In the past, imported brass locomotives and cars were packed and sold requiring some assembly to complete.

It was done that way to avoid the high US tariff that would be on completed models because for import duty they were classified as toys. Cheap imported toys were negatively impacting US toy manufacturers at the time 

Anything requiring some assembly by a purchaser was classified differently at a lower tariff rate.  For early imported locos and cars that usually meant once it was put together it could no longer fit into its box. That was a measure to assure it was not a finished model when inspected by the U S Customs Service.  

S. Islander

I don't think making locos available in kit form is going to happen. The market for them wouldn't be large enough to justify it. I think going back to offering different options from the factory is the way to go. There was a time when O-gauge locos were available with both a conventional or a command option. Now it seems that command is just about the only way they come. At least for MTH and Lionel, who IMO are the major players in the market. I guess they don't feel there is enough market for conventional anymore and don't bother with it. If you take out the command, smoke and sounds, you get something more affordable, but it appears most folks want all of that stuff these days. I want something more affordable and reliable. I am a conventional guy. There aren't many new loco options for me. I buy older stuff that has depreciated on the second hand market. I think that is the best option for those that want nice stuff but want to keep costs down.

A kit would cost me far more than a RTR, mostly for someone to fix my attempt to build the kit (if I could find someone),

"A kit would cost me far more than a RTR, mostly for someone to fix my attempt to build the kit (if I could find someone)…"

I can relate to your comment, Ron.

Draw your own conclusions here, but the early kit-built HO models offered by Varney, Mantua, Roundhouse, and others seem to have little or no collector value today when compared to RTR models offered by Lionel and Marklin during the same period. Not only that (speaking as a collector of both), countless re-issues of these Lionel and Marklin models from that era continue to be offered (and I continue to buy them).  On the other hand, who would buy a re-issue of a Varney "Old Lady" from that era?

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