Subscription Boxes

I haven’t written much about hobbies lately because there really hasn’t been much time to devote to hobbies. That’s probably not one hundred percent true, but that’s how it feels.  It hasn’t stopped me from thinking about my hobbies.

On YouTube, I have seen two things that always struck me as interesting, but not overly applicable to me. The first was a subscription service for Japanese candy.  You pay a fee every month and they send you candy from Japan.  The second was those “lucky bags” in Japan where, depending on the store, you pay a price and get a mystery bag of stuff that is supposed to be worth more than you paid.  This is a once a year deal in Japan, but the idea sounds interesting enough.

Little did I know, this idea has really taken off. There are literally hundreds of mystery box subscriptions in a large number of areas.  There are ones for makeup.  There are ones for health.  There are ones for comic books.  There are ones for young adult books.  There are ones for coffee or beer.  There is even one for bricks–I can’t say Lego because there are a lot of different bricks out there these days.

The price for these boxes seems to start at $20 and climb from there. I have seen ones that were more than $75.  Nonetheless, It would kind of be like Christmas every month.  Some months you’d get the gift from your cool uncle and other months you get the gift from the grumpy family member.  What I mean to say is that some months you would probably be thrilled while other months you might be a tad disappointed.

In some cases, the stuff you would get would probably be things that didn’t sell well, or were over produced. Still, it might be interesting.

Does that mean I am going to subscribe?

So far, the one that I have found to be the most interesting is one that introduces a new hobby to you every month. It seems kind of interesting, but I could imagine that I won’t like every hobby.  I know I love a lot of hobbies….but I know there are ones that are not really interesting.

What I would like to see are subscription boxes in the following areas:

  • Trains.  (Either N scale or HO scale) The subscription service could fill a box with a car or two, a building or two, some scenery stuff, a book, and maybe even some paint, or some 3D printed stuff.  It could also have some stickers, or other railroad material inside.
  • Plastic Models. There are so many plastic models that probably don’t sell that this would be the perfect idea to lighten some inventory loads.  Again, books, paint, accessories, tools, and other goods would all fit in well in this box.
  • mini cars. A service that gives you cars from all over the world.  Sounds awesome to me.
  • Robots. Every month could have accessories and modifications to your previous build.

If anyone subscribes to a hobby based subscription box, I would love to hear from you. I am curious and I want to know more.  Also, any positive or negative feedback about subscription services would be nice.  If I can’t find what I want, I may have to start one up.

After publishing this post

I decided to search if WP to see if there was a topic on his.  I found it under subscription.  I will also look there while waiting for your replies.

2013: A Year in Hobbies

The most popular place in Tokyo to spend New Year’s Eve–in Nanoblocks (fitting isn’t it)
 
 
Despite what people might think, Christmas is not necessarily the greatest time for hobbyists.  Yes, Christmas brings the potential of much wanted presents for the hobbyist.  It might also bring a good boxing day sale (as it did in my case) but that doesn’t mean there really is time to actually do anything.  Christmas is so full of stuff that the real hobby season may not begin until the start of the new year.

I know there are people out there who had planned and executed their Christmas shopping and preparation by September.  Those people probably have had lots of time to play with trains or build model cars.  Based on what people on my favourite train site are saying, there seems to have been lots of time to improve their models and run quite a few trains.

I have not been blessed with too many vacation days–yes, I am that guy.  They guy you see marching off to work like some lemming every morning while you are still in your PJs enjoying that first cup of coffee.  While this may sound like sour grapes (and at times it is) I was still better off than the people around here who didn’t have power until Christmas day.  Even if those people had the day off, they couldn’t have run trains or powered an airbrush.

 

The new year is upon us, and I should take stock of the –in terms of hobbies.  Life has been pretty full, but I’d rather focus on what this blog is supposed to focus on.

  • I have enjoyed blogging and while this blog’s readership has been growing slowly, the blog that I set up to help my students’ English has done remarkably well.  I have even done a good job of preparing and working ahead, so I don’t need to panic the day before a lesson is supposed to be published.
  • I have reconnected with the Nscale.net website and have enjoyed their advice and stories as part of my effort to build my n scale train layout.
  • I have built and painted several models, and can feel good about my improvement in these areas.
  • I have spent time running trains and have reignited my passion in this area.
  • I have come to love Nanoblocks, but hate that they aren’t as readily available as their big brother Lego.  While they are popping up at toy stores, they soon sell out and restocking seems to take months.
  • My passion for reading allowed me to read 44 novels this year.  While this is by no means a record for myself, I think it isn’t too bad since for a quarter of the year I had my head buried in ESL methodology books.
  • I found time to do a few Jigsaw puzzles, but wonder what to do with them after they are built.
  • I have watched far too much YouTube, but I am happy that the few things I have posted have seemed popular.  Though, honestly, I am not sure why unboxing the Statue of Liberty Nanoblock kit is so popular.  Maybe one of you could watch it and let me know.
  • It hasn’t been a stellar year for practicing Japanese, but I still feel good about my ability.
In my next blog, I will look ahead to the coming year and what joy it may bring.   Thanks for reading.

 

 

Japanese Cargo Trains

 
 
I just wanted to put some shots of some of my other Japanese cargo trains…..in case there were some train fans out their reading this blog.
 
I think these mini tankers are kind of cool.  I don’t know what they are called, but do like them.  The ones on the right are undecorated, but someone put the sticker numbers on them already.  I will have to paint over them and apply some new letters–sounds like a project.
 


An overhead view.

I am interested in Japanese cargo trains for a couple of reasons.  The first is that I seem to have an over exaggerated interest in anything Japanese.  If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know that.  The second is the sheer novelty of it.  These cargo trains are quite different from the ones we have in North America.  The third is that their way of doing things is different.  You don’t need to have a bunch of different cars, just different cargo add- ons.  This is the same rail car as in previous shots, just with different card put on top.  Seems pretty cool to me, but I would love to hear from other N scale railroaders about their opinions.

