Book Review
Ratz, Rodz and Rust
Ratz, Rodz and Rust, Building Models Cranky's Way by Virgil Suárez
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by: Jim Starkweather [ STAFF_JIM ]

The folks at AK Interactive were obviously very impressed with the weathering techniques of Virgil Suárez (aka: Dr. Cranky). Impressed enough as a mostly Armor/AFV modeling company to want to publish a book about doing amazing weathering techniques on car and truck models. As you will see from the photos there are some amazing results by Virgil and his friends in the scale auto modeling world. This book is one of the most finely crafted publications in our hobby I have yet seen. I am speaking as a graphic designer here and not as a hobbyist, but I think even the average reader will appreciate the sheer amount of work that was put into making the book look as good as it is.

Inside the Book

On first look it might appear that this book is all images, but that is because pages 68 through 109 are dedicated to showcasing the completed works of Dr. Cranky and other accomplished auto modelers. The opening pages of the book read like an introduction to modeling and would probably make this book a great gift for a friend who might be considering making the plunge into the hobby. From about page 18 though Virgil really starts to give out tips and techniques that will interest modelers of any genre. Some of the interesting bits I noted was his use of a magnetic jig to properly position his chassis and wheels so that they are all touching ground evenly.

Of course the core of the book are the painting, airbrushing and weathering techniques (pages 26 through 57). There are sections on painting via aerosol cans as well as using an airbrush. Armor/AFV modelers will really be interested in the rust and weathering tips. The salt method, hairspray technique, and color modulation are all covered in this book.

The last bit of tutorial text is devoted to "Photographing, Displaying, and Showing your Work" (pages 58 thru 67). Again all the basics are covered here as well as some nice professional-grade tips.


I don't have any qualms about recommending this book. If I did have any reservations it would only be that this book is limited in teaching certain techniques only due to its medium (print). That said I think Virgil does a good job via text describing how he does his magic. However don't expect a lot of 'how-to' step by step images to go along with his text. There are some, but only those showing the evolution of the model, etc., not the actual real-time application of paint or weathering materials.

This book will probably fit different needs for different level modelers. For auto modelers I would say this book is probably going to become an essential pick for their shelves. For the casual or beginner modeler this book can provide a good level of tips and advice on starting up (or getting back into) modeling. For non-auto modelers this book still has something to offer. For one is just plain inspirational. If you don't get the urge to build a 1/24 scale car or truck (your first one maybe?) after reading through or even perusing this book I would be very much surprised.

If you are already a weathering master than likely you will not need the knowledge available in this book, but you will certainly still enjoy seeing the photos of old rusty autos. At the very least it makes a heck of a coffee table book to entertain friends and neighbors.

Highs: Amazing photos, thoughtful text, and the quality of the book is top notch.
Lows: Limited number of 'how-to' images depicting actual techniques in process.
Verdict: A wonderful book for modelers of any age, experience or genre.
Percentage Rating
  Scale: 1:1
  Mfg. ID: 978846150023
  Suggested Retail: $29.95
  PUBLISHED: Aug 25, 2011

Our Thanks to AK Interactive!
This item was provided by them for the purpose of having it reviewed on this KitMaker Network site. If you would like your kit, book, or product reviewed, please contact us.

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About Jim Starkweather (staff_Jim)

I started building models in 1971 when I was 6. My first model was a 1/32 P-40 Warhawk. Revell I believe. From there I moved onto the standard cars, Apollo spacecraft, and other kid orientated kits. I don't know what got me started on Armor. I must have seen a Monogram tank kit one day and said "Mom...

Copyright ©2021 text by Jim Starkweather [ STAFF_JIM ]. All rights reserved.


I have the book in my hands and i can second everything mentioned in the review. Beside this i thinks Its always a good think to have a look beyond the own nose, so this is truly a great source of inspiration for most of the modelers, no matter what they do. Also mentioned in the review already, the design is impressing. I can recommend it to every modeler with a holistic approach to the hobby. Yes, fellow modelers. This book is a true gem. I love it.
AUG 26, 2011 - 10:25 AM
Thank you for this review, just ordered my copy.
SEP 17, 2011 - 04:14 AM
Virgil's work is nothing short of exquisite. If we could ever get that man to build armor............................. G
SEP 17, 2011 - 10:46 AM
Thanks a lot for this book! Inspirational like few others! And thank god that this man is building cars and not armour!
JAN 22, 2012 - 08:36 AM

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