My, How Time Flies at Mark Twain Hobby Center

My, how time flies. Dan McEntee, our longest part timer (32 years) stopped by yesterday and showed me the first Mark Twain Hobby Center newsletter. It was dated November 1980. Since it was only 2 pages I thought that it would fit into this post. What is really interesting are the products and prices from 33 years ago. One great example was the Lindberg Blue Devil Destroyer plastic model kit. Back then we had it on special for $17.99. Now they retail at $129.95 with a street price of about $80.00. Or how about the Kraft 6 channel sport series radio with servos and receiver for $235.00. Those were the days.

One other thing that you don’t see much of any longer is the fact that I typed this newsletter on an electric typewriter. I know, some of you that are quite young are asking what is an electric typewriter. Heck, sometimes we didn’t even use correcting fluid, we just typed right over the mistake.

Anyway, I hope that you enjoy going back a few years in time.


PS Don’t expect these prices to be valid today. (That’s a disclaimer)old newsletter

old newsletter-1


Early Steam Locomotive Pictures from Mark Twain Hobby Collection

Wabash Steam Locos  circa 1905 in the yards around Union Station

Wabash Steam Locos circa 1905 in the yards around Union Station

Good afternoon all,

I am posting today some images of trains around the St Louis area circa 1904-05. These images come from a group of glass plate photographic negatives that Mark Twain Hobby Center has in it’s collection (also spelled accumulation). These were scanned on an Epson scanner. Each negative is 4 x 5 inches and show some wear and tear from the last 100 plus years. The date that I am using is based upon one image of a rare experimental locomotive that was used by the Pennsylvania Railroad for a couple of years. It was in the St Louis area and exhibited at the Louisiana Exposition of 1904 leaving the area in 1905 at the conclusion of the world’s fair. Click on the image at the top of this post and it will take you to the Flickr site where you can see all of the images.

Each negative is shown as it would have been printed. From all indications the railroads represented are MKT (Missouri Kansas Texas), Cotton Belt (St Louis Southwestern), Wabash, Pennsylvania Railroad,  CB&Q (Chicago Burlington & Quincy), Frisco (St Louis San Francisco Railroad). There are a few unidentified locos as well. There are also a couple of images of street scenes in the City of St Louis. This group of negatives came to us a number of years ago following the passing of another long time hobby store owner in St Louis, Bill Henze. While cleaning out a box of things that came from Bill’s estate these negatives were noticed. Bill was a collector (and seller) of all things trains, it was in his blood. Bill owned Henze Hobbies with his wife Thelma for nearly 45 – 50 years. Thelma would typically work the day shift while Bill held down his regular job and he would join her in the evenings and on Saturdays.

I hope that you enjoy these as much as we do. As a side note Mark Twain Hobby Center is de-acquisitioning a number of items from our collection due to space limitations and we have placed a lot of photo images out for sale in the store as well as some time tables.  Please take the time to stop by and see what we have.

Keep on railroading,



Are You Immersed In Your Hobby?

World War 1 Soldiers in France with a Bee Suit

World War 1 Soldiers in France with a Bee Suit

While this picture is not related to any of the hobbies that we carry at Mark Twain Hobby Center, I am using it to ask you “Are You Immersed In Your Hobby”? This fellow certainly is. This is a group of World War 1 soldiers in France obviously taking some needed rest. The “Bee Suit” that the one soldier is wearing is actually a swarm of honey bees. To do this he took the queen from the swarm and placed her on his clothing up around his neck. When the rest of the swarm located her they lit onto his clothing and neck and hung out forming the “Bee Suit”. Obiously, this soldier had the hobby of beekeeping back in the states and was used to being around the bees as he is very comfortable with them. Do you take the time to show people your hobby, or spend time telling others about the neat things that you do? Do you get really excited about the things that you do or build and want to share it with others? I certainly do and think that if you were to put out a survey it would show that those that enjoy their hobby the most are the same ones that share their excitement and joy with others about that hobby. Clubs are a great place to find others that have the same hobby interest and passion as you. How about sharing with others through such outlets as nursing/adult day care centers or at the library or in the schools?

