Panther Hobbies

This is the 4th in a series of occasional posts on Hobby Shops I frequent.  This time, it is Panther Hobbies of Mississauga Ontario.

IMG_3513Front of Panther Hobbies on Wharton Glen, just south of Dundas Street East in Mississauga.

Panther is a bit of a dyeing bread, an everything hobby store.  They have trains, slot cars, plastic models, and they used to do RC (they may have some old stock left, but got out of that).  They also are a regular on the Model Train show circuit around Ontario, meaning, if you can’t come to them, chances are they come to you with some stock.

IMG_3514Entry through the bright red door around the side.

I don’t have any interior pictures, as it’s just so full none I’ve taken have done the store any justice.  It is however, a store that can be confusing to find things in, because there is just so much stuff.  That said, they are well stocked on paints, styrene strips and sheets, tools, glues and general model making supplies.  They have a decent selection of new and used models in HO and N scale, and some bits and pieces in other scales.  They also have a supply of basic scenery materials.  Similar to Wheels and Wings on the east end, this is a west end Toronto go-to for paint and day-to-day modelling supplies when you don’t need specialized railroad parts or expertise.

They also have a large layout in the back stockroom.  It’s open from time to time, but I suspect they would open it up to someone if you asked during a visit.

I’ve been shopping at Panther for a long time, through a couple of different locations as they’ve moved.  I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come as its quite convenient to home when I’m out and about doing errands in the west end.

Website: http://www.pantherhobbies.com/

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Wheels & Wings Hobbies

This is the 3rd in a occasional series of posts on Hobby Shops that I frequent.  This shop, is a store that doesn’t actually sell anything model railroad specific.  Wheels & Wings Hobbies is a plastic model kit shop (not meant in the least to sound derogatory towards it).  I discovered the store after I moved into Toronto, as it’s conveniently located on Danforth Avenue a short walk from Coxwell or Woodbine stations.  I discovered the store because I was looking for paint and painting supplies, and this store has those in spades.

ww01Wheels & Wings Hobbies Storefront on Danforth Avenue in Toronto.

The first time I walked in, it was one of those moments.  Fully stocked racks of Testors, Pollyscale (at the time, not any more!), Vallejo, Humbrol, Tamiya and others paints.  A half wall of tools between the cash desk and the paint.  It was something I’d been looking for that was easy to get to for a City dweller (even though i have a car, its nice sometimes to just let the TTC do the driving!).

Inside the Right Half of Wheels & Wings Hobbies.  Racks of paint (well stocked no less) and tools/modelling supplies.  Sci-Fi model kits are beyond the paints, and cars/trucks etc opposite them.

As I posted about recently, for a change of pace, I’ve been building a few plastic model kits in the past year or so, just for a change of pace.  This store is a fantastic source for this, and their staff are experts and very helpful.  I was out a dinner with some model railroader friends recently, and one of them from out of town had been in Wheels & Wings earlier in the day.  He was looking for paint, but also has an interest in Canadian Military Trucks.  The store didn’t have  a kit he was looking for, but their response was, we should have had that in stock, and if you buy it, we’ll order it and ship it to you at our cost.  Now that, is customer service.  As a small business, if you treat people like that, you get return business and plaudits.

ww03The “left” aisle in the front of wheels and wings.  Aircraft aircraft aircraft!!

I didn’t take any pictures, but the back room of the store is a room with an amazing assortment of military models from companies I’ve never even heard of from around the world, which leads to the basement, with another room full of older kits on consignment or clearout.  Frankly, if you are into plastic kits, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in such a well stocked store in Ontario.  As a model railroader though, while I often browse the store and the kits for curiosity’s sake, most of my money gets spent on paints and tools here, but I’ve bought a couple of kits, and talked general model making and painting techniques that cross between genres of modelling with their knowledgeable staff.

Website: http://www.wheelswingshobbies.com/

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Credit Valley Railway Company Ltd.

