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Highly Successful Real Estate Salesman Offers Components for Model Community

April 05, 1987|LEE LINDER | Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — Bernard Paul claims to sell more houses than anybody else in the world. Actually, more than 250,000 a year.

"It's true, absolutely," he said, a smile wrinkling his face as he sat behind a cluttered desk, surrounded by authentic models of his houses.

What the 57-year-old Paul sells are look-alike models--"true to every minute detail, down to the individual brick and stone work" he insists--of some of America's most famous buildings.

All come in kit form, exquisitely detailed and painted, ready to be assembled on the lot of the purchaser's choosing, usually around a model train layout, on a living room mantel or a knickknack shelf on the etagere.

New Brownstone Houses

Paul is president of International Hobby Corp., and his newest real estate includes a series of brownstone houses like the ones that were the rage in the early 1900s.

Paul's buildings come in sizes ranging from 2 1/2 inches to 10 inches high, and up to 5 inches wide. He can't believe how popular these miniatures have grown.

"They are made of high-impact styrene, which is a top quality plastic, and have intricately detailed doors, windows, balconies, fire escapes, chimneys, whatever goes on the outside of a home," he said.

"It is a rapidly growing hobby, not only for men and boys who have long been into railroading, but now for women and girls.

Place on Trees

"We've uncovered a market which we didn't know existed when we started designing and manufacturing the homes nearly a decade ago. Enthusiasm in 1986 was so great when it became a big fad to hang them on, or put them under, Christmas trees, that we believe we will sell over a million homes this year."

Prices run between $5 to $12 for each house.

"Hey, where can you buy a prime piece of real estate for that kind of dough?" Paul joked, picking up a house sitting on his desk and proudly pointing out its authentic American features. Many of the houses can be hooked together to make a complete street.

Among the buildings he's peddling are:

Secondhand Rose: a used clothing store and residence with awnings, outdoor signs, a side display bay window, stairs, railings, mail boxes, skylight and even a fireplug in front.

Grant Cary's Apothecary: Colonial style with a diagonal corner for the store doors, roof shed, pigeon coop and detailed interior painting.

Model Smoke Shop

South Street Smoke Shop: complete with a miniature wooden Indian.

Also, a Colonial church, an old gas station, Luigi's Italian restaurant, a courthouse, Society Hill town house, barn with silo, lumber mill, windmill pumping station, and firehouse with engines.

Besides buildings, Paul is one of America's major suppliers of model railroads.

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