Remembering Marta Veir Renna
Marta Veir Renna, president of California Hobby Distributors, passed away January 25, 2024, after a six-month battle with pancreatic cancer.
She is survived by her husband, Paul; her two sisters, Karen and Laurie and their husbands; her three sons and their wives; and four grandchildren with two more on the way.

Cal Hobby has been a family-run business for 100 years, started by Bob and Frank Veir. Marta started working there as an accountant about 50 years ago. One of her most meaningful achievements in her early years was pioneering the “Cal Hobby Newsletter,” which she wrote and published monthly. It became the standard in the industry and was copied by their competitors and manufacturers alike.

She spent more than 20 years in the role of President, guiding the company through thick and thin.

“Cal Hobby meant so much to her,” Paul said in an email to friends in the industry. “It was part of her family history, while customers and vendors alike were truly her friends. She simply loved to call and check in with you all about your lives, your families and your businesses. One of Marta’s final wishes was to THANK YOU ALL for your support, business and friendship.”

Paul said the final orders and invoices will be processed, and the business will be closed.

Baykowski Joins Heartland Hobby Wholesale
Industry veteran Shane Baykowski has joined the dedicated staff of Heartland Hobby Wholesale as their purchasing manager.

He has over 33 years of experience with the Model Railroad community, starting with M.B. Klein in 1991. Shane worked closely with Theodore Klein to help transition the small model train store into one of the world’s best sources of model trains and supplies. He has worked closely with many of the vendors in the industry and looks forward to working with them again as a representative of Heartland Hobbies.
Collectibles Store Adds Lionel Trains
Walker’s Treasure Box antique shop has been a fixture in Selma, Alabama, for decades. The city just so happens to be one of only five train stations in the United States that has both north-south and east-west crossing tracks.

Many rail fans visiting the store ask about buying trains, so owner Robert Walker decided to add Lionel trains to take advantage of the local interest. To carry the line, Walker had two interviews with the model train maker and took part in training via Zoom.

“Some of the Lionel items the store will be carrying are themed trains from popular movies, such as Frozen, Polar Express, Barbie and Wizard of Oz,” Walker said. “Other themed trains include John Deere, Bob Ross, Batman and Superman.”

Walker said the store will be the only Lionel retailer within 30 miles.

Horizon Returns To NASCAR
Horizon Hobby is set to return to Front Row Motorsports for the
2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign, serving as a two-race primary sponsor of Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Ford Mustang.

A global leader in remote-control products and accessories, Horizon Hobby enters its fourth season as a primary marketing partner for McDowell and the race-winning organization after debuting at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July 2021.

The company’s blue and gold branding will make its first
on-track appearance at McDowell’s home track of Phoenix Raceway in March before returning to Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 21 to defend the organization’s victory from last season.

In addition to its primary sponsorship, the brand will serve as
an associate partner for McDowell and Front Row Motorsports
throughout the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series campaign.

“It was a great day in Indianapolis last year, and I’m thrilled that Horizon Hobby will be with us again this year as we want to repeat that moment more and more,” commented McDowell. “Horizon Hobby promotes fun, family, and activities for people of all ages. It’s just a cool partnership for us and the sport.”
Since forging a relationship with Front Row Motorsports,

Horizon Hobby has been strategically building its footprint within the NASCAR space, modeling a pair of FRM-inspired vehicles to match its NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entries.

“We are proud to continue our support for Michael and Front Row Motorsports again in 2024,” said Chris Dickerson, Chief Executive Officer, Horizon Hobby. “Their passion for the fans, the sport, and the RC hobby all align with our purpose at Horizon Hobby. We’re excited to be a part of this dynamic season and are passionate about the alignment between motorsports and Radio Control products. We look forward to seeing all our RC enthusiasts at the track on race day.”
Hattons Model Railways Closes Doors
After 77 years in the model railway business, Hattons Model Railways has announced its upcoming closure.
Hattons Model Railways opened in 1946 and has produced its own models, distributed other manufacturers’ products, purchased and sold pre-owned collections, and staffed a brick-and-mortar store. The company made a foray into the US market in 2022. Some Hattons Originals models, including Batch 2 Genesis coaches and Warwell reruns, will still be produced and released as announced. The online and retail stores ceased operations in February.

Remembering James “Jim” Hediger 1942-2024
Best known as a long-time editor of Model Railroader, Jim Hediger, 82, passed away in February. He produced over 750 articles, columns and reviews in a career with Kalmbach Media that spanned 43 years. An active HO modeler since age 13, he was a pioneer in the design and construction of multi-deck benchwork, rebuilding his famed Ohio Southern on two levels following a move to a new home in 1979. Jim was a mentor and friend to those that worked with him and was known for his kind nature and amazing stories. He will be missed in our industry, and we send our condolences to his family and loved ones.

Honoring Tom Atwood
Tom Atwood, former editor of Model Airplane News, passed away in February at the age of 71. He was the past editor of Fly RC, Robot magazine and several other publications, along with being Executive Director of the National Robotics Education Foundation. “Tom was an outstanding person, and he was one of my most enthusiastic cheerleaders and helped make me a better man,” said Charlee Smith of Bob Smith Industries. HM

According to the Small Business Administration's Office of Advocacy, only 5 out of every 100 of businesses are still operating after 30 years.

Happy 35th Anniversary! and its owner, Rex Simpson, were recognized for its 35th anniversary by the Southwest Michigan First Chamber. Simpson was recognized for his service to the Chamber as a Chamber Ambassador and Buy Local board member.

