Tuesday, April 18, 2017


SPOTLIGHT MODELER: Jeff reminded your humble narrator that we used to call this feature SPOTLIGHT MODELER, so why not go back to tradition? This month Frank Colucci continues the column going with his interview with Howell Serkin.  

Spotlight Modeler:
Howell Serkin

Howell Serkin has lived in the Madison section of Brooklyn for more than 20 years, most of that time as a member of the Brooklyn Plastic Modelers Society. “I’m actually a transplant,” he explained. “I grew up in the Bronx, and I moved to Brooklyn after I graduated from college -- you don’t get too many Bronx expatriates here.”  Howell recalled, “When I was a kid -- I must have been 14 -- there was a hobby shop in the Bronx opposite Fordham University. I saw these incredible models there. That’s when I got hooked as a ‘serious’ builder. My first serious model attempt was the 1/72 Airfix Me109G6 – yes a plane – when they were in the plastic bags. I bought it at that hobby shop in the Bronx.”   

Howell today is a dedicated armor modeler. “I’m pretty much a tread-head,” he acknowledged. “I think there’s something about the size of the vehicles, their mass.” The German Panzer 3 and 4 are among Howell’s favorite modelling subjects. “They weren’t huge like the Tiger and Maus. They were the journeyman tanks that filled out the Panzer divisions for the rest of the war. There were so many variations, and there are so many kits in so many scales.” Howell added, “Actually, I go for different periods, but I like WWII armor and German armor in particular because they have the most varied schemes and are so interesting.” Howell also models figures, “I like armor and miniatures. Those two things seem to go together -- a tank or any vehicle seems to look empty without people around it.”

Howell works as a social worker, serving the people of Manhattan’s West Side. Modeling time is generally at night. “Our kids are grown up and out of the house now, so we turned one of the bedrooms into a craft room. When I have to spray, I go up to the attic.” Howell’s wife Sharon gets credit for his membership in BPMS. “We had just moved into the house. The Club was running an ad in the local Brooklyn paper, and she saw it and gave it to me. I was actually backing out of the hobby because I was married and busy with kids. I called and spoke to Frank Tripoli, and that led to my first meeting at Floyd Bennett Field.”

Howell’s modeling techniques were shaped by his membership. “Many of them came from The Club, listening to people and seeing what people did. I also read the magazines.” A lifetime of model building has paid off in different ways. “I think it’s increased and helped me with my interest in history. I’ve met a lot of great people.”

Like most modelers, Howell as enjoyed the rapid growth in the plastic kit industry. “I really could not name a subject that I like and that isn’t out there right now. I think the state of the hobby is very ironic in that there is so much out there, but it’s contracting as the people get older. You would hope that the hobby companies would be more active because what they need to stay in business is new people.” 

~Frank Colucci

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