Changes in MTH designs, re-used item numbers and other disappointments and annoyances
MTH has a few aspects in the way that it announces new products that can confuse and annoy both customers and dealers.
Firstly not all the proposed models are produced, this may be extremely disappointing for some but it is easy to understand the logic, if there are not enough initial orders then total demand is likely to be low and development effort can be switched to a more profitable project. MTH does at least issue a list of cancellations. On the odd occasion MTH will put an entirely different item over a previously announced catalogue number. Cancelling an item is one thing but having two entirely different products with the same part number is a logical disaster. MTH has shown some initiative with the introduction of their 81- series of Ho items (to cover models with a non-prototypical paint schemes) which begs the question as to why they could not allocate a new prefix (21- or 22- for instance) relating to all their 1:43 scale european (rather than 1:48 scale american Premier) models? There simply is no reason to re-use item numbers. I try to maintain this website in a manner that places the MTH items into their logical product groupings (indeed I occasionally receive the comment that this website is the one that customers prefer to navigate to check on what was, is and may yet become available) but this is a nightmare when item numbers are reissued and prefix codes are used in a random manner.
The second point is the initial illustration used to depict the model. Here it is neccessary to understand that 99% of catalogue viewers want a realistic decent sized illustration of the proposed model so what to do? If MTH has already produced a well detailed Premier O gauge model then the illustration could be used at a pinch to represent gauge 1 or Ho, the caption ought to point out that the O gauge model is depicted. If MTH has not covered the prototype then the remaining options are to depict the full size item (which many manufacturers do even though it simply can not give a fair idea of the expected detailing) or to photograph a model, either borrowing a model from another source or rapidly arranging a one-off for the cameras and then adjusting the image to better represent the expected production run. Sometimes this gives a fair indication and sometimes it does not.
In terms of recent products the european O gauge range is a case in point.
The Chapelon Pacifics were given quite an accurate depiction, as were the original orient coaches though you may note changes to the paint scheme.
The Stanier pacifics changed colours in some instances and ended up with a different tender design. The first of the number sequence (20-3366-1) had the stock number taken over by a N&W express mail set!
Note the changes in colour, lining, font used for the LMS script, tender shape and spacing. Slight improvements with the cylinder drain cocks and some changes around the cab.
The Bavarian pacifics ended up with a different shape to both the locomotive and tender, note the major changes with general loss of detailing and daylight over the rear driver and the substitution of the distinctive wind-cutter cab face instead of the more elegant original design on the locomotive and the complete change to the tender design also with loss of equivalent detail. It is tempting to think that an expensive brass loco was used for the initial publicity shots.
Original 20-3398 catalogue/website publicity shot, note the profile of the firebox, the brass/copper piping, the interesting tender and the stance and clothing on the engineer.
Later catalogue/website image
Current MTH website image, spot the differences....
The EST mountains have pretty much lived up to the publicity shots and have been well regarded on detailing. There have been some changes, particularly on the shade of green used, lining and lettering plus some variation in detailing (the piping at the firebox sides, tender water hatch and the actual shape of the smoke deflectors for example).
The follow-on orient coaches depict different colour schemes for the same item, presumably the later colour scheme will make it to production
20-60024 & 20-60025 initial publicity/website images above whilst below
current website images, note the change from brown to blue and brown/cream on the carriages and then the brown to duo-tone fourgon section on the container wagon.
Is this the future for MTH item codes? 20-80008-L is described and depicted as a SP GS-4 in the Daylight colour scheme. So far so good but it is Ho scale for which they already have the 80- and 81- series of stock codes. Even if you allow for this being a limited issue release which, although I'm not certain, the eight hundred thousand series might indicate, re-using the 20- prefix (which is 99.9% allocated to Premier O gauge) is a completely illogical.
As a dealer I am not privy to the proposed fidelity/infidelity of the MTH pre-production or other publicity images. If the images on this website appear to be MTH sourced but do not match the images on the MTH site and the differences are important to you then it is more likely that the MTH site is more up to date. If you have specific queries then please ask before attempting to order.