Now before anyone takes me for being a cheapskate* (which I probably am) I'm not talking about tools made in low labor cost countries, though I am sort of surprised someone hasn't filled that niche yet. What I'm talking about is a wholesale look at what makes a good molding plane designed and manufactured for use by today's wood workers.
The easy answer is that it looks exactly as it did in the 18th century*. I have the excellent Larry William's DVD as I hope to make some side escapement planes someday. I believe these are amazing tools every bit as refined cultured and beautiful as infills. The amount of materials and labor involved means that they are time intensive and expensive to make, again just like infill planes. This means they cost more than peanuts, and given multiples are needed (yes I know you probably only need a couple), it gets to fairly large numbers quick. Custom plane makers aren't rolling in cash, despite what a set of their tools cost. It only makes sense that a skilled craftsman ought to live somewhere above the poverty line, divide that cost by the planes you can make in a year, and that's how much they must cost, simple economics. The facts that most H&R plane makers have a backlog (sometimes measured in years) and that there isn't a glut of makers proves that this isn't a get rich scheme. Now you can try to address this by finding skilled workers in low cost of living areas, or you can figure out a way to simplify or accelerate production with the end result being more quantity & less expensive tools made.
This doesn't mean making products that aren't good. Again take infill planes. I doubt many would say that a Bailey pattern plane can't do good work. It certainly could be made in far less time with less expense in craftsman labor. This is why infill plane makers were largely supplanted by "good-enough" Baileys. Thankfully, today there is enough interest in woodworking to allow infill makers to thrive again despite increasingly better (more than) "good-enough" mass produced planes like Lie-Nielsen, Veritas, and others. I believe a line of such H&R will not take away the niche of the small number of makers of traditional side escapement planes (Old Street, MS Bickford, Caleb James, Philly Planes) (and not to leave out the non-traditional Time Warp Tool Works) In fact, I'd suspect that as more folks use these planes, even more people would desire "Premium" versions.
My intent here is to start a discussion on an open source design for 21st century molding planes. I have thoughts to share on materials and manufacturing, but invite as many opinions as possible, hopefully driving toward a design that is relatively economical to make, just as the originals were in their time. I realize that there is an amount of hubris here as a thus far sideline molder*, and I welcome even disparaging comments on the challenges ahead with such a project.