Monday, December 31, 2012

Here Comes 2013

Happy New Year to all the CRANKYHEADS out there.   May 2013 bring you lots of good health, building ideas, and plentiful resources.  The Lab-RAT-ory will reopen this week, please stay tuned in.

Doctor Cranky & the Entire Lab-RAT-ory CREW.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


From all of us here in the Lab-RAT-ory, we wish all you CRANKYHEADS and STYRENE ADDICTS a great Holiday Season and New Year.  2013 is going to be a great year for CRANKYHEAD NATION with lots of more eye candy and goodies to help support the Lab-RAT-ory, starting out with two brand new T-shirts, a calendar, a new set of decals, and a coffee mug.  Yes, a coffee mug for those cold night toddies at the work bench.

 THANK YOU ALL for the wonderful 2012 support and all the inspiration and eye candy you've shared with us.  Seasons Greetings and a Happy New Year!  Yours in Styrene, Doctor Cranky, EYEGORE, Frau Blucher, Mr. Vertigo, Lola, and Ms. Cranky.

Friday, November 23, 2012


WHILE SUPPLIES LAST . . . $15.00 dollars plus shipping.

Thursday, November 8, 2012



THE FIRST TEN PEOPLE to order their Doctor Cranky's Lab-RAT-ory 2013 Calendar will get it at a deep, deep, deep discount ($10).  Normal retail price will be $15.

This is going to be a real treat and the calendar will be unveiled next month in the YOUTUBE channel.  Help support the Lab-RAT-ory and prove the MAYANS wrong.  The world DID NOT come to an end, so celebrate the fact that there is plenty of time left to build all those models in your collection!

If you are interested in ordering a copy in advance, please contact Doctor Cranky or EYEGORE at the Lab-RAT-ory email address:

Thank you.  And don't be late.

Sunday, November 4, 2012


Greetings, Crankyheads.  Another year is almost shot, as my father would say.  First Sunday in November and it's still hot here in Florida.  I have stopped paying attention to time and to the weather.  Yeah, right!  It's impossible.  When you least expected, here comes the time change, which I've never liked or found useful in any way shape or form.  I think once you cross 50, time is really how  you spend your day.  Mine?  I get up early, get some writing done, read for inspiration or simply sit out in the sun for a while, warm up and then hit the work shop for the day's work.   Happy Daylight Savings time, says my wife.  Arrgh!

I am preparing to attend the ACME/SOUTHERN NATIONALS for the first time.  I am very excited indeed for I've always heard and known lots of great model builders gather there to exchange glimpses of their eye candy.

If you are going, please make sure you stop by and say hello.  Unfortunately, EYEGORE will not be there this year.

Enjoy the time you've been given, enjoy the weather, enjoy your LIFE!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The BUG Flies!

Yes, it is that time of the year.  Flu season, and it's too late for Doctor Cranky who has come down with the bug.  Hopefully it will be gone soon.  The Lab-RAT-ory is clean finally and it's a new season for building and having fun.  A few projects underway including a couple of 1950 Oldsmobiles which just came out from Revell.  Great kit.  If you have not seen my unboxing video, check it out, it's been up since yesterday.

I am also going to start a new series on YOUTUBE simple called WTF DOCTOR CRANKY?  Unlike BENCH TALK or STYRENE DISPATCH, this series is going to have a strange (weird and bizarre) edge to them.

Please and stay tuned in for more, and THANK YOU all you CRANKYHEADS out there for making my STYRENE ADDICTION so much fun!

Yours, DC

Friday, September 28, 2012

Almost Show Time

Greetings, Crankyheads.  Doctor Cranky (sans EYEGORE) will be attending the TABLE TOP NATIONALS in South Florida and the ACME SHOW in Atlanta in November.

So, if you are planning to attend these shows, please feel free to swing by and say hello to the Doctor.  There will be t-shirts, books, and decals for sale, and a couple of the Lab-RAT-ory's most recent creations.

And, no, Doctor Cranky will not look like this:

Friday, August 24, 2012


Here's Doctor Cranky's Lab-RAT-ory TOP TEN LIST OF CAR KITS.  This is a very personal list based on the kits that I have built time and again and enjoyed.  Also, note that this is a list of American Cars and kit manufacturers only.  This also in no way is meant to put down any kit manufacturers (current or defunct).  My choices are based on kit quality, ease of build, the looks of the finish product, etc.


