I just find it odd that CT is held up as a paragon of RPG artwork when there was so little of it, and what there was was pretty average for its day. I suppose it's kind of an endorsement of how CT and MGT are otherwise so comparable that the only thing left to argue over are the pictures ...
I totally agree.
I think there was an issue in the art of the first printing - fair enough - but I do think much of it has been improved to the point that it isn't really worth complaining about. As I said, the art in Mongoose Traveller is about on a par with T20 and GURPS: Traveller (notwithstanding Interstellar Wars, which was a one-off release anyway).
Traveller will never be as flash as WotC's Star Wars or FFG's WH40KRP lines - but it was never going to be (although Judge Dredd runs them close!).
Part of this was because of the 'minimalist' style (which I actually like), but also because it helps keep the Traveller line within a viable profit margin for Mongoose. Whilst this may seem cheap to some, what it does mean is that we will get oodles of continuous support for the game in the future, as Mongoose continue to meet their bottom line effectively. Don't forget that the pocket book is pretty cheap now too.
Some of the individual licensed supplements, such as Hammer's Slammers or the aforementioned Judge Dredd may have other 'one off', license stipulations or market considerations to allow for more flash, etc.
I suppose we could ask for a 'special edition' black leather cover....