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Industry News - August 2009

Published: July 7, 2009

Whistle Stop named 'best' in L.A.

The Original Whistle Stop, of Pasadena, Calif., has been named to Los Angeles Magazine's "Best of L.A." list.

The model railroad store, owned by Fred Hill, came in at No. 28 on this year's list.

"We were overwhelmed to receive this award. There are many, very good shops in Los Angeles and my crew has given their all to weather the times and stay sharp, said store owner Fred Hill. "Kudos to The Original Whistle Stop employees."

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Bill Giacci
Bob Johnson
Charlie Bauer
Ed Rogala
Hal Miller
Jarret Haedrich
Jarvis Yeh
Lewis Nace
Marta Renna
Marty Banks
Nancy Workman
Rob Gherman
Tom Atwood

HMA election results

Various industry divisions of the Hobby Manufacturers Association recently elected council members for 2009-10.

Plastics & Die Cast Division

Members of the Plastics & Die Cast (PDC) Division elected two new members to serve on the council and re-elected two current members. Each will serve three-year terms.

Returning to the PDC Council after a hiatus is Lewis Nace, vice president of sales and marketing for Minicraft Corp. Nace began his career in the toy and hobby industry in 1970 working for a local toy and hobby store. In 1976, he joined Western Model Distributors, and in 1994, he joined Horizon Hobby as a buyer of plastics, paint and general hobby products. In 1999, he joined The Testor Corporation as sales and marketing manager. He has served on the International Model-Hobby Manufacturers Association (IMMA) Board (now the PDC Division of HMA) and also as HMA PCD Council representative. He has also been vice president of HMA Board of Directors.

Marty Banks, sales manager for Imex Model Company, will serve his first term this year. He has worked in the hobby industry since 2000 and participates in industry shows and product development.

Re-elected to serve on the council is Rob Gherman, executive publisher of Hobby Merchandiser. He was council president in 2008-09 and is a member of the HMA Show Committee. He was a founding board member of IMMA. He is also involved with the National Retail Hobby Stores Association (NRHSA) as its partnering annual trade show producer and director.

Bob Johnson of Accurate Miniatures was also re-elected for another three-year term. Johnson began his career as a draftsman for Monogram Models in 1974 and later became director of product development for Revell-Monogram. In April 1991, he relocated to Charlotte, N.C., and helped found Accurate Miniatures. He's also a consultant in design and product development for several U.S. and Far East companies.

Continuing to serve in the PDC Division are Don Banes (Stevens International), Mark Fothergill (Replicarz), Chuck Harransky (MMD-Squadron Products), Alain Morot (Minichamps) and Darin Stratton (b2bReplicas).

Model Railroad Division

With an almost 60% response from its membership, the Model Railroad Industry Division elected one new member and re-elected two members to serve three-year terms.

Jarrett Haedrich will start his first term on the council. He's vice president of marketing for the family-owned Atlas Model Railroad Company in New Jersey. He's responsible for bringing new products to market, and recently participated in HMA's first exhibit pavilion at the 2009 Nuremberg Fair.

Bill Giacci was re-elected to his second term. He is currently chair of the HMA Marketing & Promotion Committee and has been instrumental in overseeing the development of HMA's consumer Web site ( and the placement of hobby-related articles in more than 200 publications nationwide. He's managing partner of CMW Holdings, owners of the Classic Metal Works family of hobby products.

Also re-elected was Nancy Workman, vice president and co-owner of SoundTraxx, a division of Throttle Up! Corp., Durango, Colo. She's an enthusiastic model railroader and has been responsible for many new products at SoundTraxx. She's a member of the HMA MRID/NMRA Standards Advisory Committee and has worked diligently on the council to bring new ideas to the iHobbyExpo and association.

Continuing to serve on the MRID Council are Bud Reece (Bachmann Trains), President Fred Hill (The Coach Yard), Vice President Frank Ritota (Model Rectifier Corp.), Gary Kamin (Wm. K. Walthers), Treasurer John Engstrom (Athearn Trains) and Allen Pollock (Fun & Games II).

Radio Control Division

The Radio Control Division re-elected three members to its council who began their three-year terms July 1.

