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!!!!!


  1. Oh my GAWSH! Mike, this is indescribable! I'm absolutely dumbfounded. It's so gorgeous, and I'm reeling at the thought that you're doing more! I can only imagine the department store. Now, please tell me that you are also designing a fabulous neon sign for "Aloha Lanes" to stand out by the "street." Even the unpainted model is breathtaking. Keep us posted where and when we can expect to get our anxious little hands on this kit.

  2. Thanks Kevin!! And yes, there is a street view/parking lot marquee (partially visible in a few of these shots) however the lettering is not back from the laser cutter for the prototype yet. I looked at doing a simulated neon sign, and there is a company that can do it, but the cost would make the kit far too expensive to produce, so that was scratched early on, but I wanted to do it. And if I can complete it in time...the DEPARTMENT STORE #1 will grace my Christmas Cards this year! Yes! Department Store #1......I've designed three!! The first one is a mix of a MAY CO. & a BROADWAY prototype with some of my own design bringing it together ....and it is one of my favorites in this series! Department Store #1 will feature a core structure, annex wing and a zigzag roof wing featuring a restaurant on the second floor. Combined with a strip of outside shops and a garden center (both separate kits) you can create a small scale c. 1960 type shopping center!! DEPARTMENT STORE #2 is inspired by a 1963 Montgomery Wards Store that once stood in La Mesa California. A DEPARTMENT STORE #3 -loosely based on several Sears prototypes would be produced down the line or after the first ones are retired. The ALOHA LANES shown in these pictures is the hand made prototype --nothing on it is laser cut except the roof shingles and the marquee letters. It was used to test fit measurements while the cad files are created to eventually "cut the kit pieces" and study the overall scale of the future kit. All the kits have been designed to be scaled down a bit so as not to be too imposing on a model railroad, however I still want them to be authentic looking to the period. (Hey!! Like Disneyland!!) I'll post the foam core mock up images of the Department store #1 so you can get an idea of the general arrangement an proportions.

  3. ka-WUMP!
    That was me flipping over backward in my chair.
    This is going to be awesomer than Progress City. Can't wait to see all of downtown Cozartdale!

    In the meantime, I hope I'm on your Christmas Card list!

  4. Mike - These concepts are causing a major buzz among model builders and the generally interested mid-century cats and kittens too...keep the ideas flowing. There's going to be much demand for these outside of model railroad enthusiasts, as I envision many people modifying the kit(s)out-of-box to recreate thier own childhood memories - so keep that in mind my friend. These kits are as exciting to me as the wooden roller-coaster kits of a few years ago were. Bravo!

  5. These look amazing! I would so be in line to get these!

  6. Beautiful work Mike, this is a gleaming example of Southern California Tiki Architecture! I love the small details that bring the model to life, including the purple flowers around the building and the individually cut shake shingles on the roofs.

    Next time I'm down in San Diego, maybe we could grab some coffee and I'll show you some tiki architectural plans c. 1960s for some buildings and concepts there in your home town (e.g., Shelter Island) that I think you'll get a reak kick out of.

  7. Looks nifty!

    One nitpick, though: HO scale is "1/87th" (that is, 1/87th of the size of the real thing), not "1/8th". In 1/8th scale the bowling lanes on your model would be about 8 real feet long!

  8. brooksmoses: Sorry I should have clarified: in architecture the most common show model scales are 1/4Th scale and 1/8Th scale. This refers to 1/8Th of an inch equals one foot, zero inches (1'-0") HO scale (HO was first developed in the late 1930's and means "HALF of O Scale" O scale is 1/4Th of an inch or 1/25Th the size of the real thing )over time however some companies went with the 1/87Th the size of the real thing and in general is most commonly 1/87Th Europe it is often 1/90Th with some companies. Officially it's 3.5 mm = 1'-0". Luckily for architectural modelers, HO scale is real close and there is a great deal of items the architect can take advantage of. Although the model kits are aimed at the HO scale model market, the plans and fabrication drawings were done 1/8Th of an inch equals a foot. This is good because it's a tad smaller than HO Scale. Most HO scale manufactures rarely make structures to exact scale because they would just be far to massive for the layouts. The CAD drawings were done in metric.

    If you look at my blog's current cover picture, that is a WDI model I did for Paradise is 1/8Th of an inch = a foot. The figures that populate the model are made at 1/90Th scale so they can be used by architects and HO model railroaders.

  9. Hi Mike,

    First time to your blog ... in fact first time in any model making blog! I LOVE Aloha Lanes you've sparked my interest in model making! Update when these become available ... I've featured you in a post on my blog Mia Huna Moku (aka The Secret Island)

    Hope you like it?

  10. Great stuff Mike, I'm sharing it with the world.

  11. Very interesting- not my style- but I'm recommending it!

  12. Very very cool indeed. It takes me back to Seaworld San Diego when it first opened.

  13. I'd love to have one of these, will be checking back for availability.

  14. Mike, I feel as though you've re-created part of my childhood. I was born in the mid-1950s and grew up in southern California, and when I saw the photos of your Aloha Lanes model my first reaction was, "I've been there, or to countless places very much like it." For people who come from that era, your models evoke a certain place and time that I thought was gone forever.

    If I suddenly had access to a time machine I would set it to 1962 and punch the button. If you need me for anything, I'll be in the Tiki Cove coffee shop, eating a pineapple cheeseburger and listening to Mancini music.

  15. Really wonderful model. I would have this as a stand alone in my house. It looks just like a place in Long Beach that used to be on PCH called Java Lanes. It looks so much like it I wonder if it might have been a sort of chain. This is a very original model for the model RR set. I hope it does well. How much do you expect the kits to sell for?

  16. Hey Mike - featured on Boing Boing! Nicely done sir... This looks great - just like the apartments & lanes of my youth. Very San Diego-ish!

  17. Wow! I have always loved designing that I plan to take up architecture in College. Recently, I just admired the Glendale fitness center and Glendale parks and recreation architectural designs. Yet, after seeing yours it seems that I now have a new favorite. I'd be happy to say that its an ALOHA design that I love.

  18. That is an awesome piece of mid-century awesomeness!! where do I sign up do buy a kit?

  19. This is utterly amazing. I cannot wait to get my hands on this kit, and see future ones.

  20. wow...GREAT STUFF!!!

    almost makes me want to switch back to HO ;) ...but for now it's just great inspiration for my Tiki/Mid-century back yard project

  21. I totally went back to my childhood when my grandmother would take my brother and I out to the Aloha lanes! How did you find enough reference to make that? Fantastic.

  22. Is Aloha lanes still going to be made and sold? If not I would love to buy the prototype

  23. Anyway you could crowd source this model? Kickstarter? Or possibly release your structural/building drawings for it? I love this!

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