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Monday, 18 September 2017

Maintaining Action Figures Clothing

Most of these tips are for cloth figure clothing.  These tips are by our opinion and we are not responsible for damages when trying these tips.


Invest in a travel steamer or an iron with a steam function.  Get the type that looks like an upright canister with a side handle and a venting attachment at the top. Using this little miracle tool you can make uniforms look really sharp. It also will steam clean surface dust and help to upgrade the look of a cloth uniform. Regular ironing will scorch the fabric and leave shiny marks.  Work carefully and pull the cloth taut as you go. Hold the surface to be done between both hands and run it over the vents to "steam press" the garment. Holding it a little tightly helps. It takes a little practice and you'll probably get a couple of steamed fingers the first time out. Just work carefully and take your time.


Capes, berets and some other looser clothing needs some help keeping its shape. Try spraying it with diluted (1:1) starch, carefully forming the beret while on the figures head and letting it air dry. The item isn't rock-hard or anything it just stays where you put it now.

A way to form cloth berets, without a great deal of effort, to look like the way most soldiers wear them today. You'll need a bottle of Paul Mitchell Fast Drying Sculpting Spray or something similar.
  1. Put the Beret on your figure and form it how you like.
  2. Spray carefully and saturate the beret. Try to limit the spray just to the beret material.
  3. Use a tooth pick or bamboo skewer to hold the beret in the shape you desire (you could stuff the item or make a form for it) to keep your fingers from sticking to the item as it dries.
Once dried, it's not sticky and not noticeable. 


The following alternatives work well on all cotton cloth:
  1. A good dye to use is a VAT dye which will turn the fabric black (or whatever color you want) & will never come out. This dye is a bit caustic to use but works quick and lasts forever.
  2. For a dye that is less caustic,use a Procyonb dye (sometimes known as cold-dyes). These dyes require much more soaking but are still permanent.

If you're going dye natural leather, use the Fiebing's Oil based dyes. The Tandy dyes are alcohol based and tend to leech the natural oils out of the leather causing it to crack on you after a short time. The Fiebing's, being oil based, doesn't do this, and is actually a little more resilient and produces a finish that's easier to apply evenly.


Many problems seen in action figure clothing is the fabric unravelling (usually behind a seam). To prevent this, you "overcast the seam" which means setting the sewing machine on zig zag and sewing the hidden edge of the fabric on the inside. 

Use one little stitch to hold the collars down so they don't curl up.

You can use 1.2 mm brass nails for realistically sized buttons. Stick them through the material, cut of the excess (most of the nail) and add a drop or two of fabric tac. 


Having trouble glueing those little fabric insignia's to the fabric uniforms of your 12" figures?  Aleene's Original Tacky Glue comes in a gold-colored squeeze bottle with a white top. It dries clear, and more significantly, flexible. So the insignia's won't peel off the figure when you move them around.

When glueing fabric to plastic, if you use modeling cement (either tube or liquid type), it will dissolve or soften the plastic you're working with.  If you use this, make sure you apply it to the piece of plastic, and not the cloth! 

Superglues (cyanoacrylates) are probably the best thing there is for attaching buckles or straps onto a model permanently. It will set instantly if applied to anything natural like cotton or skin. If you're attaching straps or buckles, be sure to only apply a tiny dot exactly where the cloth attaches or it wil make the entire strap stiff. 


Here's how to get those garments white and bright again. You need to buy two things:
  • Softscrub With Bleach (the lemon version won't work)
  • Efferdent denture cleaning tablets
  1. Use a tupperware container large enough to lay the uniform flat.
  2. Wet the piece of clothing and put it in the container.
  3. Shake the Softscrub then apply it all over the item using a soft paintbrush.
  4. Wait about five minutes then add warm water to the container so that it covers the uniform by about and inch.
  5. Squirt some more Softscrub down on it and let it soak about 20-30 minutes - no longer.
  6. Now take out the garment and rinse well under warm water.
  7. Rinse out your container WELL and put about an inch and 1/2 of warm (not hot) water in it.
  8. Pop in two or three Efferdent tablets and place your garment flat in the container.
  9. Leave it in there overnight - about eight hours.
    Don't worry if the garment gets looking blue; it will go away in a couple of hours in the bath. It's removing any of the chlorine from the bleach and the baking soda and the Efferdent will really brighten the whites. You want all the chlorine gone because it would eventually yellow the garment. That's why using straight bleach isn't a good idea unless you Efferdent afterwards.
  10. Take out and rinse. If it still isn't white or bright enough-try the Efferdent bath again.
  11. Then rinse it well. You can use a "salad spinner" to spin all the excess water out.
  12. Dry flat.

