This month’s entry comes with a soundtrack. Hit the play button below if you’re up for a little music.
|Donovan – Atlantis|
What a great time for fans of plastic figure models. Five years ago, it seemed the “big guys” had declared our hobby dead and not worth resuscitating. Polar Lights was at the end of a spectacular run of kits, including a few wonderful originals and many “repops” of classic Aurora monsters and heroes. But Playing Mantis, PL’s owner, was purchased by a larger company that was much more interested in Johnny Lightning cars than model kits.
The message that seemed to come down to figure-kit hobbyists was, “You’re not worth our time anymore.”
Fortunately, a few “little guys” decided not to accept that the hobby was dead and took steps. Moebius emerged and started producing terrific figure kits. Monarch’s Nosferatu was a hit.
Wasn’t long before figure kits started appearing from other companies that had the molds handy. Revell has put a handful of Aurora classics on hobby store shelves for the umpteenth time. Polar Lights is back in the game.
Still there’s plenty of material to mine. Hobbyists throw out wish-list material at every opportunity, hoping for revivals of kits they knew and loved as kids, and for stuff they’ve never owned but always been interested in.
Enter Atlantis Model Co., another small producer ready to make some of those dreams come true. The company has already released three UFO models. It plans to follow up soon with reissues of Aurora’s American Buffalo and Black Bear kits.
A bevy of Aurora figure kit releases are in the works for 2011, including Blackbeard and Captain Kidd, Gladiators and more.
The “little guys” behind Atlantis Peter Vetri, 39, and Rick Delfavero, 45, of East Northport, N.Y. They’re the owners of Megahobby.com Inc. and founded Atlantis in April 2009. They’re getting help from hobby expert Andy Yanchus, who serves as a consultant.
The company is named after Donovan’s classic folk-pop song.
Megahobby is about to celebrate its 10th year in business. Peter says he and Rick have “built many models over our lifetimes and continue to do so.”
My introduction to Atlantis Models came courtesy of Scott McKillop of Monarch. “If they can do faithful repops of the aurora kits, I will be a big fan, he wrote in an e-mail. “Looks like a great company.”
Q&A WITH PETER VETRI
Resin the Barbarian: When and how did you decide to start Atlantis?
Peter: Atlantis was started last April. We wanted to grow Megahobby through another sales channel besides retail sales. We love kits and think we can do a good job making them so Atlantis was born.
RtB: So far, the kits available from Atlantis were manufactured by other companies, correct?
Peter: This is correct. The EVE saucer was produced by Light Force for Atlantis. The TR-3E mold we purchased from Light Force and the UFO flying saucer was produced for us by Lindberg.
RtB: Will one or two of the wildlife kits be the first reissues coming directly from Atlantis? Looks like the Black Bear and American Buffalo are almost ready. And, when will they be available?
Peter: These will be the first two kits (NEW TOOLS) completely done by Atlantis. Hopefully they will be ready to ship July, August 2010. Both of these kits will have new box art by Chris White. We knew there would be a learning curve and unforeseen things when we started this. This has proven true.
RtB: The Atlantis Black Bear will be larger than the original Aurora kit, correct? Do you plan to make other kits different sizes than the originals?
Peter: No, just the bear as we felt it was too small. Besides the Black Bear, all kits will done true to the originals except some may have a few extra building options.
RtB: What new parts will be offered with the Gladiator and Crusader kits?
Peter: Still working on ideas.
RtB: I’m particularly happy about plans to repop Captain Kidd and Blackbeard, which I consider two of Aurora’s best figures. Now that word about Atlantis is getting around, what do you think people are most excited about?
Peter: I think just the idea that some the old kits will be available again at affordable prices.
RtB: I can’t find the Laramie Stage Ghost on your site anymore. Is that still in the works?
Peter: Some of the tooling is missing so the project has been put on hold.
RtB: I hear you’re having your molds made in China, but the actual manufacturing of the kits will be in the United States. Is that correct? If so, where are you having them made?
Peter: Yes, the molds will be produced in China and then sent back to us. We are working out deals with local injection molders. One I talked to even did work for Aurora and Addar. I liked them.
RtB: Are you getting bombarded with wish lists yet? If so, do you enjoy reading those lists?
Peter: Yes, we love getting the wish lists, it’s always great to hear what the builders want.
RtB: How did you select the Aurora reissues Atlantis has announced? A few are kits that hobbyists have been begging other plastic kit companies to repop, such as the Aurora pirates. Is there any sense of a “race” to bring back an old kit before another company gets to it?
Peter: We looked at all the kits that were not reissued and picked the coolest ones. We’re doing things at our own pace and do not feel a sense of being in a race. We’re taking our time and trying to do things right.
RtB: Do you plan to do original kits, or just reissues and repops?
Peter: We are working on a new line of UFO kits with Light Force. All UFO kits will be 8 inches in diameter from here on out. Beyond that, we will be concentrating on the repops.
RtB: Do you plan original artwork for all your kits, or will you reproduce the original packaging of some? I’m curious about the pirates in particular.
Peter: We will use the original artwork for the pirates, new artwork for the wildlife kits we may keep the bighorn sheep original artwork. The gladiators I would never change, crusader and viking I would like to do new artwork but we will see.
RtB: Everything you’ve announced so far requires no licensing, correct? If so, do you intend to ever move into licensed properties?
RtB: You hope the bear and buffalo will be available this summer. Do you have any idea about pricing?
Peter: Most of our kits will be under $30 retail.
RtB: Anything else you’d like to add?
Peter: Nothing at this time. We will keep you in the Atlantis loop.