Wednesday, November 24, 2010

ALOHA LANES a c. 1960 Southern California Bowling Complex in a South Seas setting

bowling complex c. 1960  model 1/8Th scale

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my love for the past. The "Mid Century" period is one of my favorites. Years ago I worked on a project called "Astro Bowl" it was a late 1950's style Bowling complex.  Aloha Lanes (originally called Tiki Bowl) is a descendant of  Astro Bowl. The model is a prototype for MORE MODELS!! You may be able to purchase a version of Aloha Lanes in a 1/8Th (HO Scale) laser craftsman kit.  You'll need to have some model building experience as the final kit will not be a "Revell snap-together" type. The kit will again be mostly laser cut styrene plastic, with some details from other materials.  This is part of a whole series of HO scale model kits aimed at the scale Model Railroader. There will be drive-thru Car Washes, theaters, banks, shopping centers, Department stores, car dealerships, mountain vacation homes, Yacht Clubs and many more. These will be sold under the CENTURY SCALE MODEL line.

Aloha Lanes was inspired by several structures in the San Diego area. Some are still standing. It is based on building I grew up seeing around my hometown. At the time they were already "out-of-style", but I developed a love for them.

The version of the final kit may not be as elaborate, and the coffee shop section may become a separate kit to keep footprint size a bit smaller.
These are some test shots. The marquees will include several laser cut letters to create different names
A family of three tikis greet guest to Aloha Lanes

This is the VERY FIRST idea concept for this model.............

getting closer to the final version............
another early study quick-sketch -one of about 70 drawings
Aloha Lanes features a coffee shop called "TIKI COVE" and a cocktail lounge called "THE PELE ROOM"
a view of "TIKI COVE"; Aloha Lanes coffee Shop
Some guests depart THE PELE ROOM after some mid-day cocktails mid-century style!!

The service backside of Aloha Lanes
early test fit construction--your kit will look similar to this!!
Lets get a cocktail before we bowl!
The PELE ROOM seen from parking lot and street marquee

That white deluxe Plymouth station wagon sure gets around!!
You can get coconut pudding at TIKI COVE coffee shop!
Aloha from Aloha Lanes!!!!!

Friday, June 18, 2010


a view from the river!

as simple as this  looks....this was the final design after many many concepts!

one of about 25 different quick renderings possible versions of this entrance



........more can't pick the best from just one!!

the marquee and other details will follow........

another quick concept rendering-but looks close to what was eventually decided upon!

the hoist house backside

another set up test---more work was done on this

Thursday, February 18, 2010


San Diego is home to the oldest brick (fired brick as opposed to adobe) structure in California - the famous Whaley House.  Built in 1856 , This impressive structure is  also said to be haunted! Whether the rumored spirits of the house exist is  debatable, but it sure adds to the romanticism and lore surrounding the property. It's interesting that the first lady of the house -Anna Whaley admitted that she encouraged the local children to believe that her house was indeed haunted. She told them "Hay espantos aqui con ojos grandes" --basically "There are ghosts here with big eyes". This always induced the kids to "skedaddle" off her property and out of her garden!

The structure was saved from demolition in the mid 1950's and was restored and open to the public shortly after. A great deal of research went into the restoration, however due to constant lack of funds and miss-information, the house was restored "1960's" 19th Century  rather than true "1860's" style. Over the years restoration-correction has been occurring --most recently the correct balustrade and porch was returned to the mansion's front. More corrections will be added as time and money permit.

I was commissioned to construct a scale model of the Whaley House as it appeared around the 1865-1869 period --this model was used to show visitors to the house what the grounds and mansion probably really looked like. The model was completed in 1997, and was on display for years. At some point the Save Our Heritage Organization --who has done amazing work with the current restoration - was awarded the overseeing of the landmark. Many of the original displays and artifacts (except original pieces that could be proved were owned by the Whaleys') were removed by the County of San Diego. The whereabouts of the model I made is unknown. These pictures I recently came across while updating my portfolio. The model is 1/8th scale and made from styrene, wood, acetate.  When I find the original slides taken of the model I'll post those as they will show all sides of the structure as well and be a much clearer set of images.

The left annex was used as a grainery at one time, but here in the model it is in use as a courtroom. The black slurry on the mansion side's roof is not my poor brush work, but is to represent the 1860's prototypes hot-tar paper roof!

Look at the beautiful lush garden setting of 1860's San Diego!! Anna & Thomas Whaley were from New York,  and Thomas had convinced his wife to come to California where his gold-rush business endeavors were  very successful. Anna was oblivious to what San Diego was like, and she even brought her opera glasses!

The mansion Thomas built for his wife was very East Coast /Late Federal style and was no doubt the finest home in San Diego County at the time. One of Mr. Whaley's business ventures was a brick making machine. Besides bricks for his own home, Thomas sold bricks to the US Government to built a string of lighthouses up the coast --including the Cabrillo Lighthouse also in San Diego.

Building supplies other than adobe were almost non-existent--the closest timber was more than 100 miles away, and there was no timber industry there. One series of model projects underway for the San Diego Historical Society is for an exhibit of "19th Century Prefab".........these were structures built in Maine in sections, loaded onto ships and brought around the horn into San Diego and sold as "instant" housing! This series of models will include a hand full of homes and business that were brought to the west as "kits". About four of the original 15 building brought here in 1850 still stand in San Diego.

Looks like that horse has taken notice of the photographer as a court session is let out for a break. Those carriages were small kits that had to be built and painted. I had to create a new period-correct stovepipe top hat for the cabs driver. Even the doors to the coach open, but it protected by a display case.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


A project I've been working on required me to construct 3 each of several famous set structures from the television show LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE that ran from 1974-1986. None of the structures exist today, and any of the plans and blueprints known to exist for them were destroyed in a massive fire that wiped away everything from scripts, set designs, props, concept art, costumes and anything else associated with the show's production. The first commission was for the OLESON'S MERCANTILE and The SCHOOL HOUSE/CHURCH as depicted in the TV version of WALNUT GROVE Minnesota ( was really in Simi Valley less than 1/2 hour from downtown LA!!)  One problem with making models of structures that are movie or TV props, is that they are not real structures in most cases, and their interiors rarely match up with their exteriors. I scanned through hours and hours of episodes of the show and reviewed press photos and cast  set /backstage photos and  also got personal memories from Little House cast and crew for my research before the plans and drawings were started.  Many of the structures over time seem to grow extra walls or details appear on some episodes and on others they are totally absent. With the case of the MERCANTILE,  it's interesting to note the placements of  smoke-jacks and chimneys  on the outside of the building have nothing to do with where fireplaces, cook-stoves and parlor stoves are on the inside sets. Some structures walls actually grew doubt that the set was revised or enlarged once the producers knew the show was going be around for a while.

Since my sister is such a fan of the show I built her a Oleson's Mercantile and Schoolhouse for her as well, requiring me to construct 4 of each structure!

Hours and hours of the show were viewed to find rare glimpses of the buildings backsides to make this as accurate as possible!

A neat shot from the personal collection of my favorite cast member from the show!

It may be hard to tell from these shots, but all four Mercantiles feature lace curtains, shades and even goods and wares inside the windows!!

From what I can tell, that large warehouse type door was to get inside camera access and storage.

I'll show the fabrication process in a later post. Bellow is the schoolhouse during a mid point of construction, with about 20% more to go before it was completed for delivery

A interesting view from above!

After completion the excited new owner of these placed an order for more! She has requested one with her namesake!!