Advisory Council Posts

R.I.P. Steve Arlin, Former MLB Player, hobbyDB Advisory Board Member

Steve Arlin San Diego Padres

We at hobbyDB are sad to report that Steve Arlin, a member of our Advisory Board, passed away August 19, 2016. He was 70 years old.

Young Guns Steve Arlin

Around these parts, he was known for his expertise in Western toys, especially toy guns and their matching holsters. In fact, the holsters are such a unique item that we had to create an item type specifically for them. He also published a book on collecting them.

Prior to his connection at hobbyDB, Steve had one of the most awesome jobs ever… he was a major league baseball pitcher for the San Diego Padres and the Cleveland Indians from 1969 to 1974. In 1972 he came within one out of completing a no-hitter, the closest any Padre has ever come to accomplishing that feat (San Diego remains the only team in baseball without a no-hitter in their history). He was also a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes squad that won the 1966 college baseball championship. After retirement, he continued to live in the San Diego area.

hobbyDB is grateful for Steve’s contributions to our site and collecting in general, and he will be missed.



Authors and Publishers Tell Their Stories on hobbyDB

Over the last couple of years hobbyDB has become home to the official archives of many brands of toys and collectibles as well several museums that highlight the sorts of things we love here.

The latest trend is for authors and publishers to set up an archive page on hobbyDB. The benefits are similar to how well it works for brands and museums, in that their books can be cross-referenced with a variety of subjects and collectibles. We talked to a few authors of books on automobiles, automobilia, and collectibles who now have archives here to get some insight on the process.

Arthur Ward airfix

Arthur Ward, Airfix expert and author, also knows a thing or two about vintage cars.

Arthur Ward might be a familiar name to certain collectors as the authority on all things Airfix related. In addition to being on our Advisory Board, he has an archive on hobbyDB. “My first book, The Model World of Airfix, was published in 1984, a few years after they  spectacularly went bust in 1981 to be rescued by American multinational General Mills. I knew, and the publisher agreed, that a history of this famous brand would catch the zeitgeist prevalent at the time – the Brits had nearly lost a famous and iconic brand.” As you can tell, this is a bit more than just a hobby for Arthur.

He’s since written several guides to the Airfix brand, but is also the author of books on other subjects such as World War II collectibles. This isn’t too much of a stretch, he says. “The models I built as a kid, the Spitfires,  Messerschmitts, Lancaster bombers, Sherman tanks, Flying Fortresses and the like, encouraged me to research their subjects carefully,” he said. “Making models was always about much more than simply assembling a selection of components – it was about immersing yourself in the subject. Airfix understood this, which was why their box top artwork by people like the legendary Roy Cross was so much more than a simple illustration of the subject at hand.”

Having an expert like him not just curating his books, but also the models he writes about helps lend a lot of credibility to hobbyDB with collectors, which benefits everyone with an interest in collecting.

Frank Barrett

Frank Barrett is the latest automotive author to host his archive on hobbyDB.

Frank Barrett is the latest author to archive his books on hobbyDB. After spending 25 years as editor/publisher of The Star, the national magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, he generally writes about Mercedes-Benz and his first love, Porsche, but his biggest and best book is about a British/American collaboration, the Shelby Cobra. “Writing is hard work,” he explains, ”so you have to find the best publisher you can. For example I did this book with David Bull and he was fantastic to work with.”

Since Frank has worked with several publishers over the years, it can be hard to find all of his books online unless you stumble onto them in a neutral place. Or, you can go to his archive, and find them all. Long story short, it’s good to have a single source that ties them all together. Frank is only in the process of moving his Toad Hall Motorbooks store to hobbyDB where you can buy his books – plus over 1,000 other vintage automotive books and more than 200 original factory-published Porsche posters.


William Taylor and his company Coterie Press have published a huge array of automotive books.

William Taylor, another author archived on hobbyDB, has found a reliable publisher he likes to work with… his own company, Coterie Press. Their books (and his own) cover a range of mostly European makes, everything from the manufacturer, the cars, the races, the memorabilia, the models, anything related to the subject. If you don’t believe us, just punch in “Coterie Press Lotus” and look at the depth in coverage.

“Over the course of 15 years publishing automotive books, Coterie Press has archived the motor racing images of photographers Ian Catt, Peter Darley and myself,” William said. “Along with the Classic Team Lotus Collection and several other smaller collections we’ve acquired, Coterie currently have over 100,000 images accessible to them when working on a book project.” So add the vintage photos to their stunning original photography, and that results in some really nice books.

Taylor’s (and his company’s) accurate, beautifully designed books have earned them a reputation with folks in the auto industry and the racing world to grant them access to even more in depth writing possibilities. In this case, we don’t just get a single author’s work accurately represented, we get an entire company to go with it.

