All-American Models Rescued from Oblivion

The main office of Atlantis Model Company, Deer Park, Long Island, New York. Photo by John Griswold



“Build and Be Happy!” says the website for Atlantis Models, a company that has rescued many of the ship, airplane, and car models that American kids grew up building for generations. “Building models can be an artistic discovery and a journey through history.”

Atlantis was found in 2009 by the former owners of, Peter Vetri and Rick DelFavero. In 2018 they bought the die-cast molds for many historic kits you may have bought as a kid from Revell, Monogram, and Aurora, the big model brands that suspended operations as the companies and their assets reorganized. Many of these dies, going back to the 1950s, were unused and were stored in a warehouse in Elk Grove, Illinois. Vetri and DelFavero moved the molds, some weighing as much as a ton, back to Deer Park, New York, along with much of the original cover art and archival blueprints that could still be used to re-create missing dies.

I visited the Deer Park factory on Long Island a few days ago and will write more on it later. For now, here is a glimpse of the facilities of a company that has preserved elements of an all-American activity for the future.

Rick DelFavero, Atlantis Vice-President, August 23, 2023. Photo by John Griswold


Some of the die molds for the historic model kits. Photo by John Griswold


A perennial favorite model, made popular by President Kennedy’s WWII service. Photo by John Griswold


The inside of a die for a Mustang car. Photo by John Griswold


Archival plans now safely in the Atlantis files. Photo by John Griswold


An Atlantis worker takes die-cast parts from the injection machine and cuts them to fit boxes. Photo by John Griswold


Model kits still popular after decades of sales. Snoopy and his Sopwith Camel is still the bestselling kit, now as then. Photo by John Griswold



John Griswold

John Griswold is a staff writer at The Common Reader. His most recent book is a collection of essays, The Age of Clear Profit: Essays on Home and the Narrow Road (UGA Press 2022). His previous collection was Pirates You Don’t Know, and Other Adventures in the Examined Life. He has also published a novel, A Democracy of Ghosts, and a narrative nonfiction book, Herrin: The Brief History of an Infamous American City. He was the founding Series Editor of Crux, a literary nonfiction book series at University of Georgia Press. His work has been included and listed as notable in Best American anthologies.