#1 1950 Chevy 3100 Pick Up (AMT)
#1 1932 Ford Couple (Revell)

#2  1949 Mercury (Revell, chopped tooling)

#3  1941 Wyllis Street Rod and/or Gasser (Revell)

#4  1948 Chevrolet Aerosedan (Galaxie Limited)

#5  62 Chevrolet Impala (Revell)

#6  37 Ford Couple Street Rod (Revell)

#7  37 Ford Pick Up (Revell)
#7  50 Ford PIck Up (Monogram/Revell)

#8  55 Chevy Bel Air (Revell)

#9  56 Chevy Del Ray (Revell)

#10  57 Chevy Bel Air or 210 "Black Widow" (Revell)
#10  66 Chevy Nova (AMT)

Saturday, August 18, 2012


I know, I know the summer is not done yet, but I am back at the bench getting some projects finished and some new ones lined up.  Things are going good in the Lab-RAT-ory.  EYEGORE has turned yet another year as a faithful assistant.  He is 20 now.  Just a young whipper snapper.  LOL.  The kit companies continue to produce some great kits.  So many kits, so little time to build them all.

AK-INTERACTIVE in Spain (also in the United States) continues to put out some great quality products, including new airbrush-ready acrylic paints that are going to help take my weathering to the next level.  REVELL is putting out some very cool stuff by way of styrene.  Looking forward to their fall season releases.

If you get a chance (when you get a chance) stop by the Lab-RAT-ory YOUTUBE channel.  Lots of new videos, etc . . .

Please stay tuned in for more STYRENE FUN & ADVENTURES.   Yours, Doctor Cranky

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Why seek friendships with creative types?  Well, for me, it's simple.  I feed off the energy.  I thrive on watching others build things, create things.  From mind to paper, canvas, 3-D models--whatever it takes to get the imagination crank-started.  Of course, vacations and time to recharge are just as important, but I would never give up the chance to watch over someone's shoulder as they work on a new project.  This is why and how the internet (YOUTUBE, Facebook, et al) have revolutionize the way artists interact and exchange ideas.

In short, it's a great time to be a big fan of those who create!  Be a part of your community.  If you see work you like and admire, let the artist/builder know you appreciate their hard work.  This way it gets to be a larger world of influence and delight.


Sunday, May 20, 2012


Happy Sunday morning to all the CRANKYHEADS out there in CRANKYHEAD NATION.  Well, it's no secret that most of you know that EYEGORE, the ever-faithful Lab-RAT-ory assistant is really a Chihuahua we've had in the family now for almost 20 years or so.  I got him for my oldest daughter when she was 3 years old.  EYEGORE is getting up there and so far he is hanging tough.  He always brings us a great deal of pleasure and joy, although in his old age he's gotten rather cranky, and not only snores, but has very vocal dreams about all those fire hydrants in a vast open field of daisies.

Back in 2010 when YOURS TRULY was slowly morphing into DOCTOR CRANKY, EYEGORE was present in the workshop and he was part of the reason why it became known as the Lab-RAT-ory because I started thinking of Dr. Frankenshtein (my spelling!) and how the Zany Doktor had his ever faithful assistant, someone to bring the bodies and fling them on the slab, and I thought:  hum, why not Doctor Cranky?  So that's how the story developed.  It was also at the exact time that I had grown rather bored of the monotony of painting and building shiny cars, so I started rusting and weathering . . . and well, that's also what put the RAT in Lab-RAT-ory.  LONG LIVE RAT RODS!  Don't get me wrong, I still love SHINY and I will still build my share of them every year, but nature's truly perfect concoction of corrosion, of wear and tear, etc . . . ah, nothing like it.  Anyway . . .

The real behind-the-scene story is that when I left a certain magazine's (which shall remain nameless, and it's a story for another time) model building forum, I went over to MODEL CARS MAGAZINE FORUM (circa 2006) and there I became good friends with Harry Pristovnik, another builder and styrene fanatic who quickly started egging me on to write a book, to write a book, to write a book.  To write about about my rusty and weathered models because other builders would want to learn about my techniques, etc . . . And so I did, and the book got written in part because of Mr. Pristovnik's insistence but also because I would send him a chapter or two at a time, and  a few weeks later he would send me the entire chapter page ready and completely designed, and not with just any kind of design, but with this beautiful, STEAMPUNK-INDUSTRIAL (he knows how to read my mind!) flavored Design (yes, with a capital D because Harry is the Maestro of Design).  I loved the work so much it really fueled me forward to write my first book about building models.  One chapter at a time, all within a scope of year.  RATZ, RODZ, and RUST.  Not your regular type of book, mind you, something completely different, and HARRY  PRISTOVNIK made that "look" happen on the page.  Those of you who have seen and read the book will--I hope--agree.  I wrote the text, built the models, and took the step-by-step pictures, and Harry did the rest.  AND in hindsight that was all easy compared to the hours of meticulous work Harry put into it.  It became a labor of love for both of us, and so kidding around one day I told Harry that he really was EYEGORE, not the Chihuahua (LOL) but the real assistant in the Lab-RAT-ory.

