Category Archives: Kit Bashing

“unprecedented brick and mortar retail disruption”: U.S. retail/banking/service sector collapse, February 2018

Incomplete list of U.S. retail/banking/service sector job loss WARNings and store shutdowns made or announced in February 2018:

British empire United Kingdom based luxury clothier Charlotte Olympia now chapter 11 bankrupt busted in the United States, blaming an “unprecedented brick and mortar retail disruption” affecting its stores in California, Nevada and New York.  But don’t blame online sales because there is an Official Charlotte Olympia Online Store.

Germany based Deutsche Bank suddenly began eliminating hundreds of jobs globally, including jobs in the United States, as part of a plan to impose ‘cost discipline’ due to crashing revenues.

Arizona: In Phoenix, antique store/vendor rental space Zinnias shutdown.

 California: In Modesto, after 23 years Buy Right shutdown for its second and possibly final time, and for the second time it’s because a greedy landlord kicked them out, this time the owners of the popular thrift store did not say they were looking for a new location. Local Modesto news media reported a sudden increase in landlords jacking up rent.  Prudential-Jackson National Life Insurance laid off 161 people in El Segundo, admitting the layoff was planned back in August 2017!  Los Angeles based retailer of those dumb-ass looking wide leg jeans, JNCO Jeans, shutting down all nationwide ops when the inventory is gone (the company actually died several years ago, but some idiot tried rebooting it in 2017). In San Diego, after 125 years (surviving The Great Depression and numerous recessions) iconic Jessop Jewelers shutdown.  In San Francisco, after 28 years Costumes on Haight shutting down in March, the new manager blames increased operating costs.  Calexico JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.  WP Payroll Management issued a shutdown WARN for its Los Angeles location, 113 jobs gone by May!  The Ritz-Carlton issued a temporary shutdown WARN for its Truckee location, 236 jobs gone mid-April!  In Anaheim, Gateway One Lending and Finance eliminating 24 jobs by April.  In the City of Industry, Artistree laying off 104 people by April!  What automotive industry recovery? Car dealer Infiniti of Riverside issued a shutdown WARN, 25 jobs gone by the end of March.   What housing market recovery?  Apartment manager Irvine Company suddenly laid off 63 employees, and reclassified 17 positions according to news reports (their official WARN says 80 jobs gone), as part of its plan to refine “long-term apartment communities”.

Colorado:  Prudential-Jackson National Life Insurance shutting down its 20 years old tech center in Denver, 370 jobs gone! 

Florida:  In Tampa, Prudential-Jackson National Life Insurance eliminating 41 jobs mid-March.  In Saint Petersburg, Transamerica Life Insurance eliminating 465 jobs by mid-April!

Georgia: In Macon, after 40 years Chi-chester’s Gifts shutdown due to crashing sales.

Idaho: After 40 years the owners of the two Porter’s Crafts & Frames stores (in Rexburg and Idaho Falls) forced to retire due to health problems, they’re trying to get a friend from New Jersey to buy the Rexburg property, the stores are shutting down when the inventory is gone.

Illinois: Lord & Taylor shutdown its clothing store in the Oakbrook Center, and is shutting down its store in Westfield Old Orchard Mall in April.  Sandburg Mall JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.  In Geneva, after ten years Antiques on State shutting down in April, due to crashing sales.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down six of its Carson’s stores and one Bergner’s, in total 4-hundred jobs gone by May!  In Normal, after 47 years Guitar World shutdown, the owner saying even music lessons have been affected by the internet: “We went from over 105 lessons when we came here nine years ago, to 30 or less. So I mean, the market is changing, the people who are doing this have changed. So it’s what you have to do with all online, God bless the internet.”-Jim Bland

Indiana: Walmart issued a shutdown WARN for its store in Rushville, 95 jobs gone by mid-April.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down five of its Carson’s stores, in total 306 jobs gone by the end of April!

Iowa: Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down two of its Younkers stores.  Too Big to Jail Goldman Sachs issued a shutdown WARN for its Cedar Rapids office, 39 jobs gone by May.  Also in Cedar Rapids, Transamerica Life Insurance eliminating 863 jobs by mid-April!   What housing market recovery?  In Des Moines, Nationwide-Mortgage eliminating 54 jobs by April.

Kentucky: Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down the Elder Beerman store in Paducah.  Also in Paducah, New York & Company Outlet shutdown.

Maryland:  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its store in Hagerstown.  In Baltimore, Transamerica Life Insurance eliminating 55 jobs by mid-April.

Massachusetts: Clothier Artwear shutting down in March, the owner stated “Retailers have been hit hard this year. I can’t predict what 2018 will bring and so I have decided that I cannot keep the store open any longer.”

Michigan:Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down the Elder Beerman store in Adrian, a Younkers in Marquette and a Carson’s in Benton Harbor (Bon-Ton did not indicate how many jobs lost in its official WARN).

Minnesota: Eagan based Sun Country Airlines suddenly eliminated 350 ground crew jobs by outsourcing them to a cheapo contractor, Sun Country workers had one week to beg the contractor to hire them (at less pay and probably no benefits, for the same work)!  Viking Plaza JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down the Herberger’s Clearance Center store in Maplewood, 20 jobs gone in April.  In West Duluth, after 35 years Video Vision shutdown.  Toys R Us issued a shutdown WARN for its store in Roseville, 30 jobs gone in April.

Missouri: Hampton Village Plaza JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.

Montana: In Billings, Big Bear Sports Center is now officially dead.  It’s been shutdown since November because a man drove his SUV into the store, then began trading gunshots with police.  Police used tear-gas, and water and gas lines in the store were damaged, the suspect was killed.  The store owners were hoping to repair the store but apparently it’s not going to happen.

New Hampshire: Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its store in Concord.