To remove magic marker, try rubbing alcohol. Pour through the fabric from the back. This works well on some markers and pens.

Next week: Hmmm not sure.  Check back next Monday.

Chinook & Hobby West
"Where the Fun Begins!"
ph: 403-243-1997
Twitter: @HobbyAndToy

Monday, 11 September 2017

Top 10 Model Building Tips for Beginners

Here is our top 10 model tips for beginners. Feel free to add your tips to the comments below!
Always read the instructions of your kit and follow the steps in order.

10. Use a hobby knife or sprue cutter to remove pieces from sprues. This give you a clean piece with no extra flashing, don't twist them off as you can ruin the pieces.

9.  Using a fine detail brush try to paint as many pieces when they're still on the sprue frame. This gives you more control and you don't need to worry about how you'll hold the tiny pieces while painting them.

8.  when using glue, less is usually more.  Put a small dab on glue on a bottle cap and use a tooth pick to control where the glue goes. Always 'dry fit' the part first so you know how it will fit before gluing.

7.  Applying water slide decals can be tricky.  Soak the decal for about 15 seconds it may curl, but wait and let it uncurl.  To place the decal, hold it to where it goes and slide it off the paper and onto the model. If the decal needs repositioning, then wet your fingers with water and move the decal into position carefully. There may be some residue from the glue, use a wet q-tip to clean it off being careful not to wipe the decal away. Allow the decal to fully dry before handling.

6.  Many sprues and model parts have the mould release agent still on them.  Make sure to immerse them in a shallow pan of mild dish detergent and warm water to rinse the chemical off and then dry completely.  Using extra fine grit sandpaper on the larger pieces works well too. Use a light touch so you don't sand off fine details.

5.  Always have your hobby area set up with whatever you need  for that kit. your model, glue, rag, thinner, sprue cutter, paint, brushes, dish of water, etc. If you don't have a designated spot and need to move your items around, use a cleaning caddy or toolbox to keep your supplies together and easy to transport.

4.  Never mix acrylic paint and enamel paint.  If you need to use both on your model kit paint one first and let it dry for a minimum of 6 hours, then paint with the other.  If you don't let the different paint types dry you may get a blister look.

3. When spray painting always use light coats. If you spray on too thick it may run or create an orange peel look to your paint job.

2. Did you glue your fingers together?  Never pull them apart!  Roll them apart or use nail polish remover or debonder to break down the glue bond.  If you got glue on any sensitive areas such as around your eyes or mouth, please go see a doctor and get them to assist you safely.

1.  HAVE FUN! If you get frustrated put the lids on your paint, thinner and glue, wash your brushes and go do something else for a while.  I've seen many model kits thrown at walls and out windows!  

Next week: Maintaining Action Figures Clothing

Chinook & Hobby West
"Where the Fun Begins!"
ph: 403-243-1997
Twitter: @HobbyAndToy

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Welcome To Model Railroading - Part 2

Welcome Back to Part two of our beginner series in Model Railroading. This post is all about the basics of building kits, the different track types, DCC, types of trains, what the numbers on a steam locomotive mean and painting terms.

If you have any questions or comments please email us or leave them below.

Plastic Model Building Kits:

Three Types:
1.      Pre-Built Plastics [model buildings].
2.      Build your self plastics
3.      Build your self-Wood.

Scenery Materials: Various:  Main one is Woodland Scenics,  Trost’s own, Bachmann, Heki. These are just a few of the brand names. Almost all scenery lines are geared to function with most or all scales.

People, Vehicles, Railroad parts i.e. crossing signs, lights, etc.
Woodland scenics, Model Power, Miniatures By Eric, Excel, Hobits, Micro Engineering, Trost’s Own, Herpa, Athearn, Wiking, McHenry, Kadee to name a few.

