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State of the Hobby, USA

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  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Tochigi, Japan
State of the Hobby, USA
Posted by J-Hulk on Monday, March 17, 2003 8:57 PM
Hi folks!
In another forum, I described how wonderful it is to be a modeler living in Japan, with all the great hobby shops featuring great selections virtually everywhere.
When I traveled back to the US last Christmas, I was saddened to find the one little hobby shop in my hometown of Brunswick, Georgia, had disappeared. It wasn't a great shop, to be sure, but it was a hobby shop nonetheless.
I was also quite disappointed to see that K-mart stopped carrying model kits altogether, and that Wal-mart's selection was down to about 3 Monogram F-14s and an assortment of about 10 cars and trucks.
My spirits picked up a bit, however, when I found a ton of kits at a Toy Liquidator's outlet shop. Lot's of AMT/Ertl stuff, really, really cheap.
It appears that well-done toys have taken youngster's minds off of building accurate replicas for themselves (but that's a whole other discussion!) and taken kits off of shelves.
Ah, and there is a Franklin's that carries a few kits (a coupla Glencoe, no less!).
Modeling in rural Southeastern Georgia was always a case of slim pickings, with nary a Tamiya or Hasegawa kit to be had for hundreds of miles (had to go to Savannah, Atlanta, or Jacksonville!! Anywhere there was a military installation!). But the current situation I experienced recently in my little hometown was quite depressing.
My question:
Where do serious modelers get their stuff, like kits, tools, aftermarket gear, the works?
The Internet? Or does every other city in the US besides my hometown have a plethora of fabulous hobby shops?
I'm very interested in hearing your stories.
(Not just the US, by the way!)
~Brian
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Merton, Wisconsin
Posted by bigfoot01 on Monday, March 17, 2003 9:14 PM
Most "Hobby Shops" in my area cater more towards R/C and Trading cards. The selection of plastic kits is poor at best. Thank God for Squadron.com! If ya can't get what your looking for at Squadron, it doesn't exist. And their prices are very reasonable.

John 

 

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Monday, March 17, 2003 9:46 PM
The hobby shops in the Twin Cities has reduced big time here in the past 5 years. We had 4 mega hobby shops and about 8 mom and pop shops and a few "hobbyclowns". Now all but one of the mom and pops are gone and a mega shop went OOB (Didn't pay his rent) Most of the modelers in the cities keep in contact with each other and it's moved online, mostly www.rollmodels.com You see his ads in FSM. He's the last mom and pop operation we got here, and he's local. No shop though, strictly mail order, but he's alot better than dealing with the jerks at the mega shops.

The hobby is evolving, it's moved from the dime store to the hobby shop. Let's just see what happens next.
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Racing capital of the world- Indy
Posted by kaleu on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 1:56 AM
I live in Indianapolis and have four shops within an hour's drive from my home that have a good selection of models. However, if I want to buy reference material, resin kits/conversion sets, p/e sets or aftermarket tracks I have to use a mail-order business. I have asked the hobby stores that I frequent to special order these items, but they either don't know what I'm talking about or want to charge too much to get what I want. There is hope though as the local Hobbytown is starting to carry Concord books and some Modelpoint barrels. I keep begging them to carry Eduard and Aber sets as well.
Erik "Don't fruit the beer." Newest model buys: More than I care to think about. It's time for a support group.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 4:38 AM
To me model heaven is England. (Hannants...). Seemed like every town, no matter how small, had a hobby shop. Here in Saginaw, MI, there's one craft/hobby store has some kits and supplies, but mostly trains and R/C. I have Dean's Hobby Stop (an FSM advertiser) who can supply some hard-to-find kits. But to be honest, I have to go the mail order route anymore. Sad.....
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 2:16 PM
Up here in Canada, I live in a city of about 200,000 and we have one hobby shop with a decent(in my opinion anyways) selection, plus 2 Wal-marts and 3 Zellers(similar to Wal-Mart) with dismal selections, as has already been mentioned. I am not into exotic kits or hard-to-find items or anything like that so I have always found what I needed or wanted at the hobby shop in the city here. The problem with being up in Canada is that there are very few Canadian distributors and with the exchange rate and everything else it is simply cost prohibitive to order from any of the American sites. The local hobby shop does carry Tamiya and Hasegawa kits but since I model mainly automotive subjects I am really not familiar enough with some of the smaller aircraft and armour manufacturers to comment on the selection in that area. I also have never checked to see what they might be able to order in if I did want something that they did not carry so I don't know how well they would do in that regard, either.
I really find it surprising that even in the U.S., Wal-Mart is cutting back on their kits. I had thought that it might be just up here in Canada, but it sounds like their selection is the same as up here.
It is very distressing that there seems to be such a widespread "lull" in the hobby and I just hope that that does not forecast future trouble for the industry in any way.
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 4:29 PM
Here in far northeastern Maine, there is no such thing as a hobby shop. There was one as recently as 3 years ago, but it went out of business. *sigh* I have a Wal-Mart nearby, but their selection is pretty close to nothing. Nearest hobby shop is a good 3 hours or so down the road one way, so most of my buying is done through Squadron. Occasionally I find a steal on eBay.