New Jersey: Hotel operator Wyndham Worldwide Operations eliminating 134 jobs in Parsippany, mid-April! Walmart shutting down its Route 22 Readington (Branchburg) store, 149 jobs gone by mid-April, due to “financial performance”!  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its store in Phillipsburg.  Garden State Plaza JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.  After more than 30 years the family owned gun shop known for supporting local charities, Sportsman’s Rendezvous, shutdown, the family is moving to Florida.   After 27 years, and three location changes, The Big Little Railroad Shop shutdown due to the sudden collapse of the sale of the store: “I had been working with someone for at least a year-and-a-half who was going to purchase the store. I’d work two days, he’d work three and vice versa, and all of the sudden on Memorial Day, he just walked out of here.”-Jen Lush, co-owner

New Mexico: Gertrude Zachary shutdown its antique store In Albuquerque, but the owners claim a new type of store will take its place.

New York: NYC based Barnes & Noble eliminating an undisclosed number of cashiers and digital product associates, due to crashing sales.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its stores in Massena, Watertown and Queensbury.  In Brooklyn, Horseman Antiques shutting down due to the building being sold-off for $18-million USD.  Toys R Us-Babies R Us issued shutdown WARNs for six stores, at least 285 jobs gone between mid-March and mid-April!  Sterling National Bank issued mass-layoff WARN for multiple locations, at least 140 jobs lost between April and Xmas!  California based GAP shutting down its Banana Republic corporate operations in NYC,  112 jobs lost due to consolidation ops back to California!

North Carolina: Charlotte based Japanese Toyota NASCAR driving BK Racing now chapter 11 bankrupt busted due to $8-million USD of debt. Charlotte based retailer Belk suddenly laid off 58 managers across the U.S.  In Durham, sexist female boutique Liberation Threads shutdown after a year, the owners saying “…as we move into 2018, there’s a sea change happening.” 

Ohio: Non-profit tenant advocate Cleveland Tenants Organization shutdown due to lack of funding.   In Greenville, after 25 years Club 7 Sports up for sale, the owners want to retire.  Knox Village Square JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.  In Columbus, after more than 40 years Romanoff’s Classic Tuxedos shutting down.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its Elder Beerman store in Defiance, 41 jobs gone.  In Cleveland Heights, after 27 years toy and joke store Big Fun shutting down when the inventory is gone, the owner bemoaned “I call Amazon our kryptonite…. they need to shop local.”

Oklahoma:  Washington Park Mall JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.

Oregon: Nordstrom shutting down its 37 years old store in the Salem Center Mall, 130 jobs gone by April!

Pennsylvania: In Narberth, after 105 years (surviving The Great Depression and several recessions) Ricklin’s Hardware shutdown so the owners can retire.   Janitorial service company Compass Group eliminating six jobs in April.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down eight of its stores!  Macy’s issued a shutdown WARN for its Homestead store, 94 jobs gone by mid-April.  Limerick Furniture and Mattress shutting down its store in the Fairgrounds Square Mall, due to increased competition and increased operating costs.  After 40 years, Dave Phillips Music & Sound shutdown its Allentown location blaming internet shopping.  In Exton, Transamerica Life Insurance outsourcing 192 jobs by mid-April!  Administrators claim in-house employees were offered jobs with the contractor at the same pay, having personally experienced outsourcing of some of my past jobs I find that hard to believe.

South Carolina: What housing market recovery?  Created out of the 2008 financial meltdown Movement Mortgage suddenly laid off 75 people, administrators blamed the sudden layoffs on ‘improvements’ to their lending process.

Texas: In Houston, after 16 years music venue Walter’s Downtown suddenly shutdown.

Utah: Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its Herberger’s store in Logan.

Vermont: Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its store in South Burlington.

Virginia: Clothier PacSun shutting down its store in the River Ridge Mall, in May.  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down its Elder Beerman store in Vienna.

Washington:Cascade Mall JCPenney shutting down by mid-May.

West Virginia: Shoe seller Finish Line shutting down its store in the Charleston Town Center.   Speaking of Charleston Town Center, it is now under control of a real estate group after the original owners defaulted on a $100-million USD loan.

Wisconsin: Prudential-Jackson National Life Insurance laid off an additional 23 employees in Appleton.   In Manitowoc, after 67 years LLoyd’s Photo & Digital shutdown, the owner lamenting “…our bread and butter was prints.”  Chapter 11 bankrupt Bon-Ton shutting down six of its Younkers stores, two Boston Stores and an Elder Beerman! In Mequon, after 27 years Xenia Gallery shutting down in March.

Wyoming: in Cheyenne, after 49 years City News and Pipe Shop shutdown, the owners say the crash in magazine and newspaper sales is a final sign that it’s time to retire.  In Casper, Seconds on First Street shutdown after 16 years of consignments.

WARN=Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification





Dumbing Down the U.S.A., February 2018:“PORCH MONKEY”


U.S. government shenanigans, February 2018: “I NEED TO PAY HIGHER TAXES.”


ObamaCare ACA death spiral, February 2018: “WE ARE IN VERY CHALLENGING TIMES.”


Vehicle ID: French CAESAR invades Germany!

NATO France has invaded the U.S. Army’s Grafenwoehr, in Deutschland, with Camion Equipé d’un Système d’Artillerie (CAESAR).

CAESAR uses a 155mm gun, it’s also used by Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Thailand.

France is taking part in the NATO Dynamic Front 18 war games.

Video of CAESAR en action:

Vehicle ID: MLRS, British Red Coats invade U.S. Army base in Germany!

Queen’s Royal Artillery,  176 Battery, NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, swarmed Grafenwoehr with their MLRS (Multi Launch Rocket System) during Dynamic Front 18.

Video of MLRS in action:

The M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System was first deployed by the U.S. Army in 1983, and was used in Desert Storm, it’s old technology.


Vehicle ID: Panzerhaubitze 2000

During Dynamic Front 18, Deutschland’s 2nd Platoon, 4th Battery, 131st Artillery Battalion conducted artillery fire with their Panzerhaubitze (armored howitzer) 2000, on the U.S. Army base known as Grafenwoehr.

Video giving kit builders an upclose detailed look at Panzerhaubitze 2000 in Aktion:

Video of Panzerhaubitze 2000 in Aktion:

U.S. Army personnel observe the German artillery fire

More video of Panzerhaubitze 2000 in Aktion:

Video Panzerhaubitze 2000 auf der Lauer: 

The little dot in the upper left of the pic is the 155mm round flying down-range!

One more video, find out what they eat:




1/600 USS Iowa Class Kits: Aurora, Monogram, Otaki, Revell. An appeal to Airfix!

I am disappointed with Ship Craft 17 Iowa Class Battleships, while it is still a good overview for somebody just getting into building the iconic battleships it doesn’t pack the information that the excellent Ship Craft 16 Hipper Class Ships does, and in the same number of pages.

Ship Craft 17

Ship Craft 17 (copyright 2012 Seaforth Publishing) fails in, among other areas, the kit review section, primarily in the 1:500 through 1:600 range. It also fails to mention the 1:350 scale Revell kit so I’ll mention it here; stay away from that kit as it is a revised version of the inaccurate Otaki-Life Like Hobbies kit first issued as a World War-2 Missouri in 1971 (revised in 1983 to look like a modernized ship, before being sold to Revell who’s been revising-reissuing it ever since, it was even issued under the Monogram label in the 1990s).  Recently Revell-Germany re-issued it with a mass of aftermarket parts to make it look better, but the result is that you have to spend a crap-load of money and end up doing even more work on a kit to make it resemble a ‘modern’ Iowa Class ship.

1:665 to 1:535 Iowa Class Kits

I’m a fan of 1:600 scale battleships because they’re small enough you can display a lot of them on a single bookshelf and are still big enough that your guests don’t go blind looking at your handy-work.  Plus, they were basically the only battleship kits I could get my hands on as a kid in the 1970s.  Because the highly praised Ship Craft series failed to discuss these kits, and because I’m amazed at the high prices kit sellers on the internet are demanding for them, I feel compelled to do my own review of these now ancient, and unfortunately crappy kits.

Iowa Class=Iowa, Missouri, New Jersey, Wisconsin

The first offender is Revell’s 1:535 offering.  First released in 1953, terrible, inaccurate, does not come with water-screws (propellers) but has one rudder (the real ship has two rudders).  Hull bow incorrectly angled, aft end of hull shaped like a step-pyramid. Wood planks on deck represented by continuous raised lines. Anti-aircraft .50 cal guns represented by molded-on crucifixes. Molded on life boats in the upside down position.  Blocky looking Seahawk float-planes. The decals for the ship’s hull number are the large ‘shadowed’ post World War-2 type, yet the kit is supposed to be the World War-2 version.  Amazingly Revell repeatedly re-issues the crappy kit, and for some odd reason people are willing to pay high prices for it.  To make things more confusing, in the mid-1990s Revell began using the original artwork for Monogram’s 1:665 (16 inch) Missouri for its 1:535 Missouri.

Aurora’s 1:600 offering was first released in 1957 (Ship Craft 17 says “in the early 1960’s”), it looks like a scaled down version of Revell’s 1:535 kit. The hull bow has the same angle and the stern has the same stepped pyramid shape, except Aurora gives you four propellers.  The propellers are incorrect as they have three blades per screw, the real ship has four bladed screws outboard and five bladed screws inboard.  You get one big ugly rudder.  The deck detailing is similar to Revell’s except for recessed wood plank lines (which are also continuous/unbroken) and molded on solid railing.  The life boats are molded separate, the Seahawks look better than Revell’s.  The main gun turrets look like scaled down Revell turrets. Interestingly the Aurora kits are the only ones in this review that provide boarding ladders, but there is no mention of them in the instructions.

Vietnam New Jersey

From the mid-1960s to mid-1970s Aurora used some excellent artwork on their boxes.  For the Iowa Class ships the artist actually did a better job representing the ships than the kit itself.  The Missouri is painted in its post World War-2/Korean War guise, still bristling with anti-aircraft guns but minus its Seahawk float-planes.  The Iowa also looks to be depicted as post World War-2/Korea, and the New Jersey (the best artwork of the bunch in my opinion) is in its Vietnam War livery with the big rectangular ECM box on its forward tower, and a helicopter pad on its aft deck (unfortunately the artist failed to mount the big antenna on the bow).   Regardless of the box artwork each kit is the same World War-2 version, yet the decals for the ship’s hull numbers are the large ‘shadowed’ post World War-2 type (World War-2 hull numbers were small with no ‘shadowing’).

Monogram (not mentioned in Ship Craft 17) entered the Iowa Class race in 1976 with issues of Missouri, New Jersey and Wisconsin (in that order).  THEY ARE NOT RE-ISSUES OF AURORA KITS, OR REVELL KITS!  Also, I’ve seen them listed as 1:600 scale, they are a smaller 1:665 scale.  The odd scale is the result of Monogram deciding to issue battleship kits based on a standard 16-inch (40cm) hull (as stated on the box), rather than a ‘constant scale’.  The hull has the best looking bow of the bunch, even has the three ‘eyes’ for anchors and cables, however, there are mysterious vertical lines along the hull sides (the real ships have noticeable horizontal lines down the length of the hull), and the stern is still incorrectly shaped.  You get four propellers but they’re all four bladed.  The most accurate looking parts of this kit are the two rudders and the excellent looking secondary gun turrets-guns (which are the same size as 1:600 scale Aurora/Otaki).  Amazingly for a late 1970s issued kit the deck looks like it came right outta the 1950s (which might explain why some people think its a revised issue of the Revell or Aurora kits), it even has the raised wood deck lines and crucifix .50 caliber machine guns similar to Revell’s.  There are two Kingfisher float-planes and the hull number decals are the small WW-2 type, yet the main mast looks like the type fitted after WW-2.