Tom Atwood has extensive experience in hobby magazine publishing. Since joining Maplegate Media in 2003, he has been editor-in-chief of Fly RC; in 2005, he launched Robot magazine. As a result, he's up to date on hobby market trends. He's been an advocate of hobby robotics, and helped the HMA initiate a presence for the robotics hobby at iHobbyExpo.

Charlie Bauer is a veteran of the R/C hobby, becoming interested in modeling in 1938. He has served in a variety of capacities with several industry manufacturers in which he was primarily responsible for the design and development of many new hobby products. He's currently a member of the HMA Education Committee.

Jarvis Yeh founded Maxx Products in 1990 to follow his personal interest in model hobbies. He credits his exhibiting at the 1989 International Hobby Show in Rosemont, Ill., as one of the reasons he was able to launch his product and grow his business. "I quickly learned the importance of this show as a channel to meet the vendors and customers in the R/C business," he said. "I would like to share this experience with fellow modelers, business owners and would-be entrepreneurs, and to help other HMA members adapt and survive in the global marketplace." He's a member of the HMA Show Committee and has been influential in bringing new companies to iHobbyExpo.

Continuing on the council are Mark Schwing (Electronic Model Systems), Council President Ralph Warner (RAM Models), Vice President Marc Jensen (Byron Originals), Shawn Spiker (HiTec Radio Control), Jim Cherry (Academy of Model Aeronautics) and Jeff Setzer (Trains & Lanes Hobbies); Setzer is also a liaison to NRHSA.

General Hobby Division

Elected to her first three-year term on the General Hobby Division Council is Marta Renna. She's worked at California Hobby Distributors for nearly 40 years and has been company president since 2004. Renna believes the industry needs to do more to promote the fun and educational value of model hobbies.

Re-elected to their second three-year terms are Hal Miller and Ed Rogala.

Miller has been editor of Model Retailer since 2004. He was an original member of the General Hobby Division Council when it was added to HMA's divisions in 2006. He's also a member of the HMA Show Committee as one of two general-hobby division representatives.

Rogala ("The Hobby Guy") is a lifetime modeler who has spent his entire career in the hobby industry. He's been with Midwest Products since 1972 and is currently senior sales manager. Rogala has been chair of the HMA Show Committee for the past two years.

Continuing on the council are Alan Iwig (Excel Hobby Blades), Council Chair Abby Robey (Xuron Corp.), John Smith (Iwata-Medea) and Mike Lucero (Hornby America).

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iHobby trade registration now open

Trade registration for the 25th iHobby Expo is now open. The show will be Oct. 22-25 at Rosemont, Ill.'s Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Click here to register.

Retailers/buyers, distributors, manufacturers' representatives and media are eligible to attend the trade-only days of the show Oct. 22-23. Booth space is still available; for information, contact Ed Lamphier at 949-786-8647, or by e-mail.

Show hotels continue fill up, as do spots in the dealer seminars and workshops. Model Retailer is sponsoring the Hobby University seminar "25 Top Tips to Survive in a Tough Retail Economy" with Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender Oct. 22.

Other seminars and workshops include:

  • In-Store Demos and Make & Takes Make Money! with Iwata-Medea's Tom Grossman

  • Today's Inventory Buying with Horizon Hobby's Bob Jacobsen

  • The Buck-an-Idea Bonanza- Your Fifteen Minutes of Fame with Kizer & Bender

  • Make More Money: Global e-Commerce Made Simple with Shopatron's Ed Stevens

  • Plus other exhibitor-sponsored seminars by MRC, Iwata, Horizon, and The Desktop Cash Register

  • Retailers can also sign up for one-on-one consulting sessions with Kizer and Bender. Slots are limited.

    Special events are also being planned to celebrate 25 years of the hobby industry's biggest gathering. For more information on the show or hotels, or to register, visit the iHobby Web site.

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    Athearn Trains has moved

    Athearn Trains has moved to a new location. It's new address is:

    Athearn Trains
    2883 East Spring Street
    Suite 100
    Long Beach, CA 90806

    The phone number remains the same, 310-763-7140.

    Changing the face of NRHSA

    Are you artistic? Good at creating designs?

    The National Retail Hobby Stores Association (NRHSA) Board of Directors wants to change the NRHSA logo to better represent its members, what the members sell, and what the organization represents as an association.

