Yeah, the scraping of the locomotive across the tabletop was annoying at least. If I were them I would be flooding the S social media with close up photos of the engine and other information to get the buzz going.
One would think their Facebook page for Flyer would be a start. I'm sure the NASG would be willing to post some photo's on their site, also. Keeping the light under the basket doesn't serve anything. I noticed there's zero discussions about the new catalog on S-Trains.io or the Model Train Forum.
And once again they do a fantasy train, Gilbert Gravel. Hmm, why not Granite Rock, who had steam engines, one very similar to the docksider that is now hauling the passenger train for the California Railroad Museum?
I would have to agree. Capitalizing of the Gilbert name pretty much appeals only to the diminishing market of folks who remember who A.C.Gilbert was. Unfortunately, old ACG isn't as much a household name as JLC. I guess Lionel's true marketing genius in the postwar period was plastering "Lionel Lines" on whatever they could, particularly steam locomotives. Perhaps Gilbert should have used "Gilbert Lines" rather than "American Flyer Lines."
I see two things here that, IMHO, don't bode well for their faith in the S market growing; 1)NO printed catalog, we just get an online one, so you can't just share with others easily. Not everyone has high speed internet abilities.
MTH isn't printing an S catalog either and AM's last printed catalog is a couple of years out of date, although AM's provided some update inserts.
It's another way of the world, more and more companies in general are encouraging online for whatever. Try and do mail order with Amazon. Credit card companies encourage on-line use, utilities encourage going paperless, banks are eliminating passbooks, so if you want to check your balance, you need to go online. It's a trend that's not going to reverse or go away. The internet has become a utility. I don't particularly like it, but I'm trying to adapt.
2)only building enough for advanced orders--no thought to how popular it might become once a few folks have theirs in hand. Having product around--READY TO DELIVER--was once considered standard practice and part of the cost of doing business. Just In Time production doesn't balance well with niche markets like toy trains--IMHO.
BTO is pretty much the way of the world nowadays, practically all of the HO/N companies are using it now. No manufacturer/importer wants to carry inventory anymore. It's not going to change. Admittedly, this really hurts S because so there are few S dealers around to carry additional stock to act as a buffer.
It use to be that if you had faith in future sales, you had product made to fill that upcoming demand. Past runs of the Berks seem to show an ongoing interest in the engines.
I'm guessing the FlyerChief Berkshire sale have plateaued. They may have sold well on the first release, encouraging a second run. But some sales of the second run were probably "torpedoed" last time by the first announcement of the Legacy Berks. It's not a third run of F/C Berks that appears in the 2020 catalog..