Fifty years ago, Lionel produced very few models, period, let alone models from new tooling. That’s not the situation today. MTH and Lionel have a lot of product. So the comparison between the late 1960s and today isn’t valid from that standpoint.
Also, Lionel reduced its model production back then due to financial stress brought on by falling sales, which actually began in the late 1950s. So the decline in three-rail O gauge came first, then Lionel curtailed its production. That scenario could repeat itself if the hobby slips too far.
Again, I understand the argument for new tooling. Certainly, that would help overall sales. But if the sales specifically gained from new tooling fall short of paying for that tooling, you would eventually have a company in financial stress, and we would be on a path similar to the 1960s.
So simply producing new tooling isn’t the answer. It has to be exciting enough to generate sales of more than 2,000 units (a guess, maybe more) over the life of the tooling. A lot of the wishlist models mentioned here have very little potential to hit that mark, especially less-than-iconic steam locomotives associated with only one railroad.
Bottom line: The manufacturers should look to fill in pockets of strong interest that they may have missed and not act too complacent, while hobbyists should acknowledge that some models they want simply won’t be made if the manufacturer deems the sales aren’t there. Fair enough?