Monday, August 20, 2007

Old Towne Mall- Paul Freiler's Historical Models

Today's focus is back on The Old Towne Mall. This time around, I thought I'd post on Paul Freiler's Historical models, and an ad they had back when they were located inside Old Towne. This ad shows how much the shop fit in perfectly with Old Towne, as they sold mostly historical, as their name stated, models and toys. I remember going into this shop when I was a small kid, and marveling at the displays of the military aircraft and ships. My uncle used to have small soldiers that were the scale of the jeeps and tanks, and I loved seeing them at that store. He gave me a whole bag full of them, but I soon lost them all. If I only ever had money as a kid, I would have bought more of them at Paul Freiler's.

Eventually, Paul Freiler's moved out of Old Towne, and relocated just down the street near the corner of Hawthorne Blvd. and 182nd Street. (Close to the last 76 ball in Torrance). I forget which year they finally closed, but I think I was still in High School when they did. A buddy of mine worked there, but by then, it seemed like they focus more on role playing games than on Historical models, as half the store had lead figures, and painted monsters displayed. The other half was split between model cars and stuff with only a small section dedicated to Historical models. The location is now a mattress store I believe, and El Pollo Loco is directly on the corner. I still pass by the building and half expect to see the Paul Freiler's sign.

Read a webpage about miniatures that mentions Paul Freiler's here.



Anonymous said...

Hi.. Sorry if this is a bit random but I just searched for blogs mentioning the Terranea Resort in R.P.V. and your June 2006 post came up. I, too, agree that it is a shame a fake Mediterranean resort is filling the old Marineland site. I wish they'd at least just let it be. The site does have such breathtaking panoramas of the Pacific and I think it's better used as a film location than another wannabe structure in the area. At least the film industry has some "real" claim to southern California. Anyway, I digress. I was just wondering if you happened to know of anyone or any groups that are in opposition of this or if there is anything we can do now. My e-mail is I'd love to hear back, thanks!

Chris Salazar said...

While I don't quite remember this particular store, there was a similar one in the Lakewood mall. It was most notable for its basement entrance, which was almost always closed. The basement was dressed up to look like a WWII underground bunker, complete with wood bracings and sandbags. I actually got to go down there once, and I do recall a fair amount of red velvet and felt for some reason. Well there were a lot of really cool scale figures, aircraft, and weapons as well. The models in the front of the store were every bit as captivating as you describe at Paul Freiler's. I guess model making is truly a thing of the past.

Bob said...

I used to belong to a model of the month club as a little kid. Every month I'd get a new one to put together, but being the impatient person I am, I wouldn't want to wait for the glue to dry. Eventually, I would get so frustrated that I often stomped on the model, or threw it across the room. Luckily I've mellowed out since then. (wow, that was kind of random)
Thanks for the posts. Hey Anonymous, I don't know of any groups opposing the development at Marineland. To most people it was just an old eyesore.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at Paul Freilers! I miss the place, especially when it was in the OLD Towne Mall. I was at it working by the El Pollo Loco but I remember going into that mall as a kid and running to go look at all the cool stuff in that store. Cool stuff like that just doesnt seem to be around like that anymore. Every hobby shop is just a clone of every other one, everything can be ordered off the web. OH well. It was great to read your post

Jay Adan said...

I'm also a former PFHM employee. I was the assistant manager there for a while working with Paul, Don Sutherland, Paul Ozzimo, Darren Tamanaha, Eric Freiler and others. It was a great group and a lot of fun.

Charles G. said...

I used to go to Paul Freiler's quite a bit, after the Air Force moved me out here back in '92. Met a bunch of folks there (directly and indirectly) that are friends of mine to this day.

Never knew they were originally at the Old Towne Mall - too bad about that place, as well. I was really depressed that PF's finally closed and was replaced with a matress store. Though I seem to recall overhearing a conversation between a patron and either a clerk or the owner about how folks were spending more time on computer games and were not interested in building stuff like models anymore.

Not sure when exactly they closed, but I think it was after I got out of the Air Force in '96. But I might be wrong. I sure do miss the place!

Mr. Biggs said...

Paul Freiler's Historical Models! I have many fond memories of buying airplane glue and paint there... or was it the glue and paint that made everything seem so fond. :P
Are they even around anymore? After Old Towne closed down they moved up to 182nd and Hawthorne, I believe...

Bob said...

Sadly, paul Freiler's is long gone, even from the Hawthorne and 182nd location. Now there's a lovely mattress store instead.


Anonymous said...

