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
companies.
Look at the range of discussions that take place here...in 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


Anthony Thompson <thompson@...>
 

Charlie Vlk wrote:
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.
I can't tell here if Charlie is saying that manufacturers don't HAVE the info, don't want to take the trouble to write it up, or don't want to PUBLISH it. He certainly seems to be saying they don't really want to know the details of the prototype history. But surely they DO have some of it.

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?
Yeah, yeah, research is hell. Paint it however it looks good, right, Charlie?

how reliable do you think any information on the outside of a box over the
full range of manufacturers is going to be?
So tell us again, how good is the information NOW on the end of the box?

Is any manufacturer going to turn over control of their products to
a bunch of volunteers before they are allowed to market them?
Control? Hello? The NMRA might check for accuracy (gasp! mfgrs. fainting all around) but hardly would be able to, or want to, CONTROL anything. Gosh, Charlie, maybe once we get past all these straw men you're throwing up, we can discuss the real issues.
Manufacturers usually (certainly not always) do have photos, plans, and roster info: how else do they construct, paint and letter the models? Is it too much to ask that some of it be passed on? Oh, heavens no, somebody might not buy something . . . and others WOULD buy if they knew what they were getting. But less information is cheaper, and as Charlie points out, that tends to dominate the thinking (if that's not too grand a term) for the decisions many manufacturers make.

Tony Thompson Editor, Signature Press, Berkeley, CA
2942 Linden Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705 www.signaturepress.com
(510) 540-6538; fax, (510) 540-1937; e-mail, thompson@...
Publishers of books on railroad history


Paul Hillman
 

Tony Thompson wrote;

Manufacturers usually (certainly not always) do have photos,
plans, and roster info: how else do they construct, paint and letter
the models? Is it too much to ask that some of it be passed on?

************************************************************************************
That's what I'm saying too. The least they could do is just print,

"Circa 1941" or "First built 1929"

There wouldn't have to be any huge info, really, more than that. Any deeper investigation could then be at the consumer's own quest. But, Westerfield really does an excellent job on era, don't they?

Paul Hillman


jaley <jaley@...>
 

On Sep 24, 10:09pm, Anthony Thompson wrote:
Subject: Re: [STMFC] Consumer Prototype Protection
But less information is cheaper,
and as Charlie points out, that tends to dominate the thinking (if
that's not too grand a term) for the decisions many manufacturers make.
So, Tony, I infer that you think it's stupid for manufacturers to allow
such silly things as "cost" to influence their thinking. Given that the
broader MR market will not pay more for a kit just because it has 2 lines
of data at the end of the box, you're talking about increasing cost for a
fixed selling price. Please explain why doing this makes sense to you --
it sure doesn't make sense to me!

Is there some kind of new economics that applies to Horizon Hobbies and
Athearn that does not apply to steel mills and computer chip makers?

Regards,

-Jeff



--
Jeff Aley jaley@...
DPG Chipsets Product Engineering
Intel Corporation, Folsom, CA
(916) 356-3533


Ted Culotta <tculotta@...>
 

On Sep 25, 2004, at 10:04 AM, jaley wrote:

Is there some kind of new economics that applies to Horizon Hobbies and
Athearn that does not apply to steel mills and computer chip makers?
I don't know, Jeff, you tell me. $12 and $13 for ready-to-run versions of fifty+ year old tooling seems like strange economics to me. Imagine if Apple could still charge $5,000 for a desktop and have people flock to buy them. Oh, whoops, I forgot - the modelers keep buying the stuff, like crazy, no less.

Regards,
Ted Culotta


Charlie Vlk
 

Ted-
Just because the standard Athearn boxcar once sold for $0.89 as an
undecorated kit doesn't mean that the $12 they are charging now for the
current production is
unreasonable.
The products using newer tooling are priced higher than older models pretty
much across the board for all manufacturers. The cost of a Athearn plastic
boxcar tracks
pretty well with inflation from its introduction to its current price....and
you get trucks that actually roll, couplers that work better than the
dummies originally provided or the X2f s that replaced them, and superior
paint and graphics. True, the car itself may not meet current standards for
prototypical fidelity, but as a manufactured product I don't see the price
being out of line.
Besides, any savings due to the amortized tooling are most likely reinvested
in new tooling for cars that are up to today's standards....
Athearn ain't Dell or Apple and the Model Railroad Marketplace does not
support the same economics that major consumer marketplaces enjoy, but we
have reaped the byproduct benefits in technology and production which have
increased the quality of our products while increasing the value/price
ratio.
Charlie Vlk

I don't know, Jeff, you tell me. $12 and $13 for ready-to-run versions
of fifty+ year old tooling seems like strange economics to me. Imagine
if Apple could still charge $5,000 for a desktop and have people flock
to buy them. Oh, whoops, I forgot - the modelers keep buying the
stuff, like crazy, no less.


Ted Culotta <tculotta@...>
 

On Sep 27, 2004, at 8:47 AM, Charlie Vlk wrote:

Ted-
Just because the standard Athearn boxcar once sold for $0.89 as an
undecorated kit doesn't mean that the $12 they are charging now for
the
current production is
unreasonable.
The products using newer tooling are priced higher than older models
pretty
much across the board for all manufacturers.  The cost of a Athearn
plastic
boxcar tracks
pretty well with inflation from its introduction to its current
price....and
you get trucks that actually roll, couplers that work better than the
dummies originally provided or the X2f s that replaced them, and
superior
paint and graphics.  True, the car itself may not meet current
standards for
prototypical fidelity, but as a manufactured product I don't see the
price
being out of line.
Besides, any savings due to the amortized tooling are most likely
reinvested
in new tooling for cars that are up to today's standards....
Athearn ain't Dell or Apple and the Model Railroad Marketplace does
not
support the same economics that major consumer marketplaces enjoy,
but we
have reaped the byproduct benefits in technology and production which
have
increased the quality of our products while increasing the value/price
ratio.
They are still junk compared to Accurail and Branchline Yardmaster,
particularly the latter. Athearn just has better marketing and name
recognition so they can get away with the prices. Athearn should hope
that Branchline doesn't focus its efforts on Yardmaster. Scratch that
last statement as I forgot that consumers can't tell the difference
(and that is, unfortunately, a true statement.)

Regards,
Ted Culotta


Jon Miller <atsf@...>
 

Charlie,
The products using newer tooling are priced higher than older models<
I don't buy this product but my question would be, are these cars made
with _new_ tooling. It's my impression that the tooling is as old as the
car!
I don't mean just a retro-fit for new injection machines but new cut
molds? And if they cut new molds why didn't they improve the car/s?

Jon Miller
AT&SF
For me time has stopped in 1941
Digitrax, Chief/Zephyr systems, JMRI user
NMRA Life member #2623
Member SFRH&MS


Charlie Vlk
 

Tony Thompson wrote:"Control? Hello? The NMRA might check for accuracy
(gasp! mfgrs.
fainting all around) but hardly would be able to, or want to, CONTROL
anything. Gosh, Charlie, maybe once we get past all these straw men
you're throwing up, we can discuss the real issues. Manufacturers usually
(certainly not always) do have photos,
plans, and roster info: how else do they construct, paint and letter
the models? Is it too much to ask that some of it be passed on? Oh,
heavens no, somebody might not buy something . . . "

Even though Tony has authored books and probably utilizes others for
proof-reading, I don't think that he is going to let others control his
business. The NMRA did not implement their Prototype Police functions
because those proposing the measures were on the fringe of the organization
and the NMRA has more important things to attend to.
I don't think those that are talking about this are going to accept any of
the data at face value anyway. The first thing many on this list are going
to do is to run to their libraries to see if the information on the box is
correct.....
even Mr. Schneider's company, who has been favorably cited for including
such info on his boxes, is being discussed on the Passenger Car List for
offering cars of short-lived or non-concurrent existance for the same
roadname..... where does this all end? Do the manufactureres have to issue
a reference book for each roadname and car number?
Part of the Hobby is the research into the prototype. I am not looking to
the manufacturers to provide RTR research for me. Yes, such research would
cost the manufacturers more time and, since the amount of information
available would be inconsistent from model to model (without impacting the
accuracy of a model, I might add, as one good clear 3/4 view of a freightcar
might be all that is necessary to do a dead-accurate paint and lettering job
on a correct carbody) and thus be of limited value.
Charlie Vlk


Garth Groff <ggg9y@...>
 

Charlie,

Just think, if it weren't for all those Athearn boxcars that donated their rivets to the masters, we would have a lot of less-detailed resin cars. :-D

Kind regards,


Garth G. Groff

Charlie Vlk wrote:

Ted-
Just because the standard Athearn boxcar once sold for $0.89 as an
undecorated kit doesn't mean that the $12 they are charging now for the
current production is unreasonable . . . .


Ted Culotta <tculotta@...>
 

On Sep 27, 2004, at 10:07 AM, Charlie Vlk wrote:

even Mr. Schneider's company, who has been favorably cited for
including
such info on his boxes, is being discussed on the Passenger Car List
for
offering cars of short-lived or non-concurrent existance for the same
roadname..... where does this all end?   Do the manufactureres have
to issue
a reference book for each roadname and car number?
Part of the solution is that at least we can be assured that the
Branchline car did exist at some point in time. Branchline has made it
their duty to adhere to that standard and most people, when questioned,
do have some notion that Branchline's cars are accurate. I bet that
there will be fewer people who are angry when they find out that they
purchased a CORRECT car for the wrong era than when they find out that
a certain manufacturer's NYC, Milwaukee, GN, MKT, C&O, etc. stock cars
has no prototype in any era. I don't in any way think less of
manufacturers for putting bogus schemes on a specific prototype if it
will fund their efforts, but not stating such perpetuates problems that
could be solved with a very little disclaimer on the box (with the
exception of the boxes that contain the PRR versions, in the case of
the manufacturer in question.)

