Big kid toys

Everyone has a hobby. Knitting might be your passion. Fixing up old cars. Collecting stamps. Scrapbooking. Yoga. It can be whatever — and whatever it is, it’s something you enjoy. It cures your boredom. It may even be an emotional outlet.

Childhood toys turn into lifelong hobbies

Everyone has a hobby. Knitting might be your passion. Fixing up old cars. Collecting stamps. Scrapbooking. Yoga. It can be whatever — and whatever it is, it’s something you enjoy. It cures your boredom. It may even be an emotional outlet.

Chip Syme, Terry Bigrigg and Mike Guest never have lost touch with their hobbies, activities they started as children.

What do they do?

Guest builds tanks. Syme plays with trains. Bigrigg gets lost in fantasy. Meet each of these men on the following pages and get a glimpse of their big kid hobbies.

Chip Syme: Trained for detail

toys_symeFor 40-plus years, Syme made a living crisscrossing Ohio and Pennsylvania on trains. This Minerva family man was a railroad engineer, retiring Oct. 29.

“It was something different every day,” the 60-year-old said. Syme’s passion for the railway didn’t stop on the tracks. His home, down in the basement, has become a personal station for model trains. He likes to re-create scenes, structures and locomotives that caught his eye on the job.

At some point, you’d think he might get sick of trains. Nope.

“It’s something I understand,” Syme said.

His love for trains began as a boy, drawn in by his uncles who worked on railroads. He got his first model train around 9, and took a railroad job after high school. Syme has seen the railroad business transform from manual controls to computerized. And to quieter engines.

His model train set has evolved, too. Syme said his models have become more sophisticated, more detail-oriented over the decades. Part of that was due to the model kits available; part was his closer attention to detail.

“It’s probably no more expensive than anything else. The nice part of it is it’s in your basement and you don’t have to have a big train to enjoy,” Syme said. He and his wife have two adult children and six grandchildren. His son and son-in-law work on trains, too.

Terry Bigrigg: Comic bookworm

toys_rigriggSome familes took summer trips. Bigrigg’s family didn’t. Libraries and museums were his source for fun and adventure as a young boy.

Those experiences taught him to appreciate the written word, and his favorite reads were comic books. Now 40, Bigrigg still loves comics. Loves to read. He owns about 4,000 comics and also manages Land of Cran Comics in Jackson Township. He has two children.

Bigrigg explained, “I like the marriage of art and story,” which can be found in comics. “If the art’s no good, I might as well go to Borders and get a novel.”

Bigrigg said his favorite genre is crime noir — although he grew up on superheroes and fantasy comics — because it offers dark but good story lines and grittier artwork. He still enjoys a good Conan the Barbarian comic as well as Captain America. He stores most of his comics.

“That’s where my interests are now,” he said.

Mike Guest: Builds roll models

Guest has a full-time sales job and a lifelong interest in military history. His favorite era is World War II.

For the last 35 years, Guest has expressed his interest through models. Most of his collection are tanks because “they look good,” he said. Guest traces his passion for model building back to age 6. He built his first model — a torpedo bomber — with his father, kind of a father-son project.

But most of his models, at that time, suffered cruel fates: A firecracker or BB pellet.

Now 43, Guest treats his models differently. They’re either stored or displayed in his home. And he has at least 200 model kits full of parts for more models.

“What I enjoy the most is WWII armored vehicles. I travel for a living and visit numerous museums to look at the real stuff, and I get ideas on how to build my models better, more realistic,” Guest said. “There’s a sense of accomplishment when you finish. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I do it as a hobby.”

He and his wife, residents of Perry Township, have two children.

Big ticket toys

Many big kid toys aren’t cheap. But there are values to be had even in the luxury-toy business. Here’s a glance at some of the best values in the powerboat, ATV and motorcycle industries.

Make: 284 Sunesta
Manufacturer: Chaparral Boats
Price: $80,364
Powerboat magazine named the 284 Sunesta, manufactured by Chaparral Boats, as its Boat of the Year for 2008.The 28-foot-wide tech boat reaches a top speed of 56.5 mph and boasts an impressive list of features, from a barbecue grill mounted into an onboard wet bar to a 320-watt sound system and lighted portable potty.

Powerboat fact: The fastest powerboats can reach speeds of 200 mph. Usually they have a high power-to-weight ratio and a hull design that allows boats to skim the surface of the water.

Make: Sportsman 500 H.O.
Manufacturer: Polaris ATV
Price: $5,999
The editors at All-Terrain Vehicle magazine named the Sportsman 500 H.O. its best value ATV of 2008.The ATV features hydraulic front disc brakes, automatic transmission, electric start with backup recoil start and the most front storage space of any ATV on the market.The Sportsman 500 H.O. is one of the top-selling ATVs of all time.

ATV fact: Suzuki released the first modern four-wheeled ATV in 1983. Some original ATVs had six wheels, and brake lights were not required until 1998.

Make: 2009 Concours 14
Manufacturer: Kawaski
Price: $13,499 to $14,299
Named Motorcycle of the Year by Rider magazine, the 2009 Concours 14 sport touring bike boasts a tire-pressure monitoring system, an electric windscreen, anti-lock brakes and locking side cars.

Motorcycle fact: The Motorcycle Industry Council reported that more than 1.08 million motorcycles and scooters were sold in the United States in 2008.