Hobby-Sports in Portage has been a Chamber member since 2016, and Rex has been a Chamber Ambassador since 2018. Rex is a staple at Chamber events, and he has built great relationships in our business community. Hobby-Sports provides access to a wide variety of RC vehicles, drones, and other collectibles. Rex is a perfect example of an entrepreneur recognizing a niche and building a great local business. Not only does Hobby-Sports thrive, but the community thrives because of businesses and people like Rex, the Chamber noted.

35 years is an incredible feat!
Join us in congratulating
Rex on 35 successful years!

AMA Secures Higher Altitudes For Events

The Academy of Model Aeronautics has signed a letter of agreement with the FAA to continue to provide higher altitudes for AMA-sanctioned events in uncontrolled (Class G) airspace for 2024.

The AMA event sanctioning process currently includes an
assessment for operations to be approved up to 700 or 1,200 feet above ground level.

AMA hopes that an event waiver will no longer be needed when Congress passes the 2024 FAI Reauthorization bill. AMA is also working with Congress to include a process to fly at higher altitudes in Class G airspace for day-to-day operations. In the meantime, this is just one of many steps in AMA’s strategy to continue securing higher altitudes for our safe operations. AMA has already secured higher altitudes for many of our club flying sites in controlled airspace, sometimes up to 2,000 feet.

White Rose Hobbies Acquires
Bethlehem Car Works

White Rose Hobbies, LLC of York, Pennsylvania, has announced the acquisition of Bethlehem Car Works, Inc of Telford, Penn. 

Bethlehem Car Works produces craftsman kits specializing in HO-scale Pullman passenger cars as well as the Sparrows Point Division and Kit Bits line of detail parts and accessories.

The asset purchase agreement includes the balance of the
inventory, research materials, molds, digital property, design plans and diagrams for all current and proposed products.

Ryan Thoman, White Rose Hobbies CEO, said “This purchase will allow us to enter into a different space of the hobby industry by offering our own product line. We are planning to add to the existing Bethlehem Car Works product line with new passenger and freight cars, new detail parts and accessories, as well as vehicles for the model railroading market using the latest in resin technologies for small batch production runs.”

White Rose Hobbies currently operates a full-line brick and mortar hobby shop selling model trains, remote control cars, plasticmodels and modeling tools and supplies.

Bandai Bringing Gundam Tech To Life

Human-sized mecha suits may be coming to a farm near you as
part of the Bandai Namco Group’s Gundam Universal Century
Development Action sustainability program.

Bandai has partnered with 13 technology and sustainability organizations to develop technology based on the animè franchise to address environmental issues. Four groups have formed: Team Space Life Project, Prototyping a New Maneuverable Robot for
Social Implementation of Mobile Suit, Green Space Colony Project, and Plasma Agriculture Project.

The Prototyping Project aims to develop a mobile suit to perform peaceful activities to enrich people’s lives. The Plasma team will focus on using plasma technology for agricultural purposes to promote plant health without chemicals. The other two teams are collaborating on creating a sustainable space colony and researching artificial gravity. Stay tuned for further developments.

Plateau RC & Hobby Opens Its Doors

Long-time RC racer Paul Pukis opened Plateau RC & Hobby in Lake Bonney, Washington, just before the holiday season. 

Pukis was an avid hobbyist and along with some friends,
decided to open the store to serve the community. The 1,000-sq.ft. space in a former tattoo parlor stocks the usual RC products, science kits and building block toys.

Railroad Shop Chugs Along For 52 Years

When Charles Ro’s father owned a hair salon in Malden, Massachusetts, Charles displayed a few Lionel trains at the front of the store to sell.

Around 1972, the train shop took over the salon, and today, the Charles Ro Supply Company bills itself as “America’s Largest Train Store.” It also claims to be the largest Lionel train dealer in the world.

The shop provides all the tools, art supplies and miniature
models a person might need to design and build a layout.

The ground floor of the sprawling facility includes a shipping department, a repair workshop and enough trains, tracks and
accessories to keep a whole model train club busy for a lifetime.

The real attraction is on the second floor, where the highlight is a train layout about the size of a pickleball court. The layout doesn’t represent any particular railroad or region. Instead, It reflects the imagination of the family and workers over the years, with mountains, waterfalls, deep gorges spanned by bridges and more tracks and trains than you can count, almost. While model railroad technology has changed over the years, the hobbyists are still the same.

“They have a real dedication to the hobby, and they’re passionate about what they get. It has to be perfect or just right. That’s why we’re number one: We tend to deliver a good product,” Ro told

Atlas Acquires Custom Signals

Atlas Model Railroad Co. Inc. has announced the acquisition of Custom Signals of Poughkeepsie, NY. Custom Signals specialized in O-scale signal products and building signal systems for layouts.

The asset purchase agreement includes, in part, the balance of inventory, the Track/Signal Configuration Library and all Custom Signals tools comprising molds, dies, designs, plans and diagrams for all current and proposed products.

“This purchase will allow the expansion of our signal line from a basic Automatic Block Signaling system (ABS) to a full Absolute Permissive Block Signaling system (APB),” Paul Graf, Atlas CEO, said. “It will grow our N and HO signal products and offer all customers valuable assistance in building track layouts using the Atlas All Scales Signal System.”

Model Rocket Market Set To Grow

The Global Model Rocket Market is estimated to register 14.8% growth over the forecast period from 2023 to 2030.

The market estimate from USD Analytics Market includes ASP Rocketry, Madcow Rocketry, Custom Rocket Company, Estes Rockets, SierraFox Hobbies, FlisKits Inc. and MPC Rockets.

The report cited major trends in the market, including
technological advancements, such as 3D printing and eco-friendly designs, while challenges involve regulatory compliance and supply chain constraints. The future outlook anticipates increased integration with technology, including augmented and virtual reality, as well
as potential for global collaboration within the model rocket
community. HM

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