Mr. Pristovnik has been a great presence in the Lab-RAT-ory since day one, and he has continued to be of service.  His work stands the test of time too.  His designs always look fresh and vibrant and more importantly relevant.  This blog, the Lab-RAT-ory Website (I also thank my cousin Alexis for his hard work setting it up), and the Lab-RAT-ory CHANNEL on YOUTUBE, are all Harry's great work.  We have a great working relationship because I think we are both workaholics, and we are definitely simpatico when it comes to our STYRENE ADDICTION.  Harry has helped brand and create the Lab-RAT-ory Channel on YOUTUBE, and he's been instrumental in keeping Doctor Cranky energized and enthused about new projects.  What more can a demented DOCTOR of STYRENE ADDICTION ask of his ever-faithful Lab-RAT-ory assistant?

Many people have asked me over the last couple of years how I do my graphics work, and I always tell them about Harry Pristovnik and his amazing work.  Graphic Design is what Harry does for a living and he is the best at it.  Professional and obsessive above quality.  He is always available for new clients, so if you are interested in getting the very best, feel free to contact him.

But whatever you do, don't ask him to be your sidekick, your straight man, etc . . . that job he is already under contract for at the Lab-RAT-ory.  LONG LIVE STYRENE, Doctor Cranky


Thursday, May 17, 2012


"BURLESQUE" 49 Merc, another Revell 49 Merc kit built.  I love this kit, and I have built many of them because every time I do, I have so much fun.  I will keep building them because whether you do it shiny or rusty and crusty, you will have a blast.  This one has several great details that really surprised me and delighted me, including the head light tassel pasties, the lace fender skirts, and, of course, when you see the rear, well, that will put a big smile on your face.  This is not the type of ride you bring home to mother.  It's a SUPERFREAK, she's super freaky.  LOL!

The kit fits together like a glove, although in this case I had a little trouble with the windshield fit and the engine, but nothing that can't be resolved before the primer and paint go on . . . the paint is Vallejo acrylics, Tamiya, and the airbrushed was used for the entire paint job.  Bring your dollars.

I am currently finishing up Doctor Cranky's "House of Burlesque" Theater, a place that will serve as a different sort of photo op.  Stay tuned in for more.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


It's been a few weeks since I've posted something new.  I've wanted to give the TZH SQUAD enough time to catch on and it has.  Over 120 builders from all over the world, but mainly Canada and the United States.  We're having a blast, and we still have lots of time left.  Lots of fun time left indeed.  Doctor Cranky and EYEGORE are very proud.  You can catch up on everyones' builds by simply looking at all the PROGRESS UPDATE videos over in the Lab-RAT-ory CHANNEL.  I am amazed by the variety of the builds and the energy summoned by all the builders . . . GREAT WORK!

After building two TZH Vehicles, I turned my attention to getting some shiny (glossy) builds, including a few from last year that I was dying to finish.  A few phantom gassers.  To the rescue once again came Revell with two great kits (among my all time favorites):  the 41 Willys (Gasser) and the Shelby Cobra (Street Machine.)  They both build up nice and I think it has something to do with those curves.  I just love them.

Also, have been putting a few of my custom decals on some of these builds.  The DOCTOR CRANKY DECALS LINE is about to come on the scene.  Stay tuned in for more information on that.  They will mainly be some super-duper decal graphics that you will be able to download directly to your computer and use your printer and decal paper and print up your own!  However many you need.

The Lab-RAT-ory is OPEN and in FULL SWING this march.  Hope you will visit, hang out, and please remember to SUBSCRIBE, COMMENT, ASK QUESTIONS, and HELP SPREAD the word.  THANK YOU ALL, CRANKYHEADS.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Both the YOUTUBE & MODEL CAR MAGAZINE FORUM have come together to make the world's largest scale model Toothless Zombie Hunter Squad Caravan, and you know both Doctor Cranky and Gen. EYEGORE are besides themselves with delight and happiness, not to mention up to their heads in great eye candy.

Remember that you can participate in several ways, all great ways to support the Lab-RAT-ory efforts to continue to feed your STYRENE ADDICTION.

1.  You can build your own TZH and JOIN the CARAVAN, both on YOUTUBE and MCMF!

2.  You can share your work on both places mentioned in #1.

3.  Mail in your best build to the Lab-RAT-ory  by August 1 to participate in a photo/video shoot!  (Please note that if you mail in your entry, you are responsible for shipping costs in both directions.  Contact Doctor Cranky for further instructions and details!)

4.  If you are outside of the UNITED STATES, you can still participate in the TZH SQUAD CARAVAN by posting your progress and your final model pics and vids.

5.  You can also support the TZH SQUAD by purchasing your copy of the OFFICIAL TZH SQUAD T-Shirt AVAILABLE NOW!  You can order directly by visiting

Sunday, January 29, 2012




Sunday, January 22, 2012


(Revised 1/23/2012)  Greetings, my fellow Toothless Zombie Hunter Squad members, General EYEGORE here with some very important news.  The TOOTHLESS ZOMBIE SQUAD "HIGHWAY TO HELL" PROJECT build is on (and moving along at a good pace), and I need your help.  Here's a wonderful way of having fun and enjoying the hobby.  Won't you join in?

