Musings By Joschik Posts

Found some photos from way back of my Timpo Toys Collection

Musings By Joschik
Christian obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.

I got a Pentax camera from my dad in 1981 and started to experiment around. Here are some of the results  –

 

Arabs attacking the Foreign Legion

 

Careful reconciliation?

 

Coming back from the hunt

 

Back at the Village

 

Templars attacking a Turkish castle

 

Union troops under fire

 

I have no idea how I did that last image but think that they were not bad overall.

Some Collector Stores bring together the best of a Museum and a Swapmeet

Musings By Joschik
Christian obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.

There is nothing more enjoyable than to go to a good swapmeet (we wrote earlier about how different those are in Europe and the US here) or is there?  Some stores manage to rival the excitement.  I wrote earlier about Sinclair’s Auto Miniatures, an amazing store in Erie, Pennsylvania in the 1970s and about Mile High Comics, the biggest comic store just down the road from us in Denver and now came across a book announcement that fascinated me.

Vladimir Antaki’s book on amazing stores is just a must have when it hits the US later this year.  Since 2012 he has been seeking out unusual shops around the world and then photographing them.  This, his first picture book will feature the most intriguing 45 store owners and their stores.  Here are two of them  –

Henri Launay does doll repairs out of his store in Paris

Marie Gagné used to run an amazing collectible store in Montréal

If like me you adore this kind of book add it to your wishlist here (we will try to get some for sale on our Marketplace).  And if you have or had your own favorite shop please share your experience and if you can a photo in the comments!

How do we keep the information on hobbyDB correct?

Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.

I recently wrote a blog post about When Websites Die and how much information we are losing (the BBC swiftly followed with an article about why so little of the early web is still around).

“You Shall Not Pass!”

Those websites were following the Gatekeeper methodology, meaning generally one person, sometimes a small team would add information.  Often others can suggest but nothing passes unless it is allowed.  These sites normally have a high level of quality and the information is generally homogenous.  But the Gatekeeper cannot and does not want to document everything and their decisions are final.  For example, they might not like a series produced by a brand or cut-off their effort at a certain date.  Their sites are also in danger to be closed overnight; either because the gatekeeper is no more, has lost interest or is just enraged by ingratitude by their users, a hack of their site or another of potentially millions of reasons.

But crowd-sourcing the information has its own issues, this article is addressing the most important one – how to build a reliable course of information.  Misinformation comes principally in three forms  –

  1. Unintentional
  2. Malicious (including pranks)
  3. Furthering a Business Interest

 

hobbyDB is not the first crowd-sourced project and was able to learn from many that came before it, in particular from Wikipedia and also the 10 collector forums I managed in a past life.  Here is our plan to ensure that information on hobbyDB is correct   –

  • Information can only be added by registered users that have undergone a test (the test is new, initially everybody could add information and is part of our effort to make the information more consistent). These users are called Contributors.
  • We have about 300 Curators that are responsible for individual subjects or catalog entries.  Their Avatar shows on the pages that they manage and they can be contacted for information.  We are working on a notification system that alerts these users on any changes on their pages.
  • Contributors and Curators that do an excellent job are invited to become Champions.  Champions control larger sections of the sites.
  • Database entries already have a rudimentary Revision History and more is coming here and on Subject pages, eventually showing every change and its creator. There will be the ability to revert changes and block bad actors.
  • Any user on the site can flag any page including every price in our price list for any reason with Curators, Champions and Admins dealing with those flags and resolving any high-lighted issue.
  • We are also working on a more Granular Permission System allowing Contributors and Champions to only make changes in their areas of expertise.

 

 

 

We are constantly reviewing our approach and are open to more or different ideas and approaches, please use the Comment section to start a discussion!

When Collectible Websites die – does the Data die too?

Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Documenting collectibles has been a passion since working on a book about his favorite childhood toys from Timpo 38 years ago.

Recently I came across a website that had an extensive list of good Matchbox resources, and as we are currently working on adding a bunch of Matchbox information to the database, I checked the links and was shocked to realize that 30 of the 32 links on the page were dead!

Matchbox Links - Now Mostly Dead

It made me ponder about how the internet made preserving the history for what I refer to as “mankind’s lesser achievements”  – not the politicians and big historical events but the smaller things such as a 1920s made Teddy Bear or an 1870s Cork Screw  –   much more difficult.