    NRHSA will use the new logo on its letterhead, envelopes, magazine trade ads, Web site, blast e-mails, all promotional materials for the Table Top Expo and other industry endorsements.

    All NRHSA members are eligible to participate in the logo contest. The winner will receive a free year's membership in NRHSA and a two-night stay at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel during the 2010 Table Top Expo.

    Here are the guidelines:

    The logo can be a four-color design; however, the logo will also be used in black and white, so the detail should be clear for both color and black and white.

    The logo should be submitted in a high-resolution file; preferably Vector art.

    The logo should project fun and encompass all areas of the hobby industry.

    The logo must include the name: National Retail Hobby Stores Association.

    The logo should include the NRHSA Web site address,, below it.

    Though not mandatory, you should try to incorporate the words "Cool Hobby Shops."

    Deadline for submissions is Friday, Aug. 14. E-mail the designs to Janet Svazas, executive director.

    You may also send your logo design on a CD to: Janet Svazas, NRHSA, 214 N. Hale St., Wheaton, IL 60187.

    The NRHSA will chose and announce the winner by Oct. 1. The winning logo and designer will be announced in the NRHSA newsletter next to a picture of the design along with a profile about the company. The board reserves the right to not use parts of any of the logos submitted if it feels they aren't appropriate or don't accurately represent the association. Submitted logos become property of the NRHSA.

    For more information, contact headquarters at 630-510-4596 or e-mail NHRSA.

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    Horizon, Chinese partner involved in patent issue with Nine Eagles

    A legal tug-of-war over the exclusive use of a radio-control helicopter part in China now involves a U.S. distributor.

    Champaign, Ill.-based Horizon Hobby Inc., says it is aggressively supporting Shanghai, China-based Flying Tian Electronic Co. Ltd. (Flying Electronic), in protection of its intellectual property, namely the exclusive license to produce products utilizing an actuating device patented in China. The device is used in E-flite's Blade mCX micro heli, produced by Flying Electronic for Horizon.

    A Horizon Hobby press release says Flying Electronic is "pursuing legal action" in China against another Chinese manufacturer, Shanghai Nine Eagles Electronic Technology Co. Nine Eagles currently markets two helicopters under its own name, the Solo and the Free Spirit Micro, that Flying Electronic and Horizon Hobby allege infringe on the actuating device patent license.

    A Nine Eagles spokesperson issued a statement countering Flying Electronic's claims: "Nine Eagles has done the research and developed Solo and Free Spirit Micro by ourselves."

    The company's statement says the servo in question was a mature, public technology prior to Tianyu's (Flying Electric's) application for patent. Nine Eagles contends technical data on the servos was published in a 2005 issue of the Chinese magazine Model Airplane, but Tianyu didn't apply for a patent until April 17, 2007.

    The statement continues, "Nine Eagles has never infringed with Flying Electronic and Horizon Hobby any patent right."

    The spokesperson also stated Nine Eagles is not involved in a patent infringement suit.

    Nine Eagles' lawyers Guohua Zhu and Henry Ding wrote in a letter that the company has retained a Shanghai patent agent, which has filed an application to invalidate the patent in question.

    According to the letter, Nine Eagles has applied to the People's Republic of China State Intellectual Property Office to have the Tianyu patent invalidated as of April 20, 2009.

    According to the letter, China's Patent Re-examination Board held an oral hearing on July 14, and a decision on the matter is expected soon.

    Flying Electronic seeks to block further production, sale and export of the Solo and Free Spirit Micro by Nine Eagles.

    Horizon Hobby says it will do what it can to identify importers of the targeted products in the Americas and Europe, and do what it can to assist Flying Electronic on the legal front.

    Horizon Vice President Eric Bartsch said his company has a relationship with Flying Electronic that spans nearly 10 years.

    Nine Eagles said Flying Electronic and related companies have seriously damaged Nine Eagles' image and have "caused significant financial loss." Nine Eagles added, it "reserves the right to take necessary legal actions" against the responsible companies.

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    Jim Glassford and Stacey Walthers Naffah

    Stacey Walthers Naffah hits ground running

    Taking a brand name and making it stronger is a daunting task. It helps when you start with one like Walthers, that's nearly universally recognized - at least in the hobby universe.

