The Rare-Plane Detective
As a teenaged modeler, Jeff Garrity ("The Rare-Plane Detective") won a Special Award in a Junior High School model contest for a Monogram Focke Wulf that was battle-damaged... a novel idea in modeling in 1970.
That motivated the future Rare-Plane Detective to turn his love of models into a career. Already a successful businessman owning a boutique advertising agency in his twenties, Jeff's life evolved again in 1984 while attending an IPMS Regional convention in New Jersey. Jeff found a copy of John Burns’ "Collectors Value Guide for Plastic Model Kits", looked around the vendors' room and realized that everyone selling them was working from their homes, and thought he could turn "the old kit biz" into a profitable, ongoing business venture.
Shortly thereafter, Rare-Plane Detective started purchasing their first model kit collections around the US, and then marketed the kits in "The Rare-Plane Detective Report", a bi-monthly direct mail catalog that listed hundreds (sometimes thousands) of old, out-of-production, and hard-to-find model kits. In the days prior to the Internet, printed catalogs were a way of life, and the Rare-Plane Detective Report had grown upwards of 1,400 paid subscribers. When each catalog mailed, the phones would ring continually as subscribers would place their orders for the plastic treasures listed inside the catalog pages. Rare-Plane even pre-dated eBay by holding rare kit auctions through the catalog.
Beginning in 1985, Rare-Plane began producing their ModelFest modelers’ conventions in the Philadelphia, PA area. Some ModelFest shows were three days long... almost as long as IPMS Nationals! The shows have been running for 25 years, hosting thousands of modelers throughout the years and expanding into additional markets in New Jersey, New York and the Washington DC area. The ModelFest shows gave inspiration for some IPMS clubs and modelers to begin producing their own conventions in the 1990s. Jeff has been told he originators of the “Chiller Theatre” convention model contest and the North Jersey IPMS MosquitoCon both credit Rare-Plane Detective ModelFest for the inspiration for the creation of their very popular model shows.
In 1990, Jeff retired Rare-Plane Detective and shut down the business when he and his wife had a daughter, and Jeff felt compelled to try the suit and tie world. But then the world opened up as a new market with a little thing called the “World Wide Web”. Jeff returned to the hobby business in 2000, when a former competitor, APC Hobbies, asked him to produce their own old kit catalog. Jeff produced their catalog for a year; eventually deciding it was time to go back into business since the Internet had opened up new possibilities. A few months later, Jeff bought out APC Hobbies and Rare-Plane Detective returned to the model kit business.
Jeff set up shop in Coastal Mississippi when his wife Kathy obtained an Advertising position there. Rare-Plane Detective grew larger each year thanks in part to the Internet and eBay, and was soon over capacity in a 1200-square-foot warehouse. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina damaged the warehouse and a portion of the inventory, but Jeff persevered and soon business was stronger than ever. A year after Katrina, Kathy was offered a position with MGM Mirage Corporate Advertising and the couple headed west to Las Vegas. Rare-Plane continues to grow, with warehouse capacity going from 1600 to 2000 square feet. The current warehouse is located just two blocks from the famous Las Vegas Strip. Since moving to the world famous Las Vegas Strip, Rare-Plane Detective has hosted many customers from around the U.S. and throughout the world who come by to shop. In 2010, Jeff acquired Nostalgic Plastic, and with it, the North American distributorship of Anigrand and Miniwing resin kit lines. In 2013, Jeff opened up a retail store adjacent to the warehouse and offices.
Today, Jeff travels to up to twenty shows a year all across the US from February until November. On many of the trips, Jeff picks up model collections, as well. Jeff's show philosophy is that modelers want to do business with people they "know". Shows are an important part of his marketing mix. You can’t rely on just sales channel when there are so many opportunities. He feels it’s important to get out and meet face to face with customers.
35-688 Cathedral Canyon Drive Suite #110
Cathedral City, CA 92234