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In Search of Pyro... A Virtual Roadtrip


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Since my club is in New Jersey, we had a discussion a while back as to where exactly in Union, NJ Pyro was actually located. Note that on their kits, they merely listed their address as "Pyro Park", which obviously doesn't exist anymore. Dave Wood is a long time resident of Union and started to ask around. Consensus was that the factory didn't exist today, and it was "somewhere off of Route 22".

pyroplantsmall-vi.jpg

Recently I found this image, which is from one of their instruction sheets.. that peeked my interest so I was off in search of Pyro... I found the site Historic Aerials.Com and pulled up Route 22 in Union. It's not a big town so I thought I stood a good chance of finding it. I knew the plant existed back a bit, so I went to the 1954 maps, before the area was populated.

pyro_1954-vi.jpg

Bingo! There she was. I matched up the roof elements from the factory sketch to those on the roof in this photo.
pyro_1954_overlays-vi.jpg
Next step was to lay in all the then current and future roads to get my bearings.
pyro_1979-vi.jpg
By 1966 suburbia exploded! Note all the houses that were built in the later part of the 1950s and everything else that popped up. I used this 1979 view since it was in color. Note that by 1966, Pyro had added onto both sides of the building (the white roofs). This was also the last year (of the provided pix) that the factory building exists.
pyro_today-vi.jpg
And he we are today... Costco! You can see the three smaller buildings in the upper left corner are still there from the Pyro era. Nothing like progress. I thought you all might enjoy that bit of history.
A bit more history... was we thought of Pyro as a minor player in the model field, the owner William Lester actually was a pioneer in injection molding technology back in the 1930s. Pyro's main business was selling molding equipment, and in the early 1950s they were the largest seller of military toys in the country. They also did sci fi stuff, and their ray guns are big collectibles today. Bill sold the company back in the early 1970s because he wanted to pursue an emerging technology, blister packaging! He was truly a plastics guy!
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I remember the old Monogram factory in Morton Grove, IL. I used to live not too far from it and often rode my bike in the Forest Preserve that was behind it. The factory closed in the mid to late 90's and it sat empty for a few years. In the early 2000's I used to occasionally drive past it on my way to work and one day saw it was being torn down. I wish I had gotten some pictures of it while it was still there. Its now a Self Storage facillity, ironicly enough, I could use a storage space to store all of my kits.

Side note, the job I was commuting to was just 2 blocks away from Revell's Northbrook location where they packaged kits for several years in the mid-2000's before moving to Elk Grove where they are now.

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