The History of Hobbyco

Hobbyco has been operating since 1935. Providing unique models, collectables games, and more to entertain and excite its customers.

Hobbyco is no ordinary hobby store. With an ever-changing list of products, it offers a wide range of choices for everyone; whether it is plastic kits for the hobbyists, jigsaw puzzles for the family, or LEGO, the breadth of range is considerable. There are also traditional products that will bring you the nostalgia of the past such as Hornby train sets and Tamiya Radio Control Car kits, or the latest items that will keep you entertained for hours.

From K-Dee to George Street Marvel (1930s - 1940s)

In the early 1930s, a modest toy shop known as K-Dee embarked on its journey in Chatswood. Soon after, in 1935, it found a new home at 561 George Street, Sydney. At this iconic location, K-Dee began crafting its own free-flight and rubber-band-powered balsa model kits, producing glue and "dope" (cellulose lacquer) in-house, and stocking an extensive range of toys and models. By 1938, Hornby & Lionel trains and Meccano sets joined the eclectic mix of offerings.

Enter Frank Murell, a young, enterprising manager who played a pivotal role in guiding and nurturing the business until his retirement in 1978.

The Birth of Hobbyco (1946)

1946 marked a turning point as the company underwent a name change to Hobbyco, a reflection of its expanding range of hobby-related products. Hobbyco  became a haven for hobbyists of all ages.

The George Street Landmark (1950s - 1990s)

Throughout the 1950s, the Hobbyco Store at 561 George Street stood opposite Anthony Horderns, a retail giant in Sydney. It became a must-visit destination for anyone in the city, offering an ever-expanding range of products. Over the course of 40 years, Hobbyco expanded by acquiring adjacent shops and expanding into the basement, creating an Aladdin's cave for hobby enthusiasts.

During this time, Hobbyco's product lineup expanded further to include Dinky diecast model cars, Matchbox toys, and even the coveted No. 10 Meccano set, priced at AU $40.00. The introduction of the first Mail Order catalogue in 1954 turned it into a sought-after publication for hobbyists, while Ken Winfield's meticulously crafted window displays drew aspiring modelers like a magnet.

The 1950s also ushered in an era of plastic construction kits, thanks to companies like Airfix and Revell. Free-flight models evolved into control line planes, fueled by affordable Japanese motors. The 1960s introduced transistor technology, paving the way for radio control models, previously confined to engineering journals. However, it wasn't until the mid-1970s that Tamiya, a Japanese company, pioneered the Radio Control Car Kit, unlocking a new realm of hobbies for all.

New Beginnings (1990s - 2000s)

In 1993, Hobbyco made another move, this time settling into its largest space yet at 750 sq. m (8070 sq. ft) in the Mid City Centre on Pitt Street Mall. The product range continued to diversify, encompassing games, puzzles, diecast cars, aviation models, and a flourishing Radio Control department.

A wholesale operation, Hobbyco Imports, began in 1998, from the expanding exclusive and niche products the company was importing. This continues to be a growth area for the company and today Hobbyco has more than 300 wholesale customers.

The Digital Age (Late 1990s - Present)

The last Hobbyco catalogue was printed in 1999. By this stage, it was a 250-page book, with more than 5000 copies distributed through newsagents nationwide. The following year, the Hobbyco website was launched and a new era of online mail-order began.

In 2007, redevelopment of the Mid City Centre meant another relocation into the iconic and stately Queen Victoria Building. Now occupying two floors with internal stairs, and adjacent coffee shops and specialty stores, Hobbyco is in an ideal location for a new generation of hobbyists to discover and explore.

Hobbyco Today: A Blend of Tradition and Innovation

Today, Hobbyco continues to provide a diverse mix of modern and traditional products.

Hobbyco is the official distributor for Bandai model kits and collectables in Australia. Bandai’s Gundam model kits have dramatically increased its popularity since Hobbyco introduced it to Australia about a decade ago, and the growth of Anime in Australian audiences has seen the love of figures from Banpresto and Tamashii Nations skyrocket. Bandai’s Pokémon and Star Wars figures have also provided potential hobbyists the perfect entry point into the world of model kits.

Hobbyco is the ideal place to discover your next hobby or the perfect gifts, bringing thousands of products for both beginners and the experienced hobbyists to five retail locations across Sydney. It is the home of Gunpla, anime and diecast collectables, slot cars, jigsaw puzzles, model kits, LEGO for all ages, and lots more.

From the early days at 561 George Street to the digital age of online shopping, Hobbyco has left an indelible mark on the world of hobbies and remains a beacon of creativity and fascination for generations to come.