Lost in a Train of Thought
Time Machine Toy and Hobby
I’ve recently been going through old pictures I burned off onto CD’s to be sure I haven’t missed anything I meant to write about on the blog. I figured that possibility was ludicrous as A) my memory is pretty darn good for this stuff and B) I’m a little bit nuts about my site organization.
So color me surprised when I stumbled over my few photos of one of our visits to Time Machine Toy & Hobby in Manchester. You didn’t think I’d overlook a museum visit or a hike now did you? Have a little more faith in your boy. While I originally planned on just slotting this page into the Curious Retail Stores section, I have just learned (from their website) that Time Machine is “the largest hobby store in New England!” I can tell you that it’s larger than anything in Delaware, too, for what that’s worth.
Time Machine is freaking HUGE. And hugely awesome. While the store itself doesn’t have a long history, the building it now calls home certainly does. It’s located in an old Bon Ami soap factory. And the funny thing is, it still looks exactly like a 100 year old brick factory building. Then again, Manchester has converted a ton of these things into various new uses so we shouldn’t be surprised.
Bon Ami has a long history – and most of it is here in central Connecticut. I’ve touched on the story a bit before in my Glastonbury Museum on the Green and Manchester Historical Society reports but instead of going to them, I’ll entreat you to click here, a concise and interesting history of the Bon Ami soap phenomenon, which continues to this day.
But today, of course, the Hilliard Street factory is Time Machine. In my poking around for info to share – and to justify this page on CTMQ, I came across this customer review which I completely agree with:
You can spend hours in this museum-quality toy store, stocked with everything under the sun. I have found many educational, unique, lovely items here for all ages (mostly adults!). Prices are a bit below average, service is good, parking is no problem, and getting there is easy as long as you have an idea where it is. There is an ample RC car section, model planes, military collectibles, stuffed toys, games, puzzles, scientific toys, collectible cards, and SO much more. Some items are rare, and there is definitely something for everyone.
Who knows, that almost reads like it was written by the store – especially the “ample parking” (not true) and “prices a bit below average (not true either). But the gist of it is accurate.
The Time Machine started as a small hobby shop in East Hampton, CT in the Fall of 1993. Combining with New England Hobby in Manchester, CT in the Fall of 1999, we have more than tripled in size over the past eight years and become the largest hobby retail location in New England.
We support a variety of enthusiasts’ groups and clubs that meet at the store regularly. Check our calendar for meeting dates/times…new members are always welcome. We also hold store events and activities the whole family can enjoy.
Yes, all sorts of nerd gamers have meetings in the cavernous building throughout the week. But I think it’s one particular nerd group that drew me to Time Machine in the first place – and drew me to bring my parents once and alone with Damian yet another time: The Silk City Railroad club and their huge model train layouts on display.
Unfortunately, it appears that model railroaders spend all their time model railroading and not a second of webpage designing. Not only does Silk City have pretty much zero online presence, that appears to be the norm for almost all local model railroading clubs. Oh well…
If you want to see this massive 5000 square foot layout in operation, you must go on the first and third Sunday of every month. There is a mix of O, HO and N scale layouts and trust me, you’ll be very impressed. It’s not a secret that I love nice train layouts, and have explored the best that Connecticut has to offer: At the Connecticut River Museum (here), the Canton Historical Society Museum (here) and heck, we even went to the Brandywine River Museum down near my childhood home for their annual winter display, which give me an excuse to post a random Damian picture from there:
And Damian and I also went to the National Model Railroad Association show at the Connecticut Convention Center in the summer of 2009. So why not a random picture from that?
Boy, I’m cleaning up a whole bunch of old pictures today!
In addition to the train layout at Time Machine, they pretty much sell everything anyone anywhere with any amount of infinite monetary resources would ever conceive of ever dreaming of wanting for their own model train layout. The selection is insane. Heck, they even had a Philadelphia Eagles (my favorite team) set:
Some of their offerings, particularly of a German/Swiss origin, were incredibly expensive. And they were just stacked up in the middle of the aisle with everything else, which I sort of appreciated actually.
I’ve been up to Time Machine three or four times solely to watch the trains. Call me what you will, but it’s really cool. If you’re not into trains, I assure you there’s other stuff there that will bring a smile to your face.