In case you don't know, early this month I started a community build over at MODEL CAR MAGAZINE FORUM ( to build a new CARAVAN of Post Apocalytic vehicles.  The Toothless Zombie Hunter Squad is STRONG.  Everyone is welcomed to join in and have fun participating.  You are only restricted by your imagination.  And part of the fun will be for you to mail in (more on how to package your model well later) to the Lab-RAT-ory for pictures and videos and to join the CARAVAN.

Now, over in the Lab-RAT-ory, Doctor Cranky, EYEGORE, and the CREW, are building a huge Post Apocalypse diorama (a Zombie infested highway?) to display (and photograph) all the models in the CARAVAN.  Yes, you will be able to (if you so desire, it is not mandatory) mail your build to Doctor Cranky and once he has all the builds in, he will create a Post Apocalyptic scenes with EVERYONE's work!  Unfortunately, because of costs, customs forms, and other hassles, only folks in the United States will be able to mail in contributions.  Besides, Doctor Cranky doesn't want to be responsible for lost or damaged models coming from abroad.  For those of you who want to participate you can do so by donating a small bit or part and sending it over to be added permanently to the HHD (Highway to Hell Diorama!).

I am also inviting everyone to send in props for the diorama:  ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF.
For example:

           (Japanese or late American model cars)
     *  Pieces of junk, trash, tires, beer cans, boxes . . .
     *  burned out barrels or 55 gallon fuel drums
     *  barricades, including wood, tires, barbed wire,
     *  anything and everything could be used.

Again, you are only limited by your imagination.  If you are thinking of sending in road-damaged vehicles and are hesitant to paint them, send them over and I can paint them here and use them as props.  The idea is to make the HHD as uniform and convincing and realistic as possible.  Then the fun of photographing and making videos can begin.

There's plenty of time.  I am thinking of the deadline for your builds to start coming in should be around the 1st of August, this way everything can be photographed before the year (and world) comes to an end.

I will have more comments up in a video shortly.  Please stay tuned in for more details.  Also, if you have questions or comments, you can post them here or over at MODEL CAR MAGAZINE FORUM, or at the Lab-RAT-ory YOUTUBE Channel.  Please, stay tuned in, more fun just around the corner.  Over and out, General EYEGORE!

Saturday, January 21, 2012


It's not only what I  have for breakfast every day, but it's also the way I approach my creative life on a daily basis.  I try to soak up as much inspiration from an unusual variety of sources.  Books, magazines, movies, photos, real life.  I have an extensive collection of how-to books on a variety of subjects, and it all helps keep me well fed.  My background has always been art, and lately (with the help of Michael DeMeng) I've been working on surface textures.  You know, the tactile stuff, from cracks to the grittiness of rust.  I think you have to stay well fed, energized, vibrant, and more importantly keep you mind active . . . new ideas, as we age, are harder to come by.  Keep your radar on and JUICED!

These Zombie Hunter vehicles are only a manifestation of all my influences, an amalgamation of styles that by the time I pick up the airbrush, I feel rather dizzy with anticipation about what exactly will turn out.  I think this is the journey for most artists.  (Yes, model builders ARE artists, why not?)  No the final product, but the way there.  The twists and turns on the road to and through discovery.

These cobbled and kit-bashed subjects are highly addictive for the above reason. I never know how they will turn out, and I can only learn on the way there.  I think the other factor about why I build these things has to do with patience.  I am a very impatient person.  Always have been.  Building models helps me control my manic side, my compulsive streak, which allowed to run rampant will often see me back on the couch not doing anything, watching time fly out the window.

A little bit of everything feeds the head, the creative soul, it will help you stay interested in your hobby, your craft, your art.  Most people do nothing, they are quite content to rest and get back to the daily grind of menial work (not all of us are pilots, brain surgeons, rocket scientist!).  Not me.  I've always wanted to make stuff up, build something, move beyond this reality right now.  Time is about the doing.  In the end you can weigh all of it by how much STUFF you've created.

Friday, January 20, 2012

F.A.Q 2 (Frequently Asked Questions 2) by Mig Jimenez

Folks, the new and improved (a whopping 300 pages +) of beautiful eye candy, new and improved techniques, how-tos, step-by-step, ABSOLUTELY GORGEOUS and a MUST-HAVE is just out and available through If you contact, Mr. Iain Hamilton, he'll be more than happy to set you up with your own copy.  Doctor Cranky HIGHLY recommends this book.  This book revolutionized my models, and after I started pouring through it  my work changed forever, and for the better.

