Fwd: Model Reviews

NW Modeling List nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org
Sun Feb 1 08:59:19 EST 2015

 From: RRuss45826 at aol.com
To: nw-modeling-list at nwhs.or
Sent: 2/1/2015  8:57:05 A.M. Eastern Standard Time
Subj: Re: Model Reviews

Rogers comments did strike a chord with me. When BLI was first going into  
business they announced the J as their first model. I sent the owner an 
email  which was titled "Give me an "A" a "K" or a "Y" anything but another 
"J"!!!  The letter went on to say that producing the "J" was like another 
company  making another "F" unit. At that time we could by a J class in plastic or 
 brass but any of the other three especially the "A" and "Y" class's were  
basically only available in brass and very expensive or the Pizza Cutter  
Rivarossi "Y6b"! After a couple more emails back and forth I contacted Jim  
Gillum and he sent me all the drawings he could find of the "A" which I sent  
to BLI. So now instead of a very Expensive over $2K brass piece out of reach 
 by most of us I have a small fleet of them on my layout! Along with their 
"Js"  and "Ys"! 
Just can't talk them into doing a run of both Streamlined and standard  
"Ks". Now if we all just started emailing BLI hint hint hint!! LOL Maybe they  
would see enough interest!
Ray Russell Sr.
In a message dated 1/31/2015 5:51:36 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,  
nw-modeling-list at nwhs.org writes:

This  is indeed a great thread and discussion!

We all have a stake in  getting models right-- or at least making informed 
trades.  For  example, in the past year or two BLI brought out the Wabash 
"Bluebird"  train.  The models were beautiful, but inaccurate, and shunned by 
many  modelers who had saved up their money with the intent of buying 
something  unusual and well done.  Maybe BLI decided they couldn't justify the  
retooling expense; maybe they just didn't do their research; maybe they  
didn't know where to go for hard data.  But they probably "learned" not  to 
produce models for a railroad that doesn't have the fan base of PRR, or  UP or 
BNSF, or... .  So we, the modelers, will have fewer  almost-mass-market 
choices in the future.

I enjoy the brass models  that have been produced from the mid-1990's on.  
Their price always  feels extravagant, but when you consider that with the 
current customer  base, that it's rare when a brass model is produced in 
quantities over 100  (total, all road numbers, paint schemes and variants), that 
the current  models contain 500 - 1250 individual parts, and that (most of 
them) are well  researched and pretty darn faithful to their prototype, 
well... .   

I also understand the gripe expressed in this thread about the  
"announcement" of models that never seem to appear.  I'm like many of  you who live in 
terror of the possibility that all of the "announced" models  I have on 
order will be produced and land in the USA on the same day-- I'll  need a 2nd 
mortgage to redeem my commitments!  But if an importer  guesses market demand 
wrong by 40%, he takes a bath on the model.  So,  "announcing" a model is 
their way of gauging the market for it-- by seeing  how many pre-orders the 
model attracts.  This routinely occurs in the  brass, hybrid, and plastic 
model market.

I think there are things  that the Society could do that would help us, the 
Society, and maybe the  manufacturers and importers as well.  Here are 
some, and I hope that  many others will get added to this list for the Society 
members to think  through and implement-- or not, where good reasons to 
refrain become  apparent:

1)  When a new N&W or VGN model is announced, have  the Society archivists 
assemble a comprehensive list of all the data,  drawings, etc, available for 
purchase from the archives.  Assemble this  into a handy order sheet, and 
send it out with the next Arrow, and stand by  to take orders.  I know that I 
want all of the hard data I can get in  my hands when I look at photos of 
pilot models, or models that have landed  in my local hobby shop-- and would 
be delighted to purchase from the  archives what I obviously wouldn't if I 
didn't know it  existed!

2)  When a new N&W or VGN model is "announced",  contact the Membership 
through the Arrow.  Poll us regarding what we  would pay for (for example) an 
AG with different levels of fidelity  (pivoting rear engine, non-conforming 
sand domes, cast-on piping, [and the  alternatives], etc.)  Poll us as to 
what eras, variants or paint  schemes we'd be most willing to pay for.  Send 
this data, plus the  archive artifacts described above free gratis to the 
importer and  producer.  (Hey, so what if this costs $200?  How many N&W and  
VGN models get announced a year, other than (yet) another Y-6b, or an  
AC-somethingorother??)  Let's, as a Society, try to get in front of  this problem, 
rather than bemoan the 'stupidity of the damn importers' after  the fact!

3)  Offer to collaborate with the importer to develop  the "announced" 
models.  We've got plenty of rivet-counters in the  Society (yes, I HAVE done 
it), and even some elders who remember paint  colors-- just read this string!  
Maybe they would be willing to review  model drawings, dimensions, and 
paint schedules with the importer after  "announcement" and before pilot model 
production or die cutting?  What  higher purpose could we put ourselves to, 
than to see N&W and its legacy  railroads remembered correctly in our 
models???  And, I'd bet that  forestalling even one "obvious" error in a model 
design would take fewer  hours than a single modeler amending one instance of a 
model error after the  fact.

