Even after the original company was bought by Horizon Hobbies, Athearn remains one of the "heavy hitters" in the world of model railroading and their presence at the show in Novi strongly reinforced that stance. While the once a-staple-of-the-hobby "Blue Box" kits have given way to RTR models, Athearn still continues to offer high quality products to today's model railroader. Their Genesis line is A1 quality and their Ready-to-Roll products aren't bad either. It is really good for them to have a presence at shows like the WGH shows as it gives them the chance to meet with and talk to modelers just like you & me. More on that in a minute.
Again, if it says Nickel Plate, I'm interested so you know this little gem caught my eye. The RS3 models are due in March (this one is a pre-production sample) and yours truly has one on order. They are kind of a "first genreation" diesel and I like the looks of the smaller body with the larger cab. It certainly dates the model as early diesel and gives it a look all of its own. Of course, you can bet that when I get my hands on one, I'll be sure to let the rest of you know how it runs.
As mentioned earlier, manufacturers being at shows like this gives them the opportunity to meet with the model railroading public. I took advantage of that opportunity and spoke with Mike Hopkin, the new products guy at Athearn. I don't know if it will do any good but I shared some photos of older style cars and made my pitch for those of us who don't model modern railroad times. While a lot of modelers like today's stack trains & six axle diesels, there are still a lot of us who still have steam as king and scads of 36 & 40 foot cars on our pikes. Hopefully, my urging will bear some fruit and they won't forget those of us still living in the past. Let's hope so anyway.
Mike explained to me that most manufacturers don't have a large research department and that the more information that model railroaders can share with them about a specific car, the more likely they are to give serious consideration to producing that particular model. And, if the car in question is similar to one that they already have a model for, it is much easier for them to justify a few hundred dollars for printing pads than it is for them to spend thousands of dollars on new molds. So if you have a particular car that you would like to see modeled, consider sharing as much information as you can with your favorite manufacturer and maybe, just maybe, they will produce it.
Many of the older cars I've built and written about here were done with older MDC/Roundhouse wooden, 36-foot cars. Roundhouse is now part of the Horizon Hobby family as well.