BEST TOY STORE - 2003
Hub Hobby Center
The northernmost branch of the Hub doubled its space when it annexed the pizza place next door, which has allowed the hobby store to triple the room it has for educationally entertaining toys. That means more room for crunchy bug-shaped chocolates, space-food ice cream, copper embossing kits, and rock tumblers. More room for plastic horsies (and the beautiful princesses who love them), plush crowns, Hubble telescope miniatures, and "body parts in goo." More room for needlepoint purse kits, diamond kites, British Cooper Mini toy cars, and do-it-yourself volcanoes. And more room for tin-toy Titanics, kid-friendly paints, floppy stuffed snakes, and microscopes. The prices range from allowance-friendly $4 wooden car kits to the extravagant $450 Thomas the Tank Engine roundhouse set that stores in its own bench. (You would have to be good for at least three lifetimes to get this under the Christmas tree.) The Hub's selection of grown-up toys is also noteworthy. Its stock of railroading supplies, scale models, and radio-controlled cars is one of the best in the Cities, a fact no doubt celebrated by the earnest toddlers seeking to limn the secrets of the Brio train model parked in the middle of the store.