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When Athearn makes a mistake…

June 21, 2008

…we consumers, will suffer.

First of all, I’m a huge fan of Athearn. They have certianly earned my respect over the years, from indestructable blue box locomotives in my youth that could take dirty track, carpet and early attempts at 4X8 layouts with 18″ radius curves with ease. I still regard their later offerings as a standard for the hobby, such as their second genenration GP’s and the release of their EXCELLENT SD-45T-2’s, GP-40X’s and SD-40T-2’s have had me as an SP fan fell as if I’m in heaven on earth.

In Recent years they have made up for these mistakes TENFOLD. Their entirely new releases, their ABSOLUTELY AMAZING line of vechicles, farm machinery and construction equipment, and their foray into structures have all benefitted the hobby for the better.  Who couldn’t love their brand-new Athearn Mt-4’s and exquisite daylight equipment?

Athearn’s mistakes are many: mostly comprimises in prototype fidelity for their freight cars, some scale problems like their scale foot thick roofwalks and huge claws for boxcar door hardware. The GP7’s have hoods that are way too wide, the profile of the nose of their classic F7 is completely incorrect, and their “widebody” offerings of Interesting prototypes like the Trainmasters and the Baldwin S-12’s have left me really disappointed, until I discovered Stewart for Baldwins and Atlas for Trainmasters. Imagine if Irv Athearn himself would have gone with skinnier motor, perhaps thousands of tons of incorrect models would have been correct…who knows.

Case in point: The re-release of the horrendous/kinda good (depends on how you look at the model, straight from the sides or from a typical 3/4 above view) Model Die Casting/Roundhouse PS2 2003 cubic ft. Covered hopper.

http://www.athearn.com/Search/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=ps2+2003+hopper+RTR&CatID=THRF 

What They Did Right:

-First of all, the BEST improvement by far is the see-through etched-metal roofwalk. It’s an astounding detail that really makes this model appealing…if you look at just the roof.

-Second has to be the laser-sharp lettering, just like they claim. It’s really detailed and quite beautiful.

-Third is the Concrete-colored plastic trucks, a welcome detail!

-Metal wheels are definately a huge plus.

-Roof hatches have always been good on these models, it was practically the ONLY good thing with the original models.

What They Did WRONG

You’d think after all this specialized retooling they’d MAKE THOSE WIRE GRABRIRONS INSTEAD OF THOSE “bricks” AS LADDER RUNGS…yuck.

Those flimsy McHenry couplers are useless with their insufferable metal tab acting like a spring, but not.

All those stirrups could be wire or durable, yet thin plastic too, why do they take these shortcuts on this model, yet produce so beautiful reproductions for other covered hoppers?

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Obviously the cost to re-tool their factories would be in the $10,000+ range for just this model, but if they’ve gone this far, why stop here? They didn’t stop “here” with most of your MDC re-releases, or if they did, it was because they already looked satisfactory (like the newer 40′ Steel boxcars that are ex-MDC tooling. Those would be the ones with non-operational doors.) or they’re a completely new version of an older product.

 

 

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One Comment leave one →
  1. August 30, 2015 4:07 am

    I agree 100%. I hate seeing this hideous car. It’s so outdated they shouldn’t have even bothered re-releasing it with the upgraded roofwalks etc., (assuming that decision delayed a TRUE retooling of this model.)
    Fortunately Kadee offers a spectacular version of this model for those willing to pay a few extra bucks (you can get them new $20-$25 on eBay).
    Plus Athearn’s PS2 2600 and 2983 (3 bay) models are very nice. The PS2 2600 is basically a Genesis-quality model. The 2983 is an RTR upgraded to half wire grab irons (the other half still molded) and a nice etched roofwalk.

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