Most of what I have seen in hobby shops around here are just Japanese bullet trains.  Nobody seems to have cargo trains.  It is too bad, because they are cool.

The Number 3 Hobby I Would Take up if I had time space and money

No surprise if you have been reading this blog (or have glanced at a few of the posts right now before reading this one), but I love trains.  I am not really sure why.  Maybe it’s the little child in me, maybe it’s the yearning for freedom that riding the rails represent, or maybe trains are just cool.

Either way, if I had space and money, and my dream N scale layout was built, I would probably buy all the Lego trains that are out there.  At last count I have come across four different ones in this modern era. (I should note that this includes an antique looking one that could have come from a Harry Potter movie)

They seem very cool to me, and I instantly desired them (and they were are on sale last week).  Somehow I managed to walk out of the store without buying any of them (I should really be working on my almost dream N scale layout).  I really don’t have the room for them, and I certainly don’t have the money.  I don’t have any need for them either.

To top all that off, my N scale trains are much more detailed and realistic scale models of trains.  Nonetheless, I desire these Lego trains and spend a bit of time each month pondering the possibility of buying them.  This pondering is either scoping them out on the internet or checking them out at the toy store or the Lego store.  Though this is time that could be better spent blogging, I really can’t help myself.

My greatest worry about this is that they seem to put these sets out for a limited time.  If they don’t sell, or if they sell out, I may never see these sets again.  I am pretty sure that I won’t buy one of them in the near future, but I may never be able to buy one ever.

 

A Day Out

the stuff I bought today….though I wasn’t going to buy anything.

Isn’t it amazing that when you go to a hobby shop, and have no intention of buying anything, you always come home with stuff.  I wish I could lie and say the stuff just followed me home, but that just wouldn’t be true.

Today I went to three different hobby shops.  Although I primarily went to look at train stuff, I managed to look at paint, car models, plane models, slot cars, magazines, science fiction models, tools, and lots of equipment.  All in all it was a good day.

If you need a day out, a trip to your local hobby shop would be a great idea.  You could go an just talk to people and share ideas on your hobby.  You don’t have to buy anything.  Really.  You don’t have to buy anything.  Of course, that is what I told myself before I left for the shops today.

Finally!!!

Finally.

6 months of saving up the money

One tense night of deciding

One moment of courage to make the decision

Relief when one package arrived

Anticipation for the final package

Disappointment when the package failed to arrive

Numerous emails to correct the problem

Frantic checking of the UPS number

7 weeks waiting in total

Finally it has all arrived

 

My N scale Scenic Ridge Layout kit is now in my possession.  I picked up the last overdue piece from the post office today.  It was quite the struggle to wait, but it is finally here.

I have already chronicled why I cam to buy this kit, and I have not wavered in that decision since I bravely completed the order form.  I am sad that what was supposed to be my vacation project has now become a weekend project, but that is just the way it has to be.

I will take time to write about my progress and include my pictures.  Hopefully you will enjoy it.

A Choice of Scales

As the jack of all hobbies I often find myself trying to spur others onto a hobby.  I have already related my efforts to get people to blog  and to find a hobby for my friend so as to keep him from other more dangerous hobbies.  Unfortunately my friend has not taken to blogging, and fortunately he hasn’t resorted to mind altering chemicals.  Neither of these things has deterred me from sticking my nose in and trying to raise interest in a hobby with a colleague of mine.

My colleague is a very good military modeller–prize winning in fact.  He is also far more disciplined than I–he actually completes most of the projects he starts.  We have been discussing his entry into the world of model trains.  Thanks to the internet he has done a lot of research and is pretty secure in his choice of era and subject matter.  My contribution has been mostly to act as a sounding board.  His only question is scale.

In Model trains there are several scales.  HO (as I have been told) is the most popular.  There are bigger trains: G, O and S and there are smaller scales.  These are N and Z.

My colleague is considering the two smallest scales.  He is fascinated by miniaturization and is currently leaning toward Z.  Of course he has never seen a Z scale train up close, let alone the buildings and landscape material.  We will probably have to travel to a couple of hobby shops (LHS–local hobby shop in the parlance of the model railroad crowd)  to get to see a good cross section of what is available.

When I started in trains I quickly gravitated toward N scale.  I had dreams of running 100 car freight trains all across my basement.  As unrealistic as that dream has shown itself to be, I can’t get that image out of my head.  Someday, probably when I join an N-track club, I will make that a reality.
something very Canadian

Choosing scales is a tough choice.  HO offers the biggest variety of equipment and accessories, and benefits from the volume of sales.  It’s biggest drawback is that it takes up a lot of room.  N which is not exactly half as big offers a slightly less wide variety but thanks to advanced manufacturing techniques doesn’t suffer from a lack of detail.

Z scale is the smallest, and perhaps hardest to find.  The biggest advantage of this is that you can pack a whole heck of a lot of railroad into a small space.  I have seen a lot of great creations involving tiny spaces and highly detailed Z scale layouts.  The biggest drawback is that there just isn’t as much stuff being produced in Z scale.  There aren’t walls of trains and building kits.  Sometimes there isn’t even a corner, just a small shelf or tiny display case.

I didn’t mention the difficulty you might encounter if your eyesight is not quite perfect–hoping of course that it was obvious.

the battery is to give you an idea of scale (AA)
Should you find yourself wanting to take up trains, get yourself to a hobby shop and see it up close before you go online and plunk down a lot of money.

I just thought that I would add some pictures of my collection of freight cars.  I haven’t included my Japanese trains, but someday (if people want that) I will put my pictures of them up on this blog.