Only good news for me is that I've got around 10 kits untouched, so that'll keep me busy for a while...I'll only have to buy paint and other accessories before I need to get another small collection going!
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 4:36 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by glubokii_boi

Only good news for me is that I've got around 10 kits untouched, so that'll keep me busy for a while...I'll only have to buy paint and other accessories before I need to get another small collection going!


You need to check out the 'How much is "too much" - unassembled kits' thread. A lot of us have more than enough to start our own hobby stores.Tongue [:P]

  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, March 18, 2003 9:14 PM
I am fortunate to have my favorite hobby shop 1 hour away (54.9 miles to be exact). This is an extremely well stocked mom and pop shop. They have a huge selection of Tamiya and Hasegawa kits, as well as all the other manufactures out there. Tons of aftermarket stuff, paints, tools, supplies and reference materials. I try to reward this shop by buying as much as I can from them. Yes, it ends up costing me more, but I don't mind. I would hate too see them close.

Ordering online is ok. But I like going to the hobby shop on a Saturday morning and drooling over everything, taking my time picking out what I want. It's almost like a ritual.

Shop at the "Spare Time Shop" in Marlborough, Ma. Cool [8D].
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, March 19, 2003 10:28 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by heylonghair

QUOTE: Originally posted by glubokii_boi

Only good news for me is that I've got around 10 kits untouched, so that'll keep me busy for a while...I'll only have to buy paint and other accessories before I need to get another small collection going!


You need to check out the 'How much is "too much" - unassembled kits' thread. A lot of us have more than enough to start our own hobby stores.Tongue [:P]




Been there, read it, and am still shaking my head! It's a constant battle for me not to let the collection expand....and the wife (yet another thread!!) doesn't realize just how fortunate she is that I've managed to maintain a modicum of self-control in this regard! I know I'm fighting a losing battle against the collection monster within, but fight it I will! Big Smile [:D]
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: NE Georgia
Posted by Keyworth on Saturday, March 22, 2003 9:17 PM
There's a small hobby shop here in Athens, GA that's been a stalwart for about 10 years or so, with a decent selection of plastic kits of all genres, as well as RC cars, planes & ships. Other shops in Atlanta (60+ miles away) have come and gone, with just a few remaining. The local Walmart is like all the rest-two Revellogram WWII kits, two jets, 50 car kits, a few die-cast kits, minimal supplies. There's a Michaels craft store nearby with a similar kit listing, but they have more variety with supplies-I use everything I can from there. But that's it. I seem to have to order specialty items and some top-brand new releases from outfits like Squadron and GreatModels. sigh................................................ :(
"There's no problem that can't be solved with a suitable application of high explosives"
  • Member since
    February 2003
  • From: Tochigi, Japan
Posted by J-Hulk on Sunday, March 23, 2003 8:22 PM
Hi, Keyworth.
I lived in Athens on and off from '90-'95, and right before I left a hobby shop did open, over by the theaters, in a plaza the name of which escapes me...run by a nice old gentleman. Is that the one your talking about?
~Brian
  • Member since
    November 2005
Posted by Anonymous on Sunday, March 23, 2003 9:02 PM
Unfortuneatly, all but two hobby shops here in central florida here cater mostly to R/C models(which are an abomination to our hobby, IMO!). And even the two hobby shops here in central florida that DO have plastic models still have areas dedicated to R/C models. However, one of them has intent to expand(JR Hobby, in the Osceaola Square Mall). The other one is Colonial Photo/hobby shop, and they're pretty big, but they don't have many aftermarket products(detail sets and such).
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Warwick, RI
Posted by paulnchamp on Monday, March 24, 2003 5:32 PM
From the sound of things, I must be the luckiest guy around. I have the two best hobby shops in Rhode Island each exactly a mile and a half away from me (in opposite directions!) They're both great; I try to divide my purchases between them to keep it fair.
Paul "A man's GOT to know his limitations."
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: NE Georgia
Posted by Keyworth on Tuesday, March 25, 2003 6:14 PM
J-Hulk, that shop is still around-Athens Hobby Center. Still owned by the same family. Store moved twice since I've been here (since 1963!!!!). Still just as friendly and stocks the good stuff!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -Ed
"There's no problem that can't be solved with a suitable application of high explosives"
  • Member since
    January 2003
  • From: Central MI
Posted by therriman on Thursday, March 27, 2003 6:14 PM
Up here in Flint, MI, my choices consist of Dean's hobby stop (already mentioned by bubbamoosecat), Rider's (a small midwest chain), and a Hobbytown USA (only been opened a year or 2).

