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.