Hobbyco History

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

Hobbyco is no ordinary toy & hobby store. With an ever-changing list of products, it offers a wide range of choice 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 Flying Scotsman train sets and real Wilesco steam engines or the latest items that will keep you entertained for hours

 

History of the Hobbyco 

In the early 1930’s a small toy shop called K-Dee moved to 561 George Street Sydney, from its original home in Chatswood. It was manufacturing its own free-flight and rubber-band-powered balsa model kits, bottling its own glue and “dope” (cellulose lacquer), and it stocked a full range of toys and models.

By 1938 the shop was also selling Hornby & Lionel trains and Meccano sets. A young enterprising manager named Frank Murell joined the company – he was to guide and grow the business with a steady hand until his retirement in 1978.

In 1946 the company name was changed to Hobbyco to reflect a broadening range of hobby products.

In the early 1950s The Hobbyco Store at 561 George St was opposite the major retailer Anthony Horderns then considered the hub of all retail in Sydney. No visit to the city whether by tram, rail or bus was complete without a visit to Hobbyco. Over the 40 years at this location, the business grew by taking over the adjacent shop and expanding into the basement which became an Aladdin's cave for the hobby enthusiast. 

Hobbyco’s range had expanded to include Dinky diecast model cars and the Matchbox range. Lego was available and Hobbyco was selling the No. 10 Meccano set for £40. The first Mail Order catalogue was released in 1954 and became a much sought-after publication for the next 40 years. The Hobbyco window displays, under the care of Ken Winfield, became a major drawcard for every aspiring modeller.

In this same decade, plastic construction kits with companies such as Airfix and Revell provided a whole new realm of model making for the young modeller. Free-flight models changed to control line planes with the advent of low-cost fuel motors from Japan. The transistor technology of the 1960s ushered in a new era of radio control models previously only read about in engineering journals. But it wasn’t until the mid-1970s that Japanese company Tamiya pioneered the Radio Control Car Kit – and a whole new segment of hobbies was made available to all.
 
Another move in 1993 saw Hobbyco occupy its largest space of 750 sq. m (8070 sq. ft) in the Mid City Centre on Pitt Street Mall. Hobbyco’s range expanded to include games, puzzles, diecast cars and aviation models, and a large 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.

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Hobbyco History 2 - Hobbyco Shopfront Display

Hobbyco Mid City Centre

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 www.hobbyco.com.au 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.

 
Today Hobbyco provides a generous mix of modern and traditional products. Live steam engines from Wilesco of Germany are much the same as they were over 70 years ago; while our model trains include state of the art digital technology to appeal to the more modern consumer. Hornby and Marklin are still pre-eminent. Thomas and Friends continue to draw the interest of young locomotive engineers.

We still sell free-flight rubber-band powered flying models as well as the latest remote control flyweight helicopters driven with micro-motors and powered by Li-Po batteries.

Bandai’s Gundam model kits have dramatically increased its popularity since Hobbyco introduced it to Australia about a decade ago. Aside from our anime figures from popular manga series, our range of pop culture products and tools and accessories such as airbrush compressors grows to cater to the ever-growing generation of hobbyists.

Hobbyco History - Catalogue vol 20