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 Great Northern Gn 3200 Usra 2-8-2 Heavy Mikado Train N Scale 126-0107Kato N-scale 106-4009 Pa-1 Diesel Locomotive Prr Pennsylvania #5753Bn Sd40-2 Diesel Loco Dcc Burlington Northern 37-2701 Kato Ho Gauge C112N Scale Kato Burlington Northern 6 Car Plus 4 Car Add On Passenger Car SetsHo Kato 37-1307 Cnw #8659 Ge C44-9w Dash 9 Diesel Custom Chicago NorthwesternKato N-scale 176-094 F7a Diesel Locomotive Prr Pennsylvania #9661Kato N-scale 176-185 F3a Diesel Locomotive Ph Ii B&o Baltimore & Ohio #87Kato N-scale 106-4006 Pa-1 Diesel Locomotive New York Central Nyc #4200Kato N-scale 176-103 F7b Diesel Locomotive Prr Pennsylvania Sf Sd40-2 Diesel Loco Dcc Santa Fe 37-2907 Kato Ho Gauge C113Ho Kato Rs2m Kitbash (front Range Gp9), Custom Painted Fantasy Omaha TerminalKato N-scale 106-2001 E8/9a Diesel Locomotive Prr Pennsylvania #5709aHo Kato 37-10f Cbq #9208 Emd Nw2 Phase I Diesel Locomotive BurlingtonBurlington Northern Bn Sd-40-2 Mid Production Ditch Lights Kato N ScaleKato N-scale 137-2004 Gg-1 Diesel Locomotive Prr Pennsylvania #4876Kato 176-4800 - Undecorated Emd Sd40-2 (early Version) W/dynamic BrakeHo Kato 37-1301 Cnw 8626 Ge C44-9w Dash 9 Diesel Locomotive Chicago NorthwesternBnib Kato Ho Bnsf Burlington Northern Santa Fe Emd Sd70mac Merger Rd#9647Ho Kato 37-01p Cb&q #882 Emd Sd40 Diesel Locomotive Chicago Burlington QuincyKato N-scale 176-192 F3b Diesel Locomotive Ph Ii B&o Baltimore & OhioN Scale Kato California Zephyr 11 Car Passenger Car SetHo Kato/front Range Illinois Central Ic Gp10 Kitbash With Tsunami Dcc SoundN Scale Kato 176-2211 Atsf Emd F7 F7b Diesel Locomotive Santa FeSf Sd45 Diesel Loco Dcc Santa Fe 37-1711 Kato Ho Gauge C114N Scale Kato Pennsylvania E8a Tuscan Red 5 Stripe Locomotive --(excellent)--Ho Kato 37-10g Cbq #9211 Emd Nw2 Phase I Diesel Locomotive BurlingtonKaslo Ho Cpr Sd40-2f Body Shell Kit For Kato Sd40-2 Chassis(ho) Kato Amtrak F40ph #396 W/ditch Lights 37-6582Ato 176-8403 N Emd Sd70ace Union Pacific "flag" No. 8444Kato 37-1802 C44-9w Ns Norfolk Southern #8979 W\\nce D13srp Dcc Kato Ttx Dttx Gunderson Maxi-iv Double Stack Car 3-unit Set W/ Emp Containers BGcfx Alsthom Kato Sd40 Custom Built/painted Be Southern Tier ModelworksN Scale Kato Southern Pacific Morning Daylight 10 Car Passenger Car SetN Scale Kato Baltimore & Ohio 6 Car Passenger Car SetN Scale Kato Pennsylvania Railroad 10 Car Plus 4 Car Add On SetKato N Scale Bnsf Sd40-2 # 6744 & # 6762N Scale Kato 4 Pack Canadian Pacific Set A Passenger Cars 106-1501Kato Gunderson Maxi Iv Double Stack Car Aok #55358 W/ 3 Athearn 53' Containers(ho) Kato Undecorated Gp35 37-3000 Lnib Ph1c W/db And Non-db HatchesHo Scale Kato Nyc Rs 2 Alco Un Numbered Engine New York Central #37-2403 Nice!Kato Ho Scale Locomotive Emd Sd90/43mac Indiana Railroad #9002 #37-6365 NibKato Nickel Plate Road Usra 2-8-2 Heavy Mikado Train N Scale 126-0205 Nkp # 678N Scale Kato At&sf F7b LocomotiveKato Amtrak Phase Ivb Superliner Passenger 4-car Set #106-3516 N Scale ModelsN Scale Kato 176-192 F3-b Phase Ii Baltimore & Ohio Powered B Unit Lot Ma8-107N Scale Kato Burlington Northern Dome CoachN Scale Kato Southern Pacific Morning Daylight 10 Car Passenger Car SetKato Bnsf Gunderson Maxi-i Double Stack Car 5-unit Set W/ Nyku Containers B(ho) Kato Conrail Quality Sd70mac #4133 37-6405N Scale Kato 176-2121 Atsf #300 Emd F7 F7a Diesel Locomotive Santa FeN Scale Kato Pennsylvania Railroad 10 Car Plus 4 Car Add On SetN Scale Kato Burlington Northern 6 Car Plus 4 Car Add On Passenger Car SetsN Scale 126-0211 Heavy Mikado Cb&q 5510(ho) Kato Undecorated Sd45 37-1700Kato 37-2710 Sd40-2 Ns Norfolk Southern #1642 W\\nce D13srp Dcc Kato Ho Emd Sd90/43mac # 8240 Custom Sound Dcc Modern LightsKato Santa Fe Atsf Ge C44-9w Diesel Locomotive Engine Dc Powered N ScaleN- Kato 176-6001 - P42 Genesis Diesel Passenger Loco - Amtrak 11 Phase Ii - NibAtlas/kato Ho Rs1 New York CentralN Scale Sd45 Cp Rail 5493