In 1984 Japan’s Otaki issued a 1:600 scale motorized version of a modern Iowa Class ship (not mentioned in Ship Craft 17).  In the mid-1980s Otaki became Arii and it was issued under that label.  It has been ripped-off and issued by Korea’s Kangnam and China’s Lee (aka C.C. Lee, aka Shanghai C.C.Lee Model Company).  It is currently issued by Japan’s MicroAce (the new Arii). From here on out I’ll refer to this kit as The Asian Kit.  The kit is totally lacking in detail, and even though the hull and deck size is similar to Aurora’s 1:600 hull/deck the main gun turrets are as big as the bigger Revell kit’s turrets.  The helicopters are crappy, the Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers are a bad joke, the secondary gun turrets are chunks with stubs for guns, the Phalanx gatling gun systems are fat and missing the barrels.  The life boats are huge. The stern of the hull is close to being accurate, but the propellers are all four bladed, you get two rudders.  The kit is not worth the full U.S. MSRP (Manufacture’s Suggested Retail Price) that the majority of internet sellers demand.

Here’s more depressing news;  Main Gun Turrets-Guns: Aurora’s turrets are the smallest yet resemble Revell’s, also the guns are as big as The Asian Kit’s.  The Asian Kit’s turrets are almost as big in diameter as Revell’s, they are devoid of detailing, except for recessed ladders. Revell’s main gun tubes will not fit into Revell’s turrets.  Monogram’s turrets are slightly bigger than Aurora’s, the guns look the most accurate, are the same diameter as the 1:600 scale kits, but shorter in length, the anti-aircraft gun enclosures on the top of the turrets are the wrong shape.

Superstructure: All kits lack detailing. The Asian Kit is the worst offender completely devoid of details, it is molded separately and look like that ancient underwater ‘structure’ known as Yonaguni Submarine Ruins.

Here’s some pictorial evidence to back up accusations against the offenders (click to view the full image):

There’s no excuse for Revell’s continuous re-issuing of their crappy kit (in fact they’ve just re-issued it again). You’d think with the merging of Revell and Monogram, in the 1990s, they’d issue the better Monogram kit. It should be noted that Monogram’s 16 inch Iowa kits were rarely issued (for some unknown reason), along with Monogram’s 16 inch Bismarck/Tirpitz (which works out to about 1:615/17 scale, a 1:600 scale Bismarck hull is approximately 16 & 3/8th inches long). I remember reading an article, many years ago, that was talking about a train derailment and fire that destroyed many of the Aurora molds that had just been purchased by Monogram.  I believe it happened in 1979, the Monogram 16 inch battleship kits were originally issued between 1976 and 1978.  It would make sense that they were never issued again if their molds were also destroyed in that train fire, and it would explain why both the Monogram and Aurora kits command high prices on the internet, however, I’ve seen issues of the Monogram 1:665 (16 inch) Iowa kits in 1990s style boxes, and even the original late 1970s boxes but with 1990s style Skill Level 2 stickers on the shrink-wrap (you can’t trust the copyright date on boxes as being indicative of when that particular kit was issued).

Regarding Ship Craft 17, it’s still a great starting point for learning about the ship and has enough information in the text that you’d realize there isn’t, as yet, a model kit in any scale of the Iowa Class that doesn’t have some discrepancy (which is amazing considering the historical importance world’s last and best battleships).

It would take a lot of work to correct the old American kits.  The Asian Kit’s near total lack of detail has an advantage; it makes it easier to detail-up with aftermarket parts and scratch building, you could even back date it to Vietnam, Korea or WW-2.  There are plenty of aftermarket photo etched sets for 1:600 Fast U.S. Battleships, and a company called Model Monkey is producing 1:600 scale 3D printed ‘correction’ parts, including an early WW2 rounded bridge for the New Jersey.

I end this review by appealing to Humbrol-Airfix to produce a new line of 1:600 scale Iowa Class ships, including options for World War-2, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm.

Falling Down: U.S. model kit/railroad hobby demise, 2016-17

Incomplete list of U.S. model kit/hobby shop, retail/wholesale industry shutdowns from 2016 through 2017:

“The local hobby shop was closed up….No big deal, I thought….I can always go to another. Wrong. When I looked, every hobby shop within 50 miles of my house had been closed.”

California: After 45 years brick-n-mortar chain store, as well as mail order and online retailer, Hobby People (formerly Hobby Shack) suddenly shutdown, possibly in connection to the founder’s death although many fans say quality of service had been in decline, and the company ‘lost’ some of its in-house brands.  In Palm Desert, the owner of popular Uncle Don’s Hobbies was found laying on the side of a road, dead.  His hobby shop had been robbed of merchandise, including RC (drone) electronics, months earlier.  In Goleta (Santa Barbara), California Hobbies was robbed of RC (drone) monster trucks, it was caught on video.   News reports out of Long Beach report that local hobby shops are being repeatedly robbed, the burglars are targeting RC (drone) electronics.

Colorado:  In Denver, Guinness Book certified as the world’s largest model train store in 2014, Caboose Hobbies shutdown after 65 years because the owner wants to retire.  At one time the model train store employed 60 people!

Idaho: After making an attempt to stay alive in 2015, by moving to a much smaller location, east Idaho’s once iconic Dapco Hobbies finally died, and nobody noticed.

Illinois:    In Bloomington, after 63 years Hobbyland shutdown after a failed attempt to sell the store.

Indiana:  Granger Hobby Stop shutdown after 18 years, the owner says he never recovered from the 2008 recession.