This is the 2nd in a ocassional series of posts on Hobby Shops that I frequent.  This shop, is one of the two full service Model Railroad specialty shops in the Greater Toronto Area, being the west ends store.  Credit Valley Railway Company has been in business since 1994, and I’ve probably been shopping there on and off since 1996 or 1997, which strangely enough is around the time that I had my full drivers license and a car.  I don’t know if my parents ever figured out what i was up to, but I regularly would have the car and permission to do something in Kitchener-Waterloo where we lived at the time, and take off the hour up the 401 to visit Credit Valley, and the now closed North Star Hobbies on Dundas St in Mississagua.  You could hide a lot more when gas cost $0.45 a litre to buy and not $1.10 as it does today!! I didn’t often buy much, but I loved at least thinking I  was getting away with doing something I wasn’t supposed to be (such a rebel I am, taking the car to go plastic model and train shopping)!!

img_3530The unassuming exterior of the Credit Valley Railway Company.

Several years ago, Credit Valley realized that their original storefront space in the Streetsville area of Mississauga was not going to be functional moving forward, and took the big leap of going for a “warehouse” space in an industrial plaza, where they could expand their extensive offerings and create a destination shop.  While the store lost some of the charm of the hunt through tight racks and aisles, it gained so much more in being a bright and airy shop, and a step towards the 21st century and keeping the hobby appealing.  While what I call “Troll Hole” stores may have been acceptable 20-30 years ago, people aren’t willing to shop in dingy places where they get treated like a pest not a customer anymore (and nor should you with the price of things today).

Display Cases and N Scale layout in the entrance lobby.

When you enter the store now, you are greeted by two large display cases of new products or samples of upcoming releases, and an N scale layout, one of two operating layouts in the store.

img_3533Large HO Scale display layout in the back of the store.

Inside, there is a full range of products in HO, N, Z and larger scales, along with scratchbuilding supplies, tools, paints and DCC/Electronics.  The store runs a regular series of clinics aimed both at beginners and more experienced modellers in a “Clinic Room” which is also used for sales and special events.  There always seems to be a good number of staff around, and a number of the staff are well regarded Canadian modellers with expertise in DCC, weathering, repairs and all kinds of aspects of the hobby.  I regularly overhear staff giving all kinds of help and advise to people in the store looking to get into the hobby, or who have come in with a problem with their kids “toy trains”.

5804214124_72a3259ce5_oJason Shron from Rapido Trains doing a demonstration in 2011 in the Credit Valley Clinic Room as part of their promotional tour for the then yet to be released HO Scale set of The Canadian.

Credit Valley has a fully functioning e-commerce website as well, so you can order for delivery or to pickup in store.  I can speak from experience when I say even pathetically small orders like those I sometimes place for one or two detail parts as a special order are handled with care and responded to promptly by their staff.

img_3534HO Scale Locomotive Display Cases line one wall of the space.

Website: http://www.cvrco.com

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Harburn Hobbies

This is the first in an occasional series of posts on Hobby Shops that I frequent or have shopped at.  My intention is to help others find places to go if they are traveling, or for those in the Toronto area with my local stores, to help them get into the hobby if they are looking for where to go for supplies and advice.

My first shop, is one from afar, but its one that I’ve shopped at both times I have been in Edinburgh.  Harburn Hobbies is a small (by Canadian standards at least), but very well stocked shop just outside the city centre in Edinburgh Scotland.   It is located at 67 Elm Row, to the northeast of the city centre between the core and the Leith Docks area.  The shop is primarily a Model Railroad shop, but has some plastic kits and Scaletrix/electric slot car supplies as well.  The store has a large collection of OO and N Gauge rolling stock and scenery supplies.  Harburn also produces their own line of Scenic Details under the “Harburn Hamlet” brand, and does custom runs of Scottish models from major manufacturers like Bachmann, Hornby and Oxford Models.

img_3467
Harburn Hobbies on Elm Row after a successful visit in December 2016.

Harburn Hobbies is about a 10 minute walk from the main Edinburgh Waverley Station, and can be done if you are a modeller even if you are only making a quick stopover while passing through the City.

Website: http://www.harburnhobbies.co.uk/

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