For contrast here is the first book project I was involved in, a catalog of Siku models  –

My brother wrote this Modellauto Katalog Siku in 1987 and I provided some help. While I would not claim it is very good by today’s standard there were lots sold at the time and you can, therefore, find this book every now and then on various online sites (side note: if you add it to your Wishlist on hobbyDB you’ll get a notification when it comes up for sale).

However, in the last ten years, the internet has replaced collector magazines and price guide books (I saw earlier today that Krause Publications with its about 4,000 collectible book titles entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month). And while the internet has enhanced the hobby in many ways, it also made information created and curated by collectors much more unstable!  You will always be able to buy a book that is out of print but I personally have frequently visited more than 100 sites that no longer exist!

Scalemodelinstructions.info, for example, was a great site to find the work of a Martyn Rigby who had painstakingly scanned instructions for Model Kits and I was initially afraid that all of that work was probably lost.  There was nothing, not even on the laudable Wacky Internet Archive!  Luckily I heard from Martyn after publishing this post – he now has a new website, you can find all the instructions again on plasticandplasters.com (so at least one happy end here!).

The hobbyDB team has made it its mission to preserve this information, as it often cannot be recreated anymore.  We are actively reaching out to current and past “site authors” (we prefer site author to site owner).  Here some examples  –

Hugada was built by two Individuals over a period of over 20 years and included information on more than 60,000 video games. Without the support of a community and a strong platform to run on, there was a danger it was all going to disappear on some back-up drive.  They provided us with the raw data and now that information is coming back on hobbyDB for the world to enjoy.

 

Gary Hirst had one of the best collections on fringe subjects such as Brazilian made Corgi Juniors.  When he tragically died way too early, his fiance worked with us to preserve all the data from garyscars.co.uk, the website he worked on for more than 10 years (with all items that were added showing Gary as the creator of each of these catalog entry).

As part of our mission to document every collectible ever made and being a natural extension to Wikipedia (they have one page on the Hard Rock Cafe, we have more than 85,000 pages on Hard Rock Cafe glasses, magnets, pins and other merchandise) we have vowed to always keep access to the data for free (our Manifesto).  And to secure the future of the catalog, we run a marketplace that allows us to earn income in order to pay for maintaining and building hobbyDB.

We have so far preserved the data of 26 websites and uploaded information of 12 of these so that enthusiasts worldwide can benefit again from this information.  And since we have done so many of these we got good at this as we now have various tools to import data – we uploaded 80,000 Hard Rock Cafe pins in under 3 weeks.

If you know a site that is in danger of vanishing forever let us know!

 

Sinclair’s Auto Miniatures – a trip to the beginning of diecast collecting

Musings By Joschik
Christian Braun obsesses over collectibles, antiques and toys more than the average person, but (he believes) in a productive way. Diecast was a special area of interest ever since he helped his brother write a book about Siku Model Cars in 1987.

When a former team member called and asked for some help to sell her late father’s collection we were only too happy to help (I wrote an earlier article on how to best sell a collection).  When she then arrived with 20 boxes of amazing models I was glad we offered help, her father Jim just had an amazing collection,  see for yourself here.  But what really excited me was all the paperwork that she had.  And the best were catalogs and other items from Sinclair’s Auto Miniatures!  Since moving to the US and when meeting older diecast collectors I heard so much about Dave Sinclair and his store in Erie, Pennsylvania.  Way before the internet, his catalog was sent to 30,000 collectors around the world and he had the most amazing selection!

Check out for example his 1971 catalog  –

I was looking for the dress in the catalog as it is going very well with that Pocher Fiat

 

I had (and loved that) that Märklin Porsche 907

 

… and wanted to some Mercury Models with all those opening features!

 

Friends and I spend hours driving that Cadillac DeVille from Schuco back and forth (damn, why did I not keep it in its box)

 

You had to fill this out by hand to order! But at least you got a FREE decal with an order over $10…  Also, do not forget to lick the gummed flap to seal the form.  When did you do that the last time?

 

And then just fold the form in and send it in.

 

Dugu & Ziss!

How much I wish to go back in time to join Jim for a visit to Dave’s store in Erie.  And I wouldn’t even cost that much money!  Check out this letter from Sinclair’s with the then new Corgi Toys James Bond’s Aston Martin for $3.50!