The folly of saying that if its built here it has quality coming with it, yet the most parts that fail tend to be the mechanics & electricals, & how many of those small items are now made here in Australia?
I have found that going into most specialist stores almost everything is built in Asian countries & not just China, outside the modelling world many Australian iconic goods are now made overseas but said to be made to our standards, yet I wonder!
While we have some kit builders in the MR industry that do make them here, they also source some items from O/seas so we cannot escape that aspect, & even in the US the big heavy industries that used to make cast frames for steam locomotives no longer exist, & the only country that is able to fill many heavy & complex product orders go to China as they are the only country left with the capacity. Labor costs are the problem, & while the Chinese can live fairly well on the wages they get, which is much more than the African workers that Gina Rheiheart talks about, would anyone here in Australia work for those same wages as paid in China? The answer is no, simply because it would be not much more than what volountees get.
For me, the worst part of all of this is not just the quality control but the factories change the way they make models especially in subsequent runs, & that is unknown to the importer until problems like this happen. Read the box of almost every product you buy these days & there is the little sign on them that says Due to changes in design & improvements, the product in the box may be different to that shown
or similar. At least the new owner of TOR is making every effort to get the issue sorted out with the gears with their new factory, even though most are out of the warranty period.
The worst part for me in any model is the increased use of ABS type plastics, especially in areas where detail items are added, many of which come off at the slightest touch, & some without even being touched, as its almost impossible to glue them back in place, I personally would much prefer the major castings that are not done in metal to revert back to the older plastics that at least can be glued back in place.