International Hobby Corporation

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International Hobby Corporation

Postby Bigt » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:20 pm

Hi. Maybe this question has already been asked...I looked but did not see it. Does anyone
know what happened to the International Hobby Corporation...I believe they were out of
Philadelphia PA. Use to see their ads in the monthly magazines, and, over the years enjoyed
their products - especially their passenger cars. Now, all of a sudden, they seem to be no longer
with us. Any idea what happened to the company? Thanks
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Cadet57 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 4:37 pm

The owner died in either 2010 or '11 and the company folded.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby CNJ999 » Tue Jan 31, 2012 6:12 pm

A long and involved story, actually. To summarize: IHC's European supplier went belly up (they subsequently reorganized but did not reinstate ties with IHC), IHC had no other source of supply, operations continued for about 6 months time through selling of stock on hand, owner then retired and passed away shortly thereafter. IHC was the final incarnation of several well known earlier hobby firms together spanning five decades, probably the most recognizable name among these being AHM.

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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Desertdweller » Wed Feb 01, 2012 1:39 am

That's too bad. I had been wondering what ever happened to them and the brands they carried.

IHC/AHM distributed products made by Rivarossi, among others. Rivarossi is a brand that keeps appearing and disappearing from the scene. They made some products in conjunction with other brands: Atlas and Arnold-Rapido were two I recall. I remember they made some very detailed models for their day. Their passenger cars featured full interiors in both HO and N scales, while some of their competitors did not. Their locomotives featured good detail, but tended to be underpowered.

AHM also imported some locomotives made in Yugoslavia along the lines of the Rivarossi products.

It was companies like IHC that got a lot of model railroaders started in the hobby, with affordable products. They performed a good service and are missed.

Les
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Bigt » Wed Feb 01, 2012 4:43 pm

Thanks everyone! I agree, when I started modelling...about 1971/72...the AHM brand was the most
prevalent brand in our area. We did not have "hobby shops" here, so, all of our "railroading" was at
the Woolworth or WT Grant stores. Woolworths always had a large selection of AHM products, an
entire 4 or 5 shelf counter that was at least 30 feet long! I still have almost all of my original purchases,
and, still view the AHM products on Ebay.

It is too bad that these old companies are gone. I have always been an avid "kitbasher" and with the
prices now charged for these super detailed, limited run items, well, I just won't spend the money for
them - not to cut-up anyway. I miss the good old Athearn, Model Die Casting / Roundhouse, Trainminiature
and such. Personally, I think the way the trend has now developed that this hobby will soon find itself without
a future (young kids starting out). The model magazines and the industry keep telling us that they are the future
of the hobby, but, how will they afford it? Today, we have beautiful models being produced, but, I have never
needed all of that detail in order to enjoy this hobby.

Thanks again to all who answered.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Desertdweller » Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:11 pm

Bigt,

I agree with you, being a kitbasher from "way back". AHM/IHC products formed the basis for many projects in both HO and N scales. I once built an HO 0-4-4-0ST from two AHM Docksiders. The trick was to mount the can motor on the forward side of the gear tower. This was back when you could get one of these locos for $20 or less.

The Rivarossi passenger cars in HO were a little more expensive than their Athern competition, but they were scale length and included interiors. Even the Con-Cor HO passenger cars of the same period did not have interiors, although they sold in the same price range of the Rivarossi's.

I like the current assortment of products available, but would never have been to acquire a collection comparable to my present one at today's prices. The young people
starting out in the hobby now are faced with superior products, if they can afford them. I think that is what will kill the hobby.

There is an enormous gap between the high quality, well-detailed locomotives and cars that sell for high prices and the cheap, trainset items that are basically unchanged over the past 40 years. IHC/AHM used to span this gap, with intermediate quality products at intermediate prices. Even the low-priced brands, like Bachmann and Life-Like, have greatly improved their products at greatly increased prices. The other major low-priced builder, Tyco, has dropped out of the train market, got into serious legal trouble, and now makes medical supplies.