    Stacey Walthers Naffah is used to helping companies elevate their image and increase sales. During stints with businesses like the J.
    Walter Thompson ad agency and "People" magazine, she's worked with some of the biggest: McDonalds, Kraft, and Procter & Gamble among them. Now, as the consumer marketing manager for Wm. K. Walthers Inc., she's looking to help the company her great-grandfather founded maintain its leadership role in the hobby industry.

    Even for someone who grew up around the family business, there's still a lot to learn. "I'm using a different part of my brain," she said weeks into her new job, which started in May [Industry News, July]. "Fortunately,
    I'm used to working at a fast pace."

    The oldest of Phil and Carol Walthers' four children, Stacey says she and her dad have talked for a number of years about her joining the business. She says her parents encouraged her and their other children to follow
    their own path and get some business experience outside the hobby industry. Phil Walthers said the door would always be open "when you feel like you can provide value to the organization." Now seemed like the right time, Stacey says. "Besides, I have a 4-year old son who loves trains," she

    Tying the company's products together under a cohesive branding umbrella is
    one of the first projects she and her boss, marketing vice president Jim Glassford, will tackle. But before that can start, she says she has to figure out what the target consumers need and how the company can communicate with them most effectively.

    So where is she going to look first? At hobbyists and current customers. "We have a strong relationship already with them. We can move forward together," she says. She
    notes the strong sense of community that already exists among model railroaders.

    "That passion is important for us to be connecting as people."

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    National Train Show 2009 new products

    The National Train Show is July 10-12 at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford, Conn. Here's a list of the new products from manufacturers exhibiting at the show.


    Revolution wireless train control system. System uses 2.4 GHz digital spread spectrum signal for glitch-free signal. Controls up to 50 locomotives or accessories. Receivers include capacitors for operation over poor track conditions. Available for HO and G scales. G scale: Train Engineer 2.4 GHz set, $300. Train Engineer 2.4 GHz transmitter, $200. Train Engineer 2.4 GHz receiver, $116. Train Engineer 2.4 GHz receiver six-pack, $525. HO scale: Revolution TE set, $260; Revolution TE transmitter, $200; Revolution TE receiver, $75; Revolution TE receiver six-pack, $350.

    Atlas Model Railroad Co.

    HO United States Railroad Administration 40-foot steel rebuilt boxcar. Eight- or 10-panel body styles and side ladders or grab irons, as appropriate to prototype. Roadnames and price to be announced. Winter 2009 delivery.

    Atlas O

    O Single-sheathed double-door 50-foot automobile boxcar. Burlington Northern, Great Northern, Rock Island, and Western Pacific. Two car numbers available; also available undecorated. Weighted fish-belly underframe, radial roof, and magnetic knuckle couplers. $45.95. October 2009 delivery.


    N Spectrum Chesapeake & Ohio HF 2-6-6-2 features the VC12 Vanderbilt tender. Four road numbers available; also available painted black but unlettered. Dual-mode Digital Command Control decoder; wire details; and separately applied bell, whistle, pop valve, and hand rails. $285. Fall 2009 delivery.

    Bar Mills Scale Model Works

    HO Hurst Boiler & Welding. Laser-cut wood craftsman kit with weathered and aged shingles and detail castings. Production limited to 500 kits. Price to be announced. August 2009. Bar Mills Scale Model Works

    BLMA Models

    Union Switch & Signal H2 signals with large box. One or two operating signal heads. Red, yellow, and green light-emitting diodes. In N and HO scales. Prices to be announced. Late 2009 delivery.


    HO Executive Line Alco C-630 diesel locomotive. Chesapeake & Ohio, Conrail, Pennsylvania RR, Reading Co., and Union Pacific. Two road numbers each. Etched-brass details, five-pole skew-wound can motor with flywheels, and magnetic knuckle couplers. Direct-current models $169.95; with SoundTraxx Digital Command Control and sound, $269.95. Winter 2009 delivery.

    Con-Cor International

    HO Pensylvania RR-prototype MP54 passenger coach. Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe; Boston & Maine; Long Island RR; Norfolk & Western; Pennsylvania (pre- and postwar paint schemes); and Pennsylvania-Reading Seashore Lines. Also available unlettered. Detailed underbody, separate end chains, and metal grab irons. $15 per car, $30 per two-pack.

