Modeling NSW doesn't mean I don't have other modeling interests. I'll collect a few locomotives or freight cars of US railroads that might have sentimental or special interests. There's a small fleet of Milwaukee Road boxcars and grain hoppers and a nice Walthers rib side caboose in the closet. I've got a sweet Burlington Northern F45 from Athearn as a memento of seeing these giants in the Pacific Northwest. And I've kept a nice handful of rolling stock and the locomotives used on my Walla Walla Valley layout before my NWSGR modeling adventure: the two HH660 Alcos kit-bashed using Lifelike Alco S-series underframe and cab and a resin long hood--definitely custom, and I'm sure the only HO models out there when built painted for Walla Walla Valley!
That isn't the case anymore, since Atlas just released their own HH660 in WWV paint. Walla Walla Valley modeling has gone main-stream! Factory-equipped with an accurate McIntosh/Seymour 538 straight-six turbocharged sound decoder, how could I resist? The detail and running-qualities are better than my kit-bashed version, and the price was right.
They arrived today, only a few months after the order window closed. And I paid nearly $100 apiece under retail for them--under $180 each. And that's with sound. And I didn't have to pay in advance. Eat your heart out.
Times like these, waiting three years now for a trio of paid-for 48 Class Alcos to show up (late this year? In 2012?) makes me realize how tough you Aussie modelers have it. Small production runs=high prices. Small production runs+few retailers=no discounts. Small production runs=wait at the back of the line for the American manufacturers to finish their Chinese factory runs, then you'll have your turn. Okay, I share your pain. And I've got postage to pay as well.
So when I read whinging Yank modelers on internet discussion boards complaining that Athearn has fallen three months behind on their delivery schedule, how dare those bastards!, I really have to bite my tongue. You have no idea how good you've got it.