Track:  HO and N scales: Peco; Atlas; EZ Bachmann – O scale; Atlas O, RealTraxx
There is quite a lot for variety in most scales.

Different Types of Model Railroad Track

A question that always comes up first is – What type of model train track should I use? There are several different brands and sizes available. Mostly what you use is personal preference. One thing to remember is that the size of the rails is reported as the code. For example code 83-model railroad track has larger rails than code 55 tracks.
The difference between Atlas HO Code 83 and Code 100 track: Literally, the code of a piece of track is the height of the rail in thousandths of an inch (meaning code 83 rail is .083" high; code 100 rail is .100" high). The significant difference lies in the physical appearance of the two types of track. Atlas Code 83 track has fine, brown ties whereas Code 100 has slightly thicker black ties. Because of its accuracy (and the color of the ties), Code 83 is more prototypical, and therefore more realistic than Code 100. Code 83 is known as a finer-scale track, and is the choice of discerning modelers. Atlas carries a full line of both Code 100 and Code 83 products. (There are fewer problems with code 100 & its more economical for the new Model Railroader)
The smaller rails are often used for branch lines and the larger codes are for mainlines. This is often the way they appear in the prototype (real life), so you can simulate that on your layout if you wish. A caveat to this is that you have to make sure that when you make the transition between different codes on the same layout, you have to line up the rails properly so there won’t be any derailments.
Model railroad track is sold as sectional track, i.e., small sections of either straight track or curved track that come in 2-3 different standard radii, or as flextrack, a very flexible 3 ft piece of track that can be curved to whatever radius you want. Sectional track, but not flextrack, can also be purchased with or without roadbed attached.

Digital command control (DCC) is a newer form of model railroad wiring and train control in which each locomotive can be separately controlled from one power unit or from one walk around throttle.
Each locomotive has to be fitted with a special decoder device programmed to accept signals from the power (or control) unit when that particular decoder is “dialed in” from the control unit.  For more info on this, come in and see us.

The lighting for structures, signals, street lamps, etc. is usually accomplished with AC current which may or may not require a separate transformer from the one you use to control trains, depending on your specific power unit.  Most transformers have an AC and DC portal (screws) on the back or side. There are too many brands to name although a few are Woodland Scenics, Minitronics, Techtronics, Rail King, etc.

Types of model trains
Steam: A steam locomotive is a locomotive powered by a steam system of tubes. The term usually refers to its use on railways, but can also refer to a "road locomotive" such as a traction engine or steamroller.  Model steam engines are all electric although any scales HO and larger have the option of adding smoke fluid or pellet for the real effect.
Diesel: A Diesel train is a type of railroad locomotive, which is powered by a Diesel engine. Several types have been developed, the distinction being  how the Diesel mechanical power is conveyed to the driving wheels (drivers).
Electric: An electric locomotive is a locomotive powered by electricity from an external source. Sources include overhead lines or third rail.

Categories of model trains by service   

Passenger: A passenger train is one, which includes passenger-carrying vehicles. It may be a self-powered multiple unit or several rail cars together, or else a combination of one or more locomotives and one or more unpowered trailers known as coaches, cars or carriages. Passenger trains travel between stations or depots, at which passengers may board and disembark. In most cases, passenger trains operate on a fixed schedule and have superior track occupancy rights over freight trains.

Streamliner: A streamliner is any vehicle that incorporates streamlining to produce a more stylish shape that provides less resistance to air. The term is most often applied to certain high-speed railway trains of the 1930s to 1950s, and to their successor "bullet trains"    
Freight: A freight train is a group of freight cars hauled by one or more locomotives on a railway, ultimately transporting cargo between two points as part of the logistics chain. Trains may haul bulk material, inter-modal containers, general freight or specialized freight in purpose-designed cars.

Types of model railroad cars 
Hoppers, Covered Hoppers; Gondolas; Tank cars; Refrigerator cars; Boxcars; Automobile transporters; Inter-modal transporters; Flatcars; Livestock cars & Cabooses.

