Consumer Prototype Protection - was Athearn's new John Deere Tractors

Charlie Vlk

The topic of Consumer Prototype Protection comes up now and then. Some in
the NMRA were pushing for such product identification a few years ago.....
they wanted everything to have a California label on it ....even the Atlas
Snap Track Bridges would have to carry a Cooper Rating on the packaging!!
I have direct knowledge of the model preparation process and the kind of
documentation that has been suggested would add another
day at least in overhead for each model and would be incomplete in many
instances. Because you have research information on hand to do the model
does not mean that it is in the format necessary to write up a narrative on
the history of the prototype. Often times you are lucky to find enough
pictures of the model you want to do much less have the information or time
to do the detective work of when the prototype was delivered, what the first
use of the scheme was, and how long it lasted.
The problem is none of this would increase sales and would likely have the
opposite effect.
How do you verify the correct dates a particular car or paint job (or for
that matter, car number in that paint job) is truly correct for? If you are
modeling a particular time and place how can anybody know if the car was
likely to show up there? How many people really care in the greater
marketplace? (remember, Prototype Modelers, while they may be an important
segment, are only a small percentage of sales for most production
Look at the range of discussions that take place a forum of
experts....with all the digging and research that goes on there are still a
lot of unknowns....
how reliable do you think any information on the outside of a box over the
full range of manufacturers is going to be? Who would police and decide
this? Is any manufacturer going to turn over control of their products to
a bunch of volunteers before they are allowed to market them? No way.
The NMRA does have an important role....which they at one time shared with
the manufacturing community... the establishment and maintenance of
technical interchange standards..... which has been sorely neglected since
the 1950s.
I think that the marketplace is doing a great job of shaping the quality of
product.... and the internet (through forums like this one and those of the
railroad historical societies) are improving the knowledge base for both
modeler and manufacturer.
Charlie Vlk

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