Got a call last week from my LHS that the Lionel "Renz" Hobby Shop had finally arrived after months of waiting. This accessory was featured in the 2017 Lionel v2 catalogue. As many of you know, it was created after the untimely death of Teddy Renz, an employee of Lionel. It is a highly detailed hobby store building whose main feature is three (3) working and running miniature train layouts inside the building. The exterior dimensions are about 16 1/8" wide by 11 1/8" deep, so it is a large building to be able to fit into a layout. I already knew the dimensions and had intentionally left a suitable space open on my layout for when it arrived. With a bit of work, you might be able to remove the sidewalk platform from the actual structure, itself, and save about 1 3/4" in width and 2" in depth.
It came in the usual quality Lionel packaging and when opened up, it had a protective plastic shell around the top and bottom. This accessory works off the typical Lionel "momentum switch" which is connected to both the accessory and a power source and was packaged in its own pouch on top of the protective plastic shell. However, unlike many of Lionel's accessories which use this type of switch (Yard Tower, Icing Station, etc.), the Hobby Shop does not have a "momentary" setting. When the unit is powered up the interior lights are always on. When you slide the button on the switch to the "up" position, the three miniature trains start to run and stay running until you slide the button to the "off" position. That way, the building can be lit up, but not have the trains running all the time, which I'm sure will save on wear and tear.
The Hobby Shop is manufactured and delivered as a "plug 'n play" accessory which makes set-up very easy for anyone using this system. The structure has a male "plug 'n play" accessory cable extending out from the rear of the building which goes into a female "plug 'n play" receptacle located on the top of the switch and the switch, itself, has a male "plug 'n play" power cable to plug into your power source.
I don't use the "plug 'n play" system and dislike exposed wiring on my layout, so I removed and cut a 5/8" hole in the switch backing plate and popped out the female "plug 'n play" receptacle and ran it out through the hole. I also cut the "plug 'n play" male end off the power cable coming from the switch and ran the cable out the same hole. I cut an equal size hole in the fascia of my layout and ran the wires through the hole and mounted the switch for a very clean installation (pic's attached). I drilled an equal size hole through my layout underneath where I placed the hobby shop and connected it's male "plug 'n play" lead into the female receptacle I had run through the fascia (it was just long enough to reach - if it doesn't, you will have to add three small gauge wires (red, black and white) and splice them in to lengthen the cable). I then connected the black and red wires of the power cable coming from the switch and through the fascia hole to a new power wire coming from my 14v accessory distribution box with simple butt connectors. Note: the white wire on the power cable is not used in this configuration and can be cut short or taped off - but not on the accessory cable).
I added a few people outside on the sidewalk and turned the power on and the building lit up nicely. In addition to the interior lighting, it also has a large Lionel "L" sign on the front which also lights up. I then slid the switch to "on" and all three miniature trains started running. One of the "bonuses" of this accessory is that it has a clear see-through roof, which allows you to see both the inside of the store and the trains running from above as well as from outside. The interior is highly detailed with the three miniature train layouts (with tunnels and bridges); customer and employee figures; and a "repair center" in the rear with a miniature test track. It also has two front doors which can be manually manipulated to swing open and shut.
I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of this accessory and the detail Lionel has put into it. The key feature of three miniature trains running in a hobby store pushes the needle of the cool factor off the charts as far as I am concerned, but the rest of the accessory also has exceptional detailing and the see-through roof is also very cool.
This is a large and expensive accessory ($ 300.00 suggested retail), but a lower "street" price and not for everyone, but if you can afford it and have the space, I give it a positive recommendation. It certainly is a fitting tribute to Teddy.
Pic's and a short video attached.