Seems like we have three or four old threads going at once here. We've talked the Chinese quality bit to death, agree with DtEW and Whiteroom that several prominent manufacturers seem to be doing fine over there. Some very serious skiers on these threads have pointed out DPS's quality, for instance, and Helix and K2 seem to be very solid, and except for some problems in first year Katanas with sidewalls and the 07-08 Goats with teles or AT pulling out after big air, I haven't heard anything bad about Volkl. Lines seem variable, apparently prone to cosmetic damage but is this the same as construction quality? Suspect this is more about individual ski company quality control than something generically Chinese. (And contrary to your assumption, davluri, yes, you can inspect and test fiberglass just like anything else to detect production problems. I'm sure Volkl and K2 and others do.)
I also have personally experienced mediocre lifespan of Rossis and Sollies, not to mention exploding Sollie toe pieces, so less than automatically enchanted with "Old World Craftsmanship." Seems more like you're talking specifically about skis made by a few companies like Elan and Fischer as being bomber. Agree there. But a lot of these Euro companies are making skis in Africa or eastern Europe. Automatically suspect construction too, or is it just those cunning Chinese?
The cap vs sandwich thing is a red herring. Atomic makes pretty damn strong caps. Stockli uses machined composite (read high end "foam") inside metal sheets, ditto race factory Dynastars, with foam and wood, so are these a sandwich? Blizzards and Fischers now have a lot of vertical core componentsor I-beams that reach down into the ski center like icebergs. Are they part of a sandwich?
And what's the evidence for sandwiches being so wonderful? I've seen or been told about many indy classic sandwiches that start delaminating almost immediately. Go read the threads over at TGR about this; everyone's quite blase about it, considered part of the package for small American companies. Folks at PM just tell you to go buy some epoxy and clamp 'em. Or should we include American products under the "shoddy" heading?
Skis with metal in them probably last longer than skis without; metal is stronger than wood and plastic, y'know. Maybe that explains why people have their wood fats delam, or maybe it's the weird landings. Point here is that you have to control for a) the fact that most fatter skis are all wood, or wood and carbon, and b) most fatter skis are skied differently, in different terrain, than skis that do have metal in them. The fats that do have metal, like the XXL and the P4, appear to be known for their reliability. So is this really about construction design, or quality control, or specific materials like titanium?
davluri, suggest a search about your postulate concerning costs of caps. You're just wrong. Lots of posters connected to the industry have talked about this. Has to do with economy of scale, not intrinsic cost, and companies that shape composites to put inside caps apparently spend more $ than companies that do it the old fashioned way.
And as far as Dynastar tip and tail caps "going wrong," any evidence that it has, or are you just innately nervous about caps? Far as I know, Legends have been some of the strongest skis out there.
219, can't speak to your Head problems, but all my Heads have been bomber, and useful to remember that Kastles (which you say are the nicest skis you've handled this year - I agree) are made in the Head factory. So how does that work?