Over the years that we have been in business, we have put different groups in touch with hobbyists that would go out and spend a little time with others sharing their interest and passion. One such event dealt with older men in an assisted living facility that enjoyed building balsa stick models. Dan McEntee spent time with them talking about the models and showing what was available and tips on building these models. The feedback from the facility was phenomenal as each person shared their memories of building models as a kid. Or about the times that were spent with Cub Scouts giving tips on building better Pinewood Derby cars.

Check with your church or local community center to find out the possibility of setting up a beginning model building class or take a youngster out to the field the next time you fly. You will be surprised at the effect that your enthusiasm will have on them.

Take a look at the soldiers that surround this bee hobbyist. Want to bet some of them will go back to states and set up a bee hive.

Spread the word, hobbies are fun


Lionel’s beautiful NEW Santa Fe Super Chief Passenger Set

Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief train set

Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief train set

The new Lionel Santa Fe Super Chief Passenger Ready to Run train set with Railsounds. This is the newest version by Lionel of the famous passenger train that was called the “Train of the Stars” that ran from Los Angeles to Chicago. The original train was the first diesel powered all Pullman sleeping car train in America beginning it’s run in 1936 and completing it’s operations in 1971. This is one of the most popular train sets to be produced and is a beauty either around the tree or on the layout.

It is certainly a beauty and with the digital sounds will light up any room with smiles. The set contains the dual motor powered FT diesel loco with a lighted cab interior, die-cast metal trucks, pilot and fuel tank, 2 streamlined passenger coaches and streamlined observation car, enough Fastrack track to make a 40 x 60 inch layout with a minimum curve of O-27 although the size of the trains are Traditional O gauge.

This set is powered by a 80 watt transformer and the digital RailSounds RTR sound system has diesel revving, horn, bell, and user-activated crew dialog scenarios. Some of the details of this set include engineer and conductor figures, interior illumination, flexible diaphragms between the cars, opening doors, die cast metal trucks and detailed interiors, operating headlights and couplers.

As you can tell, we are excited about this train just because it is so cool. And with all Lionel products they are very limited in supply. Don’t ask me why because when you have a winner I would think you would like to make a bunch of them.

Keep on training,


Fall Sale

Well, here we go again. Friday, Saturday and Sunday (November 16,17 and 18) only. Mark Twain Hobby Center will be having a 20% OFF whatever you can carry to the register sale. So load your carts into your car and come on in. Just as a reminder this sale does not include gift cards, lay-aways, consignment or used items or special orders of our Ebay store. However, anything else that does not fall into those categories is on sale, even stuff that would normally not be discountable.

This is our way of saying thank you to all of our valued customers and friends.

Mark Twain Hobby Center 20 percent off sale

Mark Twain Hobby Center 20% OFF sale

Rechargeable Moto Tools

Last evening I spent a bit of time in the basement working on repairing a charm bracelet for a friend of my grand-daughter. Part of this repair required me to use a rechargeable moto grinding tool. Due to the tools size I was able to get the job done quick and easy. Not so if I had to use my old reliable Dremel plug-in grinding tool. The main reason for this was the physical size. The rechargeable tool was actually smaller than the Dremel, which by the way gets a workout doing the heavy work, and a bit easier to use for this project which did not need a lot of power. That is the reason for writing this today. We were able to obtain a large quantity of rechargeable moto grinding tools that were originally sold for another purpose but the tool company customer didn’t take them. This tool comes with a 1/8 inch collet which fits all of the Dremel and other brand grinding bits and from what I can tell can use the standard Dremel chucks.

rechargeable battery operated moto tool grinder

Special rechargeable battery operated moto tool grinder

Originally we were able to get around a 100 of these tools to offer for sale at $10.99.  We are down to our last 40 units and they are now priced at $7.99 until they are gone, which won’t be very long. You can’t beat this value, even if you only use it a few times it will pay for itself in convenience. It comes with the tool, rechargeable battery, charger and a sanding drum. If you work with models, plastic or wood or any other craft that needs a lighter duty grinding tool than the Dremel, then this is your baby. Don’t expect it to replace your Dremel grinder, it won’t, but it does give you another way to work.

Keep on building,




Walthers 2013 N-Scale Reference Book for Model Railroading is here

Well, it’s that time of the year when the weather begins to change and for many that means it is time to give up the outdoor activities and head to the basement to work on the trains. And the people at Walther’s knows this quite well as they schedule their annual release of the Walther’s Reference Books for model railroading. These “catalogs” are famous for the sheer amount of model train stuff that is shown by the different manufacturers. They are correct in calling it a reference book. I enjoy spending many hours just flipping through to see what is available or for ideas. The HO scale book was released a few weeks ago and was mentioned in a previous post and yesterday the N Scale book arrived.


