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Athearn's mea culpa

By Hal Miller
Published: October 31, 2011
It's happened in a lot of other industries: companies receive feedback on a product via social media and the Internet, in some cases negative, and as a result the product is changed.

Horizon Hobby's Athearn Trains issued an apology on its Facebook page in October about the dimensions of its first runs of Genesis GP7 and GP9 models.

The posting said, in part: "Some dimensional discrepancies on these products have been pointed out and we regret any inconvenience to our customers. ...In order to address these issues we have measured actual full scale units in detail and are in the process of making the necessary tooling changes to ensure that, while our measurements show the current model is already the most accurate reproduction available, the revisions will make it even more so. ...Since these changes are most important to our customers they are most important to Athearn."

Vic Audo, interim director of Horizon's model railroad division, said despite comments to the contrary, every bit of the former Front Range tooling for the units was retooled before production, save for the base. He added that Athearn employees measured a prototype unit at the Port of Long Beach for the new revisions to the tooling. He said the changes will be especially apparent with new units that have stripes and lettering that interact with the body.

"We are happy to correct it. It had problems, we are person enough to admit that," Audo said. He added — and its corroborated by the Facebook comments — most people were happy with the original model. There are no plans to re-run the roadnames of that version.