Just dipping back into this thread with a few thoughts.
--I was actually saddened by some of what Steve Witt said in that FBTB thread. It seems to me, at times, that LEGO forgets what they're supposed to be about.* In that thread Steve implies that it's about collecting a TIE Interceptor model, not about building. Pardon me, but if I wanted a simple SW model as a toy, Hasbro or Kenner or whoever builds more accurate ones. I've complained before about set 7241, Fire Car, that says "Designed for easy building and instant play" on the box! Blast it, the building is the play! If I simply wanted a fire truck to roll around, I had a great Tonka Truck when I was young that was much better for that use.
--When I was a kid, it was alternate models that sparked my imagination and got me into MOCing. My first set with figs was:
but I had much more fun building one of the alternates:
and then working out modifications for both that and the original design so that the rocket could actually launch (if you look at the pics, the bracket holding the rocket in place is in the middle, so if you want to launch and have it fly around, you have to break the front and back halves from the launcher, then put them together so the rocket can fly).
--Alternate models are, in my mind, more for the kids than the AFOLs. The average AFOL has a fairly large collection, so if they want to MOC they can do so easily. A kid, though, will have a small number of sets (at least at first), so to get building they need to know that a single set affords them great play opportunities.
--On instructions for alt models, I'd say no. Part of the fun was trying to figure out how they did that - I still do this when I get a new set if there are alternate models. This is great for stimulating the imagination and all of the educational developmental issues that LEGO always holds forth as being so important.
Anyway, bring back alternate models!
*Usual caveats - there are some great things out there that go the other way - Creator/Designer lines, XPods, Pick-a-Brick, Factory