Re: Prototype info from model mfgs
Tom raises an interesting thought.... how much R&D are modelers willing to pay for? I am not sure what the industry experience is on premium priced items, especially if the exact same item is available at a substantially lower price from the "special" version.
My guess is that we are talking about a small potential market, because the people that are interested in the correct repack dates on cars are probably not buying a Branchline-level boxcar anyway (with no slight to Branchline) because they are already picking and choosing between which resin kit to buy or not buy and have no interest in mass production factory paint jobs on a fairly generic carbody (with at least some significant features ....not the correct tabs, end, brake wheel / gearbox, roof, arrangement of underframe, etc., etc.) for the paint job or lot number for the car number on the model.
Adding maybe $20 for a printed history booklet that included extensive R&D which the manufacturer had to pay for probably wouldn't sell..... I might be willing to try it with somebody else's money to float the project but not my own, even after a few cocktails!!!
For passenger cars I would be inclined to buy any good research pulled together in book, magazine, or brochure form because of the dearth of such material... but not necessarily limited to one car or even one plan number. The RPCs (both the Railroad Prototype Cyclopedia and the Railway Production Classics passenger car series) are about right in their content and value along with other publications (many by STMFC stalwarts). I'd rather buy my locomotive, freight and passenger car reference materials separate from equipment (not all of us are in HO..!!!) where the format and market for a separate publication allows for a better product.
Back in the early days of Branchline's passenger car project, when I was beginning to realize just how detailed Pullman's records were, I suggested, tongue in cheek, that Branchline offer limited edition "RPA Line" kits, maybe 100 of each car name. I would provide information in each kit showing the shopping dates over the entire life of the car, so that those modelers who obsess over such things could move those cars off the layout if they would have been in the shops at the time of an operating session.
Just a random idea that sounded good after a few beers. But I bet they would have sold like hotcakes.....