Rich's Hobbytowne
Boonton, then Parsippany/Pinebrook, and Montville NJ

(back to riggenho)

A a/ AM's Howard McEntee, B/ Rich Palmer, Aurora track (ctsy "Airplanes and Rockets" website)

from an article

Rich Palmer, owner of Rich’s Hobby Town in Pine Brook, Montville Township, is pictured behind the counter of the store’s “Monster Korner” in this photo from 1964.

Amazing Figure Modeler Magazine notes that Palmer’s business was the nation’s largest-volume hobby shop at the time, attracting enough attention in the industry that the Aurora Plastic Corp. hired him to organize a “Monster Customizing Contest” that year.

The contest, Aurora and the shop received national attention later that year when Walter Cronkite, anchor of the CBS Evening News, visited the shop and interviewed Palmer.

Rich’s Hobby Town managed to stay in business into the 1980s until interest in models declined among teenagers.

I found this old photo searching online and wanted to share it. This was the coolest place on earth when you were a kid in the 70's and it started me out at an early age loving toys, model kits and making custom stuff. This was the famous - RICH'S HOBBY TOWN - in Pine Brook NJ.

{photo caption reads} "Rich Plamer ran the nation's largest volume hobby shop in Parsippany NJ (Pine Brook actually) AURORA models hired him to organize it's Monster Customizing contest in 1964. Aurora received national television attention when the CBS evening news visited his shop. Walter Cronkite and Palmer held a conversation in the "Monster Corner" of the store. Big Frankie occupies the top shelf in Monster Corner."

from some web searches; various hobby related threads:

It was around since the late 50's in a spooky old church building where you had to walk up creaky old wooden steps - making the trip to the Monster Korner all that more scary & fun. The Hobby Shop it closed down in the early 80's due to kids being more interested in video games than building models. It sat abandoned for some years and later re-opened ironicly as a pinball & video arcade "Game Town" After the arcade closed the building was redone as an expensive yuppie resturant which of course failed.

The location was Hook Mountain Rd near Rt. 46 in Pine Brook NJ. - sadly the old church building was recently bulldozed in 2010 so if you googlemap the location it's just a rubble pit now. I'm sure some greedy developer plans to build much needed condos & starbucks. Ah, what sweet memories...


WOW! WOW! WOW!!! Rich's Hobbytown! THAT is where I got ALL my 1971-1972 "Glow in the Dark" Aurora monster models. I grew up in Lake Hopatcong NJ, a half-hour's drive from his store, which my dad took me once a month.

What that picture DOESN'T show was that the building itself was a spooky building, ideal for a kid in love with monsters. The pic may be before my time, but Rich's Hobbytown in its Pine Brook (not Parsippany) location was in a former church. The most vivid memory of any kid entering his store was going up those CREAKY WOODEN STAIRS as part of the church tower to go to the room where he had all the Aurora models (he also had in that room a british Airfix soldier selection unlike any other!).

As appealing as that pic is, add to it the view of any 8-year-old feeling like he's entering a haunted house in order to buy his monster models!! In 1971-72, Rich Palmer might as well have been Gomez Addams as far as THIS kid was concerned. ;D You could almost go up to the counter and hear Lurch saying "You rang?"...and try not to let the tower stairs creak too much on the way out!
Haunted Mansion in Disneyland is probably #1 for atmosphere. Rich's Hobbytown in its creepy Pine Brook location was #2!!


You're story's correct as far as it goes but Rich's did not begin in that church on Hook Mt. Rd. It actually began in a small shop on a side street in Boonton, right near the train station. From there he opened a super sized shop, right on Rt 46 in Parsippany. The place was huge (for a hobby shop of the day) and they had a field out back where you could try the various remote control items. In fact it was called "Tri-O-Rama Field". This was the heyday of Rich's and it lasted until Interstate 80 was being built. It's my understanding they had to move to make way for a highway on-ramp but he might have sold the land because an offer from Holiday Inn was too good to refuse. Those landmarks should give you some idea of where it was situated. It was then he moved to Hook Mt. Rd, and the rest of the story you've already told. So Rich's was also the coolest place on earth for kids in the 50's and 60's (like me).