    Digitrax Inc.

    Wireless Super Throttles and transceiver. Expanded 29-function support, step-by-step throttle option setup, and wireless operation via infrared, radio, or duplex radio. DT402 infrared Super Throttle, $185. DT402R radio Super Throttle (works with UR91 receiver), $235. DT402D duplex radio Super Throttle (works with UR92 receiver), $250. UR91 radio/IR receiver, $149.99. UR92 duplex radio/IR transceiver panel, $160.


    Navigator Digital Command Control system. Controls up to 40 locomotives and 100 accessories, switches up to 21 functions per locomotive (depending on decoders' capacities), and handles up to 9,999 addresses. System supports up to four infrared wireless controllers at a time. Starter set with one controller $289.50; additional controller $139.50; additional infrared receiver (for increased range on large layouts), $34.50.

    Fast Tracks

    Bullfrog manual turnout control with accessories. Features a small mounting footprint, automatic power routing with an integrated single-pole, dual-throw switch (with the option to add a second switch), and a high-torque, long throw wire. Compatible for all scales. $6 per unassembled version ($9 per ready-to-use version).

    Funaro & Camerlengo

    HO assorted freight car kits. One-piece cast-resin bodies with custom decals. Pennsylvania RR class GLca hopper (pictured), $41.99. New York, New Haven & Hartford double-sheathed boxcar, available with wood door and braced ends or Youngstown door and dreadnaught ends, $41.99.

    Imagine That Laser Art

    HO 1904 Ford factory. Craftsman kit models first Ford Motor factory in Canada. Laser-cut wood walls with interlocking "zipper" edges. $314.

    JL Innovative Design

    HO Klein's Pharmacy. Laser-cut wood kit with cast metal details, injection-molded plastic windows and doors, and printed color signs. $34.95.

    Kato USA Inc.

    N Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe El Capitan set. Electro-Motive Division F7 diesel locomotive in red-and-silver passenger warbonnet scheme, A unit (two road numbers available) or B unit (one number), $85 each. Ten-car base set: Baggage-dormitory (transition), five coaches, two step-down coaches, lounge, and diner, $250. Two-car add-on set: Storage mail car and baggage, $50.

    Lenz Agency of North America

    LRC100 RailCom transmitter and Standard+ locomotive decoder. LRC100 RailCom transmitter allows regular Digital Command Control decoders to work with RailCom system. $79.95 per five-pack. Standard+ locomotive decoder offers the features of the Standard locomotive decoder plus the addition of RailCom technology, which allows decoder to transmit data for bi-directional communications from the decoder to RailCom devices. With eight-pin plug. $32.95.

    Logic Rail Technologies

    Optical Detector. Two versions available. OD-1 uses a photocell and OD-1-IR uses infrared components for train detection. $24.95 per OD-1, $27.95 per OD-1-IR.

    Micro-Trains Line Co.

    Z Electro-Motive Division SD40-2 diesel locomotive. Road names and price to be announced. Micro-Trains magnetic knuckle couplers. September 2009.

    Miller Engineering LLC

    Lighted signs. Electroluminescent signs suitable as rooftop signs or roadside billboards. All signs come with support structure and are usable in HO and O scale. The Luv Shack, 2-7/8" wide by 2-7/8" high, $34.95. New York Central oval logo, 4-1/8" wide x 4-1/4" tall, $49.95. Castrol billboard, 4-1/4" wide x 5-1/8" high, $45.95.

    Miniatronics Corp.

    Transportable flashing roadside arrow. Self-contained mobile display available in a single or double flashing yellow arrow. Each model includes a 3-volt DC transformer and 5 feet of 30-gauge wire. Available in HO and O scales. Portable traffic arrow panel (available in O scale only) runs off 3 to 4V direct current. Includes a battery holder and two feet of 30-gauge wire. Prices to be announced. Miniatronics Corp.

    Model Rectifier Corp.