Massachusetts:  In Brocktown, after six years Hogie’s Hobbies shutdown, but continues to run its model railroad museum.  The owner blames customers for his hobby shop shutdown saying for the month of December he had a measly $5-hundred USD in sales: “There’s a lot of people downtown, but they don’t spend their money downtown. The whole atmosphere for people actually shopping here is not here.”-Bill Hogan

Michigan: In Detroit, after 70 years iconic Doll Hospital & Toy Soldier Shop shutdown, the owners admitting that even though they beat-out the ‘big-box’ competition they just couldn’t “adapt” to online competition.  In Bridgeport,  after 23 years hobby shop Junction Valley Railroad announced on Facebook “Due to declining sales, we are being forced to close the Hobby Shop Doors! 
Our final day open will be October 31, 2017!”

Montana: In Great Falls, after more than 25 years Hobby Land shutdown, the owner said she was ready to retire.

New Hampshire: In West Lebanon, Hobbies ’N’ Stuff/Valley Art Suppliers evicted by the the Grafton County Sheriff at the request of the landlord. The owner of the hobby shop told customers he had to shutdown due to health problems, but the landlord’s civil complaint said the owner hadn’t paid the rent for months (more than $10-thousand USD worth).

New Jersey: After 48 years Jackson Hobby Shop put up for sale due to the owner’s health problems.  If it doesn’t sell it’ll be shutdown.  Shadow Hobbies was robbed of thousands of dollars worth of stuff, including RC (drone) electronics, it was caught on video. 

New York: After 31 years Niagara Hobby & Craft Mart shutdown due to crashing sales: “We can’t compete on price with the national chains or an internet-only site. But you can’t stand inside the internet and ask to open a package or put a locomotive on a test track and see it run.”-John S. Kavulich

North Carolina: In business since 1968 the owners of the two story The Antique Barn and Hobby Shop blame declining sales caused by internet competition, plus Mother Earth’s climate change, for their demise: “We were making money, but it’s going down. Ten years ago it was thriving and 18 years ago we were a victim of Floyd and we had 7 feet of water in here for a couple of weeks. So we started from scratch again and of course, we had two more 500-year floods this past year, Matthew and in April this one that didn’t even have a name…”

Ohio: After 40 years John’s Hobby Shop shutdown so the owner could retire.

Oklahoma: Christian Evangelical Hobby Lobby caught illegally importing more than 5-thousand artifacts from The Middle East.  The top illegal artifact dealer in The Middle East is Islamic State (DAIISH).  Hobby Lobby admits most of those illegally acquired artifacts were meant to be displayed in their massive Biblical Museum in Washington DC.

Pennsylvania:   After 33 years J&C Hobbies shutdown so the owners could take a “proper vacation”.

Rhode Island: AA Hobby Shop was hit by burglars who apparently didn’t steal anything, it was caught on video. 

Texas: A San Antonio Hobby Town was robbed by a man armed with brass knuckles.  Police say the man seemed obsessed with RC vehicles (drones).

Utah: Police captured burglars when they tried to sell the stolen goods, including RC (drone) kits burgaled from a hobby shop in Sandy, on the OfferUp app.

In Canada: R.I.P. Niagara Central Hobbies


Car and Driver: Where Have All the Hobby Stores Gone?


Vehicle ID: Armored drug smuggling boats

U.S. Coast Guard pic of militarized drug smuggling speed boat, recently intercepted off the west coast of North America

Captured by Guatemala in 2017, drug boat from Columbia using Very Slender Vessels (VSV) design

‘Narco Boat’ from 2016

U.S. Coast Guard captures ‘narco sub’ in 2015

Narco Boats have been in use since 1993

This is supposedly a U.S. Navy small stealth boat, seen in Washington state, interesting that it looks like a narco boat

New War on Drugs: 2018 “Cocaine Tsunami”!

U.S. Naval Institute News: Coast Guard Fighting New Stealthy, Fast Drug Smuggling Vessels in Pacific


“There’s a feeling of loss…Maybe I’ll go get a real job.”: U.S. Retail/Banking/Service sector collaspe, January 2018

Incomplete list of U.S. retail/banking/service sector job loss WARNings and store shutdowns made or announced in January 2018:

Trulia reports that overall housing rents across the United States jumped an average of 19.6% since the end of 2012, even though the majority of working class people saw no increase in pay.

Arkansas: Bentonville based Walmart revealed the truth behind their pay raises and bonuses, by suddenly shutting down dozens of Sam’s Clubs and Walmarts killing thousand of jobs, plus announcing intentions to layoff 1-thousand corporate level employees between now and the end of 2019!  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down two stores statewide.

 California: Building maintenance contractor ABM Industry issued several shutdown WARNs, 365 jobs gone by the end of March!  Absolute Screenprint shutting down its ops in Brea, 170 jobs gone in March!  In Fresno, after 68 years Herb Bauer Sporting Goods shutting down when the inventory is gone, due to increased competition from ‘big-box’ national chain stores.  Too Big to Jail San Francisco based Wells Fargo shutting down an additional 8-hundred offices across the U.S. by 2020.  Bank execs officially blaming it on ‘Americans’ reducing the use of banking services, but analysts believe it’s blow-back for the bank getting caught massively ripping off its customers.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down stores in Emeryville and San Jose, 113 jobs gone by April!  It should be noted the stores were not listed on the recent nationwide shutdown list.  Dollar Loan Center eliminating 41 jobs by the end of March.  Montage Hotels and Resorts temporarily shutting down its Beverly Hills ops, 54 jobs gone by the end of March.   StandardAero Business Aviation Services issued a shutdown WARN for its Los Angeles ops, 63 jobs suddenly gone.  Accounting company Vasquez issued a shutdown WARN for its Corona office, 53 jobs gone in March.  Market research company Ipsos Interactive Services issued a shutdown WARN for its Fresno office, 88 jobs gone in March.  Macy’s issued shutdown WARNs for stores in Fresno, Laguna Hills and Los Angeles, at least 436 jobs gone by mid-March! In Orangevale, iconic Wild Sports shutting down, the owners forced to retire due to ‘big box’ and online competition coupled with California’s police-state anti-gun laws.   In Moraga, after eight years New Rheem Theatre shutdown due to increasing costs to maintain the 61 years old building, plus undisclosed rent which is more than $5-thousand per month, plus utilities averaging $5-thousand per month: “It’s tough to run a building of that age on the amount of people that come through the theater. The numbers don’t work.”-Derek Zemrak, theater operator

Colorado: In Denver, after 16 years Mile High Doggie Daycare shutdown and unable to refund money to customers who ‘pre-paid’ for services, the owners blame the lack of sales on the city’s gentrification of the area.

