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Today I paid witness to the contents of 'Rebel Troop' one of Reading's few model shops being sold off at auction.


It was never really a good example of a slot car shop, over priced and a very very small selection. But there loss is my gain...

There was various lots on offer ranging from brand new unopen Scalex Sport track to Teamslot cars. On the car front I managed to win the auction for:

1x SCX Sigma F1 limited edition and 1x Teamslot Lola LMP racer limited edition, complete with a very nice blue carry case and spares.

1x Teamslot VW Beetle Tuning, 1x Revell Riverside Corvette, 1x Ninco Ferrari F1 and a Teamslot Seat Leon Resin kit.

Plus 3 lots of Woodland scenics stuff (RRP over £180).


Not bad for a mornings work. I must admit it is a shame to see another small model shop go to the wall, but that is life!

Mark
 

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I was sad to find the shop had gone during my last trip to reading
- also a model shop in maidenhead has also closed down over the summer... hope these are one offs and not a trend
 

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Sad to say, in my opinion, it's a trend that's been going on for the last forty years. In my formative years, I could get to a model shop by bike in any direction I chose within fifteen minutes. They've all gone now, mostly video rentals and Starbucks. I have to make all my purchases by internet. Only **** Charles Models survives within reasonable range, as far as I know.
 

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Like Howmet, in my 1950s and 60s youth I could walk to two model shops in my area.

"The Bell Bazaar" was a great toy and model shop where I bought all my two shilling Airfix Kits and a lot of my Corgi and Dinky Toys - the owners were an elderly lady and gentleman. The other shop was "Ray Rippon & Son" which was a bicycle and model shop and where two brothers sold the exotic (to this teenager)1/24 Revell and Monogram car kits and a big range of slot cars - I bought all my original Scalex, Revell, Airfix RTR's from this great shop. If you look in an old issue of Model Cars you will see large adverts for this shop.

Both these shops closed when the owners retired, which was generally the usual reason in those days - one became a newsagents the other an Indian Restaurant.

More recently when I got back into model kits and slot cars about 15 years ago, Southend boasted four good model shops - these have all gone due to the changes in the hobby, diverse interests of the general public and shopping styles (mail order, internet etc).

As much as I love to be able to buy mail order (I still find it hard to believe that I regularly buy stuff from Australia, Canada, USA, all over the UK and parts of Europe and it turns up on my doorstep about 4 days later) and the vast majority of these businesses are run by very nice people, I do miss the personal touch of the local model shop.

Southend now has one excellent shop that stocks a great range of kits, "Lawrence Matthews" they are an artists and hobby shop mainly but should be applauded for offering a good service to model-makers as well. In nearby Chelmsford, "John Duttfield" offer a brilliant range of Scalex, SCX, Fly, Ninco and Carrera slot cars and sets as well as some kits and a big range of materials for the scratchbuilder and the model train enthusiast.

I have no connection with these two shops other than as a very satisfied customer who gets great service every time I visit. Lets all support our local model shops as well as the mail order people.

David
 

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David, you described something I'm missing today - the atmosphere of a model-shop with an owner addicted to trains / cars or planes and offering a wide range of products!
I don't like these Toys'r'us-stores...

Next time when I'm in UK I'll try to visit some local shops - depending on the area I'll be.
 

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You're absolutely right Thomas can't think why I didn't mention it.

As an example when I bought a Land Rover kit some while ago from Lawrence Matthews, they were fascinated to hear that I intended to convert it into a slot car and wanted to know all about my side of the hobby.

The people at Duttfields are train specialists and are great to talk to about scenery ideas for when I do start to build my scenic slot track!!

Not forgetting that whenever you are in a model shop you inevitably get chatting to other customers which is not only interesting but also has directly resulted in the Southend Slot Racing Club recruiting new members.

David
 

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Gecko, was that the shop down a dark and eerie arcade? I've been in there a few times when twiddling me thumbs whilst Rotechniks fettled me wankel. Not the most salubrious of locations but I'd have thought cheap enough rent.

Their slot stock never really impressed, though.

Lordy, where will I go now in Reading when I've a day to kill?

I can't believe there isn't a single decent toy/model shop in a place like Reading. How many folks live there? Amazing.
 

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I don't know the shop of course, but I'm not surprised. Overpricing and small range don't really mean a very attractive shop. I see that happening here too. It simply doesn't make any sense and it is very poor marketing.
 

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QUOTE I can't believe there isn't a single decent toy/model shop in a place like Reading. How many folks live there? Amazing.

Watford's worse - only 1 place, and they're only open in the market 2 days a week.

Sadly most towns seem to be missing a decent slot/rail shop. My town has a few Airfix model kit tye stockists, but only 2 places do slot cars. ne of them only does the sets, and the other hs a range so bad that they may as well not bother.

It's a sad side affect of the increase in internet retailers (imho).
 

