Tower Hobbies Provides Free Craft Materials With Gear

Reader Sean sent us what may not be the most egregious example of wasteful packaging, but in terms of the proportion of the item shipped to the size of the box it came in, it comes pretty close. Sean ordered a gear the size of a fingernail — literally — from Tower Hobbies.

It arrived in a plastic bag. In a padded envelope. In a box. But, hey, it’s from a hobby shop. Maybe they expect Sean to make something out of the box. In fact, just think of the things Sean could build if he keeps ordering from Tower. Forget whatever hobby that gear was for, Sean. You’re the Martha Stewart of cardboard box crafts now. Make us proud.


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  1. OMG! Stevies! says:

    My view/theory is that Tower has a agreement/contact with their shipper, who has a minimum package size/form, and this piece went into the smallest box they could use to ship.

  2. HawkWolf says:

    I wonder if shipping companies have a minimum size so that tiny packages don’t get _LOST_.

    • FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

      @49USBPorts_GitEmSteveDave: There’s no real “minimum size” agreement that I know of that are assigned in contracts. There isn’t one in our with fedex, I know that much. So long as you can fit a label on it, it’s fair game

      My guess would be that instead of having 10 different boxes/mailers, they instead have maybe three or four into which they are able to fit their entire inventory selection into. Saves money and saves space. Having worked in warehousing for 5 years taught me that much.

      Agreements that ARE common in shipping contracts are flat rates for a certain size/weight box. We have one of those with fedex for some of our larger items that we ship out often (4-5 a day) so that we don’t get reamed for shipping charges and help pass those savings on to our customers.

      What interests me, though, is why did Tower include a jiffypack mailer in the box along with the gear? The padded mailer would have been a much more suitable choice to ship it in, yet they decide to, instead, put it in the box WITH the small item?

      The mind boggles.

      • FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

        @FooSchnickens: Haha, just noticed this moment’s name add-on. You want a robot vagina with that? XD

      • HogwartsAlum says:


        Heck, I’ve sent FedEx packages at work that the label was bigger than the box. It actually wrapped around. As long as they can scan the bar code, it’s all good.

  3. Wombatish says:

    Why “Ship” at all?

    A padded envelope would have worked just fine. More than just fine, even.

    • gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

      @Wombatish: a standard legal envelope would have worked fine! and only costing [insert current price of stamp here]

  4. khisel says:

    Sorry, folks. This was obviously just an error on our packing line (we still use humans). Typically, if an item can fit and safely be shipped in a “puffy” that’s what we do. It saves on shipping costs, too.

    -Kevin Hisel
    Vice President, Tower Hobbies

    PS: Consumerist is one of my fave web sites so imagine my mortification to see that I was now part of the infamous “Stupid Shipping Gang”. Guilty, as charged, I guess.

    • MercerCh00x says:

      @khisel: Well it seems like an open and shut case…..of conspiracy.

    • Verucalise (Est.February2008) says:

      @khisel: Mr. Hisel:

      I assume the guilty humanoid party will be punished? Maybe a couple times rubbing their nose in their mistakes, or beating them with those “puffies” will wisen them up? ;-)

      All kidding aside, thanks for the response. I gain a special appreciation when a company becomes aware of the mistakes and hopefully tries to rectify them…

    • MyPetFly says:


      Good to hear of a company admitting to a snafu. I know Tower Hobbies is a reliable outfit.

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      Awesome. I will have to check you out now for my hobby needs. :)

    • oldgraygeek says:

      @khisel: Kevin,
      The story itself did not inspire me to visit your Web site… but your contribution to the discussion did.

      Good stuff. I think I’ll buy something.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @khisel: Don’t feel bad. Your response more than makes up for it.

    • bobloblawsblog says:

      @khisel: consumerist visitors approve of your apology, since you’re now one of us ;) i too will visit thanks to your response. glad it doesnt happen often.

  5. Eticus says:

    As a hobbyist of small brass train engines, and working miniature steam engines, I applaud the over the top shipping methods. I am often ordering components that require human milling and pieces that are about the size of that gear set.

    But it is a bit excessive.

  6. pmcpa4 says:

    I’m a hobby shop…. we work with tower’s “Store side (Great Planes). I can say, they aren’t used to shipping something that small, and the box has to be big enough for a UPS shipping sticker… Minimum box side for UPS is 6″x8″x1” normally

  7. Ouze says:

    For whatever it’s worth, I order a ton of supplies from Tower Hobbies for my crippling 40k addiction, and everything has arrived super fast, in great condition, and usually in an appropriate amount of packaging. So, YMMV on the packaging.

  8. starrion says:


    Owner response, with (hardly earned) mortification and multiple recommendations.

    I may have to give this a check.

  9. mac-phisto says:

    @khisel: can we get a “taking it seriously” up in here?

  10. davekoob says:

    I’ll chime in as a hobby junkie and Tower supporter. I’ve bought a plenty of RC stuff from Tower and from my local hobby shop who buys from the Tower corporate side. Always top notch stuff real quicklike :)

    Now if only those jerks at work didnt tear down the huge rock pile in our parking lot… The crawler is looking for fresh blood!!!

  11. attackgypsy says:

    Tower Hobbies is the “800 pound gorilla” of the hobby world. This doesn’t surprise me in the slightest.

  12. sanjsrik says:

    OMG, homeless shelters.