What my local hobby shop provided

The ‘what the postman brought today’ post is a well used post and rightly so and I know some people have been using it also for items they’ve bought local to them as well.

However in the Internet age, I wondered whether the beleaguered shop keeper needs a separate shout out.

I buy the majority of my modelling supplies online as for choice and often cost it’s unbeatable. However there is something online can’t beat; something intangible, the browsing of a good model shop wares and just seeing what they’ve got in stock, maybe an impulse purchase, things not necessarily in your radar, or outside of your usual sphere of interest etc.

With that in mind this is what I’ve bought. Feel free to shout out your LHS purchases and champion a dying breed. Not sure if forum rules allow us to name the shops?


Nice score!

Agreed, regarding the Local Hobby Shop.

My wife doesn’t know that my errands will take me right by the LHS on Tuesday. He he he

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Just wish I had a LHS nearby! Sadly it’s all internet shopping for me…

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Let’s face it - many shops deserve to be beleaguered. Tolson’s in Fort Worth immediately comes to mind. I’ve watched dozens of shops go out of business all over the country. I like to call it Darwin Economics.
Ace Hobbies in NYC - a weird second floor location with little to no organization and kits scattered about on the floor. All three Olde Tyme Hobbies in the DFW area - little interest in customer service and bad selection of kits. The aforementioned Tolson’s. A crotchety old shyte who acted like he was doing you a favor letting you breathe the air in his shop. The many incarnations of the Arlington, TX HobbyTown which bounced around from one location to the other to the other. The last one was apparently the last effort.
But many good ones have gone by the wayside as well. There was Phil’s Hobby Shop in Carrollton, TX. Bobbye Hall’s in Dallas. The HobbyTown on North Academy in Colorado Springs. Don’t let the name fool you - they had a great magazine and book selection, and regular placed 50% off stickers on some pretty good kits. Oddly they’re survived by the HobbyTown on South Academy a few miles away which I don’t find to be nearly as good. Bridgetown Hobbies near Portland, Oregon was a pretty nice one as well. Sorry to see them all go.
There is one hobby shop I’ve been visiting for almost twenty years and it still appears to be doing quite well - Colpar’s in Aurora, CO. It is a HobbyTown as well. I was happy to give them a shout out two weeks ago and I’ll do it again. If you’re ever in the Denver area it’s well worth the visit.

For the USA local hobby shop (and Railroad and Radio Control shop), then yes, it is an Endangered Species almost Extinct, not to contradict or counter you,18Bravo. But that doesn’t mean that USA comic book stores, wargaming stories, some Gundam kit shops, Anime stores, gaming board stores, coin stores, LEGO stores, art stores, magic shops, stamp stores, and toy stores aren’t thriving—they are.

Check this out:


So, yup, people and kids still buy toys and it still is a “big business.” Success all depends on the hobby, promotions, and marketing. So the hobby in many categories does survive in the USA in other areas (and one can make oodles of money), just that general model kit hobbies seem to be tanking for a vast variety of reasons in the USA. (I’ve posted on this topic before about the local hobby shops in this area, and the reasons for their demise, so I won’t bore you here).

The Japanese are famously known for endorsing and buying trinkets, hobbies, and cute items, and nothing IMO, beats the Japanese hobby shop, but the Japanese don’t buy and market American or European kits (when I visited there) as they mostly cater to selling Japanese brand model and figure kits.

Can a USA hobby shop survive and thrive by not being online? Sure, Google “Michigan Toy Soldier” and look at the interior store photos of that huge place. I know that Michigan Toy Soldier (MTS) got a lot of customer flak from its past with shady business dealings by some former store employees and owners, but that is a huge store that thrives and remains—and it mostly caters to figures—it isn’t a general hobby shop per se. It’s essentially a store with several large rooms stocked full of stuff. Do the 360-degree view inside and walk through the store a little. MTS is an example of a store that “gets it right” for the figure modeler, and while they might not have EVERYTHING stocked in the figure market (such as Asian and European resin kits), they do carry enough to be a store that can get a figure modeler up and running from scratch. (I’m not affiliated with Michigan Toy Soldier or promoting them; I’m just using them as a large USA hobby store example).


MTS Video walk-through:

MTS YouTube videos:


Also check out the IPMS 2021 Las Vegas Model Kit Contest via Andy’s Hobby Headquarters, a runtime of 36 minutes, and you will see that the model kit hobby is alive and well in the USA even if the local USA hobby shop isn’t.


Tom, get your sorry ar*e to Salisbury in sunny Wiltshire; the Salisbury Model Centre will not disappoint.

I’m sure I’m not allowed to advertise as such so I won’t link his site, however, a hobby shop run by someone who is a modeller (to my mind that makes a huge difference) and, for what it’s worth, an ex soldier with no mean experience. Seriously, a good egg running a damn good shop and always willing to go the extra mile to help the customer.

