Prototype Fidelity - Part 2

George Eichelberger

These are interesting posts about railroad historical groups and modeling. Could I add another question to the mix?

I have been rather involved with the Southern Railway Historical Association for about 25 years. One theme that keeps repeating is that we should run more modeling articles in our TIES magazine. In general, I think it is correct to say almost everyone agrees with the concept in principle. Running more modeling articles would certainly create a bridge between the modelers and historians in the group and make better use of the organizations large archives.

But...there is a problem. As a high proportion of modelers are not interested in "nit picking" or "rivet counting", they can, and do, accept models that are less than perfect reproductions of their prototypes. So, if someone were to submit an article on a Southern Railway box car that was truly a beautiful model but they kit bashed a car with an somewhat  incorrect end, or the correct trucks were simply not available, should the article be published or excluded because it was not completely accurate? Bad data published in a modeling article can live for years. Years ago, Model Railroader ran two articles in the same "Paint Shop" that said one of the colors on both Southern and Seaboard Air Line diesels was white. That was an absolutely incorrect statement, SR was imitation aluminum and SAL was a very light green, but it lives on with people citing that article as the correct prototype colors to this day.

So....does a HS only print "perfect" modeling articles and alienate modelers by appearing to exclude their interests and work or should inaccurate article be published with some kind of "good enough" logic? Should the question be dodged (basically what SRHA has been doing) by not running modeling articles at all? People that read the commercial modeling magazines probably recognize that the models it discusses are not always perfect. Should modeling articles be left to them?

PS I see a trend on the Internet where people nit pick a commercial model to an absurd point. With the release of Exact Rail's (beautiful!) Big John hopper cars, people have written they will only purchase the model if it can be proven that it operated on a particular stretch of track within their narrow date range or it has a Plate "whatever" stencil when it should be something else. What's going on with that? Are we to believe people are so detailed oriented or are these simply rationales for armchair modelers to avoid purchasing or doing any modeling? I'd be curious to see what models they have that pass their sniff test for accuracy.


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