Regards,
Ted Culotta


Dave Nelson <muskoka@...>
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Charlie Vlk [mailto:cvlk@...]


Where does this all end?

With the most commonly asked question in every hobby shop: "Is this right
for my layout"?

Why? Because there's no information provided. Not on the box. Not in the
box. Not on a flyer provided to the shop owner.

Too lazy, too ignorant, too expensive, or too honest to do, I don't care
what the excuse is, I've come to the conclusion the vast majority of intent
behind not providing such information for a specific combination of paint
scheme and tooling is something comparable to trying to sell me the Brooklyn
bridge. I'm easy going enough to listen for a bit but once I figure out
what's going on I get real, real careful about buying anything from that
mfgr again.

That's not to say I think mfgr's should not do fanciful combinations of
paint and tooling -- go right ahead if you think it'll sell. Just let us
know which kits those are please.

Dave Nelson


Dave Nelson <muskoka@...>
 

Oh, I didn't attribute this correctly... Lemme do that....

-----Original Message-----
From: Charlie Vlk [mailto:cvlk@...]


Where does this all end?


----------- Dave Nelson responds ----------

With the most commonly asked question in every hobby shop: "Is this right
for my layout"?

Why? Because there's no information provided. Not on the box. Not in the
box. Not on a flyer provided to the shop owner.

Too lazy, too ignorant, too expensive, or too honest to do, I don't care
what the excuse is, I've come to the conclusion the vast majority of intent
behind not providing such information for a specific combination of paint
scheme and tooling is something comparable to trying to sell me the Brooklyn
bridge. I'm easy going enough to listen for a bit but once I figure out
what's going on I get real, real careful about buying anything from that
mfgr again.

That's not to say I think mfgr's should not do fanciful combinations of
paint and tooling -- go right ahead if you think it'll sell. Just let us
know which kits those are please.

Dave Nelson


aaejj2j <tyrone.johnsen@...>
 

--- In STMFC@..., Ted Culotta <tculotta@s...> wrote:
I bet that
there will be fewer people who are angry when they find out that
they
purchased a CORRECT car for the wrong era than when they find out
that
a certain manufacturer's NYC, Milwaukee, GN, MKT, C&O, etc. stock
cars
has no prototype in any era.
Regards,
Ted Culotta
It depends upon your point of view; and how incorrect the car is for
the owner it is lettered. From my point of view, a car from too new
a time period, especially in the paint and lettering, or one from too
old a period in time is much more disappointing to me when it is
being operating in a train.
Tyrone Johnsen


Charlie Vlk
 

Ted-
How far does it go? (not to pick on Branchline, just using them as an
example).... Does Branchline certify that the number and location of rivets
is correct for every paint job? Is the style of brakewheel / brake gear
correct for all the car numbers issued? Is the repack date correct for
each car number? Are the door styles correct for the entire service life of
the car? What is the service life in the offered paint job for each of the
cars?
What percentage of Model Railroad Consumers are concerned that a PRR K7a
stockcar is being passed off as a NYC, Milwaukee, GN, MKT, C&O, etc. stock
car have not bothered to educate themselves a little about their area of
concern? I've worked in hobby shops on and off since 1963 and the Number
One Question is not
"Is this car correct for my layout?"..... but then, maybe the modelers in
Chicago are better informed than in other areas.
This list will keep its interested members educated about the prototype and
models thereof.
Production models may be absolutely accurate for one subgroup of one batch
of one prototype railroad's single class of cars at best unless cars passed
second hand or survived mergers. Even within a class there are detail
differences in appliances and some features get changed over time. Tracking
things to this level of detail is part of the Hobby....Prototype
Modeling....
People are complaining about RTR models killing the Hobby of Model
Railroading..... you don't want the manufacturers to take away the fun of
doing your own research, do you?
Charlie Vlk


Ted Culotta <tculotta@...>
 

On Sep 27, 2004, at 2:08 PM, Charlie Vlk wrote:

Ted-
How far does it go?  (not to pick on Branchline, just using them as an
example).... Does Branchline certify that the number and location of
rivets
is correct for every paint job?  Is the style of brakewheel / brake
gear
correct for all the car numbers issued?   Is the repack date correct
for
each car number?  Are the door styles correct for the entire service
life of
the car? What is the service life in the offered paint job for each
of the
cars?
What percentage of Model Railroad Consumers are concerned that a PRR
K7a
stockcar is being passed off as a NYC, Milwaukee, GN, MKT, C&O, etc.
stock
car have not bothered to educate themselves a little about their area
of
concern?   I've worked in hobby shops on and off since 1963 and the
Number
One Question is not
"Is this car correct for my layout?"..... but then, maybe the
modelers in
Chicago are better informed than in other areas.
This list will keep its interested members educated about the
prototype and
models thereof.
Production models may be absolutely accurate for one subgroup of one
batch
of one prototype railroad's single class of cars at best unless cars
passed
second hand or survived mergers.  Even within a class there are detail
differences in appliances and some features get changed over time. 
Tracking
things to this level of detail is part of the Hobby....Prototype
Modeling....
People are complaining about RTR models killing the Hobby of Model
Railroading..... you don't want the manufacturers to take away the
fun of
doing your own research, do you?
Charlie:

You're missing the point. If YOU, as the manufacturer know what is
correct and what is a stand-in, why hoard the info? There are a lot of
people out there who would love to know that something is correct, but
don't have the time or money to invest in the 10,000 photos, ORERs,
CBCs, RPCycs, car diagram books, etc. that a handful of us have. Isn't
it easier for you to just tell them? If you're producing the cars,
it's YOUR responsibility to know or find out when the black background
was eliminated (and reappeared) in the NYC emblem, when the Milwaukee
tilted box emblem changed, when the C&O went from Roman to Futura
Demibold. If you haven't done this research or asked the appropriate
people, shame on you. If you have, share it in its most minimal form.
Is that really expecting too much from a manufacturer? And, no I am
not expecting you to track the detail changes and hand brakes, but
c'mon a 1923 ARA box car is not an SAL 1932 ARA box car because it's
painted like one. Is that a hard thing for a manufacturer to keep
track of? Is a PRR K7a a NYC stock car? No, but it is a stand in that
many people will accept as such until something better comes along. I
think you're using extreme examples to defend an indefensible position.
Keeping us in the dark won't work forever. By the way, I am asked
frequently by other modelers who are not prototype modelers whether model X by manufacturer Y is correct, so obviously even people who
don't care would rather have a product they know to be correct than the
alternative.

Regards,
Ted Culotta


Andy Harman <andy10@...>
 

At 02:47 PM 9/27/2004 -0700, you wrote:
track of? Is a PRR K7a a NYC stock car? No, but it is a stand in that
many people will accept as such until something better comes along. I
think you're using extreme examples to defend an indefensible position.
Keeping us in the dark won't work forever.
I think more people care about accuracy than a lot of manufacturers are
willing to admit. But the general practice of manufacturers is still to
place as little information on the box as possible. Walthers passenger
cars are a really prime example; Walthers will gladly tell you what the
prototype is for any of their cars, and it's easily found out from on-line
forums and other more conventional sources. It's not a secret... so why
not print it on the box? Why not "46-seat coach, Santa Fe Prototype. Road
name: New York Central". The lack of this information implies a slight
deception, that little one that says what you don't know won't hurt you.
It has served the hobby industry for decades, and apparently will continue
to. I don't really think it will change, however more and more mainstream
modelers are starting to expect some "truth in labeling". The next round
of complaints may not come from rivet counters, or anyone close to being a
rivet counter.. just somebody who bought a New York Central coach, and
thought that's what they were getting.

Andy


Dave Nelson <muskoka@...>
 

Oh I love it.... Put it all in a different context for a sec: Browsing the
Rounder Records catalog (they specialize in older, hard to find, and rather
unique music) and you find a cd marked "Beatles in Germany, 1961" and the
cover shows four familiar faces. So you buy it. And when you get home you
discover it's actually somebody that sounds a lot like Tiny Tim doing covers
of early Beatles songs.

So what's the problem, huh? It is completely accurate Beatles songs and
music. And the band and singer are it's a decent stand-in until such time
somebody publishes the real thing.

It'll serve the industry for decades, right, cause you'll just buy more
stuff from Rounder. And you're H A P P Y.

Or not.

Seriously tho, Andy makes a good point, below: "truth in labeling"... I'll
add one improvement - a date:

46-seat coach, Santa Fe Prototype.
Roadname: New York Central, ca. 1953.


Dave Nelson

-----Original Message-----
From: Andy Harman [mailto:andy10@...]


Why not "46-seat coach, Santa Fe Prototype. Road
name: New York Central". The lack of this information implies a slight
deception, that little one that says what you don't know won't hurt you.
It has served the hobby industry for decades, and apparently will continue
to. I don't really think it will change, however more and more mainstream
modelers are starting to expect some "truth in labeling". The next round of
complaints may not come from rivet counters, or anyone close to being a
rivet counter.. just somebody who bought a New York Central coach, and
thought that's what they were getting.

Andy