We’re looking for other authors and publishers of books that appeal to any type of collectors… brand histories, spotter’s guides, price lists, let us know what you write. When you add your books to our database, we can build a great online library for collectors!

Sergio Goldvarg (and possibly Batman) are on the hobbyDB Advisory Board

sergio goldvarg

Do you like waffles? Of course you do! And model cars? You bet! Then you’ll love Sergio Goldvarg, one of the members of the hobbyDB Advisory Board. He is lending us his considerable expertise on model cars, both as a manufacturer and a collector.

To say Sergio collects model cars is an understatement. He’s been featured in the Guiness Book of World Records for having the largest collection of large scale model cars, over 14,000 and counting.


Oh, we mentioned waffles earlier…Waffleworks restaurant in Hollywood, CA, not only serves fantastic breakfast all day, it also displays a good chunk of his collection on the walls, in cabinets, between the comfy booths. Waffleworks also hosts frequent car shows in the parking lot, where Batman sometimes shows up.

Sergio has a thing for the Batmobile, specifically the 1960s TV car built by George Barris. His collection includes several versions of it in different scales from 1:64 to pedal car size to… well, is a real 1:1 scale Batmobile considered a model? Because he has one of those as well.

sergio goldvarg

We’re not at liberty to say if Sergio is also Batman, but no one has ever seen the two of them in the same place. So jump to your own conclusions.

He’s owned many other interesting cars over the years as well, including a BMW Isetta, an Alfa Romeo 2600 Sprint Bertone and a Renault Gordon. You can see photos of them on his blog.

goldvarg collection mercury

As an architect, he has a keen eye for detail and thinking in scale, so it’s no surprise that he has also dabbled in his creating own line of model cars. He is the founder of Miniturbo Toys, makers of simple, colorful vehicles for young kids in the 1980s. And his Goldvarg Collection series featured highly detailed 1:43 scale white metal models of American cars from the ‘40s through the ’60s. Sergio has also served on the advisory board of model car manufacturers Buby and SunStar.

Sergio a founder and member of the the Diecast Hall of Fame. So far, there’s no Waffles Hall of Fame, but he should be a shoo-in for induction there, too.

Goldvarg collection

Here’s a good sample of the variety of cars offered by the Goldvarg Collection.

Hugada Video Game Database Now on hobbyDB

hugada atari 2600 simpsons video game

Klaus Brandhorst’s first home computer was a bit underwhelming, a simple Commodore 16. “It only had a datasette and it came with one or two programs to fiddle around with, so there weren’t any games,” he said. “It was only black and white on my old TV at the time and BASIC wasn’t so interesting for most 9 year olds. It wasn’t love at first sight.”

Luckily, it didn’t scare him away from computers for life, because Klaus is the founder of, short for Huge Game Database. The name is the only thing short about the venture, as Hugada is a database of over 63,200 versions of 43,700 video game titles. And all of that is coming to hobbyDB.

Back to ancient history… That original C-16 was followed by a C-64, an Amiga 500, then an Amiga 2000. “On the Commodore, we played everything we could get for so many hours until we were thrown out by my parents to see the sun for a few minutes,” he laughed. “We liked games where you could explore and search for easter eggs or hidden rooms, for example the strange ‘Mad Doctor’…  We loved Cinemaware-Games on the Amiga because they looked and played very good but what made them special was the story and the atmosphere. But my all-time favorites are strategy games: “Carriers at War” from SSG, and “Second Front” from Gary Grigsby.”

 dysentery pac man x box commodore 16

The Amiga was followed by a string of more modern PCs. By the mid 1990s, PC games were becoming more advanced and but old video-games became worth collecting. That’s when Klaus started looking back.

“People were giving away their old video games like they were worthless,” he said. “I guess they were at the time. One time, I bought an Atari 2600 system with packaging, never used, for about $5 and the owner said, ‘here, this comes with it’ and handed me over a big plastic bag with 60 or more modules, some of them still wrapped and lots of Xenox double enders. I also bought a Vectrex for less than $10, and a whole shoe box of Nintendo games and a watch in original packaging for a few bucks.”  Considering the original cost of home video game systems in the 1980s, and what they sell for now, he got great deals all around.

“Within a few years it was maybe 150 video game consoles and home computers and thousands of games for them. After I brought home a DEC PDP-11 the size of 2 washing machines, my parents became a bit worried what i was planing to do with their cellar.”