Here is the official Walther’s blurb on the the book:

“For 80 years, Walthers has been committed to the fine tradition of model railroading.

The annual Walthers Reference Book is a ‘must have’ for model railroaders – those with years of experience as well as those just getting started.

Exciting new features in 2013 include:

* All-New Wall Calendar

* Easy-Access Up-front Hobby Shop Listing

* New Name Train Stories

* And More!

It’s a usable, collectible resource. Don’t just take our word for it…

“For most any model railroad project I work on, I turn to one of the Walthers Reference Books. Walthers Reference Books have been an important resource for me, especially when planning modeling projects. While the Internet is a great tool for finding information, it works best if you already know what you are looking for. With the printed Reference Book, you can easily browse selections of products, which can be great for generating ideas. Many times over the years I’ve started looking for one thing, only to find something better just a few pages away, which ultimately makes a better finished model. The Reference Books are a great modeling tool.”

-David Popp, Managing Editor, Model Railroader magazine

As always, there are thousands of new and current product listings plus Information Stations, inspirational Magic photos and model railroading resources.”


If you are interested in Model Railroads or even just model diorama building take some time to check these reference books out. They really are neat to see.
Happy Modeling

Vic Smith’s City Edge Model Train Layout

I am sure that you have seen the large photographs in the store showing parts of Vic Smith’s City Edge model railroad layout. Vic has been working on this urban masterpiece for many years now, even  producing a DVD of the operation and scenery called City Running . Here is a link to a Youtube video that Vic put together showing some of the bits and pieces of his layout:

This is such an incredible model railroad with an awesome amount of urban (city) detail, grit, people, vehicles and much more. Usually, you can see Vic either in the store or at many of the model railroad events that take place in the area. Grab the video in the store or online at .
Happy modeling,


Hobby Clubs and You

Over the years I have seen many a hobbyist go strong in their particular area of interest only to peter out as time went on because they did not have anyone to talk with that shared the same interest. Or there were times when the kids soccer games were over and the hobby interest was rekindled and the search was on to rejoin the group or club once again. While the number of clubs or number of members might not be as great as it was years ago before competition with the web or television there are a surprising number of groups or associations out there with your particular hobby interest. Here is a list of groups that we have put together:

I am sure that there are some clubs or groups that were missed, and I welcome your response to let me know of them. Whether your interest is Model Railroading, Radio Control Airplanes, Boats or Car/Truck racing, War Gaming, building Scale Models, it really doesn’t matter, there is a group of like minded people like you. As a rule there are also blogs and forums on the web that cater to your interests as well. Even if you are not a “club person” per say, just hanging around friends that share the same interest has always been motivation to keep plugging away at a project for me and will do the same for you.

I encourage you to look into and join or support the local hobby club or association that shares your hobby interest.

Keep on hobbying


I just received an email from Bob McNeil about this special excursion that is taking place. Here are the details:
“Wabash Special” excursion ride on the Columbia Star Dinner Train 
Sunday November, 4th 2012. 
Board Train @ COLT Transload facility.
6501  North Brown Station Rd. Columbia, MO  65202
Be there by 1:30pm.  Ride will be 2 1/2 – 3 hrs.
Cost will be $33 per ticket, this includes tax.
 Young children riding on laps are free, (please only one per paying ticket.)
There is NO food served, however beverage bar will be available at extra cost.
Rare opportunity to enjoy a ride up the COLT RR Branch line with other railfans.
Marty Paten – Local Historian will be riding to share history of Railroad.
Please make reservations by Saturday October 27th
Seating is Limited, first come first served.
Please Do Not Call the Columbia Star Dinner Train for Tickets or information.
Reservations or information may be obtained by: 
or by phone – David Ackerman # 573-817-5683
Those sending checks in the mail must be postmarked by October 27th.
There will be no refunds after October the 27th.
   Send Cash, or Checks payable to “Columbia Star Dinner Train”  to:
Wabash Special Excursion
c/o Matthew Sabath
7404  N Wishing Well Dr
Columbia, MO  65202