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Alan Tadd
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My local shop in Bath UK, seems to be doing a roaring trade, admitedly it is mostly RC, Die-casts and kits, but they are stocking a good range of SCX, Scalextric , Fly and Revell-Monogram cars and several sets.
Due to the high Tourist trade he seems to sell lots to our European and American Fiends, one guy came in the other day and cleared out the owners stock of NASCAR thingies, I understand for some strange reason people are prepared to pay lots of dollars for these cars in the States.

Very pleased to say they are also stocking items like Brass sheet, rod and tube, together with other items like Micro Sol, and cristal clear adhesives.

Good luck to them, although it will never be the mecca for Slot car enthusiasts it was in the 60's.

Regards

Alan
 

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Brian Ferguson
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In my town, here on the wrong side of the pond, the so-called "local hobby shop" does not even know what slot cars are. On a good day, they might have one of the 4 sizes of piano wire I want, may have a piece of brass I can use but probably don't, and stock nothing else I can use for anything. They sell model kits (in 1/25th) but not proper paint. On a previous visit some time ago, I pushed them to restock the K&S brass and wire display - they finally did - it is once again sitting virtually empty. I urged them to get a proper line of paint, like Tamiya - still no paint. I suggested a Plastruct display would be a good addition for model railroaders (many in the area) - still nothing. They are crying the blues because business is slow. Apparently they are victims of their own ignorance. So be it.

My options? Two decent slot/hobby shops, both about 1.5 hours away, and a fantastic model train store (great for the scratchbuild items) about 2 hours away. And all in very dissimilar directions. When I can, I go to those three shops, but it takes the better part of a day's off-time just to get to one. So I also buy stuff on the net.

Meanwhile, my local shop continues to wonder why they are struggling...


They jumped on the wargamers bandwagon several years ago and are still focussed on that area, despite the fact that wargaming here is nothing but a shadow of its former self.

It isn't just the net that hurts some shops. It's also a failure to understand the varying and dynamic markets they are supposedly serving and adapting their business accordingly as times change. I'm sure my local shop will die within a short time, and frankly they will have killed themselves. No pity from me.
 

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If it's more than a mouse click away...

I don't bother to leave my house much to buy cars anymore, it's not worth my while. It's cheaper, quicker and easier. The only time I will leave my house is when I need something urgently, so I go to where a web based company is based in the real world. But he is a friend of mine and I see him at the club every week anyway.

I don't have a local shop anymore. Simple as that.

Mclaren
 

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I would need to make a distance of at least 35 km.

That said, to me, the real problem is not that much the net. It is also the people running the shops. When they have the knowledge, range and decent prices, they get a queue of customers ! That says it all.
 

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Dennis, if either Witney (8miles) or Oxford (15miles) had a decent model shop then I would use it. But both just have a single stockist of Scaley stuff and I don't do Scaley (much).

I think the truth is that slots are just too damn seasonal for the retailers to justify the space to carry them in depth.

I'll defend a retailer's right to be grumpy but also accept that it totally kills trade. I was a specialist retailer for ten years or more. It can wear you right down because nobody says "thank you" any more, nobody appreciates your time or is prepared to pay a penny more than what Joe Blow Inc. is flogging it for just down the way. So when I sold up to a national chain part of me laughed, part of me cried, because walking through my town folks would come up to me and say, "It ain't the same anymore. They don't care, they don't carry the stock you did. You can't chat to them. It's all gone downhill now."

Yeah, you miss it when it's gone.
 

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Mark R-E
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**** Charles Model - a name from the past when i was at college in Kingston!

R/C stuff at the time.

Local shops won't survive the internet because "we" can talk here and order the bits in another window.

Clubs are supported by shop or someone takes the trouble to earn a few quid and bring stuff to the race meet.

But what you lose are the little bits. Bits of wire, washers, paint etc etc which pushes the kit built stuff into the "specialist" arena as the RTR stuff is easier to get hold off and lets face it damn good!

The only shops that seem to survive are ones doing Radio Controlled stuff and stock a decent range and then only when the staff are actually interested in the product they sell.

Then again we all like a bargin. and saving a couple of quid online....
 

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Seems Im quite lucky then really, I have guagemaster within about 10minutes drive, I have Sussex Model centre (kits, R/C but no slot) the other way and 2 small shops (Trains, J. Morris') about 20 minutes drive.....................

Needless to say i buy most of my stuff from Spain!!! (Random plug for www.sphobbies.com!)
 

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Hi Mr Croker- yes, **** Charles's shop survives, although sadly not the man himself. Although the place does still seem to suffer from surly service- you get a good bit of attention if you're into R/C helicopters- but I'll put up with it- as has been said, it's the useful little doo-dads; screws, washers, odd types of glue and raw materials that are so useful. I come away with a big bag of stuff that hasn't cost a great deal compared with an 1/8th scale R/C gunship, but it keeps me happy for months. I'd miss it if it weren't there. Ordering speculative lengths of this and that over the phone just doesn't work. You've got to see it to know what you can do with it.
 
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