    Tech 6 DC power pack. Direct-control power pack includes controls for sound-equipped DC decoders, such as Broadway Limited's Blue Line. Two versions available: 2 amp capacity for HO scale and 6A capacity for O scale. Model switch selects between analog direct-current or BlackBox technology, smooth linear motor control in either mode, and 28 function controls. Two-amp unit, $109.98; 6-amp unit, $269.98.

    M.T.H. Electric Trains

    HO 4-6-6-4 Challenger steam locomotive. Clinchfield, Denver & Rio Grande Western, and Union Pacific (available with yellow, silver, or no stripes). M.T.H. Digital Command System with Proto-Sound 3.0, detailed cab interior, and Kadee-compatible magnetic knuckle couplers. $599.95.

    N.J. International Inc.

    Switch indicators and signals. N scale switch indicators: all-brass construction, painted silver or black, red and green light-emitting diode indicators, $15.99 per pair. HO scale modern D-type signals: all brass construction with LEDs: three-light single head, $19.99; dual head three over two, $25.99; or dual head three over three, $29.99. August 2009 delivery.

    NCE Corp.

    Digital Command Control 3-amp boosters. SB3a Smart Booster: Add-on booster unit allows running more trains on DCC layouts, and adds capacity to handle up to four additional NCE Power Cabs, $129.95. DB3a Booster: More power for more trains on DCC layouts, $99.95. Both boosters require separate power supply.

    Rapido Trains

    HO Super Continental Line assorted lightweight passenger cars. Buffet-parlor car: Amtrak (Phase 1 paint scheme); Canadian National (1954); Chicago & North Western; Erie; Grand Trunk Western; Gulf, Mobile & Ohio; Milwaukee Road; Missouri Pacific; New York Central; and Northern Pacific. Also available undecorated. $64.95. Post-war 6-section, 6-roomette, 4-double bedroom sleeper: Amtrak (Phase 1 paint scheme); Canadian National ("wet noodle" herald); Chicago & Eastern Illinois; Chicago & North Western; Erie; Great Northern; Milwaukee Road; Missouri Pacific; Nashville RR; Chattanooga & St. Louis; New York Central; Northern Pacific, and VIA Rail Canada. Also available undecorated. $64.95. Canadian National/VIA Rail Canada club galley car, $69.95. All include detailed interiors, operating diaphragms with etched-metal end gates, and Macdonald-Cartier magnetic knuckle couplers.

    Scenic Express

    Black Track Tack O scale self-adhesive roadbed. Uncured butyl roadbed sticks to benchwork and holds track and ballast without adhesive. 3" x 30" roll, $42.95.

    Sparkling Star Models

    James E. Strait's Carnival wagons. Cast pewter bodies with laser-cut wood detail parts and injection-molded plastic wheels. Models sold on monthly subscription basis. N or Z scale: $22.98 for kit, $46.95 assembled and finished; available now. HO scale: $24.98 for kit, $48.95 assembled and finished; available January 2010.

    TrainCat Model Sales

    N etched-brass freight car kits. Pennsylvania RR class H30 and H30A covered hopper, PRR class K7 stockcar, and Baltimore & Ohio class S-1 and S-2 stockcars. Prices to be announced.

    Train Control Systems

    MZA4 drop-in decoder. Easy installation. Fits Micro-Trains Line Z scale diesel locomotives. One-amp motor drive, 3mm super-bright golden-white LEDs, and back-EMF. $39.95.


    HO assorted freight car kits. 1923 United States Railroad Administration-style mill gondola with corrugated ends: Youngstown & Southern Ry. and Monongahela Ry. 1927 USRA-style mill gondola with deadnaught ends: New York Central and Youngstown & Southern Ry. Pennsylvania RR class XG and XH truss-rod boxcars: Canada Southern Line, Midland Line, produce, and ventilated; original or post-1905 lettering. Urethane craftsman kits with proprietary decals. Trucks and couplers not included. $35 each.

    Wm. K. Walthers Inc.

    HO Cornerstone Lasercut series Laser-cut wood structure kits. All kits include laser-cut wood, cast-metal details, and full-color signs. September 2009: Don's Mower & Saw service, $37.98; Macon's, $24.98; Midtown Oil, $49.98. October 2009: Lakeshore Coal & Ice, $29.98; Redlon Welding, $49.98; Quality Woodwork, $39.98.