I got involved in this hobby as a young adult, not as a child. The low-priced equipment served as a gateway to get me into the hobby where I could see what other products were available. What worries me is that youngsters will not be able to afford the products they need to keep their interest in the hobby.

Les
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby CNJ999 » Wed Feb 01, 2012 9:55 pm

Desertdweller wrote:Bigt,

I got involved in this hobby as a young adult, not as a child. The low-priced equipment served as a gateway to get me into the hobby where I could see what other products were available. What worries me is that youngsters will not be able to afford the products they need to keep their interest in the hobby.

Les


HO scale model railroading is rapidly becoming simply a high priced collectors hobby, rather than one centered around actual modeling, creativity and skills. I see fewer and fewer supposed hobbyists willing, or capable, of serious modeling and painting nowadays, but plenty who will claim that they've recently purchased 3 or 4 BLI or MTH whatevers at $400 a shot. It is all really quite sad and I concur that there is no future for the young or the non-afluent in traditional model railroading.

By the way, has anyone here been in the hobby long enough to recall the days when AHM actually imported brass locomotives from the orient? That's really going back to its beginnings!

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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Desertdweller » Wed Feb 01, 2012 11:25 pm

Yeah. AHM was the brand usually found in stores that were not specifically hobby shops. I think in some of the department store chains, it was left up to the local manager what he carried in inventory. I recall buying an HO AHM FM C-Liner in a Target store.

Sometimes hardware stores would carry model railroad stuff, too. I recall seeing Athern, Penn-Line, and Herkimer kits in local hardware stores. None of these kits were high-tech wonders, but they were affordable and therefore obtainable. The most sophisticated models I aspired to in the late 60's were the Tenshodo shorty passenger cars, priced just above my price range.

I don't remember the AHM brass. Either it was before my time frame, or they were priced so exorbitantly that I never seriously considered them.

If today's model railroaders are collectors because assembled and painted detailed models are what is available to them; or if it is because they are just too lazy to build anything is sort of a chicken-or-egg question. My local hobby shop owner no longer stocks Plastruct or Evergreen styrene shapes because he says his customers are too lazy to scratchbuild anything. Of course, this attitude affects more than just our hobby. All plastic modeling hobbies depend on these basic components as modelers modify what is available into what they want.

Kitbashing requires two things: cheap models that people are not hesitant to chop up, and raw materials to make the conversions from. I'm damn careful weathering a $150 plastic locomotive, much less wanting to cut one up.

Kitbashing was a way to obtain a model one could not afford to buy as a finished unit. It helped many of us "move up" in the hobby.

Those of us who have been in the hobby for decades are the lucky ones. We started collecting our locomotives and rolling stock for enough years that we have large collections and a railroad to use them on. I have been building my N-scale collection for 32 years. Now one may have to chose between having a nice collection, or having a nice railroad.

Back around 1970, one could build an operable model railroad (as opposed to just a loop of track on a sheet of plywood) for $100. You could have a darn nice model railroad in either HO or N for $500. That would get you the physical layout, scenery, electrical gear, and the trains themselves!

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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Earle Baldwin » Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:06 am

Here's an AHM story to warm everyone's heart. My first HO locomotive was the AHM D&RGW Krauss-Maffei diesel hydraulic built for AHM by Rivarossi. My grandfather bought it for me at an old "5 and 10" - I think it was a Woolworth - in Keyport when we were living in Matawan. I really loved the locomotive but, being a very enthusiastic youthful railroader, it didn't survive my childhood. Just recently, I decided to see if I could find a replacement and successfully obtained two units in superb condition. One of the models still has its box and original paperwork. A lot of memories came flooding back as I held them in my hands for the first time. The Rivarossi K-M locomotive was a top of the line model at the time of its introduction still holds its own when compared to contemporary models.