Here's my review of it, hope you enjoy it :

Thursday, January 19, 2012

The KING of Post-Nuclear/Post Apocalypse Models

If you have never seen Barry Harker's models, you are in for a real treat.  Mr. Harker lives in England and has been building models all of his life.  He is an artist too, with an amazing imagination and Doctor Cranky is elated to have started a friendship with him.  His work is unlike anything else you've seen before.  Barry relies heavily on scratch-building and he uses the stuff most of us throw away, like the sprues.  His work shows a great attention to detail and a richness of both paint and weathering.  He promises to send me more of his work to feature not only in the Lab-RAT-ory Channel, and here as well.  Please enjoy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012


When exactly did I hear about STEAMPUNK?  I don't remember, but I know the term stuck, and by that point I was too far gone on the amazing visuals.  What is it?  It's the baby you'd get if you crossed H.G. Wells, Jules Verne (as mothers) and the art of H.R. Giger (as father).  It's deliciously dark, anachronistic and tubular, and GIZMOLOGY crazy, which is what attracts me to it like a bug to those blue light zappers.  You see it everywhere these days, in art, jewelry, Hollywood movies, EVERYWHERE.  It's taking over, and I am happy about it.  I think it's a fun aesthetic, and certainly a style that keeps my noggin A-CRANKIN!

I guess it's would have saved the Victorians and spiced up their fucked up world even more than it already was.  Even in many recent books, the trend is to go back and FRANKENSHSTEIN-FY the work.  My pronunciation is an homage to one of my favorite comedies, you know the one:  FRAU BLUCHER!  And the horse neighs!

I think it's this kind of grafting and funking that makes it so exciting.  It's been trickling down quickly ever since Jim "Hollywood" Fernandez turned a 49 Mercury into a now infamous car model called "BAD PENNY" and it's been nothing but elation and delight since.  If you've never seen Hollywood's work, then you should.  Here's the link to the steps he took to build it:

It's a great time to be a model builder, to share your work and imagination with others.  Technology has really brought us closer together, and instantly you can tune in to see what so many wonderful builders are working on.  This is true of all genres in art.  Welcome to the revolution!  Now build something!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Came out of slumber and took some pictures of the latest creation to come out of the Lab-RAT-ory, which proves the best work is always done during lightning storms.  Ah, EYEGORE, you are the best assistant a mad doctor could ever want.

Here are some beauty pictures of CLAW, the latest in a long line of Toothless Zombie Hunter vehicles.  Needless to say, these types of builds are a blast to do, and they do help keep the imagination sharp, not to mention your eye for details.

Pudding Proof!

Done, exhausted but feeling very satisfied.  Who in their right mind would do this?  Well, Doctor Cranky would, only because long ago he learned that if you don't work hard, you don't really get anywhere.  The world is already too full with slackers and couch potatoes.  I mean no disrespect, of course, because I could be both of those things too, but there's an element about the clock ticking and winding down that I don't much appreciate.  My struggles, as a good friend puts it, is with time.  The running out of it.  And, as I've said before, we ALL run out of time.  So what are you going to do on the way there?  Just sitting around, never leave your mark on anything?  I can't do that, I must be pro-active.  My mother knew from the moment she laid eyes on me that I was not bad to the bone, but an Alien, a creature from some other planet.  I've always been different, compelled and motivated by forces I don't try to understand anymore.  Motivation is important.  I think it's what keeps the gears and cogs of the MUST-DO machine well lubed.   Most people on the planet are just happy to be.  Existence, I contend, tends to be over rated.  LOL.  In order for me to feel like I exist, I have to work, I have to do something . . . build something, create something.  Perhaps this is the beginning of some God Complex inherent in most of us.  I cannot sleep if I don't feel like my imagination has been exercised properly.

Creating models relaxes me through that exercise.  It's the reason I write, do art, do a variety of other things that bring me enough pleasure and confidence to continue.  Having said that I also wish I didn't have to do any of it and just be normal like everyone else.  Go to work, trudge through, be happy.  Nah, not for me.  I figure by the time my clock stops, I will have at least made enough junk so that people will say, HE MADE A LOT JUNK, as they take it all to the garbage dump.  That will be their problem.

This was the original cover Harry Pristovnik, the maestro of graphic design, did for my book on how to build car models.  A book that, thanks to Harry, got done a little bit at a time, very much like this blog is being maintained.  I poured a lot of love and hard work into this book.  It's NOT an exhaustive compendium of all tips, techniques, and how-tos.  NO, it's one person's process by which to keep busy, be happy, and make sense of an otherwise crazy existence.

The "cranky" in the name comes from that moment when you realize that because the time is running out you can  no longer suffer fools, have time for just smelling the coffee, etc . . . I love Dylan Thomas's line about "raging against the dark."  You've got to get done what you need to.  No excuses.  No ifs, buts or other interruptions.  Other people thrive on procrastination.  Doctor Cranky thrives on always being near the edge . . . and unlike Sisyphus, he is not necessarily fond or excited about having to run down the mountain to push up the same rock up hill again.  There's nothing new in that, and the Old Doctor cannot imagine himself being happy without doing something he truly loves and enjoys.  LONG LIVE STYRENE!

