Darwin “Doc” Hunkler, of Indiana, retired sixteen years ago. While some use that time to relax and take on hobbies, Doc got to work on his passion project full-time. Doc’s dioramas are 1/18 scale models, handmade, crafted with immense detail of a time gone. Gas stations and diners are his specialty. Doc sets up a few examples at swap meets around the country and draws a crowd wherever he goes. And for good reason. His models represent a time that so many now have in memory. The nostalgia is immediate when taking in the incredible detail to which Doc devotes his attention.
“I built models all my life,” Doc says. “I retired sixteen years ago and really got in to this. I build gas stations and junk yards.”
The cars are die-cast, but every other aspect is created from scratch.
“I mold the plastic people. The buildings are all metal. All made out of scrap metal, aluminum.”
The plastic lettering is laser cut and each model’s signs and windows light up.
“Each one takes about three months to build. I’ve sold several of them, here and there, every now and then. People look forward to me coming out to the swap meets to see what I have new. It is like a museum to them.”
So while some retire to golf, Doc spends his time constructing the past and preserving memories of his youth in 1/18 scale.
So what is next for Doc?
“I’m working on a Texaco gas station now.”