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Industry News - December 2009

Published: October 29, 2009

Obituary: Garry Hills

Garry Hills, 43, product support manager at Hobbytyme Distributors for more than a decade, died Nov. 15 after a short battle with cancer. He lived in West Suffield, Conn., where funeral services were held Nov. 18.

Garry is remembered for his extensive knowledge of the hobby industry and his wit. He was also an avid radio control airplane enthusiast, frequently flying on weekends with his father. He was a member of the Simsbury (Conn.) Radio Control Club for many years. Most of all, Garry enjoyed attending hobby trade shows.

Memorial donations may be made to Masonicare Home Health & Hospice, 111 Founders Plaza, East Hartford, CT 06108.

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Chicago is the Craft and Hobby Association's kind of town

Make that Rosemont, Ill., to be exact.

The CHA is returning its annual summer convention/trade show and consumer event to the Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center in 2010 following one season in Orlando, Fla.

The summer trade show will be held July 27-29; the "Craft SuperShow" consumer event will be held July 30-31.

For more than 30 years, the CHA held its summer show in Rosemont. When attendance and exhibitor participation started to lag, the association relocated the summer show to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando and added the consumer component in 2009.

The CHA's Orlando show attracted about 5,000 trade show attendees and 50 new exhibitors. The number of attending retailers increased 5% compared to 2008. Based on post-show exhibitor surveys, 50% of respondents preferred Rosemont to Orlando; the other half was split among several other venues. Member e-mails and phone calls also indicated a desire to return to Rosemont.

Based on this, the CHA and representatives from the Donald E. Stephens Convention and Conference Center negotiated a one-year contract, with options beyond 2010.

For more information about the summer events, call Anthony Licata at 201-835-1203.

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Trainfest again draws more than 21,000

Milwaukee's Trainfest maintains its position as America's largest operating model railroad show, drawing more than 21,000 attendees for the Nov. 13-15 event. The show, at the Exposition Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park, also featured nearly 1,900 exhibitors, who are not counted in the attendance figures.

According to a release from show executive director John Tews, Trainfest 2009 showed gains in adult attendance, attracting 6.5% more than last year. Show retailers reported increased sales despite a challenging economy.

Friday's Product Showcase event, in its second year, showed a 38% increase in attendance. Enthusiasts with a special ticket were able to meet exclusively with exhibitors, distributors and retailers. More than 60 manufacturers and distributors from both coasts and as far away as Tokyo and Frankfort participated. Friday Product Showcase ticket holders also receive a train "grab bag" with randomly selected gifts along with train sets and locomotive door prizes. Sponsors included Athearn/Horizon Hobbies, Accurail, Broadway Limited, DCC Systems, Kalmbach Publishing, Märklin, Micro-Trains, MTH Electric Trains, Model Rectifier Corp., NCE/North Coast Engineering and Wm. K. Walthers.

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CHA winter show named to top 100 list

The Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) Winter Convention & Trade Show has been honored as one of Trade Show Executive's Gold 100 trade shows at the magazine's recent awards event.

Trade Show Executive selects its Gold 100 each year based on a show's technological innovation, green initiatives, global participation, brand leadership and net square feet of exhibition space.

"This has not been an easy year for the trade show industry - or any other industry for that matter," said Darlene Gudea, president, Trade Show Executive Media Group. "By honoring the shows that set the gold standard for the industry, we are recognizing events that have thrived during the severe economic downturn, and putting a spotlight on the new ideas and strategies that others can follow."

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Atlas offering 10% rebate on train sets

Atlas Model Railroad Co. and Atlas O are offering a 10% rebate on the purchase of any Atlas Train Set in HO, N, and O scales.

Customers can purchase the sets at local hobby stores; if they are out of stock dealers can order them and Atlas will send them directly to the customer. Atlas provides a hobby store locator on its Web site.

To receive the rebate, a customer must mail a copy of their purchase receipt and completed rebate form (found on the rebate Web site) to:

Atlas Model Railroad Co., Inc
378 Florence Ave.
Hillside, NJ 07205

The rebate offers ends Thursday, Dec. 31. All receipts and completed rebate forms must be received at Atlas by Monday, February 1st.

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Abby Robey accepts the HMA Service Award of Merit at iHobby Expo in October.

Xuron's Robey receives 2009 HMA Service Award of Merit

Xuron Corporation's Abby Robey was presented the Hobby Manufacturers Association Service Award of Merit October 22 at the 25th iHobby Expo Welcome party.

The award was initiated in 2006 by former HMA President Bob Staat, to recognize a leader in the industry who has helped move the association forward though their efforts in working for the board and the councils. This year's award was presented to Robey for her efforts in organizing the General Hobby Division and serving in leadership positions on the HMA Board and General Hobby Council.

"Abby stepped forward in 2006 to chair and organize the newly formed General Hobby Division of HMA and she recruited the first council volunteers and skillfully helped the board understand this product category and its importance to the growth of our industry and our show," said former HMA President Frank Ritota.

Robey continues to serve on the General Hobby Division Council.

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HQ Kites to open new offices in U.S.

HQ Kites & Designs, a German-based kite distribution company, has announced plans to locate its North American headquarters in Powells Point, N.C. The new location will provide office and warehouse space for products to be distributed to retail stores throughout North and South America. The company plans to begin operating at the new site by Nov. 30. Currently, its North American base is in Chesapeake, Va.

The HQ brand is known for its wide range of kites, from recreational family kites to power kites used for kiteboarding and snow kiting.

The company chose to locate in Powells Point because of business costs, proximity to kite and kiteboarding retailers, and enhanced exposure for HQ's product line and customer base. HQ plans to keep the Chesapeake location.