Connecticut:  Retail service company Daymond Worldwide suddenly shutdown its Stamford ops, more than 50 jobs gone. After 19 years industry recognized RR Model and Hobby Supply shutting down so the owner can retire.

Delaware: Too Big to Jail Capital One sold 1-million retail brokerage accounts to E-Trade, and will eliminate an undisclosed number of jobs in Wilmington as a result.

Florida: Jackson National Life Insurance-National Planning Holdings eliminating 60 jobs by the end of 2018.  Along with several Sears, Kmart and Sam’s Club shutdowns, Macy’s issued a shutdown WARN for its store in downtown Miami, 161 jobs gone by the end of March!  In Jupiter, after 33 years Kretzer Piano shutting down in February, the owner lamenting “It’s iPads and kids doing techy things…..the days of gathering around the piano and singing are kind of gone.”  Harbor Community Bank eliminating 1-hundred jobs due to being taken over by CenterState Bank!  Securitas Critical Infrastructure Services eliminating 117 jobs at the end of March!

Georgia: In LaGrange, after 45 years Crockett Brothers towing shutdown due to the 70 years old owner’s health problems.  In Athens, for a second time Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother eclectic junk store shutting down, this time due to the rent being jacked-up by 56%, and the property being secretly listed as for sale.  The owner said he isn’t going to look for another location, he’s taking it as a sign to retire.

Hawaii: After nine years Central Guns and Ammo shutdown its brick-n-mortar store to focus on internet sales. Monthly gun classes will continue.

Idaho: California based Cost Plus World Market (aka World Market) suddenly shutdown its store in Nampa.  Bon Ton owned Herberger’s announced it will exit its Pine Ridge Mall location, in Chubbuck, when the inventory runs out. It’s part of Bon Ton’s plan to shutdown dozens of stores in 2018.

Illinois: Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down seven stores statewide.  Champaign based Hobbico (formerly Don Anderson’s Great Planes Model Distributors and Bruce Holecek’s Tower Hobbies, and current owner of the iconic Revell brand) laying off 332 people, and is now chapter 11 bankrupt busted and for sale, blaming “an increasingly competitive industry, market headwinds and a series of one-off events with key suppliers.”  In Wheaton, after five years women’s clothier Bella Roba shutting down at the end of February, due to owner getting married.  In Barrington, after 29 years Pasquesi Home and Garden suddenly shutdown.  Ascena Retail Group owned Loft shutdown its Champaign’s Market Place Mall store, as part of a plan to shutdown  hundreds of Ascena Retail Group owned stores stores across the U.S.   At the O’Hare Airport, ABM Aviation issued a mass layoff WARN, 481 jobs gone by March! Just Ducky shutdown its five years old Plainfield store, local news media say at one time there were several Just Ducky stores across the state.  California based Cost Plus World Market (aka World Market) suddenly shutdown two  stores in the Chicago area.

Indiana: Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down two stores statewide.  In Lafayette, after 60 years Trader Horn Boot Center shutdown, blaming internet competition.  (when it comes to shoes I don’t understand the internet excuse, because shoe sizes have changed so much over the decades, even between manufacturers, that the only way I can buy shoes is by trying them on in a old fashioned store)

Iowa: Washington based investment company CUNA Mutual Group outsourcing 35 jobs in Waverly in an attempt to reduce operating costs. In Mason City, after 50 years the Hallmark gift shop shutting down by the end of February.  Tradehome Shoes shutdown its Mason City, Southbridge Mall location due to crashing sales over the past few years.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down two stores statewide.

Kentucky: Bankrupt Toys R Us shutdown its Simpsonville location.  In Bardstown, American Greetings eliminating 150 jobs in March, due to lack of demand for greetings cards!

Louisiana: In Shreveport, after 68 years Sun Furniture shutdown so the owner can retire.

Maine: In Lewiston, the 50 years old Goodwill thrift store shutdown because sales are too low.

Maryland:  Ascena Retail Group owned Ann Taylor suddenly shutdown its Towson Town Center store as part of a plan to shutdown  hundreds of Ascena Retail Group owned stores across the U.S.  Ignorant local news media blamed internet competition, but then reported that you can still buy Ann Taylor clothing through its online Infinite Style service.  Urban Outfitters suddenly shutdown its Harborplace location, no explanation.  Local news media reported that there are only two Urban Outfitter locations left in the state.  In Bel Air, after 15 years Two Sisters Gallery American Fine Craft & Jewelry shutdown so the owners can retire.

Massachusetts: In Needham, after 46 years Taylor’s stationery and party supply store shutting down by March, so the owners can retire. In Attleboro, after 117 years  (surviving The Great Depressions and numerous recessions) Highland Country Club now chapter 7 bankrupt busted, being liquidated to pay the debts. ‘Off price’ retailer Stein Mart shutting down its Westboro store as soon as the inventory is gone, due to crashing sales in 2017.  Zoots Dry Cleaning chain suddenly shutdown and went chapter 7 bankrupt dead, the bankruptcy judge ordered the chain to re-open 18 locations so customers can get their clothing.  The owners of Zoots said efforts to sell the dry cleaning service failed.

Michigan: Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down six stores statewide.  In Muskegon, after 24 years Carol’s Bridal and Tuxedo shutdown due to family health problems.  In Detroit, after 70 years iconic Doll Hospital & Toy Soldier Shop shutdown, the owners admitting that even though they beat-out the ‘big-box’ competition they just couldn’t “adapt” to online competition.