4)  There are enough Society Members who maintain  knowledgeable vigilence 
of "announcements" of models of prototypes similar  to those of the N&W and 
VGN prototypes that the Membership shouldn't  ever be surprised when these 
FOR THE AG?  Isn't the VGN the much  cooler Railway than the C&O?  What is 
our membership count vs the  C&O Historical Society's?  Let's figure out 
what power we have  collectively, and wield it.  If we get in front of these 
things, with a  clear voice and with manifest buying power and intent, we 
might not have to  settle for incorrect sand domes.

Your ideas go here...

-Eric  Bott
Saint Peters, MO 
(Hey, Jerome!)

-----Original  Message-----
From: NW-Modeling-List  [mailto:nw-modeling-list-bounces at nwhs.org] On 
Behalf Of NW Modeling List via  NW-Modeling-List
Sent: Saturday, January 31, 2015 12:10 PM
To: NW  Modeling List
Subject: Re: Model Reviews

I agree that the  timeliness of a review is critical. In these days of 
limited production runs  based on pre-orders and short runs a review would be 
based on something that  has either come and gone or otherwise reasonably 
unavailable. Even  considering this I still think a review would be of benefit 
to the  membership as if one looks around these "out of production" and "Sold 
Out"  items are indeed available at many hobby shops and places like 
feedbay,  larger shops and individuals. 

I don't think the Arrow would be the  best place to review modeling items 
due to the time factor getting it  published and to the members. I think the 
NW Modeling List and electronic  methods would probably be best for these 
things. I believe the Arrow would  be a good place to deal with more common 
and stable things such as books,  DVDs and that sort and maybe even brass 
items that have been around for a  long time. Modeling articles based on these 
would be welcome, I'm  sure.

A review is only as good as the reviewers knowledge, which  brings up 
another serious question. Does the reviewer have facts and data,  emotions and 
opinions or what else is the basis for his comments. The  discussion on the 
VGN AG has already brought out many facts and opinions of  just what is 
"acceptable" in a model and what is an abomination. The  swiveling rear engine, 
domes, stoker, tender, paint, lettering and several  other things are 
apparently not 100% accurate. I think these things should  definitely be brought to 
light in any review. A review should be as critical  as possible to 
enlighten possible buyers without getting into opinions.  Facts are facts and need 
to be backed up. What you choose to do with the  information is up to you. 
Some are appalled by these things....others accept  them. Everyone has their 
limits. With all the things brought out so far I  like the AG and I'm glad to 
see it's just not another C&O H-8 with  Virginian on the tender. At  least 
they tried and semi-failed! I do not  care for the lettering being too high 
and the wrong color as well as the cab  windows but as a custom painter 
those items are very important to me. To  others the domes or swiveling rear 
engine are a "no go" as to a purchase.  Whatever bothers you should be brought 
out in a review so YOU can make a  decision as to whether to buy or not. A 
critical review isn't necessarily a  condemnation or a negative thing. It 
just states facts. I would hope we  would do a more valuable and honest review 
than MR. I realize they have to  pacify their advertisers and basically 
endorse their products so can't  really come down too hard but they often get it 
wrong or omit significant  items of importance to use as collectors and 
modelers. In all fairness I  also understand they have reviewers totally 
unfamiliar with whatever they  are reviewing. I do hope if we elect to pursue some 
review format we rectify  that situation. No one would be  more qualified 
to critique N&W/VGN  models than some of our enlightened members. The closer 
to home the more  valuable the information would be to all of us.

A critical review can  also have some far reaching consequences. Some 
manufacturers are rather  sensitive about their products and take a critical 
review as a slap in the  face and they run away mad. Some accept it as a wake-up 
call. They can  either not make anything else in that area or seek further 
assistance in  their next creation. I've worked with manufacturers who have 
gone both ways.  In this information age and with all the great historical 
societies all they  need do is ask and the help & information is there. 
Unfortunately they  often don't ask. Sometimes it's a matter of economics such as 
a C&O H-8  being morphed into an AG and saving the terrible expense of new 
die work for  an accurate boiler.

I'd be glad to assist with any reviews or  anything the Society needs. I 
don't consider myself an expert at anything  but I have 55+ years of modeling 
experience, have a rather huge library  & photo/information collection, have 
been painting railroad models since  1973 and have inspected commercial 
aircraft for 35 years and I'm rather  particular and critical of things so I 
may have something of value to  offer....maybe not!

My 2¢+,
Roger Huber
Deer Creek Locomotive  Works
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