Monday, January 16, 2012


Ah, painting, what can I say about it?  It's always an anxious proposition.  I get restless and often will not sleep well, nervous with anticipation.  Why?  When you build models you learn quickly that paint is the final process by which you can either make or ruin your model.  And god knows I've ruined plenty of them.  I've ruined them usually at the start of the painting process because of accidents, or carelessness with the paint systems, or something usually goes wrong with the steps.  When I used to paint models with the rattle can I felt a little bit more in control, but the airbrush came along and changed my painting and models forever.  The IWATA ECLIPSE is a super airbrush, and you could never blame it for mistakes.  It's not the airbrush, it's the user's fault.  Always.  If you take care of it and keep it clean, it will help you get to the next level, and the next level is simply automation of skills, process, and results.  You get good at it.  Not right away, but eventually.  Practice makes perfect, so musicians say.  And they are right.  I've been using the airbrush now for about ten years, and it's gotten easier.  Much easier.

I learned from Craig Fraser's book that H.R. Giger (one of my favorite painters--Alien fame) uses the airbrush in a very unorthodox way and that is by using his thumb on the trigger.  If he could learn to do his amazing art this way, I then most certainly could learn to spray models with it.  It becomes an extension of your arm, your hand.  You follow through.  It's learning to serve in Tennis, or the swing in Golf.  You get good at it, used to the machine at your fingertips.

So today is painting day, another airbrushing day, hopefully filled with delight and pleasure in the routine of spraying paint in layers and watching what happens.  I am not kidding you when I tell you that it's always seemed like magic to me.  MAGIC indeed.  You start out with primer (the blank canvas) and you go from there, layering in base coats and effects, and by the time you finish, the work has been transformed.  Your imagination has been properly exercised.

It's Day 3, Final Day, it's Midnight or BUST!  Cheers, Doctor Cranky

Sunday, January 15, 2012

SUNDAY'S PROGRESS (Day 2)--THE ZONE, or builder's pocket as Doctor Cranky likes to call it, that place between the imagination and your hands when both start turning, making an idea come ALIVE!  It's ALIVE, EYEGORE, it's ALIVE!  The addiction for any type of build is really the connection between your imagination and the way your hand-eye coordination execute whatever ideas you are transmitting.  Of course, tools help, but those are like the keys on a keyboard, they only help with continuity and flow.  When you are working on a miniature world, the REAL world falls away.  And I think this is the place for me.  I've always been distrustful of reality, of situations that are often not comfortable, meeting people, doing things I don't want to do, etc . . . the point is that building models releases the spirit to roam free in the world of the imagination.  It's a much happier place than reality.

So, we are talking here about machines that are or could never bet (not yet, anyway), truly functional.  One sacrifices function for  WILD and OUT THERE.  It's what makes Post-Apocalypse models so cool.  No, nobody knows how the world will truly end, and most of us won't be around to witness it anyway, but it's fun to visualized, to pretend, to fight against the fact that the world DOES END for all of us.  Sure, not a cheerful subject but when you turn 50, you know it's now on your radar screen.

One day at a time, one moment at a time, and the idea is to make the moments last.  Pleasure and joy are hard to come by in this world, this life, but ROUTINE will set you free.  Establishing a good, dependable work habit, if you are serious about building, is one of the best things you can do.  This is true for any goal you set, or want to achieve.  So I was being lazy at the start of the month, now I am going at break-neck speed to try to build this model in 3 days.  72 hours.  That gets the blood pumping.  Adrenalin flowing.  Oh yeah, and there's nothing better.  The basic components of the body are done, and this morning I will shoot primer and then turn my attention to the chassis.  The work will continue now in tandem with other parts of the build.  I have to get some paint on it by the end of the day in order to focus on finishing tomorrow.  It's going to be another long day, but what a pleasure it is to greet the coming sun  with a good cup of coffee and a model on the stand.  It's gloriously fun to be ALIVE with it!

Please stay tuned in!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

SATURDAY PROGRESS--Deep into the first 24 hours.  I tried to work through the night, but I only made it until about 2am.  The body and bones are getting old, and the mind needs its rest.  Got up early and have started to make progress.

When you are doing a build like this, it's important to have a deep parts box.  I have one, and it's pretty deep.  Lots of 1/35th scale military sprues, lots of Warhamer 40K, lots of bits from all over the place, including the hardware store.  Lots of BIONICLE toy parts which I love and I got a big supply during a family member's garage cleaning which is what happens when the kids go off to college.  Anyway, the fun has begun. I am deep into the build, and what I love about this type of build is that it's supposed to be NO STRESS, although I set up the 72 hour deadline just to make myself hustle and DO SOMETHING, finally!  Build something, finally.  I am very happy with some of the way this one is turning out.  It makes me laugh because, after all, it is still a GREMLIN.  One of the ugliest cars every to come out of Detroit.  I'm sure there are uglier, but this one is at the top of my list.  The kit has it's problems, but again this type of build you work around the edges, cut corners, etc . . .