Minnesota:  In Duluth, after 35 years the last Video Visions shutdown, news media say at one time there were six stores, the owners proudly stated “We were the first video rental store in Duluth and we’re the last.”  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down four stores statewide.  Edna based Regis owned SmartStyle Salons shutting down 6-hundred stores located inside Walmarts across the U.S.

Missouri: In Normandy, after 113 years (surviving The Great Depressions and numerous recessions) Schulte Hardware & Supply shutdown, the owner blamed internet competition.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down four stores statewide.  American Girl shutdown its doll store in the Chesterfield Mall, due to financial problems.  To prove to you how many customers still shop the old fashioned way, and refuse to shop online, they started a petition to keep the store open because they didn’t want to drive three hours to the nearest American Girl store! 

Nebraska: Bankrupt Toys R Us shutdown its Omaha location.  What housing market recovery? In Lincoln, after five years low cost second-hand building material seller Eco Store shutdown due to not being able to renew the lease.  The owner hopes to find another location.

Nevada: No luck as Lucky Dragon suddenly began halting casino and restaurant ops in Las Vegas, hundreds of jobs suddenly gone!  Apparently Lucky Dragon is now focusing on hotel ops only.

New Jersey: What housing market recovery? Mortgage company PHH Home Loans eliminating 78 jobs by mid-March, due to a venture deal with a competitor, and a $45-million USD settlement concerning fraudulent foreclosures.   JCPenney  shutting down its 60 years old Westfield Garden State Plaza location by March, 144 jobs gone!  In Lodi, iconic Party Box shutting down so the owners can retire.   Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down three stores statewide.   Hollywood Speedway & Hobbies shutdown by a mysterious fire, which also damaged next door Sharp Elevator and Atlantic Protective Pouches.

New Mexico: In Albuquerque, House of Football shutdown, the owner said it was due to sales taking a huge dump after NFL players began protesting the National Anthem! In Nob Hill, gift shop Beeps shutdown, the 70 years old owner said sales are still good but she wants to retire.   New Jersey based Bed, Bath & Beyond shutting down its store in Paseo by the end of February.  Its part of a Bed, Bath & Beyond plan to shutdown stores as their leases expire.

New York: Clothier Zara shutdown its first flagship store in NYC, as a result of a $15-million USD lawsuit by the greedy landlord against Zara.  After only ten months kids clothier MMKidz shutting down its Great Neck location when the inventory is gone, the Great Neck Plaza Business Improvement District admitted the local economy is in the dumps by saying “it would have been a surprise if they made it.”   In Greece, Alfred Angelo wedding store suddenly shutdown, the money made from the two day going out of business sales was donated to charity. Also in Greece, after 91 years Blanchard Florist shutdown, with the owners blaming the internet.  In Clay, children’s clothier Justice shutdown its Great Northern Mall store.  In East Syracuse, utility service Osmose moving work to other locations, affecting 101 jobs!  In Amherst, Dave’s All-Season Store forced to shutdown by the landlord who revoked the lease.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down five stores statewide, at least 250 jobs gone by mid-April!  Sterling National Bank eliminating more than 1-hundred jobs across the state by the end of 2018!  Contract manager Sykes Enterprises issued a shutdown WARN for its Amherst location, 89 jobs gone by the end of March.  Payment processor First Data Remitco issued a shutdown WARN for its Staten Island location, 64 jobs gone in September. Blue Ridge Capital issued a shutdown WARN for its NYC ops, 55 job gone by the end of March.

North Carolina: California based background check company HireRight shutting down its Charlotte location, 93 jobs gone in September.  After ten years Ciel Gallery shutting down by the end of February.  After 21 years the Charlotte Art League being forced to move due to a greedy property developer.  British empire United Kingdom based ‘professional services’ Aon Hewitt issued a layoff WARN for its Charlotte location, 76 jobs gone by March.

Ohio: In Cleveland Heights, after 27 years Big Fun Toys announced on facebook that it will shutdown this Summer.   After 69 years specialty shop The Villager (formerly Mariemont 5 Cents to $1) shutdown due to the owner not being able to renew the lease.  In Rocky River, after eight years Local Artistree shutdown blaming a shift in the maker community.  Macy’s issued a shutdown WARN for its Cincinnati/Hamilton store, 104 jobs gone by the end of March!  On top of that, Cincinnati based Macy’s announced it will continue shutting down stores through 2018, plus eliminate 5-thousand jobs!  End of year holiday sales rose by a piddly 1.1%, including Macy’s online sales!  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down four stores statewide.  In Boardman, after 62 years Adamas Jewelry and Gifts shutdown so the owner can retire.    Dover Business Services eliminating 48 jobs by June.

Oklahoma:  Ascena Retail Group-Ann Taylor suddenly shutdown its Tulsa store as part of a plan to shutdown hundreds of Ascena Retail Group owned stores across the U.S.  Ignorant local news media blamed internet competition, but then reported that you can still buy Ann Taylor clothing through its online Infinite Style service.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down two stores statewide.

Pennsylvania: New York based, but British empire Canada owned,  department store Lord & Taylor suddenly killed 202 e-commerce fulfillment jobs in Wilkes Barre, due to e-commerce ops being moved elsewhere!  In York, after 20 years “the biggest O gauge dealer in Pennsylvania” B&E Junction Electric Trains shutting down in February so the owner can retire, don’t know if you can blame the internet because the owner has his own website (  In Titusville, after more than 45 years Tarr’s Country Store and Florist shutting down mid-February.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutdown its Erie location.    In Honesdale, after three decades Country Dawn shutdown, the owners lamenting “It’s different times, different times than it was.”

South Carolina: Burlington (formerly Burlington Coat Factory) shutting down its Columbia Place Mall store in March.  The Tanger Outlets Eddie Bauer in North Charleston shutdown.   Banana Republic in Mount Pleasant Towne Centre shutdown.  Mister Don Shoes and Dance in South Windermere Shopping Center shutdown.  Antiques Market suddenly shutdown its Mount Pleasant location due to the landlord refusing to renew the lease.

