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Trains, Planes and Autos for Hobbyists

Engines--albeit tiny ones--will roar this weekend at the County Fairgrounds in Pomona, where the two-day Los Angeles Model Hobby Show will showcase radio-controlled planes, cars, boats, trains and just about everything else that can be guided by human hand.

From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, about 200 suppliers will demonstrate state-of-the-art radio control (R/C to tens of thousands of hobbyists) vehicles, engines and accessories on a number of tracks as large as 30x50 feet; in the air; on the water and on mini-railroad tracks accommodating O-, N- and HO-scale models.

With California leading the way, the hobby market is said to have quadrupled in the last four years. “Buggy race-car tracks, trends in airplane design, outdoor railroads . . . they all originated in California,” says Ron Hieb, an industry spokesman from Irvine.

Hieb also noted that simpler model kits have made R/C less intimidating for beginners: “The trend toward ARF (almost ready to fly--but the term is applied to boats and cars too) has helped bring lots of novices into the hobby, because a minimum of technical knowledge or construction skill is required. Once a modeler develops a basic understanding of R/C, he or she often goes on to more complex projects.”

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Typical of recent advances in R/C is something called TBS-103, for Track Block Supervisor, a product of Industrial Computer Designs of Westlake Village. With the TBS, explains company president Michael Ragsdale, one model train will slow down or even stop if it gets too close to a train ahead of it, just as on real railroads.

With gadgetry limited only by people’s ingenuity, the show remains a favorite of hobbyists: “People just like to make things move,” Hieb says, “it’s as simple as that.”

Admission is $5 for adults, $2.50 for children 6 through 12, free for 5 and younger.

Information: (714) 623-3111.

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