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European model railroad manufacturers holding together

According to various German media and hobby industry sources, model railroad manufacturer Märklin will be sold in 2010, possibly in the spring following February's Spielwarenmesse toy fair in Nuremberg. Company administrator Michael Pluta says the company is "running very well" and is expecting a good holiday season, according to the Schwäbische Zeitung newspaper.

Pluta also said he expects the company to make a profit of $7.5 million in 2009. There are currently seven investors interested in Märklin.

In other European model railroading news, according to the German Suedkurier newspaper, 38 Faller employees in October were offered positions with an "employment and qualification entity." The employees will no longer work for the model scenery and building manufacturer, but for the transfer company, though the positions are temporary. Faller administrator Volker Grub expects more employees will be released, for a total of 50 jobs lost in addition to the cuts made so far, which were mainly in part-time and home workers.

Additionally, published reports say Fleischmann will be cutting the workforce at its Heilsbronn, Germany headquarters from 226 to 130 as part of its restructuring. Fleischmann is owned by Model Holding GmbH, which also owns Roco.

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CHA announces new events at winter show

The Craft & Hobby Association has announced several new components to its winter convention and trade show, which will be held Jan. 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif.

New badge policy: Non-exhibiting CHA supplier member companies are now allowed four free badges to CHA trade shows. Supplier member companies that exhibit at CHA trade shows may secure four free badges per every 100 square feet of exhibit space. The CHA will charge exhibitors a discounted rate of $50 per additional badge. Additional badges requested by non-exhibiting CHA supplier members will be available at a discounted rate of $100 per badge. Non-member attendees will continue to pay the full price of $150 per badge. For more information, e-mail

ShowBiz Connections: The CHA has introduced a new business-to-business component to the trade show registration process. ShowBiz Connections matches exhibitors and attendees based on product and service interests indicated during the registration process. All participating registrants will receive a weekly update with their paired ShowBiz Connections and access to their ShowBiz Connections message center. Real e-mail addresses and contact information are never revealed through this system. You may opt out at any time. The CHA will automatically generate the updates each week. For more information, e-mail

Recruit-A-Member program: New to the 2010 winter show is a CHA member referral program. By referring members, you'll receive a discount on your 2011 membership dues. For each new 2010 member - up to three companies - you will receive a $50 credit ($150 maximum). For more information, e-mail

For more information about CHA conventions and trade shows, visit the CHA Web site.

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CHA Board of Directors elects new officers

The Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) Board of Directors recently elected new officers.

For the 2010 term, they include Michael McCooey, president and chief executive officer of Plaid Enterprises, as board chairman; Larry Olliges, president of Dees' Crafts, as vice chair; and Mark Peters of iLoveToCreate, as secretary. McCooey and Olliges were re-elected to serve second terms; Peters will serve his first term.

Board officers were elected during the October Board of Directors meeting. At that time, the board announced that David Murray, vice president of Activa Products, will fill the board vacancy created by the resignation of Sara Naumann.

For more information, visit CHA's Web site.

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Casemate adds MMP and Warlord Games to North American distribution

Casemate, a publisher and distributor of military history books throughout North America, is adding titles from UK-based Mushroom Model Publications (MMP) and Warlord Games to its offerings.

MMP, Hampshire, was established in 1996 to publish Mushroom Model Magazine, a quarterly that expanded on Mushroom Monthly, the club newsletter. In 1999, MMP introduced books to its range of publications. Since 2006, MMP has focused exclusively on book publication and has expanded its catalog to include books on military models as well as aircraft, aviation and military history.

Warlord Games, Nottingham, was established by gamers with a combined 40 years of experience in the industry.

Casemate expects its first shipment from MMP within the next few weeks. The full range of books will be on the company's Web site soon.

Casemate's North American operations are based in Havertown, Pa.

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Increased public attendance at iHobby Expo, trade steady

The 25th annual iHobby Expo set a new record for public attendance and trade attendance on par with the 2008 show.

The Hobby Manufacturers Association event, Oct. 22-25 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill., drew 20,606, including a Saturday total of 12,058, iHobby's biggest public day ever. Total public attendance is more than 5,000 better than a year ago.

Trade attendance totaled 4,982 total exhibitor and buyer attendees with 1,727 verified buyer personnel from 980 retail stores and distributorships. This compares to 1,784 representatives from 1,002 stores and distributorships who were there in 2008. The number of exhibitors dipped from 280 in '08 to 254, with 79 new to the show vs. 80 last year. The number of booths and the amount of floor space they covered mirrored the belt-tightening economy, with 609 covering about 61,000 square feet of the hall vs. 70,000 last year.

Consumer traffic was helped by prime-time play of iHobby TV ads in the Chicagoland area.

While trade attendance may have been subdued, manufacturers continued to show off new products and services for the coming year, with a few surprises.

Tools appear to be hot right now. Testors was testing a line of tools at the show, asking retailers for feedback on everything from packaging to whether the tools are viable in their stores.

MMD is offering retailers support materials to bolster sales and help merchandising their stores. Mike McMahon, owner of MMD and Squadron Products, says that all retailers have to do is ask their sales rep for help. "We [MMD] are here for the industry and the shops," McMahon said. "I am committed to everyone's success."

New to the show was Games Workshop, best known for its Warhammer 40K sci-fi tabletop wargame. In addition to its game lineup, GW showed off its vast line of acrylic paints and hobby tools.

If attendance at the Hobby University seminars was any indication, retailers at the show were there to learn and do business.

Retail advisors Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender opened the Hobby U seminars this year with a well attended 90-minute session packed with advice for surviving in a down economy. Former retailer and current Horizon Hobby dealer development director Bob Jacobsen talked to another large audience about buying and managing a store's inventory. Both of these seminars were videotaped; portions will be posted on as streaming videos.

More new product information will be in the January issue of Model Retailer. - Tim Kidwell and Hal Miller

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