This is where I was around 7am this morning, already visualizing some of how this build is going to look. The mesh is always handy.  I don't think I want to do much to the interior, and that's fine.  This sucker is going to be a curbside model.  This is all about the killer "look" when it comes to Post-Apocalyse.  Anyway, there will be more progress in the coming hours and certainly by tomorrow I plan on getting some more done.

This thing is UGLY, but I believe the paint will bring it all together.  I hope that's the case.  I always hold my breath and then it all works out.  I am also making a video log of where I am at every stage.  It's a lot of juggling, but someone's got to have fun in the Lab-RAT-ory, and it ain't EYEGORE.

LOL!  Cheers!

Friday, January 13, 2012


GREMLIN SOUP or a 3-DAY WEEKEND BUILD CHALLENGE.  EYEGORE says the old Doc might have flipped his lid this time.  Since I am constantly nagging other model builders to post some eye candy, I decided to torment myself this time and see if I can do a model in exactly a 3-DAY weekend.  It's not about the speed at all, but it's about motivating myself to get back to the bench, something I have not done since the year started, and I've been feeling the kind of styrene blues, you know, like I can't get it going again.  And so we shall, the Old Doc and EYEGORE, and we'll see what will happen.  So I hope you stay tuned in for more styrene adventures.  Wish me luck!


Speaking of taking photographs, when I started building models ions ago (using those old send-your-prints-to-the-lab cameras) I took horrible photographs, in part because understanding a camera requires a great deal of math, and I am sure you've heard by now that old Doctor Cranky suffers from Dyscalculia (a fancy word for math impaired!).  Along came the digital camera and revolutionized the way we take photographs.  These point and shoot cameras are perfect.  They have also gone down in price considerably, so these days I use my Canon Powershot 10SXIS and get excellent results.  Of course, I have read up everything I can about taking better table top photos, etc . . . but it's been a very pleasant (and sometimes frustrating) journey.  Along the way, also I sought and received help from some of my model building heroes.  My pictures have come a long ways, and I guarantee that my addiction to styrene is matched only by my addiction for taking photographs, or "playing" with the eye candy, as EYEGORE calls it.

 So you read up, inform yourself as much as possible, but nothing teaches you more than hands-on.  Making mistakes and getting frustrated are part of the process, the journey on the way to taking better pictures.  My set up has stayed simple in the last five years or so.  A shadowbox above on a boom, two lights on each side and a sweep, which is normally all you need.  Light is important, and to understand light math is necessary, but you can also adapt and adjust by playing with the camera.  I still don't know anything about how cameras work.  For me, it's a magical act, but when you end up writing how-to and step-by-step articles, good quality pictures are necessary.  You want to show your work in the best light possible.  You want to produce consistent good quality images time and again.  Sometimes I get lazy and end up using my iPhone 4 camera, then run the pictures through one of the many filter Apps, and get good results, but my digital camera is still the workhorse.

Model building--particularly if you are participating in sharing your work in the forums--is an art that truly depends on good quality images.  You've put so much time and energy into building a model that you are doing a great disservice to your craft if you don't at least try to improve your camera work.  Trial and error, it's an everyday reality.  Again, you have to enjoy the journey.  Try your best to stay up to date on the technology.  Improve your equipment when your budge can afford it.

Only when you get the combination of a project that really excites and energizes you and the right-looking images will you begin to feel like you are soaring, and it seems that SOARING is really the addiction between building a world in scale and making a record of it.

You get closer.  CLOSER!  You are entering that space of your imagination that normally only YOU can visualize.  Models and pictures illustrate that world for someone else.  The closer you get, the more the details come into the light.  Here's a photo back drop I built a couple of years ago in my constant search for creating interesting back drops for my models to be photographed against.  This time I wanted to build something that would scream "WORLD'S END!"  (You know how Doctor Cranky feels about the Post-Apocalypse and Zombies!) and so I built this base to play around with, large enough to fit a few models at a time or to maybe even make a Stop-Action animation (waiting for the figures to start).

Here's the formula for success with your photographs:  Inform yourself + Practice = Proficiency.  Proficiency   turns to dependable results.  Everyone wins.  You get closer, and closer.  Your eyes water not because they are tired but because you are liking what you see, it's affecting all of us at emotional and intellectual levels.  It takes time, patience, and your pictures, like your models, undoubtedly will get better.  Enjoy the journey.  Keep taking pictures.  Have fun.

