Friday, November 23, 2018

Downsizin' and Lowridin'

HOBBY: an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation.

Kris Diaz
Something a little different today.  Here's a recent interview I did with Kristofer Diaz, a guy I met a few weeks ago at a hobby expo here in Denver.  Kris is involved in the local car culture -- car shows, car clubs -- and part of that involvement includes scale modeling.  He puts together those plastic car model kits that many of us (the boys, in most cases) tried our hands at, before we quit in frustration, when we were young dudes checking out our uncles' copies of Hot Rod magazine, or watching the neighborhood lowrider cruise slowly by like a candy-colored fantastic fantasy. But, unlike most of us, Kris kept at it and is actually very good at this hobby, and, in my opinion at least, his models (the few I've seen) rise to the level of works of art.  

Kris was born in Brussels, Belgium, to Peruvian parents. His father's work took the family to Canada, then they immigrated to the USA when Kris was 4. He's lived in the Aurora, Colorado area since except for a stint in Detroit (the motor city, of course) where he went to college, met his wife, and started his family. He has two sons and works for Jefferson County as an engineering inspector.


Manuel: Why model cars?
Kris: I'm not sure why I got into cars at all, I remember noticing them and liking them from a very young age, but I was not born into a family of car people like some enthusiasts are.

M: What attracted you to this hobby?
​K: I think as an automotive enthusiast who didn't have much access to real cars, model cars was the next best thing.

M: Describe your hobby for someone who is not familiar with all that scale modeling is.
K: ​To me, scale modeling is building a miniature model car or truck to resemble the real thing as much as possible.

M: Are you a member of any modeling clubs or groups?
K: I help run a local facebook group and belong to countless other groups on facebook and Instagram.

Cover photo from the Colorado Model Car Builders Facebook page

M: Facebook or website info?

M: From your experience, are there many Latinos involved in this hobby?
​K: I've found a pretty strong Latino presence locally but especially of course on the west coast. I'm a lowrider builder so of course it's easier to find Latino builders.

M: How long have you been involved in scale modeling?
​K: Since 1989.

M: How did you get started?
K: In 7th grade a friend gave me a model car for my birthday and while I had no idea what I was doing, I got more and never looked back.

M: What are the skills, if any, you've developed because of your hobby?
​K: I've developed an attention to detail and research to produce the most accurate build. Patience of course. Since I'm also into real cars, I've learned a lot about how cars are put together before I ever actually got my hands dirty.

M: How has your hobby impacted your life?
​K: I think that I've been able to cross my hobby over into the real thing. I'm happier messing around with cars in any scale than I am hitting the bar or club.

M: Are there many young people involved in modeling? Boys and girls?
​K: Far and few between. I've seen a few jump in with the encouragement of their parents. What I've found is that a lot of builders are exposed early, then get out of the hobby to build real cars, start families, etc, then start finding the hobby again once they're older and have more time.

M: Do you encourage young people to get involved in this hobby?
​K: I do, I run a model car show and have a Make N Take, where a young builder can put together an easy model for free.

Cover photo from Compas Colorado Car Club Facebook page

M: Does your hobby include car clubs, car shows, drag racing, or auto sports, exhibitions, or projects?
​K: I belong to Compas Car Club and we hit car shows pretty regularly. But model cars is not a part of that. I do attend shows locally and do plan on hitting some bigger shows nationally.

M: Ever work on a life-size auto like one of your models?
​K: I have a life size auto that I do have a model of.

M: If someone wants to get started in scale modeling, what advice would you give them?
​K: Start with something simple to start building up your skills. The cars available have a wide range. There is a whole world of research and aftermarket materials available at your fingertips on the internet that can help you along that wasn't there 15-20 years ago.

M: What are you working on now, and what projects do you have planned for the future?
​K: The nice thing about model cars is that you can build whatever you heart desires for the fraction of the cost and space of a real car. So I'm one of those guys that goes overboard and picks up a lot of models for the "future". I have probably over 1000 models in my collection that I have every intention of building someday. I have put my hands on every one to some degree, therefore I have a LOT of projects. The nice thing is that if I get frustrated or bored with a project, I can box it up and put it away for later, and pull down another project. Currently on the table is a 90s Cadillac Lowrider and a bagged out 66 Chevrolet Suburban.

M: When is the next show or contest where readers of La Bloga can see samples of your work?
K: I attend random contests mostly locally, but my next show is June 9th 2019 at the Havana Cruise in Aurora (the Havana Mini-Cruise).

Thank you, Kris -- hope to see you at the next car or model show.



Manuel Ramos writes crime fiction.  His latest book is The Golden Havana Night:  A Sherlock Homie Mystery (Arte Público Press, 2018.)  It has cars.

The author tries his shaky hand at scale modeling.

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