Re: Attitudes of kit producers, was:Wine car ops

Richard Hendrickson

On Sep 22, 2005, at 12:08 PM, Walter M. Clark wrote:

I wonder if the reason we get only northeastern prototype cars like
the Pfaudler milk reefers and not cars that were seen throughout the
country like wine tank cars, and others, is because:

1. Except for California and Texas the states with the highest
population (for example, look at any nighttime satelite photo of the
continental US and note where the largest areas of light concentration
are), and therefore potential modelers (market for models) is in the
northeast; and

2. List population excepted, many northeasterners are very parochial
in their attitudes and really don't care much about anything that
might break through their "if it is from west of the Mississippi and
north of the Ohio is doesn't matter" attitute.
Such broad-brush generalizations almost always miss the mark, as they
do here. Walter is assuming that northeastern modelers only model
northeastern railroads, which is far from true; many members of this
list who live in the northeast model western railroads (e.g. Tim
O'Connor). Conversely many who live out west model eastern lines (e.g.
Greg Martin). So the issue isn't where modelers live but, regardless
of where they live, which railroads make their hearts beat fonder.

In fact, model manufacturers have, by now, a whole lot of experience
with which railroads have strong followings among modelers and which
ones don't, and that experience factors heavily into the choices they
make of prototypes to model. Anyone in their sales departments will
tell you that, if it's painted and lettered for the Pennsy or the Santa
Fe, it will sell like gangbusters, whether it's an accurate model or
not. Other formerly large and important RRs seem to score high on the
boredom scale, for some reason; examples include New York Central,
Louisville & Nashville, and almost all of the RRs in the south and
southeast (and before devotees of those RRs write angry responses to
this observation, let me point out that those aren't my personal
judgments, just what I'm told by people in the industry about their
sales figures).

As for parochialism, there may be plenty of that in the northeast but
it's also rampant in the south, midwest, southwest, northwest, far
west, etc. There are a lot of modelers out there in all parts of North
America who will tell you that, for example, because they model the
Santa Fe or the Atlantic Coast Line, they're not the least bit
interested in freight cars owned by the Pennsy, B&O, or IC, to say
nothing of the Canadian RRs or any of the smaller RRs like the Rutland,
Birmingham Southern, or SP&S. Never mind that there's ample
documentation showing that cars from all of the above ran in
interchange on the Santa FeĀ and the ACL during the steam era.

Those of us who subscribe to lists like this one tend to forget that a
majority of those who buy model freight cars have never quite gotten
over their early experience with tinplate toy trains and tend to be
influenced less by prototypical accuracy than by a fondness for odd
road names (Ann Arbor; Quanah, Acme & Pacific; Bangor & Aroostook),
garish P/L schemes, and a host of other motivations we know not of and,
in some cases, can't even imagine. That's slowly changing as prototype
modeling moves more into the hobby's mainstream, but it's still a fact
that manufacturers ignore at their peril.

Given the unpredictable vagaries of the model railroad market place,
it's astonishing how much good stuff (and how little junk) we're
getting these days, with more on the way. Even "conversation pieces"
like Pfaudler milk cars and, quite possibly, somewhere down the road,
six compartment wine tank cars.

Richard Hendrickson

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