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 Union Pacific Fef-3 Steam Locomotive Engine Model Train 126-0401Kato N 4-8-4 Fef-3 Union Pacific Locomotive #844 + Excursion / Water Tender ComKato 106-2402 N Scale Atsf E8/9 Ab Diesel Locomotive Set Ln/boxKato 106-019 Sp Daylight Passenger 6-car Set Ln/boxKato 176-6402 N Scale Bnsf Sd-70 Mac Diesel Locomotive #9959 Ln/boxKato Unitrack N Scale Lot Of 14 PackagesKato Southern Pacific 8469 Diesel Locomotive Works Ho Scale No Box Kb 41fKato 176-2211 N Scale Santa Fe "warbonnet" Emd F7 B-unit Powered Diesel Ln/boxKato K23215 N Paris Hong Kong 1988 Ciwl Orient Express Passenger Car Set (15)Kato Ho Scale Ge P42 Amtrak 37-6107 Genesis Phase Iv Model Train LocomotiveKato 176-281 N Scale Southern Pacific Daylight E8/9a Diesel Locomotive #6047 LnKato N-scale Es44ac Csx #800 Dcc ReadyKato 106-029 N Scale Southern Pacific Daylight Smooth Side 4-car Passenger SetN- Kato 106-6143 Gunderson Maxi-i 5-unit Intermodal Well Stack Ttx No ContainersKato Ge Es44ac 176-8908 Csx #819 N-scale Locomotive Model Train Gevo Japan CaseKato 126-04011 N Fef-3 4-8-4 Up #844 Steam Loco W/dcc NibKato 176-3509 Bnsf C44-9w Diesel Locomotive #727 Ln/boxKato N Scale 106-8001 Amtrak Acs-64 Amfleet 5 Unit Set #621 New In BoxN Scale Kato Mikado Canadian National #3809 2-8-2 With SoundKato N Scale Model Trains Great Northern F7a Dcc Equipped #273bKato Undec Undecorated Sd40 W/ Chicken Wire GrillsKato 176-3506 Santa Fe C44-9w Diesel Loco. Ln/boxKato 176-6306 Conrail Sd70mac Diesel Locomotive Ln/boxKato N Scale #176-6403 Sd70mac Alaska Railroad Arr Engine #4001— NewLot Of 6 Kato 20221 N Gauge Unitrack Electric Turnout #4 Right R481-15 (r19"-15)Kato Emd Sd70mac Bn #9580 Diesel Locomotive #176-6501 N Scale NibKato 176-061 Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe F3b Phase I Diesel Locomotives (2) LnLarge Lot Of Kato N Scale UnitrackKato N Scale 106-8002 Amtrak Amfleet 2 Unit Set New In Box Set AKato 176-7007 N Scale Union Pacific Ac4400cw#5780 Ln/box Kato N Scale New And Used Track Lot - Straight And CurveN- Kato 176-4370 - Emd Nw2 Diesel Loco Switcher Bn Burlington Northern 513 NibKato 176-3504 N Scale Santa Fe C44-9w Diesel Locomotive #605 Ln/boxKato Ho Scale Nyc Rs-3 Diesel Locomotive #8233 (bst #5-999) DcKato 176-3503 N Scale Santa Fe C44-9w Diesel Locomotive Ln/boxNew 4 Pack N Scale Athearn Mack R 3 Axle Various ColorKato Ho Scale Prr Alco C425 Diesel Locomotive #5108 (bst #5-998) DcKato Sd45 Erie Lackawanna - N ScaleFruit Train Up Armn Exactrail 64' Trincool Cars (20 Ea) & (2 Ea) Kato Ac4400's Kato #176-88507 Norfolk Southern Sd70ace With Dcc Decoder - Nice And Rare !!Kato & Life Like N Scale Union Pacific Alco Diesels (2) Ln/boxKato N 176-215 F7-a "southern Pacific" Diesel Locomotive Train Engine New In BoxKato 20-210 310mm Double Crossover Turnout Wx310 (n Scale) Unitrack - No ReserveKato 106-6302 Sp Morn Articulated Coach Cars (4) Ln/boxN Scale Kato Double Crossover Track.Kato 106-6158 N Maersk Gunderson Maxi-i 5 Unit Double Stack Well Car With 40' CN-scale Kato 137-2002 Gg1 Prr #4929 Pennsylvania Kato N Scale Pennsylvania Green Single Stripe Gg1 Rd # 4929Kato Wabash Emd Sd70ace EngineGhq Loco Masters 55-004 - Prr L1s Mikado Conversion Kit For Kato – Nice Kit!Ho Scale Stewart/kato F7a Phase Ii Burlington Northern 818 Locomotive With DccHo Scale Kato Dcc Sd40-2 Factory Painted Soo Line #759 Dcc Decoder AddedHo Stewart / Kato A/b Set F3a / F3b Baltimore & Ohio Phase Ii Powered Nib Kato 37-6324 Ho Scale Emd Sd40- Conrail #6345Kato Ho Sd45 /sd$) DriveN Scale Kato 176-4604 Great Northern Rs-2 Diesel Locomotive #217N Scale Kato Southern Pacific #5017~emd Gp30 Powered Diesel Locomotive Pennsylvania Prr 478121 Cabin Car Kato 186-0307 N Scale [my17.40]N-scale - Micro Ace - Nankai Railway Series 50000 Express Rapit 6 Car Set A-0750Kato Undec Sd90/43 Mac