Courtesy of Wise Guys Hobbies, LLC
December 11th 2022
Part 1 – The GTC Legacy Project
Part 2 – Warehouse Introduction
Part 3 – The Holiday Special
Part 4 – Warehouse Update
Part 5 – 30% Unboxed
What if you had the chance to take a time machine back to the mid 80’s? Where would you go? I know where I could be found, and that would be in Overland Park, Kansas. Why you ask?
The old-timers around here have probably heard about GTC. It stands for “Galactic Trade Commission” and was a mail order modeling shop from the 1980’s through the 2000’s. It was founded by Ron Downing.
Ron would advertise in places like Starlog and other Hobby or Sci-Fi magazines, but I heard about him via word-of-mouth via the old internet newsgroups, like alt.fan.macross (really showing my age here)
Back in those old days kids, you would write a letter to someone with your name and mailing address, include some actual dollar bills, stamp it, then drop it off at the post office.
You then WAITED.
There was no 2-day amazon shipping, shipping confirmation texts, heck you didn’t even know if your letter stuffed with cash actually made it to the addressee (you would always include an extra piece of paper to hide the money in the envelope if held up to a light…we were smart).
We survived on Hope.
But then about a month later, right when you start thinking it was lost, you’d get a large manilla envelope in the mailbox. You’d rip it open and you now saw your Nirvana. The GTC Catalog!
Here is what my dog-eared catalog looks like (1994 edition)
You’d open it up and read about each item, amazed how how many kits you never even knew existed. How much money do I have? Then the prioritization would start as you begin ranking the kits you HAD to have first. Then you flip through all the pages of the box art at the end in amazement (Takani and Suzuki and many others)
Now its time for action. You would then head over to the phone, mentally figuring out what to tell your Mom when she saw the phone bill with the upcoming hour-length long-distance call (yes you had to pay extra for those types of calls), and dial up Ron.
Most times the phone was busy. Always busy. You would just try and try again, sometimes for days.
Then he would answer! “Hello this is GTC, Ron speaking“
He would ask which version of the catalog you had, and what you were interested in. He’d then live update you on his stock inventory and any price adjustments. You’d dutifully and manually adjust and mark up your catalog for your order with him in real-time on the phone.
He would then confirm what you wanted, temporarily set it aside for you, and you would promise to send him a money order or personal check for the kits and shipping.
Then another month would go by (more WAITING) but then you’d get a big box of model kits!
Rinse and Repeat.
It is a system that worked for decades.
Now lets skip ahead to the the present day, December 2022, and the call-back to my opening Time-Machine question.
Ron’s GTC’s inventory had been stored away like a time-capsule in Overland Park KS, but it has now been re-discovered and is coming available for public sale for modeling fans like us again. Due to some unfortunate health issues, Ron has had to find a buyer for his incredible inventory. Now Ron wasn’t just sitting on a few hundred kits he would need to unload, he had…wait for it…over 100,000 kits stored away.
Just think about that. All NOS (new original stock), many in their original shipping cases and boxes!!
Now I’m going to introduce Anthony Marafino into the picture, from Wise Guys Hobbies, LLC, based out of New York. Anthony arranged to buy the entire 100k model kit inventory from Ron in late 2022, and now has that entire inventory spread across his multiple 1000sqft warehouses.
Anthony said it took 3 (three) 30 foot semi-truck trailers to move all the kits from GTC headquarters.
Anthony took a couple of documentary videos when his team was clearing the inventory from the Ron’s house (Anthony noted that these were taken AFTER he already filled up one entire truck).
Anthony introducing himself and taking a quick stroll through 3 rooms and a hallway filled with kits
Did you see catch all those cases with the Macross logos on them? Those are the original shipping cases from Imai and Arii and Nichimo straight out of 1982-1984! Woah.
I actually have a couple of those case sides which Ron sent to me as gifts in the 90’s with my large orders of kits. They are some of the most treasured Macross items in my entire collection, thank you again Ron!!
In an old Hobby Magazine’s furoku (furoku meaning a Japanese Magazine extra supplement), the magazine actually did a picture tour of the Imai factory at the time (83), showing the entire process from design to shipping for the 1/72 Zentradi Regult kit. The final page of the supplement shows cases of the kits stacked up and ready for delivery to the local hobby stores via Imai’s own delivery truck.
Anthony and his Wise Guys team members are currently sorting through all the cases of kits and documenting the inventory spread across multiple Wise Guys warehouses. They sent me a few pictures showing just a fraction of what they have to go through during this very manual and lengthy process. You can identify Macross cases from Imai and Nichimo and Arii, along with Testor’s R.O.B.O.T. Series (reboxed Nichimo), and Revell Robotech Changers (reboxed Imai/Arii). It is fun challenge to cross reference the numbers on the cases to the numbers in the GTC catalog.
For the sharp-eyed people, you saw many cases from TCI…Twentieth Century Imports. They were the go-to distributor for all the 80’s Japanese Sci-Fi and Anime kits. They literally shipped to everyone-Ron included. Look in your personal Macross collections and you’ll frequently see the TCI sticker on the side.
Here is peek into the TCI dealers catalog from 1985.
Anthony is going to begin sales in earnest of the all these kits starting in February 2023, so start saving up! And also please start spreading the word…if you are interested in NOS Macross, Orguss, Mospeada, Yamato, SF3D, Ideon, Gundam, Robotech, Star Blazers, Dougram, or Crusher-Joe model kits from Imai, Arii, Nichimo, Bandai, Nitto, Takara, Aoshima and more, then this is your ONE-TIME-ONLY ticket to the past.
For individual orders he is putting up many loose kits on his ebay storefront right now, link here:
Click here to Visit the WiseGuysHobbies EBAY Store
Anthony is especially interested in any large bulk orders, so spread the word to your dealer friends if they are interested!
Its 1985 all over again…for a limited time only!
Please follow the discussions of this fascinating project in the Macross World Forums post here.
Click here to join the
GTC Legacy Project Discussion
Very special thanks to Anthony for this amazing behind the scenes sneak peek. Anthony is considering taking additional videos and pictures for documenting the entire bulk collection as he opens each case and gets an accurate inventory, so please let him know what you think in the forums! It takes a lot of time to do that, so I wanted to show him support is definitely there for a detailed excursion into these boxes.