I recently returned from vacation in Arizona and had the very fortunate opportunity to meet one of the rising stars of our hobby: Andy from Andy’s Hobby Headquarters. Unless you have been living under a rock (or a boulder for that matter), you have probably come across his videos. But let’s assume you have never heard of the man or his Youtube channel before.
Youtube is without a doubt, one of the most invaluable resources for modelers. There is a tremendous amount of reviews, technique videos, build logs, and other modelling related content easily accessible and FREE. However, some videos and content creators are a cut above the rest. In my time exploring Youtube, I have concluded that Andy’s Hobby Headquarters is one of the best scale model channels, hands down.
That’s like a bold statement. But what makes this guy so great?
Well, Andy Klein (that man behind it all) is just like you and I: a non-pretentious hard working chap who enjoys this hobby and runs his own hobby store (okay, so maybe not exactly like you or I). He’s not a professional modeler with own line of paints or washes. He is a man who had the courage to start making videos about modeling to help others. That’s pretty badass in my book.
But what about his Youtube channel?
His channel differentiates itself by providing reviews of kits by actually building them and providing modelling technique tutorials that are approachable by all modelers.
One of my biggest gripes I have with modelling related content is the way kit reviews are conducted. A kit comes out, the box is opened, the sprues are examined and a rubber stamp “highly recommended” rating is given. A review like that is about as useful as an asshole on your elbow. Not very. To have someone actually go through the WHOLE process of building and painting a kit and telling you what is good, what to look out for and what really is awesome is HUGE. I feel this this kind of build log/review gives the audience the confidence to approach kits that they may not be inclined to build or attempt new techniques to improve their work.
In a few short words: Andy’s Hobby Headquarters is my preferred resource for good quality/practical kit reviews and general information about the hobby.
So naturally, when my girlfriend and I decided to visit her family in Arizona, I made the only rational decision I could think of: I had to visit Andy at his hobby shop.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a pilgrimage as:
noun pil·grim·age \ˈpil-grə-mij\
a journey of a pilgrim; especially : one to a shrine or a sacred place.
And it was a pilgrimage for me. I had been watching his videos for well over a year and each time I thought “that would be awesome to check out his shop and meet him.” But I never thought I would actual get the chance. So, I told Morgan “We are going” and she said “Hell Yeah.”
The day after we arrived in Arizona, we took a nice car ride through Phoenix to get to his hobby store in Glendale, Arizona. All along the way I kept on thinking of how this would all play out. I even said to Morgan at one point “I can’t do it!” I have had bad nightmares before about finally meeting Arnold Schwarzenegger in person, shaking his hand and then not being able to say a word. Forever condemning myself to embarrassment and a life of shame. I was determined not to make a fool of myself.
At last, we finally arrived and I was nervous as all hell. I had never met a Youtube personality before. So we made our way into his shop and there he was behind the counter. There were a few people sitting in a work area near the entrance building kits when we walked in. And the whole store was brimming with kits! I was impressed. Andy greeted us and I blurted out “This is so strange! I’ve been watching you on Youtube for over a year!” Smooth. He thanked us and we exchanged a few words, but I didn’t feel comfortable getting into a discussion and asking to take pictures of the shop for my blog with all these people around (maybe I was star struck too, who knows!). So we looked around, picked out a kit and some supplies and headed out.
Upon leaving I felt disappointed. Had I over-hyped it all? I realized that I was quite tired from driving all the way from California to Arizona and knew that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. I talked to Morgan and she said that we should come back later in the week.
Later that week we returned and I decided no more messing around, I was going to make the most of this trip. We ended up talking to Andy and checking out his shop for several hours. It was awesome!
Andy’s Hobby Headquarters shop review
Andy’s Hobby Headquarters is primarily a hobby store for armor model kits and accessories, with a sampling of all other genre kits (ships, cars, aircraft, etc.). You will not find RC cars or any of the other crap that some shops use to draw in other sources of income. This is truly appreciated. A store specifically for the things I was interested and that were relevant to the hobby with careful thought and effort put into the inventory.
One thing that immediately struck me was the fact that he had a huge inventory of kits that I normally would only see online: a large assortment of kits from newer and established manufacturers. He also had a good sized supply of aftermarket options, reference books, discount area and an excellent assortment of paints and weathering supplies. Prices are very fair and Andy’s customer service is superb.
What is also really awesome is that he has several display cases filled with a lot of the models he has built and painted on his Youtube channel. It’s really cool to see these builds in person, as it gives them a whole different feel than just seeing them online.
All and all I would say, Andy’s Hobby Headquarters offers everything you need (aside from weird one offs and esoteric items) to be a successful modeler in the 21st century. His inventory is thoughtfully selected and relevant to the trends of the hobby. If you ever find yourself in Arizona, treat yourself and check it out.
Andy Klein: the man, the legend.
So what was Andy like? He is a genuine person. Who you see on Youtube is who you meet in person. He is a great guy and very approachable. You can tell he loves this hobby and is dedicated to it. We started talking about good kits and eventually covered a large list of topics.
He is a humble man who enjoys meeting his fans and having people visit him from all over the globe. It was really awesome to see someone who has put in a great deal of time and effort into something succeed and prosper.
I really enjoyed meeting Andy and feel very fortunate that he was so willing to share his time and talk to Morgan and I. I hope to be able to return in the future and visit again.
pilgrimage: a journey of a pilgrim; especially: one to a shrine or a sacred place.
I would say if you are a modeler, Andy’s Hobby Headquarters is a sacred place. Not only is it a great shop, but it has a great owner who wants to see you succeed in the hobby.
Was it a pilgrimage worth making? Absolutely.
As Morgan and I contemplate making the move from California to Arizona, I can say that having Andy’s Hobby Headquarters nearby would be a definite win-win for both of us.
Thanks for taking a read and big thanks to Andy Klein for taking the time to meet some eager fans from a state-away.
Make sure to check out his Youtube channel at: Andy’s Hobby Headquarters