I can’t quite remember where you live but if you’re so inclined, we could always tie-up and I might even stand you a pint. Might.

Hi Brian, I’d love to! But from east London that’s a good three hours driving, so not exactly “local”. But next time we find ourselves at a show I think a bevvie is in order!

Hey Tom, what the hell? Take the train - I’ll put you up for the night and we can:

a. Drink our own body weight in beer.

b. Talk modelling boll**ks until dawn.

All of course, subject to Higher Authority (wife)!!

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We are fortunate in the Seattle area to have Skyway Model Shop. It is a small shop but stacked with kits floor to ceiling organized by genre and scale. They carry multiple lines of paints and have a good selection of tools, magazines and other goodies. He gets in the latest kits in addition to having some of the older kits. The kit prices are a bit higher than on-line; but, once you add shipping, they are not out of line. If you are traveling through Seattle it is well worth a visit.


Brian, that’s a very tempting offer! I’m tied up with fieldwork at the moment, but later in the autumn things should ease up… (We use a TOIL system, so work’s gonna owe me a ton of days off - if I can find time to take 'em!)

My LHS, Mike’s Models in Kingstanding, Birmingham, is a 5 minute walk around the corner from our house (I swear that had no bearing on our decision to buy it!). So very handy whenever I need anything.
Well stocked with aircraft, ships, armour and car kits. Also R/C aircraft and cars, railway, scenic material, some Games Workshop, materials, tools and several major paint brands. Staff are helpful and happy to order in anything if it’s not on the shelf.

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Tom I thought most digging in the mud took place in Wiltshire.

Oh man, that’s funny! No - really.

Well with any luck next year the On Track show will be running again at Folkestone; I think that’s where we tied up last time, so if all else fails see you there in February!

Hi Darren, not sure there’ anywhere left in Wiltshire that hasn’t already been dug! (Something to do with that bunch of rocks in the middle…) I’m in Twickenham this month, Kent next month, and was in Cumbria (on some emperor’s garden wall) for June & July. Not sue I remember what my own house looks like…

And yes I hope we’ll all be at On Track rather than sheltering at home! Sadly I’m not available for SMW in November, even if it goes ahead. But as Vera sang, we’ll meet again…

I am also lucky to have a LHS, Modelbouwenzo in Hoorn, the Netherlands, dedicated to plastic modelling with an owner who occasionally models. He has good service, also postal, ans is an fair and honest trader. Luckily his business goes so well, he moved to a larger premises last year! Me soooo happy!!!

I have the North East Model Centre about 20 minutes drive just outside Chester Le Street. They have a great selection of kits, paints, tools and supplies, Albion Alloy and Evergreen stock. As usual there are RC cars, aircraft and boats and rail stuff and they now have Warhammer gear also.

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Most of my shopping is done on line. Our local Hobby Town is a joke. They sell mostly RC stuff and have a decent model area. But if you want something specific, don’t bother. If it’s not RC related, they don’t care much. I tried to do the good thing and order a kit thru them. Two months later, and they haven’t ordered it yet. Bought it off Amazon and had it in 4 days. I do get some of my paint/putty there, but I will go to Hobby Lobby to get anything else I might need.

The postage from OS to Australia is pretty ridiculous. My LHS charges a few $ more than what it would cost me to get a kit shipped here from Hong Kong. They hold good supplies of paint, etc, and as a plus, they provide a discount for my club when we buy something for our monthly raffle, so I support them to help keep them in business. I also buy online from an Aussie supplier whose prices match the OS plus postage ones.


FWIW I was in the hobby game for a while. Both retail and wholesale/importer here in Australia. Mostly trains stuff. Always pushed the local stores. Yeah we supplied them but I always worried about what would happen when they all closed down due to online shopping.
Now I buy everything online. My go to place is BNA. Prices are ‘ok’ but service is outstanding. We live on the Gold Coast. Population 750000. Brisbane just under 100k away up the freeway. Another few million folks up there. Yet not a ‘real’ hobby shop anywhere. A few toy shops have some stuff.
Times have changed. The local store simply can’t compete with the lower costs of an online shop.

But! But I’ve been crazy enough to think about opening a hobby shop. But with a difference. The big items can still be had online. But it’s all the small stuff that’s a PITA. Glue, paint, styrene, timber, brushes, cleaners etc etc etc etc. Now the trick is to park the shop beside a Spotlight. (Hobbylobby type of shop for those in the USA). The women all go to Spotlight for their hobby and craft stuff. So while the women shop the men can get their goodies from my shop. Good idea? Maybe! But I’m too lazy and comfortable where I’m at.

The reality is that we all killed the hobby shop. We all wanted better and cheaper and went online to get it. And in doing so killed off the local hobby shop.