Trains are the way of life in this house. A lot of what we do revolves around trains, including the places we like to visit. Model trains are something pretty new to my four year old. He’s mostly still into his wooden and die-cast trains, as well as pushing them around the elaborate track systems he creates, but he also has started to show interest in model train layouts. So earlier this month, we took a ride down to Manchester.
Time Machine Hobby is a toy and hobby store in Manchester. They are also home to the largest train model display in New England. Every first and third Sunday of the month, the public is welcome to check out this display in action when the trains run. If you plan well, you can catch this amazing sight!
Time Machine Hobby is located on Hilliard Street, just off of Main (Rte. 83) in Manchester. You can get to easily from I-84.
Time Machine Hobby is located inside of a historic factory – and it’s in an industrial area, so it’s not quite what you would expect if you have never been there. The building actually dates back to 1888. It’s been home to a number of businesses until Time Machine Hobby moved in around 1999 and has called this building home since.
The parking lot is small and a little tight but we found a spot. On the first and third Sundays, when the trains are running, you’ll notice its quite a popular place to be!
The building has two floors. You’ll be encountering a lot of stairs including the first set into the building. This is not a stroller friendly place – you’ll want to baby-wear if you can or be sure your child can handle the stairs!
When you enter, you’ll see a white door on your left and a staircase on your right.
The white door on the left will take you into the toy store. Because it’s the holiday season, the store is open seven days a week right now. Normally they are open just five days a week.
The building is deceptive. This is a HUGE toy store and it’s packed full of toys! You’ll find everything here from building blocks, coloring books, games, cars, dolls, and much much more. Be ready when you enter the toy store for lots of “Can I get this?” and “Please, can I have this??”
Of course, the toy store, while very awesome, was not the real reason for our visit. To get to what we came for, we had a few stairs to climb.
Once upstairs, you’ll find another white door that will lead to the trains.
If you visited the toy store first, then you’ll have an idea of just how long this building is. The upstairs is just as big and it’s 5,000 square feet filled with every train you can imagine.
There are trains, model scenery and other parts for sale in the first portion of the store. I see many visits to Time Machine Hobby in my future once he gets into model trains more seriously.
As I mentioned, the trains run every first and third Sunday of the month from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Right after the retail area, we spotted the train displays. He was very fascinated with the first model layout we spotted! It was fun to watch the trains go whizzing through the tunnel and then back around the hills.
And it goes without saying, these took a lot of work to create. It’s super important that little hands keep off. We had to work very hard to control our excitement and not touch things!
Another smaller layout with a circus theme caught his attention, especially since it had a button he could push.
Even with all these trains keeping him perfectly content, we continued back towards a separate room. Those first train layouts were just the tip of the iceberg. I honestly had no idea what I was in store for.
A few steps lead up to a platform (again, not stroller friendly as you can see) with plexiglass that create a great viewing spot.
Once you are on the platform, you’ll finally see the big show! This is one HUGE room with a massive train layout! It was probably half of the second floor!! THIS is the largest train layout in New England!!
There were many trains running throughout the layout- including a real steam engine! This was my child’s favorite part- all those trains!! You’ll find the men who work on these layouts stationed right with the trains. They are able to answer all of your questions and are very happy to see your excitement! They worked hard to create and perfect these layouts!
Of course, no train layout would be complete without spotting the number one engine. Thomas! One of the hobbyists that afternoon had a great time sending Thomas back and forth up the tracks for my son to chase! He was amazed by the fact that his favorite train was riding the rails today!
I was mostly in awe of the work involved in these layouts. This looks so painstakingly realistic. From the grass and little shrubbery down to the tiniest details on the buildings, the cars and the people. This is definitely a lot of work! It was really impressive.
One of my favorite things I spotted was this tiny replica. Does it look familiar?
After a good hour of running back and forth between every train layout, chasing Thomas, watching the steam train, pressing the buttons where he could, and lots of “pick me up, momma”, we finally made our way to the front of the store again where he discovered a much kid-friendly train model. We were never leaving after he discovered these.
I took the time to check out their Thomas trains for sale and other train toys. They had quite a selection.
We spent a good two hours upstairs looking at the train layouts and playing with the train tables here at Time Machine Hobby. He has been talking about returning since we came home from this visit. It’s safe to say my child’s love of trains is not going away any time soon.
If you have a little train enthusiast, and you’re ready to make the next step towards model trains, Time Machine Hobby is a great place to do so. Make sure you put it on your calendar to check them out when the trains are running- every first and third Sunday!
This about sums it up…
71 Hillard Street- Manchester, Connecticut
Monday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Trains run every first and third Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Free Admission
- Free Parking – lot is small
- Largest train model layout in New England
- Toy store and train store
- Not Stroller friendly (lots of stairs) – babywear or allow for walking
- Bathroom upstairs
- Cash and credit accepted for purchases
- Special events held throughout the year- make sure to follow on Facebook