Hobby Rut

On Saturday, while walking the rainy streets of St. Catherines in search of a burrito, my friend asked me what I have been doing hobby-wise.  I was at a bit of a loss for an answer.  I seem to have taken a break from my hobbies.

I have spent a lot of time researching stamp collecting; both out of sheer interest and as a way of keeping myself from starting a new hobby.  Knowledge, and especially knowledge of both cost and how deep you can become involved in a hobby often seem to quench the fire the new hobbies burn at.  I can’t say I have quenched the fire yet, but I have come to realize that stamp collecting is a very large (deep?  consuming?)  hobby that perhaps only model trains can compare to.  Once you make that leap….

I could say that blogging is my hobby, but how many blogs would you want to read about blogging.

I am preparing for a trip, and the preparation for the trip is taking up a lot of my time (and if I am being honest, money).  I blame myself because I put off preparing for this trip because I was dealing with a medical issue. (see my other blog to find out more about my journey from Thailand to Vietnam via Cambodia by bicycle).

I visited a train store with a friend, and all it made me do was realize how backed up I am with my train hobby.  I’ve got so much to do that it all seems so daunting.

I would take up ballroom dancing, but I don’t have a partner.

It’s too cold to play tennis outdoors.

I played darts last weekend after a long hiatus.  The results were good, but it wasn’t exciting.

My friend gave some advice about building models.  Just see one through to completion and it will change your perspective on everything.  This is certainly sound advice.  It’s exactly the kind of advice I would have given him if he had told me that he was in a hobby rut.  It’s funny how we can give advice, but only to others.

For all the other model hobbyists about there, how do you get out of a hobby rut?

 

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Musee Du Louvre in Nanoblock

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After quite a hiatus from building nanoblocks, I decided to spend some time on this lovely labour day putting one together.  Having purchased two French landmark kits, previously (see here).  I chose to tackle the Musee Du Louvre kit.

Here’s what’s in the box.

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A quick look at the instructions reveals a basically symmetrical kit, with a few unique pieces.  It seemed straightforward, so I jumped in.

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It was a pretty enjoyable build, despite my hands being unaccustomed to such detail work–it has been a while after all.

Here is what it looked like around step 5.

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The most interesting step featured those unique parts–which I had seen when I built the space shuttle.

Hey, look, those mini figures finally have faces.

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Here is what’s left in the box (and a few brown transparent blocks I hadn’t put into the box (sorry).

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They rank this at a level 3 in difficulty.  I would have to say that it was much easier than that.  I like the unique crystal pyramid, and the faces on the “people”, but nothing else stands out for me.  On the back of the box it is noted that using the nanoblock LED pad, you can light this up.  The pictures of this look spectacular.

The interesting thing not noted in the instructions is that the placement of the pyramid is noted on the baseplate.  Unfortunately, I didn’t realize this until I built the whole thing and got it backwards.  It is no big deal as it is not seen–but if they went to the effort of doing that, they should have noted it in the instructions.

I give this one a 6.5 out of 10.

 

 

Two Kinds of Hobby Shops

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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.

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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 ….

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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.

Can You Ever Have Enough Tools?

Okay, if I wasn’t sure before, I am sure now.  I have a very bad habit of buying tools for my hobbies.  I went to the hobby store, planning strongly to resist any purchasing of tools and magazines.  I even took a friend–you know, don’t go swimming without a buddy, hoping that they would help me be the voice of reason, or at least restraint.

No such luck.

I don’t mean to blame my friend.  They would have restrained me if I had asked.  I just didn’t ask and proceeded to the checkout very quickly.  I am my own worst enemy….I guess.

On the bright side, I do think I made a good purchase.  I have a lot of train buildings to assemble and not one of them has a square edge.  What?  That’s right.  I have to assemble about 20 buildings for my train layout, and not one of them has a straight edge.  You see, to facilitate the manufacturing process, the moulds all have “draft” edges, so they will pop out of the machine easily.  Hmmmm?  You’d think with today’s technology there would be another way around this–but what do I know of injection moulding?  In the end, I have to sand the edges until they are 90 degrees.