Along the way, he started a list on the computer of every game he could find for every platform. Like the basement collection, it too began to get out of control. “It started with a list of Playstation 1 games my friends and I owned where we noted who has which one. It quickly grew with the titles we wanted to have and then with other systems like the Nintendo 64 and also PC-titles. Then, retro-gaming with all the emulators started, so we had to make lists of the games of course…” Before long, Excel wasn’t up to the task, so he moved it to a real database and put it online.

atari soccer Madden xbox

That was in 1997 or ’98, making it likely that Hugada was the first ever online database of video games. “But I soon realized it’s a lot of work to take care of the site. When I went to university, I basically closed the data for the public additions and entered data for myself from time to time,” he said. “I was really only interested in collecting the data, but not so much in maintaining the site and caring for a community and forum.” So he started looking for a partner to take over the project. As luck would have it, one day he asked his uncle to help him sell some extra models cars, and one of them was purchased by Christian Braun of hobbyDB.

Klaus said, “It turned out my uncle had known Christian’s Family for years. When I was young, I had a SIKU model cars collectors guide written by Christian’s brother – the world is smaller than we think.” So he contacted Braun and shortly thereafter, he started moving the data to hobbyDB. “I’m very happy to see all the data I collected over so many years is now available to a big public to be used for what they were being started for: your own collection of video games and consoles.” Klaus has joined the hobbyDB Advisory Board, so he will still be active in maintaining the database he worked to hard to compile.

In the meantime, he is still active in video gaming and also collects other interests. “Mostly model SIKU cars, but also model planes and ships (the latter in 1/700 scale) of which I have over a thousand. I also cannot leave any Lego Star Wars set in the store and let’s better not talk about DVDs and Blu Rays…”

His favorite game system is kind of obscure, the Amiga CD32. “It had a shabby looking and creaking case, bad controllers and only a handful of games and almost all of them were just normal Amiga 1200 titles, only on CD. When it came out, we dreamed of all the fantastic titles we would liked to have – and never came. I guess I’m always for the underdog.”

If you do a search for “Video Games” on hobbyDB, you’ll be amazed at the number of items we’ve added lately. More will be showing up over the next few weeks, so keep checking in. And if you have screen shots or videos of these games in action, please sign in and upload those to make the Huge Game Database even more huge!

Jim Garbaczewski Brings Hot Wheels Newsletter to hobbyDB

Hot Wheels Newsletter

 Jim Garbaczewski, publisher of the Hot Wheels Newsletter, is now working to archive all the past issues on hobbyDB. “I started collecting Hot Wheels in 1989”, he said. “ I didn’t know much at first but I became obsessed with these cars. As I read the newsletter I’d see cars I needed and also cars that I had but were not listed. I contacted Mike Strauss to mention it.’ He continued… “We had long conversations about Hot Wheels and would fax each other our want list and traded a lot of cars at the time.”

Long before the internet existed, collectors had to use other methods to communicate and connect with each other. Magazines such as the Hot Wheels Newsletter, debuting in 1986, were so crucial to this task.

While many club newsletters and magazines have fallen by the wayside or been converted over to just an online presence, the Hot Wheels Newsletter still thrives as a printed resource. The Newsletter does have a website and a very active Facebook presence, but the printed version remains so important to the hobby, in fact, the magazine is being inducted into the Diecast Hall of Fame.

Eventually his collection reached 40,000 unique Hot Wheels cars. “I try not to put duplicates in my collection but I know I’m still missing quite a few.” By the mid 90’s Jim started going to the Conventions and Nationals, growing his collection and his knowledge of the hobby immensely. “In 2007 I started helping with the Tomart’s Vol 6 price guide. About this time Mike was ready to retire from the hobby and asked me if I would like to take it over. After some negotiation I accepted.”

Hot Wheels Newsletter 70 Chevelle SS Wagon Hiway Hauler

The Hot Wheels Newsletter has produced several limited edition vehicles over the years.

His favorite castings are all Volkswagen Beetle related. “There are so many things in my life that happened around this car!” As for his favorite memories of the magazine, Jim is of course neutral.  “If I had to pick one issue it would be the Turismo/DeLorean issue,” he said. “Just the fact that it brought so many collectors from around the world together that collect Hot Wheels cars, that’s what I love about it.”

Hot Wheels Newsletter

The style of the Hot Wheels Newsletter has changed over the last 30 years, but the mission has not.

Jim’s latest project is to include information about every edition of the Hot Wheels Newsletter in hobbyDB’s archives. He has the majority of them covered, especially the later ones, but could use some assistance from longtime subscribers. “I have most all of them but I’m not as organized as I’d like to be. Early issues from ’86 through ’90 would seem to be the hardest for me to find.” If you search hobbyDB’s archives, you might be able to fill in some of the blanks. “hobbyDB is an amazing source of almost anything collectible and getting bigger and better everyday.” Especially with folks like Jim and his fellow collectors helping out.