For background, I am relatively new to the hobby. My parents gave me a Lionel Flyer set for Christmas when I was very young, and I would keep it setup and run it frequently until one day the engine quit for some unknown reason. Unable to run my train, my interest eventually subsided. The train went back into a box and got stored away where I largely forgot about it. A few months ago I had the opportunity to take the train out of the box again, and promptly decided I needed to get back into the hobby.
One of the things I didn't appreciate as a kid but understand now is Scale vs Traditional O Gauge. Back then, a train was a train! Now I notice the differences between the two types. When I first jumped back into the hobby, I initially dismissed scale trains due to the price and the wider-diameter track requirements (real estate is at a premium! ). A few months later, though, and I am now conflicted about that decision, with two factors driving that conflict: 1), there are some gorgeous and/or unique models that are made in scale (eg, L2a Mohawk, Challenger, 4-12-2 UP-type, etc.) but haven't and may never be made in Traditional O, and 2) Traditional O models aren't guaranteed to conform to a sense of scale relative to each other (for example: I have a LC+ Mikado and a LC+ 2.0 Berkshire. They are nearly the same length. I was a bit disappointed when I put the two on the track next to each other, I was hoping the Berkshire would have been a little longer. For comparison, the 2014 Legacy Berkshires are 3" longer than the 2015 Legacy Heavy Mikado (when I check the Lionel website)).
Given that I am not 100% satisfied with the sacrifices that need to be made for models to run on O36 track (ie, I would like some trains to be a little longer), combined with the beautiful scale models, I've started to reconsider. But herein lies a problem: while I don't consider myself a "rivet counter" and probably wouldn't miss some of the intricate, separately-applied details, if I bought one of Lionel's scale Hudsons with PT tenders, it would dwarf the LC+ 2.0 Berkshire, which would bother me tremendously. So, for the more seasoned collectors out there, which do you prefer to collect? If you collect both, do the differences in detail, etc, bother you at all? Do you stick exclusively to one? I am personally leaning towards sticking with Traditional O and making exceptions for scale locos that I think are must-haves, but what do you think? I realize this is an incredibly open-ended (and likely opinionated!) question, but I would like to hear others thoughts to help me come to an informed conclusion. Also I realize this isn't necesarily a Lionel-exclusive question, however I predominantly purchase from Lionel, so I thought I'd stick the question here since their product line is what I'm familiar with.
Thanks for reading!