Best Ben Katchor–Style Hobby Shop - 2010
We don't know the actual best hobby shop in New York—it's been some time since we painted a camouflage pattern on a Messerschmitt Bf 109, or crafted a diorama of a Sherman tank giving a sniper's nest the ol' what-for. The best place to buy a model Studebaker Hawk? We're guessing that's somewhere on Staten Island, owned by a guy who didn't want to go into the family carting business. We do know, though, where you can find a hobby store straight out of the more colorful Manhattan-that-used-to-be, a city once crammed with oddball, vaguely depressing emporia staffed by frumpled men who didn't see a lot of sunshine. So if tyke-size tank engines and nostalgia are your thing (plus claustrophobia!), venture down a set of stairs on 45th Street and enter the basement that houses the Red Caboose. Model planes, cars, and ships—they're all crowded in here, but railroads are their forte, especially the charms of the (miniature) NYC subway system. Peruse the feats of Lilliputian engineering while soaking up the delights of a place pleasingly out of time.