You might remember a post where I created my own sanding board.  That worked well, but provided no way to evaluate my work.  This tool should do the same thing, and allow me to be a bit more uniform.

My friend, and several people at the shop, said I was making a wise purchase.  They explained that while I didn’t need the tools, the proper tools make things go so much easier.

Any thoughts.

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.

Boxing Day Buys

Boxing day and a trip to the hobby store can be a wonderful and terrible combination.  Wonderful in that there are always things to buy and I am usually in a shopping kind of mood.  I have the desire to spend money and even the hobby store seems to be offering a discount.  I should also mention that after all that giving I feel like giving to myself.  Terrible in that the credit card cycle of Christmas is not yet over and adding to that already mountainous bill is probably not a good idea.

There is a TV commercial that made a big impression upon me.  Two women were discussing their significant others.  One said (in a mocking impression of her husband) “Do you really need all those shoes?”  She smiled and answered her own question.  “Need has nothing to do with it.”

I kind of feel like that about hobby things.  If I really analyzed it, I really don’t need anything.  Being somewhat logical, I can rein myself in usually and pass up things because I don’t need them.  Unfortunately, I can’t always stop myself from wanting things.  Maybe it’s part of my collection obsession. 

On my latest trip to the hobby store I came across a some cars that I thought looked really cool.  They don’t fit the theme of my train collection because I am trying to build a vast array of rolling stock that you would see in Canada.  However, I am also swayed by what looks interesting.  Someday, I will put up my train display case….someday.  And if I don’t run these cars all that often, they will still look good in the case.  I am sure anybody who visits my train layout will comment on them.

Of course, some people might comment by asking me, “just how many cars to you need to run this layout?”  I guess those people probably won’t be staying long.

Rummaging Through The Bookstore

I had a chance to look around the bookstore yesterday and I have a few observations I want to share with all you hobby people out there.  And, whereas I might whine about them gearing up for Christmas on my other blog, this will be a more positive blog.

The Gift of Literacy

I have to admit, shopping at a bookstore is one of my favourite things.  I don’t do it as much as I used to because I generally take advantage of the wonderful library system we have in Ontario.  While I used to love having a whole library of books, I have moved so many times that I really don’t need that huge library any longer.

Oddly enough, I have met so many interesting people in the bookstore over the years.  This includes my university bookstore, Kinokuniya in Japan, and the soon to be closed World’s Largest Bookstore in Toronto.  Just yesterday, I met someone very interesting… but I digress.

I just wanted to say that books and things you can buy at the bookstore make fantastic gifts.

Just for Christmas

I noticed that there are a lot of interesting gift packs for Christmas.  I came across a catapult kit, a boomerang kit (I was sorely tempted….but then I would have to wait until spring…..but I am still tempted.  Besides it’s orange.  I might be able to find it in the snow.  Besides, it might come back to me……) learn guitar kit.  The list is endless.

Add to that, there are so many interesting book sets.  The complete Calvin and Hobbes is now on sale in paperback for those of you who couldn’t justify getting the hardcover version.  I saw so many interesting things that I want to go back today and spend more time looking around.  Maybe I will.  Maybe I will pick up the whole Ender’s Game series just so I can watch the movie and not look like a complete newb.

If you’re shopping, the bookstore is a good place.  Sadly, hobby books for trains, model cars and the like don’t seem to get much shelf space in these stores.  I guess the hobby shops have sewn up that market, but that really isn’t fair.  I would think that it would be easier for the hobby inclined to send anyone wanting to buy them a gift to the bookshop rather than the hobby shop.  For some, the hobby shop is a little intimidating.

Sorry for rambling, but I roamed around the bookstore, and now you’ve roamed around my thought process….. I am off to the bookstore to look around some more.