EYEGORE says that if Doctor Cranky can do it, so can you.  Take pride in your work, stand by it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Lab-RAT-ory Potential
One of my constant pleasures other than building models and dioramas is riding my Yamaha V-Star 1100 Classic motorcycle up and down Highway 27 in Florida, from Tallahassee all the way down to Miami, a city I love and have a past in.  The ride normally takes me 14 hours or so, and depending on how tired I am I will stop somewhere for the night.  What I love about these rides is that I get to take my camera, always hoping to veer off and get a little lost.  There's always the adrenalin and excitement of finding something new, something I have never seen before.

Other than my obvious styrene addiction, I am addicted to rust, gunk, and the way things will decompose.  I'm hooked on taking pictures of buildings off the road that are abandoned, too-far gone for anyone to save.  We live in a if-it's-broken-throw-it-away culture.  The old gets tossed out, abandoned.  So there's pure gold on the road.  I travel with my cameras and take pictures.  In my heart I feel a great tenderness for places overgrown with weeds, with roofs caved in, with the smell of decay thick in the humid air.  There's a rush and a high about them.  For me, they are  beautiful, perfect places.  Often, I am tempted to preserve them in pictures so I stop and photograph.  I wish more people would do this in their own cities and towns.  Communally, we could preserve a record of the way little towns and cities along the Blue Highways of the United States existed.  The way I think of it is if each of us took pictures of what we saw and witness, then the people coming up behind us would benefit from such a record.  For those of us who build models and dioramas those pictures are very important, not only as reference, but a source of inspiration.  We replicate what we see.  In doing so we are living our lives to the fullest.  There's a feeling I get by looking at these pictures that often scares me in that if we don't REMEMBER who we've been, what we've built, we will never learn what we are capable of being, dreaming, creating. It's an act of preservation, sure, but it's also a way forward.

It's all in the eyes, in the details.  It's the connection between one place and the next, between one person and another.  The stuff gets passed down in normal circumstances, but these are NOT normal circumstances.  As I approach the big Five-Oh, I wonder how much longer will these places exist, or me in them.  I live in a State where the current Governor does not believe in the beauty of ARCHEOLOGY, and he's a fool, like most people who don't believe you can learn your own history from looking at the rubble, at what remains in that corner of our lives, standing there, still solid after all these years.

We eventually leave, turn and go away, and these places remain to tell their story, and OURS too.  My taking photographs is not just a mere act of preservation, it's a act of remembrance.

Which is why I build models.  I try to have control over the story, what all I want to say about what I've seen, the lives I've lived, what it all means to be here in the now.  It's a privilege and a pleasure to be able to build something out of nothing.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


For the last couple of years, EYEGORE and DOCTOR CRANKY have been hanging out in the Lab-RAT-ory, and then suddenly in this new year, EYEGORE suggested opening a place where Styrene Addicts (you know who you are) from all over the world can come in and hang out, you know, a type of LOUNGE where we can discuss, ask questions, post interesting things about all matters of model building and dioramas. We hope it will be a comfy place that will keep everyone both talking and inspired. A free zone to exercise the imagination. We are definitely looking forward to it.

So much of our lives are spent at work, or else where beyond the boundaries of our work benches, work shops, studios . . . and building models is indeed a very lonely business, but it doesn't have to be. We can branch out and make contact with our fellow hobbyists, our friends in the model building world.

It should be simple, free, and fun, right? Once in a while, I look up from the bench, yes, this small space where so much Frankensh-tein-ing gets done to plastic. Doctor Cranky is about to officially turn 50! He has been working tirelessly in the Lab-RAT-ory to come up with new ways of building models, techniques, ideas . . . he likes the company.

EYEGORE likes it too, welcomes it. Please join in the conversation! Thank you.


Marcus Nicholls offered a very nice review of Doctor Cranky's book: RATZ, RODZ, AND RUST: BUILDING MODELS CRANKY'S WAY published by AK-INTERACTIVE (Logrono, Spain) this year.

You can find the review on Page 58 of Issue 194, November 2011 TAMIYA MODEL MAGAZINE INTERNATIONAL.

Thank you, Marcus. Cheers, Doctor Cranky.

OH and EYEGORE says Hello!


Greetings, CRANKYHEADS! Geez, I am ironing out the kinks in the blog just to make it smooth before we launch it. It's got the old Doctor Cranky chomping at the bit, really exciting and salivatin' over the idea of being able to post new and cutting edge stuff on a daily basis in conjunction, of course, with the Lab-RAT-ory YOUTUBE channel and the FOTKI archives. It's all fun. But I am also looking forward to being able to carry on an extended discussion on all sorts of subject matter.

So, anyhoo, I hope you will stay tuned in for more goodies!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Doctor Cranky's in DA HOUSE

Welcome, CRANKYHEADS. This your favorite Doctor of Styrene creating this blog to keep you posted on all the exciting new things going on in the Lab-RAT-ory.

CRANKYHEAD NATION is going strong, both on YOUTUBE and here now . . . please stay tuned in for all sorts of AMAZING STYRENE adventures, ideas, discussions, and discoveries.

Again, WELCOME and stay TUNED IN.