Friday, May 05, 2017

Spotlight Modeler: Tom Knoll

Spotlight Modeler: Tom Knoll
As a founding member of the Brooklyn Plastic Modelers Society, Tom Knoll still values the openness of our Club. “We all learn,” he offered. “I have questioned people about modeling techniques, and I think the people in our club are the most willing to share. I’ve never seen another club where people were willing to take the time and explain to you a certain technique.”

Growing up in East Flatbush, Tom’s earliest modeling lesson came from his dad. “My introduction to the hobby was in the mid-sixties when my father bought for me the Monogram 1/32-scale F3F-3 Gulfhawk -- you retracted the landing gear by pulling the prop out and turning it. My father and I started building it together. I went to bed that night, and when I came down the next morning, my father had completed it. I was probably 11 or 12.”

Tom soon built his own models. “I would go down into my basement and spend, in some instances, eight to ten hours a day down there. I built a 1/35 scale Panther and a British SAS Jeep. I used to torment my sister and ask her if the finish was realistic.” With few diversions, Tom held his armor focus. “I got interested in armored vehicles because they looked cool. I was drawn to them because of the rivets -- I love rivets.” He added, “I do like airplanes and cars, but not as much as tanks. I do like to look at other people’s work.”  

Brooklyn’s Avenue S Hobby Shop provided an introduction to other modelers. “I was in high school. I used to ride my bicycle all over Brooklyn, and I may have discovered it by accident,” Tom recalled. BPMS co-founder and hobby shop part-timer Joe Turner invited Tom to the earliest model meetings. “I was attending meetings with Bert Berg and Joe Turner every Tuesday night at Bert’s house in Canarsie. Bert and Joe had discussed forming a club. It started above Bert’s store, the Clothes Horse, on Kings Highway.

The thriving Club moved to the Marcy Photo Studio and later to Floyd Bennett Field. However, demands of a family and a career as a Manhattan building engineer kept Tom from meetings for a decade. He rejoined BPMS around 1995. “I have a lot of good memories of those Club members I met in the beginning who have since passed away. I’m just glad that The Club still exists from the efforts of Bert and Joe and all those officers who have served ‘til now.”  

New kits sustain Tom’s modeling inspiration. “The most recent one that I liked was the Masterbox 1/72 scale Mk. 1 tank from WWI. I’ve always liked rivets, and the Mk. 1 was covered with rivets.” His most-wanted list has meanwhile dwindled. “The one kit that I really wanted and just came out, finally after waiting years and years, was the Panzerbefehlswagen III. It’s a German communications vehicle from WWII, and the frame antenna on the back was just interesting.” Tom continues modeling in his basement. “I have a nice workbench, and I have my stash right next to me so I can ogle all my armor kits.”
~Frank Colucci

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