Update February 2, 2014:
The preliminary patent application for the NZT PROTOMATE is available online: http://www.freepatentsonline.com/20130256254.pdf
The design appears to be pretty clever. Rather than a MTL coil centering spring, or a straight whisker, the patent describes a large coil centering spring that wraps around the center post. Being metal, it shouldn’t take a set like some of the plastic variations on this theme, and with very little of the mechanism needing to be behind the post, this will have be a very compact package.
Originally Published May 5, 2012:
At the National Z Scale Convention this weekend NZT Products announced a new N and Z scale coupler called the Protomate. All the features listed on the announcement flyer sound promising. In fact, they mirror all the features N scalers have been clamoring for: metal spring for durability, more detail on the coupler head, smaller mounting box, and no slinky effect! They are also planned to be fully compatible with magnetic uncoupling of other couplers. Other companies have tried that last feat and failed, but if NZT can pull this off this will be the next biggest milestone to N Scale since the Fox Valley Models metal wheelsets.
Here’s the flyer: