Sure, many of the propositions you make possibly could be, but I think it unlikely that you take thirty years of split-plinth, motorpod-separated massive-chassis Vpi tables and go sideways, with something that's nearly the opposite to that progression. Especially without some kind of proclamation of having 'seen the light', or something, which is, as noted, conspicuously absent either with the rim drive or this empire derivative. Simply put, the door is left open, the statements are nondescript and routinely positive, and the flag is run up the flagpole to see who may salute. Doesn't quite sound like a brand new day.
If the rim drive were to be a true 21st century homage to the idler, with appropriate and thorough renovation of parts and design, it might have been easier to take seriously and subscribe to something like you say. But it wasn't, it was a clamped-on revision to a previously available vpi parts-list. Nothing that cleared the table or set new standards.
If the empire version here were to be a true re-envisioning of the beltdrive by a consummate designer who'd spent his life refining the old motor-pod / split-plinths, you would be hearing something like Chairguy imagined --- a fearless designer brave enough to cut a whole new path through the forest.. and brave enough to say it --- but as we've noted, there is no such thing, no such statement. Again, the door left open, no confirming or denying that the "Classic" was a whole new direction or just a momentary nod to what gets talked-up on the net. It takes real strategic marketing finesse to thread this needle, avoid saying anything substantial, stay positive and on-message, and make no mistake, they're doing just that.
Sure, nobody has to build only one kind of deck, as you say. But Harry has, in general. And sure, if something else works, too, why avoid it ? But Harry has, in general. And sure, as you suggest, the classic maybe isn't capitalizing on nostalgia; maybe it's building and surpassing it, as you suggest. Or, it's just as simple as it appears on the surface. A blow-off of the principles of design that made vpi the company it is, and a shift from offering that pesky upgrade path.
It's his company, his table, he can and is doing what he likes. But there's no need to stretch to find an admirable or high-minded rationale, when the obvious seems so much easier to accept.
- the internet is full of vintage table talk that eventually takes money away from companies like vpi
- people who restore or replinth vintage tables often spend around $2k by the time the project is finished, coincidentally the cost of a 'classic'
- the two types that would most cover the net-generated interest would be an idler and a wood-based oldschool beltdrive
- the look of the vpi 'classic' is in some ways similar to that of vintage tables, and the 'rim-drive' one is an idler of some sort, right ?
- ergo, two counter-proposals to real vintage tables (usually surviving because of superior construction)-- both look plausibly credible, and you can purchase a new one for the price you'd pay for the uncertainty of a vintage one.
And in at least the case of the rimdrive, rather than any solidly-engineered attempt to honor the idler tradition, HW comes up with a scoutmaster with a round disc clamped on for a pulley, all other parts beltdrive parts from the shelf; in the case of the classic, it gets them off the upgrade-parts-and-service merry-go-round, since it's a total departure from what all previous customers thought was a vpi 'system' table.
All in all, a glass half full vs a glass half empty, most would say.
I'd say an obvious marketing roadmap leading directly away from the Tnts/Hrxs, in a way that doesn't lock the door if it doesn't take off.........