What do the numbers mean?
These numbers are used for the classification of steam locomotives. For example- 0-4-0, 4-4-0, 2-8-2, 4-6-6-4, etc.
-The 1st number is the number of leading wheels. These wheels support the front of the boiler and guide the locomotive along the track.
-The 2nd (or middle) number is the number of drivers. These wheels are connected together and to the cylinders with rods to transfer the power from the steam to the rails. They also support the bulk of the locomotive.
-The last number is the number of axles in the trailing truck. These wheels support the cab and firebox, where the fuel is burned.
-On Diesel locomotives 4 wheel (2 axle) are called B trucks, 6 wheel (3 axle) are C trucks.

About Paints & Terms

In store we carry two types of paints, Acrylics and Enamels.
Acrylics: Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when dry. Acrylic artist paints may be thinned with water and used as washes

Enamels: Enamel paints are oil based paints. These paints require a longer drying time and they are water and soap resistant

Wash: A wash is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is very wet with solvent and holds a small paint load is applied to a wet or dry support

Drybrush: Drybrush is a painting technique in which a paint brush that is relatively dry, but still holds paint, is used. The resulting brush strokes have a characteristic scratchy look that lacks the smooth appearance that washes or blended paint commonly has.

Tools: These are very important, as with any tools, its best to have the correct one for the job you need to accomplish. Your most important tools will be: Track cutters, wire cutter/strippers, hobby knife and replacement blades, light gear oil, needle nosed pliers, track cleaning eraser, extra wire in at least three different colours, hot glue gun, stiff bristle paint brush, set of jewelers screwdrivers, fine to extra fine sandpaper, patience and a sense of humor.

Chinook & Hobby West would love to help you make the most of your Model Railroading experience.  Come and visit us at 5011 MacLeod Tr. SW. Calgary, AB. 
Email We are open 10-6 pm weekdays, 10-6 Saturdays, closed Sundays and Holidays. 

Chinook & Hobby West carries N, HO and O scale trains in store.  Any other scales that come in collections, we put on our ebay site.  Our eBay handle is gossamer13

Next week: Throttle up Thursday begins! Once a month we'll be featuring a model train enthusiast. 

Chinook & Hobby West
"Where the Fun Begins!"
ph: 403-243-1997
Twitter: @HobbyAndToy

Monday, 4 September 2017

More Rocketry Tips for Beginners

If you're thinking about the Rocket hobby, just getting into it, or need a refresher these tips will be a great help. If you're in the Calgary area you can join the Calgary Rocket Association. Click Here for their website.

Please keep in mind:  
Model rockets are not toys - you can't simply plug them in and turn them on expecting them to work. They can be dangerous if not handled properly and taken seriously. They are miniature real rockets and a number of things need to work perfectly and come together at the right time to ensure a proper launch. 
Note unless otherwise stated references are to Quest or Estes model rockets (as opposed to Advanced, High Power or Amateur rockets and these tips are only our opinion through experience and research). 

Your Rocket
Don't use double sided tape or self-adhesive tape to attach shroud lines to the canopy or streamer. These can clog the body tube and will eventually lose their stickiness. Instead use paper reinforcing rings. Glue them on your recovery device, puncture though the centre hole, thread the shroud lines through the hole and tie onto the canopy with a double knot. Pull the lines firmly to make sure they won't come off when the recovery device deploys.
Using a permanent marker, write contact details on your rocket to increase your chances of getting the rocket back should you lose it. 

Make sure the launch lug is strictly parallel to the body tube and there are no stickers/decals or other things that can catch or jam; in front of or behind the lug. Note a poorly aligned body tube glued to the fin unit can also cause a jam on the launch rod).
If the launch lug is molded to the plastic fin canister, make sure any 'flashing' is removed from the inside of it.
The nose cone must be an easy but snug fit into the body tube, if it’s too loose the cone may release when the rocket slows down. Use masking tape around the nose cone if it’s too loose. Hold the cone tightly in one hand and pull on the shock with the other, to ensure your knot won't fail when the recovery device deploys.
Make sure when gluing the engine mount together that excess glue doesn’t end up inside the engine mount. This will block the fitting of the motor. Wipe away any excess glue immediately. And don't forget to glue the engine mount in - yes it does happen! 