South Dakota: Bankrupt Toys R Us shutdown its Rapid City location.  Clothier Glik’s suddenly shutdown its Northridge Plaza store due to lack of sales, the landlord was shocked saying “It was very sudden. We had no idea.”  Family Dollar shutdown its store in Brookings, the district manager told local news media “We are just told that that store is closing, and we just oversee that. This is one of several that are closing, but there are so many that open and close. They relocate them, close them.”

Tennessee: In Franklin, after more than ten years ThriftSmart shutdown as part of consolidation plans that the operators hope will provide better funding for charities.  Hallmark shutdown its 43 years old gift shop in the Northgate Mall, and its gift store at the Hamilton Place Mall.

Texas: In Amarillo, after 51 years Duncan & Boyd Jewelers shutting down so the 70 years old owner can retire.  Blockbuster shutdown its last video store in The Lone Star State, in Edinburg.  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down five stores statewide.  After spending big bucks the past two years building 21 new stores, women’s clothier A’gaci now chapter 11 bankrupt busted and shutting down 49 stores, admitting it “spread the organization too thin”.  What automotive industry recovery?  After almost 24 years the Honda of Houston motorcycle dealership shutdown, with no explanation.  However, weeks after the shutdown announcement it was revealed that Honda of Houston was sold to Drake Powersports, who will supposedly continue operations  in that location as Honda of Houston.  In Corpus Christi, Cinemark Dollar Cinema shutdown, local news media say the owner Cinemark refused to respond to their questions.  In Austin, Bobalu Cigar Company suddenly shutdown, the owner blaming “deteriorating situation and terrible neglect by the City of Austin”.

Virginia:  After less than two years Todd’s Hobbies shutdown, the owner saying “The clientele that I have are predominantly in the retired community. They appreciate having a store handy. The younger segment of the population that are into model railroading I think are much more comfortable with buying online.”  In Gretna, Nett’s Nest thrift store shutting down by March, due to the owner’s health problems.  Ocracoke Station, the only fuel station on Ocracoke Island, suddenly shutdown because the owner was unable to pay a back due fuel bill due to health problems that resulted in hospitalization.  Hallmark gift shops in the Towers Shopping Center, the Tanglewood Mall and the Valley View Mall all suddenly shutdown, one local news source said inquiries as to why they shutdown were not answered.   In Richmond, after 41 years  W. Hirsch Oriental Rugs shutdown, so the owner can go to Puerto Rico to help relatives deal with hurricane recovery.  In Lynchburg, after more than 1-hundred years (surviving The Great Depressions and numerous recessions) Sheard’s Beauty Shop shutdown due to new city parking rules which drive away customers: “Why would they pay to park here when they can go to the mall?”-Mamie Branham, owner

Washington: In Seattle, after 42 years Zanadu Comics shutdown its last store, at one time there were three, the upset owner blames the un-recovered recession saying “There’s a feeling of loss……Maybe I’ll go get a real job.”  State Farm shutting down two call centers in Tacoma, 8-hundred jobs gone by the end of 2018!  Tacoma experienced the highest rent increases of any U.S. city in 2017, by 8.8%.

Washington DC: After 84 years iconic Johnson’s Florists and Garden Center shutdown: “This closure is a direct result of the significant increase in rent and other related fees of occupancy imposed upon us by the building’s owner. Despite months of earnest negotiation we have been unable to arrive at a mutual understanding with our landlord.”

Wisconsin: Department store Younkers issued shutdown WARNs for its stores in Appleton and Wausau, 138 jobs gone in March!  Bankrupt Toys R Us shutting down two stores statewide.  France based ‘body care’ store L’Occitane en Provence suddenly shutdown its seven years old Hilldale Shopping Center location.  Local news reports say L’Occitane en Provence began shutting down its U.S. locations in 2017.  Olympia Resort and Conference Center shutdown without warning, causing more than 60 people to become jobless and organizations scrambling to find a new place to hold their events.  Local news reports say organizations found out about the shutdown from laid-off employees.  It turns out the Conference Center is part of a lawsuit and has been up-for-sale for some time.    In Milwaukee, after ten years Jokerz Comedy Club suddenly shutdown.  In Delafield, after eight years Bittersweet Gifts and Accessories shutdown, the owners saying “Retail is quickly changing, and we feel it is time for us to change as well.”

WARN=Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification





Dumbing Down the U.S.A., January 2018:“LET’S PISS IN HIS MOUTH.”


U.S. government shenanigans, January 2018:SEX & DRUGS = THE AMERICAN WAY!

U.S. food crisis, January 2018: “IT’S TIME TO ADAPT OR DIE”


C-17 Nose Art

Master Sergeant Doug Havell paints Weekend Warrior III, 11FEB2018, Stewart International Airport, New York

Sentinel from New York National Guard, deployed to Mississippi for PATRIOT 2018

Purple Heart, Mississippi National Guard

75th Anniversary of Travis Air Force Base, California, 02FEB2018

Spirit of Ronald Reagan, March Air Reserve Base, California, 19FEB2015

Pony Express Spirit of California, 2016

Mission Belle Spirit of Riverside, March Field (Reserve Base), California, 2015

Get over it, guys!

3d Airlift Squadron 75TH Anniversary 12MAY2017, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware


Special Las Vegas shooting edition F-16 & F-15

For some odd reason the U.S. Air Force felt compelled to give one of their F-16s, and an F-15, a special paint job to ‘honor’ those people killed or wounded during the Route 91 Harvest Festival shooting.  The Vegas Strong F-16 and F-15 will be on display at the Nellis AFB Air and Space Exposition, November 11-12.

F-15 Eagle Vegas Strong

F-15 Eagle Vegas Strong

F-16 Falcon Vegas Strong