Established in Japan in 1957, Kato Precision Railroad Models launched a U.S. division in 1986 and began distributing an N-scale version of the General Motors EMD GP38-2 locomotive in 1987. Prior to that date, Kato model trains were sold in the United States under the Con-Cor and Atlas labels. Since then, Kato USA has been the exclusive U.S. distributor for Kato's N and HO locomotives and rolling stock, as well as Unitrack straights, curves, and turnouts.

Especially sought by collectors are trains made by the company’s Kobo Custom Division. All Kobo trains are hand assembled in Japan, and many feature Digital Command Control, or DCC, capabilities; custom lighting effects; and weathering—from rust on the wheels to faux dirt on the tops of hoppers.

The first Kato trains made for Con-Cor were the N-scale Alco PA-1 and its companion, the cabless PB-1, both of which were released in 1967. This diesel engine is associated with the postwar locomotives that powered the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railroads until the early 1950s. Kato’s relationship with Atlas was not as long-lived as the one it enjoyed with Con-Cor, but the introduction of the Kato-built Atlas Alco R-3 locomotive in 1983 was a milestone for Atlas and N-scale in general.

After Kato USA’s launch of the GP38-2 in 1987, a succession of classic locomotives followed, including the EMD F units and limited releases of EMD’s GP50 in 1988 and GE’s U30C in 1989—that last locomotive included a “low-friction drive,” producing a running effect that some aficionados now describe as the “Kato glide.”

Of its more recent trains, one of the best is still the 1996 USRA Heavy Mikado, an N-scale version of the steam engines built under the auspices of the United States Railroad Administration at the end of World War I. A Kobo version of this locomotive, equipped with DCC, debuted in 2008.


Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Airfix Model Railways

Airfix Model Railways

Dave McCarthy's Airfix Model Railway treasure trove is an in-depth archive of the company's plastic railway kits fr… [read review or visit site]

Gateway NMRA

Gateway NMRA

This great reference site for model railroaders, from the Gateway (St. Louis) division of the NMRA (National Model … [read review or visit site]

HOseeker.net

HOseeker.net

This site is a treasure trove of HO scale model railroad manufacturer catalogs and other reference information, inv… [read review or visit site]

Postwar Lionel Trains Library

Postwar Lionel Trains Library

Bernie Schulz’s Lionel Trains Library focuses exclusively on postwar Lionel trains and accessories. The site cont… [read review or visit site]

Eric's Trains

Eric's Trains

Eric Siegel's site displays his collection of O-gauge/O-scale trains, tracks, turntables, and other accessories. A … [read review or visit site]

Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

Tech Model Railroad Club of MIT

MIT's model railroad club, as one might expect, has one of the best websites for learning about how people play wit… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Kato N Scale Eurostar 4 Car Add-on Set #10-328 - BoxedKato N Scale Sd70ace Union Pacific Model Train Locomotive Engine Steam AgKato 10-327 Eurostar International Limited Series 8 Car Set - BoxedKato 37-6600 Undecorated Sd40-2 Mid Diesel Ocomotive Ln/boxKato 376601 Ho Scale Burlington Northern Sd40-2 Diesel #6770 Ln/boxKato N Scale Canadian National 9005 Engine Part #176-188Kato 376614 Ho Bnsf Swoosh Logo Sd40-2 Diesel Locomotive #6752 Ln/boxKato 37-6603 Cn Sd40-2 #6253 Diesel Locomotive Ln/boxKato 106-019 Smoothside Passenger Car Set Of 6 Sp Daylight N Nib 93Kato 106-0402 Emd F7 A+b Locomotive Set Santa Fe #235 + #235b N Scale Nib 97Kato 37-6610 Undecorated Sd40-2 Mid Diesel Locomotive Ln/boxCustom New York Central Nyc Vanderbuilt Express Pacific LocomotiveLot Of Kato Unitrack-- Rolling Stock-- Fox Valley Es44ac Locomotive With DccKato Ho Sound Dcc Gp35 Phase 1c W/db RareKato 376601 Ho Scale Burlington Northern Sd40-2 Diesel #6770 Ln/box Kato Huge Lot Of Straight Curved Crossover TracksKato 176-282 Us Diesel Emd E8/9a Southern Pacific "daylight" N Scale Nib 94Kato 106-014 Smoothside Passenger Car Set Of 6 Union Pacific N Scale Nib 93Kato N-scale 176-4103 Pa-1 Southern Pacific Dcc Digitrax Decoder Installed Mint!Kato N-scale Power Chassie For Either F3 Or F7 Diesel LocomotiveKato N Scale Container Chassis 4-packBcr 751 British Columbia Railway Emd Sd40-2 Locomotive (dc Only) Bcol Ho Bc RailKato 176-281 Us Diesel Emd E8/9a Southern Pacific "daylight" N Scale Nib 94N- Kato 176-9007 - F40ph Diesel Passenger Loco - Amtrak 396 Phase Iii - NibKato 156-0803 Atsf Corrugated Business Car "topeka" N Scale Nib 97N Scale Kato Canadian Pacific Corrugated Passenger Car Set 4 CarsKato 176-201 Us Diesel Emd Sd 40 Santa Fe A.t.& S.f # 5015 N Scale Nib 91Kato N Guage Streetcar/tram/trolley 14617 Green Single Car W/ Gray Top New InboxKato N Guage Streetcar/tram/trolley 14603 Orange Single Car W Gray Top Nr.5231Kato N Scale Southern Pacific Daylight Passenger CarsBcr 756 British Columbia Railway Sd40-2 Emd Locomotive (dc Only) Bcol Ho Bc RailKato N Scale Union Pacific Up Heritage C&nw Sd70ace Locomotive Road# 1995 NewLot Of 3 Kato N-scale Emd Sd45 176-317 & 318, Emd Sd70 Mac #9842 No Reserve Kato - Lemke N Guage K14610-12 Bern Trolley Set New In Box Green Cream GrayHo Scale Kato Wm #7445 Diesel Locomotive Custom Western MarylandN Scale €Kato N Scale 1066151 Gunderson Maxi I Double Stack Car Bnsf Rd #238369Kato Ge C44-9w "santa Fe" Loco #669 With Digitrax Dn163k1b DecoderN Scale Kato F3a "great Northern" LocomotiveKato 176-4811 Norfolk Southern Sd40-2 Diesel Locomotive Engine Pro-weathered! 4 Kato Ho Unitrack #6 Turnouts - 2 Each 2-862 Lh & 2 Each 2-863 Rh N Scale Train Kato Sd40-2 Milwaukee Road Early 150Kato 37-1303 Csx Ge C44-9w Dash-9 Diesel Locomotive #9009 Ln/boxKato Undecorated E8a LocomotiveKato N Scale Double Track Lot With Accessories - 16 PiecesN Scale Train Kato Canadian Pacific E/9 A A Unit 1800 1802Ho Kato - Sd 45 Rio Grande Kobo SpecialKato N Scale Unitrack Double Crossover Track 310mm 12 3/16" 1pc Wx310 20210 Lnip4 Kato N Scale Series 24 Type 25 Hokutosei Gold Line Passenger Cars - BoxedKato N Scale Wabash Corrugated Passenger Set D 106-1801Kato N Guage 14610 Trolley Set New In Box Echt Kolnisch Wasser AdvertisingKato N Scale Burlington Northern F7a Locomotive #724N Scale Atlas/kato 2 Powered Delaware & Hudson Rs-11 Locos Run Perfect Dir LightN- Kato 176-9007 - F40ph Diesel Passenger Loco - Amtrak 396 Phase Iii - NibKato N Scale Bethgon Coal Porter 8 Car Set CsxKato 2-8-2 Heavy Mikado Replacement Detail Parts Pkg ~ Last One! Set #1 933010Kato 156-0814 Union Pacific Corrugated Business Car "st.louis" N Scale Nib 97Kato N Guage Streetcar/tram/trolley 14-070 Duwag Single Car Hannover Hiroshima3 Kato N Scale Series 24 Type 25 Hokutosei Gold Line Passenger Cars - BoxedKato Ho Scale 1-201 C56 Japanese Type 2-6-0 Steam Engine & Tender - Boxed