A very interesting thread. Thanks for starting it Barry,
Clearly the standards of RTR have never been higher, especially in the level of detail and, particularly, the paint finish. With regard to the level of detail, this comes at a 'price'. Much is far too delicate (ever tried fixing lamps or headboards on to Hornby Gresley Pacifics?). In handling, I've found lots of things just drop off (I'm not inherently clumsy). As I've mentioned on Wright Writes, I was loco-doctoring at the Peterborough Show. One guy brought a Hornby B17 for attention, and two steps and the cylinder drain cocks on one side just fell off in picking it up. When I open the packaging (don't mention the current packaging!) to take a product shot of an RTR loco, I do so over my photographic paper now - because so many bits have fallen off in transit.
Some recent RTR locos are almost impossible to get into for servicing/attention. Too many I've had through my hands in the last two years have motors which have failed. It would appear they are nowhere near as robust as motors of yore.
As for price (in comparison to, say, Hornby-Dublo or Tri-ang of years gone), exceptional value I'd say, but not so good if the products aren't as durable as those robust 'toys' I've just mentioned. But then, current RTR products are not sold for/to children in the main.
I suppose (as has been discussed on Wright Writes), there is a 'sameness' nowadays with regard to locos/stock on mainstream layouts at exhibitions and in the press.
Is there much moaning? I've listened to folk wail about such and such a loco not being exactly the one they want. When I suggest they renumber/rename it to the one they desire, they turn pale, or get someone else to do it for them.
As for those who prefer to make their own locos/stock, either from kits or from scratch (though the kit market is diminishing), they probably don't give a fig about RTR. They just get on (as was the case in the past) with actually making things for themselves. They've probably always been in a minority, anyway.