You must use wadding and it must be flameproof. Toilet paper, paper towel and tin foil will not work and will cause your rocket to burn up, explode or melt.

The Engine
Make sure the engine is the recommended letter/number combo for your model –the letter is the engine strength, the first number is how many seconds of thrust and the last number is the seconds until the shoot deploys. Check your instructions to get the recommended engine per your kit's instructions. Using the wrong engine delay will cause you a lot of grief! The engine must be a slip fit and slide easily into the engine mount. Never force the engine into the mount. Get used to checking the engine nozzle (the hole where the igniter is inserted). It will either be clay (white) or ceramic (black) - a black ceramic type nozzle signifies a European manufactured engine and will warn you that the delay time (coasting time) may be significantly longer than expected - a 3 second delay can be more like 5 seconds, a 4 second delay can be more like 6 seconds, and a 5 second delay more like 7 seconds. Adjust the angle on your launch rod upright accordingly. Taking a long walk is better than a destroyed rocket!

The Igniter
There are two types of igniter - the copperhead and the nichrome igniter. The first looks like one piece of copper with a black tip (the squib), and the second has two silver or copper wires. The nichrome igniter has less resistance than the copperhead and requires less current to fire, however it is brittle and fragile and so it is best to use masking tape across the nozzle. The squib must be touching the propellant - (the black stuff you can see inside the nozzle). Using a plug can cause the wires to come together causing a short. And that's also why you don't remove the paper tape on the nichrome igniter which keeps those wires apart! While the copperhead igniter is 'bulletproof' it requires more current to fire, so your batteries must be new and of the right voltage. 

The Launch Controller
The battery (s) you use in your launch controller are often the sole factor of whether or not you have a successful launch. You must use the proper battery(s) and they must be new batteries. Lithium and alkaline batteries, which together have a voltage rating of at least 6v-9v, are the only batteries suitable for model rocket launch controllers. Lithium batteries are the best, rechargeable batteries can give you a lot of grief, so don't use them.
Insulating one jaw of each alligator clip (with masking tape) is recommended. 'Flip' each alligator clip when attaching to the igniter so that one uninsulated jaw is touching one side of the igniter and the other uninsulated jaw touches the other side. Lightly sand your safety key and always keep it clean.

The Launch Pad
Pin down your launch pad with tent pegs, especially on a windy day. Also, make sure the launch rod is a tight fit in its mounting hole where it fits into the base of the launcher. If using a two piece rod, the two pieces must be a tight fit into each other and have no kinks. You don't want your rocket taking the launch rod with it, when it lifts off! Sand the rod lightly before launch and coat it with a thin layer of petroleum jelly (Vaseline). Always use the 'stand off'' which ensures igniter clips do not touch the jet deflector plate and cause a 'short'. If you lose the 'stand off'' use a burnt out engine instead. Test fit your rocket on the rod to ensure it slides freely - very important Make sure the rod safety cap is replaced on the rod after each launch.
Upgrade Tip your two piece rod can be replaced by one piece rod, .9 m to 1 m long, 3 mm in diameter. Stainless steel rod is best, however piano wire from a hobby shop will do the job.

Ready to Launch
The launch circuitry can be tested by installing the igniter, battery, and safety key (not on all launch systems), and momentarily pressing the launch button. The igniter should glow red hot. Release the launch button immediately as the igniter begins to glow, otherwise it will soon melt and have to be discarded.
When the rocket is seated on the igniter make sure it’s fully inserted and centered in the nozzle of the rocket engine. Just remove the launch rod, seat the rocket correctly on the igniter and then carefully re-instal the launch rod. Note due to the differing weight and aerodynamic shape of each of the rocket, not all models will achieve the expected altitudes and some may surpass it. Rockets with AT, A and B letters in the engines are great for beginners and first  launches, larger engine sizes such a C and D should be only used by intermediate to expert and a license/permit is required for any engines larger than E.

Looking for more help and great tips? Check out our other Rocketry posts!

4 Tips to Flying Model Rockets- use/copy the engine chart 

Rocketry Tips- Recovery Wadding, Why Do I Need It? 

Next week: Car model tips!

Chinook & Hobby West
"Where the Fun Begins!"
ph: 403-243-1997
Twitter: @HobbyAndToy