Doug.... I agree with much of what you say, but your second assumption "that people care ONLY about whether the loco runs well" is perhaps somewhat of an unfair statement. I think that even with all the negative contributors to this thread, most would agree that it is a great model--as a model. But their point is, "Of what value is a great looking model if it won't operate well?" As Bob Grosh put it very early in the thread, the price of the K was too much just to use it as a model on the wall.....this said after he had devoted uncounted hours trying to make it meet his operating standards.
For myself, I am probably one of the people you put in the category suggested by your second assumption. I love building the railroad; the engineering required; less interested in the model-building side or even in the "running" of the trains. However, about 50% of my rationale for my railroad --at least in my excuses to the wife--is that it's for "the grandkids", of which I have 7 now with another in the oven, ranging in age from 14 down to minus 5 months. I need to buy locomotives that operate well and can stand a certain amount of heavy handling by little hands. Thus, I may be in a very small minority of the hobby.
My point: we in the hobby are a diverse group, not all interested in the same aspects of the hobby. Some are rivet counters and, though I disagree with the pejorative terminology, I fully accept and appreciate their desire for painstaking detail. But that's just not my schtick. Some like to operate; others like to build; others are into the electronics, etc, etc. But, I think saying any one kind of large scaler is "interested only in"... some particular aspect is an unfair characterterization. Most of us would like to have as much as there is out there (i.e. paintstaking detail, easy to apply electronics, outstanding operating characteristics, etc )but find--like life itself--we have to compromise and therefore have to establish our priorities before --rather than after--we buy.
Again, my first priority has to be: it must operate well. (Not just for the grandkids, but also to cover my own deficiencies!) But, man, do I love the look of the K-27! As the author of this thread--though not all the aspects of it--I started out by saying that I "lusted" for a K-27. And its appearance first generated that lust. So, again, it's not exactly right to say it's only how well a loco runs that I--and perhaps others like me--care about.
Implied in your comments is an imporant point. If this Forum--not necessarily this thread--relentlessly picks apart the offering of our few manufacturers, running them down, emphasizing their shortcomings, etc so that the market is virtually eliminated, we soon will not have any company making products for us. No company wants to pay out all the front end costs of design, manufacturing, marketing etc only to have their product dissed to the point of market destruction. We therefore need to exercise caution in how we phrase our critiques and balance them against the good points of the products. Hopefully, the critiques as a fair assessment of all of a product's qualities would be helpful to manufacturers, rather than accusations as to how good it might have been. In this, I fully and wholeheartedly agree with you.
Sorry if I got long winded here. And your comments in no way raised any ire, only that you may have misstated your second assumption without realizing it. I--like you--regret some of the aspects of this thread, but it does I think offer fair warning and truth to fellow hobbyists from men whom we have grown to know and respect through this Forum. Unfortunately, again like life, the truth is not clear-cut for everyone, but like the little boy at Christmas digging through the pile of horse leavings, "There's bound to be a pony in here somewhere!"