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OPINION: Online Hobby Shop


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Hi guys,

I'm new here, a military modeler at heart but dabble in a bit of everything -- cars, sci-fi, etc. I have my local hobby shop and some online sites I go to, but I was curious to gauge people's opinions on some of the popular online hobby shops, along with what everyone likes and doesn't like about them. Would love if you all could pitch in and let me know what you all think about the following:


Sprue Brothers



Scale Hobbyist

I can go first:


Pros- Great prices and sales

Cons- Very little inventory, take forever to ship

Sprue Brothers:

Pros- incredible shipping time, cool military items, great customer service

Cons- Not a lot of inventory to choose from, only a few thousand items and very poor selection of paints, supplies, etc.


Pros- Tons of items in every category, great customer service, good shipping time

Cons- Prices are a bit higher than other sites


Pros- Great shipping time, good prices

Cons- So-so selection

Scale Hobbyist:

Pros- Great prices, good selection

Cons- Slow shipping time, possibly slowest of this group

Looking forward to seeing all of your opinions and sharing some new sites!


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The only one on your list I use is Sprue. For the reason you said and "LIVE TIME" inventory. Squadron is absolutely useless to me as their sales are for things I could care less about. I usually shop for kits via ebay and use my LHS for any supplies I need. Another great online for me is RnJ. While they may not have loads of inventory, they are local for me and that makes shipping fast.

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I use Squadron and Sprue


Sprue has over 20,000 items in inventory, really quick shipping, live inventory, and you can have them send you a note when in inventory to come and get it


Squadron has a more varied selection, better prices on some and for me at least, their shipping especially lately has been almost as good as Sprue Bros.


Not sure I understand how you think Sprue has a poor selection of paints. They carry Testors, Tamiya, Vallejo. Humbrol, Gunze, which is most of the major brands



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Personally I love Scale Hobbiest. He has real time stock status and great prices. He has better prices then some of the squadron sales. He also ships everything very quickly.


The only negative would be he doesn't stock sci-fi and fantasy which doesn't mater to me since I am not into that.


My 5 cents worth, inflation you know.

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Long time Squadron user going back to 1988 and snail mail. Never had an issue with them. Even got a hard bound Squadron Signal PBY Catalina in action book as a free gift recently. Usually have decent periodic sale items and while their clearance is extensive, it does take a while to look though the pages.


Used sprue a few times, very fast and a decent price.


Used Freetime just recently for the first time. Their sale item (the amusing hobby Object 279) I bought was roughly half price that I found elsewhere online. Took days from ordering to arrival.

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I have always found it easier to buy direct from the manufacturer. Costs are lower and shipping times 10 days or less.



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Wow, I surprised no one has mentioned my favorite, Hobby link Japan. I have been buying from them for longer than I can remember(which at my age isn't surprising). Great service, quick shipping, always get the hottest stuff from Japan first. A lot of stuff that I can't get here. Extraordinary line of tools and supplies. They have a "Private warehouse" which is a love/hate thing for me. Love it because it allows me to accumulate purchases for 60 days to reduce shipping cost. Hate it because I spend money just because I don't want to ship one thing. While on the subject of shipping, I have had things arrive in as little as 48 hours so shipping time has never been an issue.

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  • 6 months later...

Most of my business goes to Sprue Bros. for all the reasons Dave Morrissette mentions. I seldom buy from Squadron anymore; they are almost always out of stock of the things I am looking for, and they have some big gaps in their product lines (type Kinetic in their search engine!). Since I also build some armor I use DragonUSA too. One place I wouldn't overlook is Roll Models up in Minnesota. They aren't as fast as others, but prices are good and they find a way to get the stuff I can't find at Sprue or Squadron. If I have a big order for Eduard stuff I will go direct. Their shipping is hit or miss though.



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Over the years I have migrated from Squadron and Sprue to several European and Asian suppliers. And to eBay. It seems that my tastes have changed to more esoteric and harder to find subjects -- many of which are no longer in production. And some of which are unobtainable in North America. Plus, I'm in no hurry to get much of anything; I have so much started and lots I haven't yet begun. The lack of urgency on my part is a good thing ... my last order from Japan took nearly 6 weeks, but the price was less than half than what I would have paid if I could have located the model in the US and shipping was free. And I've purchased several Fine Molds kits that are unobtainable in the US.


I can't remember the last time I bought from Squadron though I've bought more recently from Sprue. Neither has the range of stock that I am looking for, although Sprue is better. In the last year I have ordered from Hannants, eBay from Korea and Japan and China and Hong Kong, Eduard direct, Hobbylink, Track 48, and Roll.

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Try not to do ebay. From a figure perspective, way to many thieves taking and recasting good kits.


I also watch the daily sales at both Squadron and Sprue- if something good, I buy it but lately I have bee concentrating on figures. Too many planes, etc. plus I find myself build a lot of reviewer corps kits so maybe its time to thin the herd



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  • 3 months later...

Hi, Scott.


I was just browsing through the forum when I stumbled on your entry, so I'm coming late to the discussion.


I'm surprised no one mentioned HobbyLinc.com. I tend to alternate between Squadron and them. I like HobbyLinc because they have a great search engine for their inventory, have very good prices, have a customer loyalty program, excellent order tracking, and ship quickly. I don't remember how I stumbled on them, but I really like them; often they have things that aren't in stock at Squadron. I highly recommend them.

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Ditto hobbylinc.com. I use them for a lot of stuff. However, they can take awhile if its something not in stock--they're up front about that on the website. I don't use them for anything I need right now.


Don't use Squadron much since I'm in Texas, but when I have used them its usually here in a day or so. Prices and shipping cost are better then they used to be, but sales are typically for stuff I don't care about or require buying more than I want to spend.


I like Spruebrothers, but prices are sometimes not all that good for what I'm looking for. They are fairly fast delivery to me from Missouri.


I use eBay a fair amount. Be sure to use ebates.com to get your 1% along with the ebay bucks. Heh.


Direct from the manufacturers or suppliers in Europe/Russia/Ukraine once in awhile if the price/shipping is good or they're the only source.


HLJ.com if the price is right (shipping usually kills the good price from what I've experienced.) The ability to assemble purchases for shipping at later dates is nice.


Amazon once in awhile--Japanese hobby shops seem to list a fair amount of stuff--be prepared to wait. Lots-of-models lists there and also eBay...they're in Missouri and I've wondered if they're associated with Spruebrothers in some manner.


Hannants - 10% backorder discount. The exchange rate right now appears to be favorable.


I've had pleasant experiences with freetimehobbies and if you like ships, they seem to have a good selection.


HobbySearch http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/ Prices/shipping is usually pretty decent. The main page is dolls--ignore and click on the categories to get to the good stuff. Or look at the almost-nekkid dolls if you want.


I use dragonusaonline a lot...especially when they have sales or the daily special is in my area of interest.


I like hobbyeasy.com but the website can be a bit awkward to use. Prices are often good for something weird I'm looking for. I believe its kind of a front order-taking site for multiple shops/suppliers in Hong Kong.


I have actually had fairly good luck with sourcing books, kits, and detail parts from around the world. I'm sure I'll get burned sooner or later, but if you use Amazon or Ebay, then a refund is pretty much guaranteed. Even shipping time has been reasonably, even unexpectedly quick in many cases.


And speaking of Amazon.com, even if you don't order much from them, the wish-list capability is very very nice. You can have multiple wish-lists to categorize stuff, make them private or public, and you can add items to it from other websites very easily. So if I see something on a manufacturer's website or one of the hobby vendors that I want/am-researching, it often ends up in one of my Amazon wishlists.



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  • 3 weeks later...

I haven't use Squadron in a long time, they don't have much of what I build.

I use Megahobby, and I guess b/c I don't do a lot of shopping I haven't noticed that their prices are higher.


I must agree with Dave. Avoid eBay for figures unless you absolutely know the guy who's selling. Way too may recasters ripping ppl off.


One way to find legit producers and new releases is to look at Buc Wheat's site.


For sci-fi I use the Starship Modeler Store , CultTVMan and the Fantastic-Plastic store. Fantastic Plastic also has a number of concept, and experimental craft. They also handle Unicraft kits.


The other "store" I buy from is Hobby Link Japan and yes the kits are coming from Japan so don't expect a box in a day or two.

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