The world of model building may be just a hobby to some, but to guys like Steven Hernandez of Carson, California, it’s almost his entire life. Well, maybe not his entire life. You see, Steven is a family man, too, with a young wife named Yvonne and a newborn daughter named Arianna who are more important to him than any piece of plastic. Still, he puts a lot of effort into his scale model creations and we thought that we’d share a few with you.

At age 19, Steven (who is a member of Custom Builders Model Car Club) has amassed an impressive number of choice lowrider models with which to compete with. At any one time, he can place on a hobby table at least five first-class lows that can attract a grip of cash. There are plenty of hobby hours tucked into these glamorous beauties and that equals high-quality plastic for sure!

Steven’s newest ride by model year is a ’94 Chevy Impala named “Mirage,” which will definitely make you think that you’re seeing things. Other rides of his include an ’87 Chevy El Camino (from Monogram) called “The Chronic,” a black convertible ’70 VW (an AMT kit) designed and crafted by Yvonne with big trendy rims and sunroof, a ’65 Impala (Monogram) named “Pink Panther,” and a pagan gold ’51 Chevy Fleetline (AMT). Other models produced between diaper changes on his three-month old include a custom red ’48 Chevy Fleetline (Galaxie Limited) and a ’41 Ford Woody (Revell) that’s lifted way up high in the front.

The time spent on each model is about three to five months, including the planning and execution stages. It’s almost overwhelming, but Steven can’t stop himself; he has to outdo the next guy, who coincidentally is his buddy Jay “Nutty” Holt (featured elsewhere in this issue). Pals who often work and hang out together usually have the same modeling tools. For instance, Steven works with an X-Acto knife to open doors, hoods and trunks, along with tweezers and Testor’s model glue. Steven’s niche for interior work has him scouring the fabric stores. He leaves nothing unused and cuts the stiff cardboard model box for use on things like speaker boxes. And our big brother Lowrider Magazine helps with an unlimited amount of ideas.

After working with Steven’s models, we did notice some cool tricks that are only done by true professionals. Shopping for cool parts can be addictive. He hums along the aisles of the Hobby People (Torrance, California), the Hobby Shack (Lakewood, California), Pegasus Hobbies (Montclair, California) and UFO Hobbies (Los Angeles, California). How’s this for tricks? Steven’s speakers have Rockford Fosgate emblems and other equipment replicate JL Audio components. One favorite technique of his involves a four-strand brush (with tan and brown paint) to paint the wood paneling on the ’41. Steven sought out Detail Master products like photo-etched CDs, stereo units and sunglasses. It’s difficult to say which of Steven’s model is his best. In our opinion, they’re all unbelievable and Steven’s striving for plastic perfection is tough to match. His wife says, “Steven often stays home all day working on his models.” Well, Yvonne, at least he’s home and not out in the streets.

This month, we feature the innovative setup resting in the bed of Steven Hernandez’ ’87 Chevy El Camino called “The Chronic,” a good example of the detail that Steven puts into his plastic creations. The four engraved gold pumps (with square blocks) wear the Red’s Hydraulics logo and are arranged in a rack with what we’d call “pretzel plumbing.” These criss-cross hardlines resemble real tubing and were purchased at a hobby store like Pegasus Hobbies in Montclair, California. Congratulations, Steven, on a miniature setup that looks remarkably like the real thing.