Friday, October 13, 2017


The BPMS Interview – Charlie Nelson

Charlie Nelson has long been one the most prolific and skilled builders in the Brooklyn Plastic Modelers Society. At the August meeting, he showed his Tamiya Do-335 and Hobby Boss F-4F Wildcat and other fighters. Charlie acknowledges, “I’m just very interested in World War II aircraft. When I was a kid, I loved watching 12 O’clock High -- I loved the movie, and then the TV show came out. The B-17 was my favorite at that time.” One of Charlie’s first modeling memories was the Revell 1/72 scale Flying Fortress he built with his father.

Growing up in Brooklyn near Marine Park, Charlie heard Navy Neptunes fly overhead from Floyd Bennett Field, and he was introduced to scale plastic aircraft at Thrift Town on Nostrand Avenue. “I guess my mom used to take me when I was about ten. My father started me on the B-17. Then there was the Hellcat, and then the F-86, and the F-84.”

Though his modeling focus has widened over the years to ships such as Trumpeter’s 1/200-scale battleship Arizona, Charlie remains drawn to aircraft. “I just picked up the Crusader by Eduard -- I just like that plane.” Charlie says, “All the subjects I’ve wished for have come to production,” but he still finds attractive new subjects. “I’d love to get a 1/32-scale B-25, but some of the prices are just crazy.” He adds, “I always like the bigger models. I don’t know why -- I never have room for them.”

Staten Islander
Charlie Nelson continued modeling all through PS-222, Marine Park Junior High School, and Madison High School in Brooklyn. “As I got older, I used to ride my bike over to Avenue S and Coney Island Avenue – to the hobby shop.” He nevertheless put modeling on hold when he started Concordia College in Bronxville. “I gave it up for while going to college, playing sports, and then I got married and had kids. When the kids got a little older, I got back into it, and my son got interested in it.” Raising his family on Staten Island, Charlie found a local modeling club. “They met in the Eltingville Lutheran Church. Little by little I gained a little more insight into how to build models.”

When the Staten Island club faltered, Charlie found welcoming modelers back in Brooklyn at a display at Floyd Bennett Field. “Frank Tripoli was there and I talked to him. When the club disbanded on Staten Island, I came over.” The benefits have been lasting. “I like the guys in the group.  We talk and do things together. We didn’t do that at the Staten Island club. I’ve gained a lot of knowledge from the guys -- even the armor guys – I’ve just learned a lot from them. I love the club.”

As Administrative Superintendent for Manhattan Community College, Charlie makes time for models evenings and weekends. “Lately, in the last two or three years, I find every one that I build is the one I’m most happy with. I really don’t have a favorite, but the one that stands out was the Sunderland I built a few years ago.”

An offshoot of Charlie’s passion for plastic is paper ship modeling. “I just happened to notice it on-line one day and said, ‘Wow, you could build a good-looking model with paper and Elmer’s Glue.’” Charlie cautions, “Paper takes a long time. It’s not just cut-and-glue,” but paper hobbyists offered another welcoming community. “I went to a couple of their conventions over the years, and they were fascinating. Everybody put their stuff on the table. Nobody got big prizes.  It was a real get-together. It was fun.”
~Frank Colucci

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