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Video: Evett's Model Shop Reminds Us Of An Era Before Video Games

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By Valerie Chen

Colby Evett wanted to fly actual airplanes, but he couldn't because of his poor eyesight. So instead of calling it quits completely, he fulfilled his aviation dreams on a smaller—though just as grand—scale: building models and sharing that joy with his customers at his hobby shop.

Evett's Model Shop is one of the last hobby stores still standing in the Los Angeles area. It takes up residence on Santa Monica’s Ocean Boulevard, and since 1948, it has been specializing in plastic kits, diecast models and radio-controlled cars, helicopters and airplanes.

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Evett did more than open up a shop (that he continues to work in at the age of 92)—he also became a pioneer in radio-controlled technology, inventing the interaction between simple radio remotes, according to Craig Anstett who created the short video "Colby And His Planes." However, Evett was never interested in procuring a patent for the innovation.

Evett's other impressive accomplishments include investing $1,000 in the 1950s—a large sum of money at the time—toward a Van Nuys airstrip that still exists today, as well as building models for Hollywood films and commercials.

Anstett, an L.A. resident and vintage enthusiast, stumbled upon Evett's shop this year. Upon entering the shop, he said he felt like he had traveled into an amazing “50-year time warp”—an era when kids tinkered with model airplanes instead of playing video games.

After speaking in depth with the owner, Anstett knew that Evett's story was one worth sharing. He worked with L.A. filmmaker Ben Pluimer in creating the short portrait documentary "Colby and his Planes," starring Colby and a few others who speak highly of his legacy.

Pluimer hopes that viewers of the "Colby and his Planes" will understand how rare it is for a little store like Evett’s Model Shop to have survived in such a big city for so many decades, especially since hobby shops have become increasingly obsolete.

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Even though Evett is getting up there, you can still visit him and ask for a pointer if you need help on a project. Colby’s wife Yvonne Evett, who helps run the shop, told LAist, “Colby’s still here. His body has failed, but his mind is really good. He can help with projects; he just doesn’t have the body or physical strength. He’s still [at the shop] seven days a week.”

The documentary concludes with a piece of heartwarming life advice from Colby Evett: “So I feel like I’ve had a really good life of doing something I wanted to do, and I feel like I’m a success for doing it. So get out and do some work. It’s good for ya!”

You can visit Evett’s Model Shop at 1636 Ocean Park Blvd. in Santa Monica. The store is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.