Re: Accuracy of paint schemes...

Charlie Vlk

The NMRA is actually once again going down the road of self-destruction in attempting to set itself up as a Consumer Protection Bureaucracy for the Hobby of Model Railroading.
I believe that one of the main reasons for the decline of the NMRA has been its talent for alienating the manufacturers. The organization was founded by a group of Manufacturers, Modelers and Publishers who all had a vested interest in the Establishment of Interchange Standards and Promotion of the Hobby. At some point in the sixties or seventies the Manufacturers and Publishers left the NMRA (probably because of the NMRA's preoccupation with vests instead of those vested interests) with today's active participation down to one major manufacturer of DCC systems and decoders on the DCC Committee. The NMRA is busily working on revising their NMRA Standards without any, as far as I can determine, participation or input by any manufacturers.
A minority volunteer organization such as the NMRA does not have the resources or mandate to pass judgment on active, full-time for-profit businesses. That is the function of the marketplace in a free economy. No manufacturer is going to submit the fortunes of its product releases to a committee of self-appointed volunteer experts, nor can such an organization assume the liability for assuming that role.
Issues regarding accuracy or applicability of details, paint and lettering are very subjective and best left to the marketplace. These are matters of opinion, sometimes even among well-informed experts.
As Richard points out, the way to improve the gene pool is to support the products that are prototypically correct (even if it doesn't claim to be so on the box label). If you see an opportunity for a correct product, support the manufacturers with complete, accurate, and timely information. Continue to educate the general Model Railroad public with articles and information about freight cars (and locomotives, passenger cars, operations, etc..) If there are more Informed Modelers than "Bozos", Prototypically Correct products will dominate the marketplace.
Charlie Vlk
Railroad Model Resources

Jared, MRIA has never touched the topic of accuracy or any other
discriminator among products. The only organization to do that was the
NMRA, and under today's timid management, it ain't likely to ever
happen again. How about a committee of RPM? <g>
Well, de facto, that's what we have now. Those few manufacturers who
care about getting it right consult on a regular basis with a number of
the subscribers to this list about steam era freight car painting and
lettering schemes, and some of them also follow the list discussions on
this topic, either as "lurkers" or as active participants. And those
of us who act in this capacity are in frequent communication with each
other, so in a way we have a committee already.

The problem isn't that the manufacturers don't have access to
comprehensive and accurate information, it's that some of them don't
care (because they think most of their customers don't care). Also, as
I've noted here before, there's ongoing in-house tension at some model
RR manufacturing companies between the R&D guys, who usually do want to
get things done right and who know where to get the information to do
so, vs. the sales guys, who are willing, nay eager, to produce bogus
models if they think they'll sell well (and who often have strange
opinions, and almost no hard data, about what buyers actually want).

Bottom line: despite our best efforts, there are still a lot more toy
train bozos in the hobby than prototype modelers. The bozos will buy
anything if (1) it's painted and lettered, however incorrectly, for
their favorite railroad(s) or (2) it catches their fancy, especially if
it's colorful (e.g., Boraxo covered hoppers). Even prototype modelers
are not entirely immune from these tendencies, as we have seen in
recent exchanges on the STMFC list. So it's pointless to blame the
manufacturers for making what sells. While we may feel that they're
pandering to the bozos, they're in business to turn a profit so they
can stay in business and (if only occasionally) produce something
that's prototypically accurate.

Our best course of action here is to vigorously support those like
Kadee, Branchline, and Proto 2000 who make a strong and ongoing effort
to do things right and to spread the word as widely as well among
other, perhaps less well informed, model railroaders about what's
accurate and what isn't.

Richard Hendrickson

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