.  When it was finished, it was truly a work of art.

My friend is a fantastic model builder.  This is probably because he has incredible patience and an eye for detail.  These qualities no doubt help in his job as a creator of computer animation and effects as well as that of father.  He told me that he painted the tiny exposed cables of the DeLorean using a pinhead.  I tried to replicate his technique, but became too frustrated to continue beyond a few minutes.

I watched him build many other models and was always in awe of his skills.  His landspeeder from Return of the Jedi was fantastic.  And amazingly, although he has never used an airbrush, his finished are always streak free.  If only I had paid him to build my mustang, I probably wouldn’t have started this hobby.

My contribution to his development as a modeller is that I often forced him to rebuild his models.  I knocked his Star Wars Imperial Shuttle from it’s hanging space in the ceiling not once, but twice.  I can’t really go into details, but I can say it was the result of aggressive air guitar to Led Zepplin’s Whole Lotta Love, or air drumming to the same group’s When the Levee Breaks.  Teenage exuberance is a remarkable thing.

It would be several years until I started building models myself but I never forgot his work, and sought out his advice.  He gave me lots of useful advice, but he was most insistent on two points.  Never hang my models from the ceiling and never put a stereo in the hobby room.