Thanks for the great thread.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Cadet57 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 11:10 am

Earle Baldwin wrote:Here's an AHM story to warm everyone's heart. My first HO locomotive was the AHM D&RGW Krauss-Maffei diesel hydraulic built for AHM by Rivarossi. My grandfather bought it for me at an old "5 and 10" - I think it was a Woolworth - in Keyport when we were living in Matawan. I really loved the locomotive but, being a very enthusiastic youthful railroader, it didn't survive my childhood. Just recently, I decided to see if I could find a replacement and successfully obtained two units in superb condition. One of the models still has its box and original paperwork. A lot of memories came flooding back as I held them in my hands for the first time. The Rivarossi K-M locomotive was a top of the line model at the time of its introduction still holds its own when compared to contemporary models.

Thanks for the great thread.


On a similar vein. When I was about 7-8 years old my grandparents got me an Athearn blue box Amtrak F7. It was my favorite locomotive, a very good runner compared to my Life-Like and Bachmann locos back then. About 3 years ago when I got back into model trains I found that old dusty F7 and tried running it, it kept shorting out. Dejected, I brought it to my local hobby shop, they took it in for repair, but it wasn't looking good. About a month later he calls and says it's fixed. The rear truck had warped so it had to be replaced, plus it needed a heck of a cleaning. It cost more than a replacement F7 would have been, but the sentimental value could never be replaced.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby CNJ999 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 4:03 pm

Desertdweller wrote:Yeah. AHM was the brand usually found in stores that were not specifically hobby shops. I think in some of the department store chains, it was left up to the local manager what he carried in inventory. I recall buying an HO AHM FM C-Liner in a Target store.

I don't remember the AHM brass. Either it was before my time frame, or they were priced so exorbitantly that I never seriously considered them.

Les


AHM brass dates from the early 1970's and interestingly, three examples of the line are posted on eBay at the moment. I recall that they looked really good, especially for the day, but they tended to be poor runners I've been told and are shunned and largely forgotten by those interested in brass these days.

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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby glennk419 » Thu Feb 02, 2012 6:04 pm

Growing up in Philadelphia, I too enjoyed a long line of AHM models. Probably my favorite is the "bloody nose" Amtrak GG1 which my wife bought for my birthday 30+ years ago. It's on its' third set of brushes but still runs like a top. AHM/IHC also ran a large hobby shop / factory outlet on the third floor of their headquarters at C and Tioga Streets in Philly called Big Bash Hobby Shop. They carried many other manufacturers lines as well, I have dozens of Athearn blue boxes that I bought there. I also remember going in there for parts and they would literally "walk upstairs" to get pretty much anything you needed (hence the extra sets of brushes for the GG1). I also had the pleasure of having the AHM offices as a customer when I was in field service and got to talk to the owner (I believe his name was Bernie?) on many occasions. He was a crusty old businessman but would always take the time to share train stories. Ironically, Bennett Levin's Juniata Terminal Railroad shops still occupy the rear of that same building, utilizing the enclosed sidings to store and maintain his 1:1 scale collection.

After vacating the warehouse building, IHC carried on for a few years from a storefront on Allegheny Avenue near Kensington until they finally gave up the ghost. The remaining inventory was purchased by a gentleman who lives in Montgomery County, PA and regularly lists items on eBay.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby jaystreetcrr » Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:09 pm

A big loss. As a kid in the 70s I grew up on AHM stuff, including those HOn30 Minitrains which they sold as a special offer for a crazy low price. The Rivarossi engines and rolling stock varied in quality and had those big flanges but were a great bargain.
Now that I'm in N scale I still look for the IHC houses and storefronts, with very sharp diework and lots of extra parts in every kit, and cheaper than other makers.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby wwiirebel » Mon Apr 02, 2012 7:54 pm

Is there any knowledge as to any other company taking over the reins of business importing ahm/ihc's old products??.
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Re: International Hobby Corporation

Postby Backshophoss » Mon Apr 02, 2012 11:07 pm

Rivarossi has had a series of ups and downs as a company in Europe,but is now with a new"partner" with Hornby, a major brand in England.
Take a look at pg.61 in March issue of Model Railroad News,In a now closed contest,of an "Announced" model of a steam loco,
2-6-6-6 C&O Allegheny with DCC Sound decoder(Loksound),List priced at $649.99. Try[ http//www.hornbyamerica.com]for more info
(if the link works.)
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