Hi. I lived in the Torrance area back in the 80's. Old Towne Mall was a regular hangout for me. I probably went to the hobby shop at least once a week at both locations. We moved down to the San Diego area in 1988 and I tried to find them on a trip back up to LA a decade later. Sadly the store was empty by then. They were still very much into plastic models while I was a customer so I'm glad I missed their slipping away from that. Thanks for the memory. I've got one of those business cards from that original address in my collection also.

JMarmor said...

Wow - so cool to read posts about Paul Freiler's model shop in the South Bay. It was a real gem of a shop, so different than the chain hobby stores of today. As a boy growing up in south Redondo Beach in the late 1960s and early 1970s, I vividly remember what was probably the ORIGINAL Paul Freiler's model shop in the quaint Hollywood Riviera commercial area of Torrance, close to Torrance Beach. It was located in a tiny storefront, and at that time Mr. Freiler showcased primarily his beautifully painted military miniatures (soldiers). My brother and I frequently stopped in to admire them, before he opened a bigger shop in the Old Towne Mall. Does anyone know the whereabouts of Mr. Freiler?

Anonymous said...

Wow! How wonderful to read all of your posts about my dad's shop! Yes, the shop was originally in Riviera Village for 15 months in '70 and '71. It then moved to Old Town Mall where I worked and eventually managed the store. Some of my fondest memories are of working there and I too was very sad when the store moved and the mall closed. If I remember correctly, the store on 182nd closed in '97 long after the aerospace industry (and most of the modelling clients) moved away from So Cal. My folks live in the desert now and visit Torrance every other week, but alas, the shop is no more. Each member of my family worked there at one time or another and the business was an extension of our home. I'm happy that others have such fond memories of the store as well. Thanks for the great walk down memory lane!

Anonymous said...

I remember back in highschool I used to buy lead minis and D&D books there! It was an awesome store, too bad they closed. I also loved going there becuase of a really good-looking piece of ass that worked the register. She was a bruenette, and had some of the most delicious cans I have ever seen! Anybody know/remember her name? Also there was some skinny freak working there too, he looked like a god-damn wood-elf.

william said...

I remember my father and I stumbled on Paul Freiler's Historical Model's in the Riviera Village, in 1970. It was the coolest place, my father bought me a Monogram lead soldier of Roger's Ranger. I was hooked.
I followed Freiler's to the Old Towne Mall. I hung out over there on my way home from Bishop Montgonery ('71-'72). Move to Oxnard and in '75 graduated HS, I entered active duty service and retired from the Marine Corps in 2000. I was around the world many times and never encountered another Model Shop, like Paul Frieler's. I wish it was still around. I took my son to the Old Towne Mall from Pendleton, only to find the Mall was gone. We went down Hawthorne a bit and found Paul's! Iseemed to be divided into Historical Model Shop on one side and D&D and sorts on the other.
Semper Fidelis Paul!!!

Third Rail Design Lab said...

I worked at PFHM from about 89-91. I was pretty involved in the expansion of the games and miniatures section that some above commenters lamented, but I was active on both sides, and built models as well as painted and scratch built figures, gaming, etc. I also miss the shop. I've honestly never come across anything like it again. Now that I have young children, I've been looking to start building models with them and it's really a disconnected experience to do model and supply research on the net. Weak!

As to the comments about former staffers, I know to whom the commenter above referred. The woman in question was the subject of many amorous advances, as can be expected when one is pretty, polite, and working in that environment. She was and remains a friend of mine. As to the other guy, I recall him too. I don't think he was an elf. He was nice.

It's great to read about so many customers who have fond memories of the shop, here and on on a few other sites. It was a highlight of my high school experience, working there. Tan polo shirts notwithstanding.

Anonymous said...

I also was an employee at PFHM. I was there a little longer than most
and knew almost everyone. As for attractive brunettes, there were four over the years, including
Mrs. Freiler, and a blonde! Among the crews we also have one lawyer, at least three that have pilot licences, several worked in the movies, as model makers, one of those has made himself quite an impressive resume!(The others not so much, myself included in that group) One former manager is now a dept. manager with an international toy manufacturer. Several work in the airlines. Some went into
real estate. One is an acomplished
computer game designer. One a game marketer. One works with concept cars. Some went onto manage hobby shops of they're own!(Both brick and mortar and online.)
One former manager went into the park service. Some of our guys went into the military. Almost all went to college, most are degreed.
And happily several have families.

It was a fun place, and we did try to please. The foundation for all of that, and the template for its longevity were the creation of Paul and Gloria Freiler.

(With the help of a very varied and motley crew, and a few elves!)

PS not a big fan of tan shirts.

Steve Fulton said...

I Loved Paul Freiler's! I don't think there is a store the represents my youth better than the one at the Old Town Mall. Thanks for finding these images, they are awesome.