While I cannot speak for Walthers directly (wish I could lol!), I have started to believe that Walthers has a cryptic "hinting" and message system, that can only be unlocked with the Indiana Jones Grail Diary lol. Over the past ten years, I have noticed things (being a police officer helps in situations like this!) For instance:
When the Amfleet II's were announced, one of the early pre-production drawings showed an Amfleet II coach coupled up to part of a Heritage car (that faded to the end of the page.) That had me thinking "hmmm, will they do Heritage cars too???) Sure enough, they produced the Budd cars.
When the first run of Superliner I and II's were HEAVILY discounted, I wrote Walthers asking if they were going to do another run, their response: "We have no plans to produce another run of Superliner models, yada yada yada". A few months later... NEW AND RE-TOOLED SUPERLINER CARS WITH METAL PLATED FINISH, INTERIORS, etc.
Walthers made a big deal displaying their new PRR E-8's, complete with a big PRR Keystone logo on the ad, full page ads in Model Railroader, etc. Had me thinking, "hmm, something tells me this year, the Broadway Limited will be announced." Sure enough...
I wrote them, asking about factory installed grab irons for passenger cars, their response "We have no plans..." Then bingo.... NEW UP CITIES CARS NOW WITH FACTORY INSTALLED GRAB IRONS!
A few years back, someone on the Atlas forum wrote them asking about another run of P42DC's in Phase Vb, their response "We have no plans..." Then bingo.... #7 and #47 came out.
More recently, it was "hinted" that two years ago, Walthers would be producing the 20th Century Limited name train. I wrote Walthers asking if this would be the 1938 or 1948 Century; their response: We currently have no plans to produce the New York Central 20th Century Limited train. Two months later.... =D
I believe that Walthers does hint to us what will come out, or is on the drawing board. When I saw this post, I was actually happy, because if the past proves true, I have a good feeling you will see not just a re-run of Amfleets, but:
a) a totally re-tooled Amfleet I and II model, with an accurate carbody and cross section.
b) better situated diaphrams
c) metal plated finish
e) a MUCH BETTER improved inside roller bearing truck
f) opening doors, brake dust smell when flying by at 120 mph (okay, so I exaggerated on the last one!)
From a business prospective, let's consider the following:
The Amfleet (I and II) model has been the backbone of Amtrak's passenger car fleet since the mid 70's, with Amfleet I's coming on the scene in 1975-78, and the II model following in 1981-83. These cars still continue to soldier on with pride for many regional, corridor and intercity trains.
They have carried every phase possible: I, II, III, IIIa (Northeast Direct) IV, IVa (Northeast Direct), Acela Regional (Capstone), IVb.
Walthers put out a survey some years back regarding a re-tooled Amfleet design.
Walthers also knows, as I have stated before, these cars are in HIGH demand, and not just for their previous model. They know today's modelers demand a highly-accurate model, not just something to run around a Christmas tree. Their passenger line has improved greatly over the past few years, just take a look at their yearly name trains.
Demand for highly detailed models as stated above is something companies have noticed and responded to. Just take a look at BLMA freight cars or Rapido's passenger cars. True "work of art" models... and... THEY SELL OUT!
Besides being model railroaders, Walthers is still... a business. Businesses want to make money, that's rule #1. If there is a demand for a product, they will deliver, we all love profits.
Kato's announcement of Amfleet II's, Viewliners in N scale, had many HO modelers buzzing. The people at Walthers are a smart group of people, they check these boards too, especially the Yahoo group "AmtrakModeler". Believe me, they know about this, as new Amtrak models for N but not HO has hit many boards online. The Amfleet thread is something that has been popping up continuously on this board, Atlas, Trainorders, Model Railroader and many other forums. I am SURE they are aware of this.
Their first run of metal plated Superliner cars sold VERY well, believe me, they took notice.
Walthers also is aware of how high in demand the Phase IVb scheme is, sell-outs of P42DC's in this scheme have proven this time and time again. (Yes, expect more)
Current Amfleet I and II models are either listed as "retired" or at an amazing discount. Why perhaps? To deplete this stock before new versions come out. This is not sneaky or a scam, this is a smart business tactic to sell what you have to turn profit in any way, shape, or form, before you produce a better, more accurate model. This is a smart move from a business prospective.
It is my belief that Walthers has a re-tooled Amfleet model in the works, or at least on the drawing board, or in some kind of "plan" form. The demand is WITHOUT A DOUBT there.
But, BUT, no matter what they have up their sleeve, continue to send in these requests, it only adds fuel to their fire, no matter what their response is to the consumer such as "we have no plans, etc."
To delve into that for a second, the "we have no plans..." statement. Walthers is smart. If you were coming out with a brand new product, would you want it blabbed or noticably hinted to the model railroad world? So that perhaps other companies can jump on it and beat you to it with your own idea and product? Absolutely not. Another smart business tactic by Walthers.
Please keep sending those requests in! I just want to thank Walthers for their commitment to the Model Railroading industry, especially with their yearly name trains and dedication to Amtrak equipment. We may sometimes forget that they are constantly bombarded by requests from us for all types of models, and they take the time to answer us, and announce fantastic pieces of equipment. Let's not forget that, Walthers, besides other companies, have come a LONG way in the past ten years; so perhaps in one of your request e-mails, thank them for that model that you were requesting that they did produce. A "pat on the back" is always appreciated.