Your reaction to the differences in sound were, I assume, based on what you hear while you’re playing. I’m curious as to whether your reactions would be the same listening to recordings of the same playing. I only recently started recording my playing and was surprised how different my impressions are listening to the recordings of different melodicas from what my impressions have been while playing.
I’m sure with melodicas the big profits for Hohner are in selling models like the Fire and Superforce, so that they don’t have much motivation to continue the older tradition. Maybe as the melodica is taken more seriously by professional musicians they’ll have second thoughts. Suzuki, for whatever reason, appears to be moving in the opposite direction. Maybe because the market is different in Japan.