Dean's only sells kits (primarliy) and the other 2 seem to treat kits as a necessary evil. most room is devoted to R/C and trains, etc.

The hobbytown store does have a decent supply of tools, paints, etc. As for my kits I have bought my last 4 kits on e-bay, and plan on getting any more either on e-bay, squadron, rollmodels, or another online store.

What we really need is a model club. I belonged to one when I lived in Va. Beach, VA (when in the Navy). Even if it was only one day a month, it would be helpful.

Tim H.
Tim H. "If your alone and you meet a Zero, run like hell. Your outnumbered" Capt Joe Foss, Guadalcanal 1942 Real Trucks have 18 wheels. Anything less is just a Toy! I am in shape. Hey, Round is a shape! Reality is a concept not yet proven.
  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Third rock from the sun.
Posted by Woody on Monday, April 14, 2003 7:24 PM
I live in the southeast corner of Missouri and there is nothing even remotely like a hobby shop here. If you live near a shop, tell them what you like about their business and what you would like to see them stock. Be a good customer and support them. I'd love to be able to walk into a hobby shop but the nearest one is in St. Louis a 3 hr drive!Disapprove [V]

" I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm's way." --John Paul Jones
  • Member since
    February 2003
Posted by Jim Barton on Friday, April 18, 2003 5:52 PM
The best hobby shop I've ever been to is one in Tempe, Arizona called Hobby Depot, not too far from Arizona State University. Unfortunately, that's a seven-hour drive from my home in the San Fernando Valley, near Los Angeles. Sadly, there just aren't many decent hobby shops in "The Valley," although one in Northridge called Smith Brother's is pretty good. (Been around for many years; it even withstood the 1994 earthquake.) But for really good shopping for anything (not just model building supplies, but used phonograph records, clothes or even CAT FOOD), it seems I can get a better selection in Orange County, between LA and San Diego.

"Whaddya mean 'Who's flying the plane?!' Nobody's flying the plane!"

  • Member since
    April 2003
  • From: Sunny Florida
Posted by renarts on Friday, April 18, 2003 10:09 PM
The central east coast of Florida is pretty sparse. There is one close to me that caters primarily ro R/C but they have a good selection of armor and aircraft.

I travel over to a place called SCI-FI City in East Orlando, (about an hour away) and they have a nice selection of armor/aircraft/ and others. Lots of sci-fi resin stuff and one of the best selection of books on everything from ancient to modern, with a great selection of modeling books. This is a store that has mastered the idea of niche marketing. And agressivley goes after it with t.v. spots, their own radio show, and plenty of sponserships and related associations with conventions and special events. If more stores were like them, there wouldn't be a question as to the survivability of the hobby.
While they do 75% of their business to sci/fi fandom/comics/ and gaming I'm still impressed with what they have for models, paint selection, and accessories.

Tenchi-give them a shot. The books alone are worth the trip. They're a few miles past Colonial Hobbies on 50 on the right hand side going East.

Mike
Mike "Imagination is the dye that colors our lives" Marcus Aurellius A good friend will come and bail you out of jail...but, a true friend will be sitting next to you saying, "Damn...that was fun!"
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