MAYBE they are expensive. But a locomotive selling for $30 (about average) in 1950, would be in 2019 dollars:
Hmmmm about the price of a Lion Chief Plus today.
The real question- how much might we be willing to pay for THAT LC+ IF it were made in the USA?? + 20%?? Plus 30%?? Really- we should not have to pay ANYTHING more for a locomotive or any other product simply and only because it is Made in the USA.
So could Lionel or MTH or anyone make a product in the USA at a comparable price, and lessen the poor/erratic quality found in products made by Chinese contractors? I think we could, but....
The secondary and maybe "deal breaker" issues are:
- the tooling is generally NOT going to come back, and would have to be replaced in the USA. I understand that a set of tooling starts around $ 200K. And, most of the tooling being used already (and residing in China) might be nowhere near worn out and needing replacement anyway.
- more on tooling: what would stop the Chinese from simply using that tooling to compete with the USA companies?? Nothing.
- The Chinese would simply start using the tooling paid for by Lionel (and others) to make copy products to sell, and using government money, undercut the pricing by whatever it took. They are not subject to our laws, and ignore international law. And this train market is very limited, anyway (compared to, say telephones or I Pads.)
- probable Chinese Government support- It wouldn't take much Chinese government money to take all or almost all of the business, at, say -50% pricing. But, no problem, if they needed -75% pricing the government could easily do that. -80%? -90%? No problem, whatever it takes.
As I said before: "... get in bed with the Devil", and you are vulnerable.