Category Archives: hobby news

Athearn rubber band drive 4-6-2 Pacific…

Until recently, a thing of legend, pondered but never proven, the Holy Grail of all things Athearn, the locomotive model that nearly broke Irv…a Hi-F rubber band drive Pacific. There were always rumors, but nothing confirmed until this past spring…

As posted on Ebay…

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…another legend confirmed, it was at $3200 when I signed off…

Aristo-Craft G scale trains will cease operations at the end of this year…

Polk’s Will Close Its Doors 12-31-13

October 1st, 2013

Since 1935, we have provided service and innovation to the Hobby industry. In this latest downturn, we cut back staff to the minimum required to survive. Then the government battle over the debt ceiling drove the consumer market down even further.

We’ve managed to stay in business, but the continued depression for the consumer has caused us to fall into debt that is unsustainable. We have put several million dollars into product development over recent years, but the need for customers to cut back on non-essentials has caused this investment to be lacking in returns.

We have seen leisure activities like golf courses plunge in popularity, as funds for such recreation have dried up. It seems to be the same for hobby time investments. Our products are no longer inexpensive as they were in the 1930s-era Depression. The cost of manufacturing along with minimum production runs and long lead times has caused a lack of ability to continue as a sustainable entity. It’s no longer a business!

It has been a pleasure to help our creative consumer base to enjoy their hobby and we have no regrets in doing so. Our business grew every year until the 2008 as the recession caused a shrinking of the mindset to stay active in our large-scale model train arena. We know that smaller scales have remained viable, but the higher cost of Large Scale trains and the space required to run them have not maintained their share of the market. Our airplane R/C portion of our business was lost when our patented frequency changer was lost to the 2.4Ghz portion of the marketplace, with no frequency compounds needed any longer.

For 80 years, the Polk family has made a fair living in the Hobby industry. I can’t help but remember the scores of co-workers that have helped make this organization as special as it was. Thanks to them all, but notably: Gil Rose, B.M. Song, J.K. Kim, Sam Kimm, Tom Flynn, Cliff Crane, Charlie Binder, Marvin Binder, John and Sherry Shievdayal, Aixa Lebron, Joe Bamberger, David Newell, Walter Matuch, John Mikesh, Navin Shievdayal, Marguerite Hubert (Rose), Michael J. Vickey, Jonathan Polk, Scott Polk, Fred Polk, Irwin Polk, Nathan Polk, Maryann Polk Bob Calandra, George Adams, Michael Hauptmann and so many others, it would take a book to list them all. While I can’t list all the hundreds that were part of the team, they remain in my heart and mind.

Our humble thanks to our loyal customers. Our apologies for not being able to keep this almost 80-year-old business going. It’s a heartbreaker for us all.

All the best,
The Polk Family

Northwest Short Line 18 ton Class “A” Shay…original review 1974.

July 1974 Railroad Modeler magazine…

Interestingly, it does not point out the fact that the rear truck and crankshaft are just along for the ride…they were not designed to work on this particular model.  This may be one the “production problems” cryptically referenced in one of NWSL’s original ads from back then.  If so, it begs the question of value…could this flaw make it worth a little more because it was uncorrected?  Years ago a brass locomotive was sold with 1 1/2 volt motors installed instead of the usual 16-18 volt ones.  A recall was quickly sent out to correct the flaw but less than 10% were returned for a new motor.  Working models with the original motor are worth more—so long as they are carefully tested with a very low juice power source.

Regardless, it is one of my favorites, even if it makes my TYCOs look like they are powered by Kato drives…


Alas…sigh…groan…Floquil paint is no more…

…cut my teeth on “Grimy Black” and “Rust”. They made for a great finish by grounding their pigments as finely as technology would allow in the beginning and introduced many a newcomer to the dangers of lacquer and its effects on unprotected styrene…

Dear Mr. ________

There are many changes taking place at The Testor Corporation. For over 80 years, we have provided premium paints and finishing systems to the craft and hobby industry. Recently we announced that we are transforming our business in order to more effectively address the changing needs of our consumers and their interests.

We’ve made the decision to exit the following businesses within the Testor Brand family – Pactra , Floquil , PollyScale , and ColorArtz. This will enable The Testor Corporation to return to our foundation of success providing premium, innovative product that inspires creativity. We will continue to accept orders and ship product for a limited time based on available quantities.

Going forward, the following brands will be critical to our success and development – Testor , Model Master , and Aztek. These brands will be infused with marketing support, innovation and operational efficiencies.

In support of this, we have announced a consolidation of operations at our Rockford facilities. Our commitment to the Testor brand has never been stronger. By implementing these changes, and the ability to leverage all of Rust-Oleum’s world class services, we are more strongly poised to take our business to the next level through product and merchandising
innovations, and increased customer understanding.

If you have further questions, please feel free to let us know.

We appreciate your business!!


The Testor Corporation
Consumer Affairs Department
1-800-837-8677 (1-800-testors)
M-F 8:00 A.M – 4:00 PM CST

Woodland Scenics burns down…

a well respected and long time manufacturer of various forms of scenic ground foam and kits.

—unknown photographer

Quite a loss to the hobby, I hope they fare well.


“Dear all,

As you may have heard we have experienced a fire here at Woodland Scenics and there is good news and bad news. The good news is that no one was hurt during the fire or evacuation process. The bad news is that it took out a couple of our manufacturing buildings. However, and fortunately, there is more good news than bad.

We encompass multiple buildings that are spread out all over the town of Linn Creek. We only lost two of those buildings and those two contained just a small portion of our manufacturing facilities. Our shipping department, warehouse and corporate offices were spared any damage, as were most of our manufacturing buildings, so it is business as usual.

Thanks for all your concerns.


Gale Cousins
Director of Sales & Customer Service
Woodland Scenics”