: When manufacturers engineer a kit, why are there so many errors?
Background and caveat/disclosure. I helped Dragon with their 1/350th CVL kits in a big way and sorta/kinda Trumpeter (via Merit) on the Merit CV-5 and CV-6 kits. The later was mostly pulling in friends who are subject matter experts on the class (as opposed to commenting on the CAD directly)
It comes down to two main things, knowledge and desire. Someone else spoke to this a bit. The people who produce these kits are not model builders, for the most part; they are plastic mold making specialists who have a niche industry doing plastic models. Nor are they subject matter experts who know the history of any given Airplane, Ship, Tank, etc.. They are workers who are very good at quickly creating a representation of shapes from various sources.
Dragon reached out to Ray Bean and Tim Dike of ModelWarships (probably others - I'm speaking specifically to the ship side) to try and get help in making better models. Ray contacted me at some point about their Essex class and I presume may have contacted others about other projects whereas Tim assembled a team of knowledgeable people who were willing to help out. The general pattern was Dragon would send some CAD screen shots, they would get posted to a private forum, people would comment and those comments would get sent back to Dragon. I was working with them a touch more directly and discovered that simply providing a list didn't often work - telling someone who doesn't know what a bit or bollard is to "move the port forward bollard back a few scale feet and redo the railings around it to match." isn't all that helpful, especially when you throw the language differences into the mix.
So, they neededsubject matter experts with access to plans and high-quality pictures who could overlay their CAD with pictures demonstrating what the actual, real detail looked like. Thankfully, there were a few of us available who had access to the National Archives, and we were able to scan in pictures and plans to use. Archives isn't like ordering from the Floating Drydock though; you have to be on site and some of the resources take a while to go through (Yorktown class aircraft carriers have about 24 rolls of microfilm, which can take at least an hour each to go through).
But this is one reason why I am so critical of Trumpeter. Their 1/200 Arizona features a hull that is bloated and incorrect when they could have bought a set of plans from the Floating Drydock for $30 that would have fixed all of that.
Back to mistakes. Details on a kit can be a bit like viewing a tree in a forest. The Dragon CVL-22 kit is missing the two wildcats on the forecastle and the rear bulkhead on the stern on the main deck. Both are details that were BEHIND other things when viewing the CAD, but both were things that you look at after the fact and ask, "how in the world did I mess *that*?"
Trumpeter has been offered similar assistance by a myriad of people for a long time and they're not interested. I was put in touch with Merit for their CV-5 kit near the end of the CAD process because they wanted to know about the ship's camouflage. I could see some (detail) problems just in the paint guide and we managed to put together a small group to give the CAD they had a quick once-over to make comments and corrections, many of which were made. However, when the CV-6 Santa Cruz kit was started word came back that our comments had been more disruptive to their production schedule than they wanted and we were not going to be allowed to look and comment on the CAD. There were undertones of "it's insulting for you to find problems in our work," which is also a Chinese cultural thing.
Whatever. Most people are happy enough that the kits sell well, which kind of proves the point to Trumpeter that they don't *have* to strive for accuracy. If you're able to nearly corner the market and the kits sell well, does it make sense to triple the cost in time/research?
I still wish they'd at least spend the $30-40 on plans from Floating Drydock or the Maryland Silver Company for US ships. That would solve the low-hanging fruit problems they have.