Musings By Joschik Posts

Farewell to Martin Hills, a Friend and Fellow Toy Collector

Musings By Joschik.  Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience, here unfortunately sad news.

martin-hillsYesterday Ian Carrick, an old friend got in touch with the sad news that Martin is not with us anymore.  I knew Martin since 2006 when we started working together for 2 years.

He was always in the best mood possible, always willing to share and always more than happy to help.  Martin was just an amazing person to spend time with.  Maybe it is because he has been collecting toys all of his life and became a full-time toy person 22 years ago (it is telling that he died on the way to a toyfair).

Martin Hills showing some of his toys

Everybody at Auctioning4u enjoyed Martin’s “Show & Tell” lunches

When we went to the UK we always tried to make sure we could meet up, even my wife and kids (who generally try to stay away from visiting collectors) loved going. Martin and Julia’s house was always full of fun things, nice stories and lots of biscuits!


One of Martin’s favorite items, the Dan Dare Rocket Gun

Martin sold what was probably the best Dan Dare collection to one of our other supporters, to Chang Yang Fa who now displays it at his Mint Museum in Singapore.


We always had fun sharing names and other features of some of the early Chinese stuff, like here the Photoing on Car model

He then became an expert in vintage Chinese tinplate and was probably the most important vendor of it (sending lots of it back to China!).  He was going to share his wealth of knowledge and photos with collectors via hobbyDB, it’s a shame that we all miss out on this.  Martin, rest in peace (hopefully you have internet up there so you can check in from time to time).

Meeting Sean and Steph (and their awesome Lego Builds)

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience.

We just had our regular COWLUG meeting (short for the Colorado & Wyoming Lego User Group) at Tatooine, our office and I was in awe of one of the builds on display.

SS Helios

S.S. Helios

The S.S. Helios was built by Sean and Steph and they explained that it is (will be?) a Phoenix class starship capable of charging great amounts of energy from nearby stars. Also capable of starcore harvest, it is one of the most enduring types of smaller vessels in the galaxy.  I demanded to see more and they showed me their FlickR Photostream – wow!

Now I like Dragons and such things and they have lots!

Tzarach Wyvern

Tzarach Wyvern

The Tzarach Wyvren is apparently a breed of beast that is almost a dragon, but lacking some of the more endearing and tame traits. It is a fearsome opponent with a venomous bite and lean muscles able to rip the arms off of most mechs.

And here a dragon (even if only very small):


Loch Ness Monster “Diorama”

And while not a dragon I had wanted to show this Sentinel from the Matrix as well!



For more head over to their ultra cool FlickR Photostream.

hobbyDB: 1 Million Data Donations and Counting!

Many collectors often first become experts in what they collect and then start to document either the products and/or the history of their favorite brand or subject matter. There are literally thousands of specialist books written by these collectors and website databases that have been built to help document their collections.

Many of the owners of these data depositories love what we are doing. Quite a few of them have joined our Advisory Board (which now has 61 members) or have given us permission to digitize their books and import their databases. We log each of these donations and there are now more than 200 donors who have given us more than 1,000,000 items that we still have to add to hobbyDB!

Here some examples:

Schuco Bell BoyUlrich Schweizer from Germany has written books on Schuco, Gama and other vintage toy companies (he is also a member of our Advisory Board)

Tri-ang Hornby Books

Some of the books written by Pat Hammonds on British Model Trains (another member of the hobbyDB Advisory Board)


A database of Soviet model cars from Max Paransky’s website


A database of wooden Wild West buildings build by our member Oudennieuwarchief who has already added rubber model cars and Sci-Fi toy guns to hobbyDB

We are working hard on adding all this extra data to hobbyDB.  On top of that we also receive data from our Museum program and the Official Archives we are building with various collectible brands.  We would love to get this data onto hobbyDB and therefore available to you.  So we’re are on the look-out for volunteers that can help with this work.  If you want to help or if have written a book, have images or a database and like hobbyDB’s mission contact us!

Random Acts of Kindness – Special Treatment on Special Events

Young Christian Braun

Musings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience.

I just returned from the 30th Hot Wheels Annual Collectors Convention and started to unpack. Besides a lot of Hot Wheels models, some other cars (some Matchbox and 4 Majorettes) I also ended up with 3 RAOKs.


Collectors prepare these and then give it to others – some make them for children that are running around in the hotel and other produce them in the middle of an interesting conversation. It’s one of the things that make a difference to European events which are much more focused on the business of buying and selling stuff.

The first one I got from Kirk at KMJ Diecast who maintains a well stocked store on hobbyDB. He probably produces the most of these RAOKs as every child in the hotel had at least one! Kirk gets his dyed by a friend, Karl Klouzer and they are all one-offs.

The next one I received was from Scot Orloff, a member of hobbyDB who goes under the name of Loaf and has made Teslas.  They are nicely decaled with (what else would you expect) Loaf decals.

The last one I was given was during a conversation with Albert who makes some amazing customs under the Kool51 insignia.  I just had commented on how I liked his Hawaiian themed VW Kombi custom when he said “here is your RAOK”.  I have of course added the Kool Tiki Kombi to hobbyDB.


Now I have to brush up my customizing skills before going to the next convention!

Please add any RAOKs you received in the comments!

hobbyDB & Museums – a perfect combination

young-christian-braun-smallMusings By Joschik

Christian is one of the founders of the hobbyDB project and his musings share some of his collecting experience. He recently joined the board of Auto-Archives, a not-for-profit 501(c)3 organization.

Visiting museums is one of my favorite pastimes and I’ve been to more than 400 of them (including personal collections that are so extensive and well-displayed that I count them as museums!) Museums play an important part in promoting collecting and I think hobbyDB can add enormous value to them as part of the collecting ecosystem, by allowing easy cataloging and, more importantly, showcasing and sharing their collections. This is why we decided to develop features specific to museums and large collection (see hobbyDB’s roadmap for details).

Museums’ software today serves mainly one purpose, keeping an inventory and giving admins access to it. Here’s an example;


Museum Software packages are still stand-alone and not integrated into any other databases

As a first step, we want to give collectors and the public-at-large granular access to each item so that they know which museum has a particular item.


A mock-up of a catalog entry showing which museum has the item in its collection

Next would be custom profiles for museums. These pages would explain the museum’s philosophy and how to get access to their collections. For example, “This item is in Room 8 on public view” or “This item is in the off-site archive, you need to give us two weeks notice and here is how”.

After that we plan to show all items in a particular museum with full search capabilities.  We want to ensure that these digital presences are aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly, the same way museums work hard on their physical presentations (like the Mint Museum of Toys with the below gallery).

Mint Museum of Toys

The Mint Museum of Toys in Singapore. Its founder Chang Yang Fa is a member of the hobbyDB Advisory Board

We also plan to extend the Wish List functionality so that museums can ask for items to be donated or loaned, either on a long-time basis or just for an exhibition.

We have already started working with Auto-Archives and the Shelby American Collection to have their volunteers document these two collections (with an estimated total of 300,000 items) and are talking to five other museums about doing the same.

american shelby collection

The American Shelby Collection not only houses the two most expensive American-made cars but is also custodian to thousands of Shelby related documents

In keeping with our ethos, these features will be free for museums, of course. We hope they’ll add enormous value and help them boost attendance – and help bring hobbyDB’s vision of being “the World’s Museum” one step closer to reality!