Lionel's odd catalog images

For quite awhile now I've been 'disappointed' at many of Lionel's catalog images and wondered why. Something didn't seem 'right' and they certainly lacked the 'punch' or Wow factor of the post war images that truly took you to the desert of the southwest and the Warbonnet Santa Fe or the docks of New Orleans with "The Swift, the Mighty Southern" ABA with the huge steamship at the dock.

In looking at some larger images of recent F3's that Marty E posted a link to, it suddenly dawned on me - somehow, the lead A unit in Lionel's illustrations is actually smaller than the trailing A unit!  The handsome nose of the locomotive looks 'squished' and 'diminutive' in the images. And not just the F3s', but ALL the locomotives are portrayed like this and have been for years now. What do you think? Do you like these 'unflattering images'? 

They almost look like HO models and certainly lack the massiveness and visual power of the actual models. Am surprised that someone in their graphics department over all these years didn't do something to correct this as this is not unique to one or two catalogs.

We are constantly discussing how to bring young people into this wonderful hobby but stop and think - would a boy (or girl) be inspired to want a train from these images?  Think back at YOUR impressions when perusing the old catalogs with images like the ones at the bottom here.

BIG difference,   life changing difference too!

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In a catalog, nothing can beat unretouched photos of the actual item.  One of the most common complaints we hear these days is that the item as delivered does not match the catalog image or description, and I can understand that disappointment. 

I don't need to be "inspired" to buy an item.  I want it based on its merits and how well it matches my needs.  Accurate descriptions and photos are what I need to make the determination.  In this respect, I prefer the MPC/LTI catalogs.  Some of the trains included may have been less than inspiring to some people, but we knew what we were getting 90+% of the time.

I say, a pox on drawings (Bob Sherman was a great artist and designer, but I don't want art) and CGI (the current mix of computer generated drawings).

Crawling in a hole and donning my fireproof suit now

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

They aren't even photos. Those are computer generated artwork. Probably used a photo at one point as a template, but as you point out the lack of perspective, the way the units are put on the track in post production, and the flatness of the lighting points to a Photoshop or CAD based program.

To actually take photos, first they would need a good clean prototype, and then would need photograph and post process the photos. Cheaper to use the computer generated program, plus we all know that these things don't exist until there are a certain number of preorders.

 

Most likely the work of retouched images. Notice the views for a particular item are always the same.  At one point by accident there was an image of a completely undecorated Lionel diesel loco on their webiste, will have to see if I can find it again.

On the other hand, 3D CAD models that are rendered in software like Keyshot can have amazing results. I've used rendering programs like Keyshot, and the results can look just as convincing as the real item.

 

 

The ART of Robert Sherman and his associates is unsurpassed, and his images still evoke feelings of wonder and fascination with those trains. NO modern renderings come close! True artwork has a special mystique of its own, and adds to the magic! And yes, the "magic" is part of the sell whether we will admit it or not!

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

ed h posted:

Most likely the work of retouched images. Notice the views for a particular item are always the same.  At one point by accident there was an image of a completely undecorated Lionel diesel loco on their webiste, will have to see if I can find it again.

On the other hand, 3D CAD models that are rendered in software like Keyshot can have amazing results. I've used rendering programs like Keyshot, and the results can look just as convincing as the real item.

We're moving towards doing this more often. If you look in the newest catalog, the SW7 and SD45 are done off my SolidWorks models. I rendered them all individually so that the images actually show the road specific details. The only thing not shown is the cab interior because I don't model the figures.

 

Dave Olson

Director of Engineering

Lionel LLC

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Timothy Sprague posted:

 plus we all know that these things don't exist until there are a certain number of preorders. 

Which unfortunate fact is a significant reason for unhappiness among hobbyists. 

Yep, the problem has been around for a long time although the Postwar-era audience was much less obsessive about the results than buyers today.  How many threads are there complaining that the item delivered was not what was depicted in the catalog?  How many threads are there bewailing delivery delays?

Yep, there is the fact that manufacturing has been sent overseas (and prices went up instead of down).  Yep, there is the BOD/Pre-Order/Just-in-Time product inventory model.  Yep, there is the seasonal nature of most train purchases.

But.

Whatever other problems the new paradigm might create, not cataloging an item until it exists in hand for shipment and then providing unretouched photos of the actual item would go a LONG way toward eliminating all of the bait-and-switch and delivery delay complaints.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

Lionel catalogs started getting ugly and using that horrific artwork right after they settled their lawsuit with MTH. And strangely enough Lionel's artwork started looking like MTHs. It made me suspect that as a part if the settlement, Lionel agreed to use MTHs catalogue people. Or so it seems.

Matt Kramer posted:

Spelling is just as bad.  I really want to order this trolley, but Sacramento is spelled wrong on it.  I hope the actual model has the correct spelling on it when it’s released.

Production art has been corrected. 

