At the Unipex Stamp Show

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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…

 

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What Have I Done?

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One of my regrets of early 2017 was not buying a collection of stamps I came across at a market in Vietnam.  I was tempted, but had an unusual amount of resistance in me that day.  I definitely thought they would make a good souvenir, but either wasn’t sure of the price conversion, whether I wanted them, or just had a good deal of resistance.

Either way, I did come to regret this decision later.

So, when I found myself back in Vietnam again in December of 2017, I no longer had that fabled resistance.  Maybe it was the weeks of regret, maybe it was the mood I was in.  I had taken out too much Dong from the bank machine and wasn’t going to change it back.  I bought more souvenirs this trip that my last one; that is for sure.

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So, now I seem to have started a stamp collection.  I wonder where this will lead?

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?

 

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.

Revisiting Puzzle Agony

Though I swore to myself I would not do another jigsaw puzzle, that’s exactly what I did

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What cruel circumstances led to this? Well, it is a combination of forgetful ambition and the words of a parent who seemed eager to do the puzzle.

The forgetful optimism allowed me to forget the agony of the last puzzle and think “Hey! A puzzle would be fun!” The words of my Mom made me think that she would like to do a puzzle together to, in her words, “keep me sharp.”  Well, she took one look at the pieces and said, “There really small.”  I guess that is what I get by buying the puzzle at the Dollar Tree.  I certainly wasn’t expecting perfection, I just hoped it wouldn’t be as bad as the last one.

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In the end, it wasn’t terrible and I finished it rather quickly. Despite not containing trains or train tracks or similar stuff, it was a pretty nice picture.  Now all I have to do is find somebody who wants it.

Hello Kitty

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As I reported in my last post, I was given a nanoblock kit that was purchased at Dollarama.  Today was the day I decided to make it.  I undertook this task as I had quite a few free minutes.  It took hardly any time at all.

At 110 pieces, this is among the smallest kits I have built.  A quick perusal of the instructions revealed it to be a rather straightforward build.

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Here’s what comes inside the kit

 

I am not a huge Hello Kitty fan, but I like that there are many different things you can build.  The product should appeal to many people and since there are a large number of Hello Kitty fans, it only makes sense.

It seemed to have turned out well and there were quite a few leftover pieces to go into a future build.

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As usual….nanoblocks rock!