Hi-Way Of Mixed Emotions

July 27th, 2009 by Kyle

Kyle here;

So when I was growing up, I really wasn’t a sci-fi geek, and (like almost everybody else on this side of the Pacific) had no real idea what anime was other than Robotech and G-Force. No, I was – and still am – a plastic model guy; and specifically an aircraft guy. Being back east gave me a chance to go visit my old model shop from when I was growing up; Hi-Way Hobby in Ramsey, NJ. I wouldn’t even want to estimate on how much money I spent here in my teenage years, though to be fair, it was still probably cheaper than having stuff like a car, a girlfriend, or a social life (which are highly overrated anyway).

And yet, as they say, “you can’t go home again”. Oh, Hi-Way Hobby is still there. But someone seems to have turned my model shop into a sci-fi/comics/games store! This, as someone who’s both the co-host of a vaguely sci-fi/comics/games-themed podcast and a continuing model builder, gives me… mixed feelings, to say the least.

So here’s what I saw when I tried to take a drive back to my past:

Star Trek items sold here?” That was never there before.

This isn’t a good sign. This case used to be full of aircraft & armor.

Comics boxes?

Gaming tables?
Well, here’s the model aircraft, hiding behind Yoda.

This whole aisle, on both sides, used to be model aircraft. And that was just the airplanes – the next two aisles were armor and cars.

Now that’s all that’s left of the aircraft – one half of one side of an aisle.

But they do indeed have a bunch of Star Trek items.

And… Twilight merch?! In my model shop? WTF?!

I know the whole “You punk kids get off my lawn” thing is kind of a catchphrase with us, but what happens when you are one of the punk kids? I mean, if I found Hi-Way Hobby now, for the very first time, I’d think it was kind of a cool little comics/sci-fi store with – oh, look! – a little model section, too. But I’d be approaching it as a sci-fi fan. As it is, I approach it as a model builder, because that’s how I remember the place. Thus, whether it’s a good comics/sci-fi store isn’t the issue for me. I still find it vaguely depressing.

I also wouldn’t be upset if this wasn’t part of a trend I’ve seen with model shops. Virtually the same thing happened with D&J Hobby – one of my model shops back home in California. I suppose model-building as a hobby is changing. It’s gone from a cheap hobby for teenage boys to an expensive hobby for grown men. It’s become less popular and more specialized. This is good and bad. The quality of molds and accessories has grown exponentially, as have their prices. Lots of really cool stuff is available from sources all over the world on the internet, but the old-school model shop seems to be a dying breed. I guess places that want to stay in business have to diversify, but I liked old-school model shops, and I don’t like seeing them fade away.

So you punk kids and your… uhm… stuff that I like*… get off my lawn!

(*Except for the Twilight merch. No, really… that has to go).

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2 Responses to “Hi-Way Of Mixed Emotions”

  1. hhh employee says:

    Sorry you were disappointed, but in order survive, you need to change with the times. Things like model railroading and model building are nowhere near as popular as it used to be and it’s unfortunate. When you have to give away models at below cost in order to sell them, it’s no longer worth it.

  2. Harry says:

    You will be happy to know that Hi-Way Hobby is going out of business. Models, RC and trains don’t seem to sell anymore.

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