Dave Olson

Director of Engineering

Lionel LLC

I don't know why they do their catalog art like this. It looks cheap and doesn't make you want to buy. That's the point isn't it. You should want that engine because it looks good. The first time they did this I thought it was a mistake. Guess not. The old catalogs were art, these look like a computer did them with no feelings. Don

scale rail posted:

I don't know why they do their catalog art like this. It looks cheap and doesn't make you want to buy. That's the point isn't it. You should want that engine because it looks good. The first time they did this I thought it was a mistake. Guess not. The old catalogs were art, these look like a computer did them with no feelings. Don

I rarely reply "with a quote" as I dislike repeated photos (especially) that clog the threads but Don is quite correct here - IT DOESN'T MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY!

Looking back, I have bought only a scant few 'new' items when they were introduced in years due largely in part because I am a visual fella and the catalogs are NOT conducive to create in you a desire for the product. Marketing is a simple concept - hit the customer with a visual that creates that initial "Must have" scenario. Yes, the details and mechanics need to be accurately depicted as well, but as we say in real estate "You only get ONE chance to make a good first impression!" 

Why would "SACRAMETNO" not have been a "collectable variation"?

==========

I do not have an example at hand, and I, too, do not care for the flavor of typical Lionel - or MTH, sometimes - artwork in the catalogues.

But - some of those old catalogues had captivating artwork in them - some of them did not. Which I noticed as a kid. 

I have no catalogue collection - but a few shreds managed to survive my childhood page flipping. 

1955 (I got my layout and train that Xmas) - now this is artwork! I still have most of this catalogue. I used to look at this crisp B&W photo and just dive into it - the steamer in it was also "my" engine - I had a brand-new 2055 version of it on my layout. Look how real that thing appears, even now, a bit.

The headlight beams and maybe the smoke were certainly added; the rest was "real". I understand some of the realities of production and product announcements and BTO, but photos almost always trump paintings.

Me, I would like either photos when possible and blueprint-like line drawings of upcoming items when not.

Catalogue-Lionel-1955

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Dave Olson posted

We're moving towards doing this more often. If you look in the newest catalog, the SW7 and SD45 are done off my SolidWorks models. I rendered them all individually so that the images actually show the road specific details. The only thing not shown is the cab interior because I don't model the figures.

 

Art costs and Lionel trains are not all the rage, these days.  Apple doesn't need artwork, all they need do is announce their latest "iSomthing" and people are camping out on the street in front of their stores in order to be the first to pay $800+ for a telephone, and will be first in line to buy the next one.

Having spent nearly five decades in friendship with railroad artist Mitch Markovitz, I've heard it all.  Dave Olson of Lionel (who has the guts to face his customers here - God bless him) has verified Mitch's longstanding statement that companies, large and small, think they can get by with DIY computer generated artwork - and they do.  When the entire marketplace is flooded with DIY art, how would anyone under the age of 70, save for an art student or an aging railfan, know the difference?

In addition to Norman Rockwell, Mitch's heroes include Leslie Ragan and Oscar Rabe Hanson and it shows in his work.  The first time I saw "Breakfast in Hoosierland", I was there - I could smell the brake shoes, the diesel exhaust, the charcoal of the galley stove and, of course, the bacon...

MarkovitzPrrBreakfast MarkovitzCSS&SBparlor MarkovitzAC

Perhaps a quote from architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable, who wrote Farewell to Penn Station in an October 1963 editorial in the New York Times, can be applied to our hobby and its artwork:

"Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves."

GENERAL NOTICE - Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty.  Obedience to the rules is essential to safety.  To enter or remain in the service is an assurance of willingness to obey the rules.

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Now theseDSC_5805DSC_5804 makes me want to buy!!!!!! I hope Lionel doesn't think we are picking on them. It's just bad promotion when they do things like their present graphics. I think no better group than this forum wants Lionel to make a go of it more than we do. We are profit and they are overhead. Keep us happy and everyone will be happy. By the way when this 1950  Lionel catalog came out I knew I would never get this 773 set but I saved my money and got one car. Got it for $9.95. That was a lot of lawn mowing then. Don

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While good artwork is neat to look at, it has no bearing on whether or not I purchase a model. If I think it will be fairly accurate to the prototype and is something I'd like on my layout, I'll buy it. For all I care they can put pictures of the real thing in the catalog. 

Some of the 3D CAD objects when rendered can be quite impressive.  Found this image on a webpage for rendering software, started out as a SolidWorks file.  I've had a chance to try out the same software at work, quite amazing the results considering the relatively low cost of the software.

RGS-11B_466_resized

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I work as a graphic designer/illustrator. 'Back in the day' Lionel was cataloging a small fraction of what they are offering in their current catalog. If you notice there were a box car, maybe two, a tank car, gondola - single product items. today, Lionel offers several versions of a box car, a tank car etc.  To effectively create illustrations for all the products offered in the current catalog would have been time and cost prohibitive. A computer may help, but still, the time and effort would have been daunting. Certain liberties and artistic license would also need to be taken to create the renderings, and probably there would be complaints because not enough or too many rivets were used, or the color may be off on a product rendering. I give Lionel credit for curating as comprehensive a catalog as they have for 2018. The presentation of product hasn't dissuaded me from purchasing items I want.

My own little slice of happiness in 5' x 9' 

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