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List of Japanese Model Train Online Retailers


Densha

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Japan - English speaking and international shipping
HobbySearch (topic)

Modeltrainplus (topic)

AmiAmi (topic)

Rail Gallery Rokko  (topic)

Popondetta (topic)

Plaza Japan (ebay & web site) (topic)

Modellbahn JP (topic)

 

Mandarake (used items) (topic)

Hobby Link Japan  (topic)

Amazon.co.jp (topic)

Yahoo Auctions*

 

*For buying used items from Japan using Yahoo Auctions, you need a middlemen service.

 

Japan - Japanese speaking and domestic shipping only
Hobbyland Pochi

TamTam
Yodobashi Camera

Europe
DM Toys (Germany)
Modellbahn Union (Germany)
Train Trax (UK)

 

United States

ModelTrainStuff/MB Kleins (topic)

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Feel free to post about any other online retailers you have had (preferably multiple) good experiences with. I can then add them to the list.

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I'd also suggest amazon.co.jp from which you can easily buy and get your parcel shipped through tenso.com (with amazon free shipping to the tenso warehouse).
There are some good deals on preorders and new stuff, also sometimes from third party vendors on used sets.

 

Many books can be purchased directly from amazon.co.jp by pre-paying import taxes.

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How are the shipping rates from Tenso to Europe? The lowest shipping rate to Europe I was able to find was 1800 yen. Nevermind. Found out that they offer a variety of shipping options, including the cheap SAL option.

 

Still, I can confirm that buying books from Amazon directly works perfectly fine, so I'll add them to the list.

Edited by Densha
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DM Toys in Germany carries a lot of Tomtec/Tomix along with a little bit of Greenmax and Kato.

Edited by bill937ca
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Hmm... this thread is mainly oriented at retailers that speak English and are willing to do send their products overseas, but I could make a separate section for online retailers that only do business within Japan.

Edited by Densha
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Actually i've bought a few rare things with google translate, from online retailers who didn't even have an english website but was willing to ship to me. (i payed with paypal) On the other hand Mandrake is good if you can find some good deals, but they are rare. (mostly used stuff or new old stock)

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7 hours ago, Montfort said:

Did anyone ever try this Ebay sellers: nippontrain ? All your advices and comments will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Edited by Montfort


Ive seen them but don’t think I’ve ever bought from them. Prices look decent. There are several ebay sellers that I think are small shops that have some one who can speak English and they do a little export business on the side thru ebay.

 

jeff

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On 6/13/2020 at 6:02 AM, Montfort said:

Did anyone ever try this Ebay sellers: nippontrain ? All your advices and comments will be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Yes I have actually! Only once though, but I would order from them again with confidence based on my experience. They seem to have quite a few items that are harder to find and have been out of production for a while, and as noted by Jeff their prices seem competitive for those types of items compared to other eBay sellers.

 

My experience: I ordered a red Kato Portram from them late last year.

Unfortunately, one of the motors was defective and it wouldn't run, but the seller was very easy to deal with. They sourced a replacement to send me, I shipped the defective item back, and they promptly sent me the new one. It's not often you get to test a seller's customer service like that. You always want things to go right, but it's even better to know you'll be looked after if things go wrong.

 

They even reimbursed me for the return shipping, even though that's not their official policy and I didn't ask them to.

 

They use cheaper/slower shipping methods (I don't think there was any tracking available, for example), so this whole cycle took a couple of months, but that didn't bother me at all. The seller even looked up what shipping options I could use from Canada Post. Even if they hadn't reimbursed me, I would have only been out $11. I'll admit I was a bit nervous not having tracking or insurance on my return (which would have been around $40, so I just took a bunch of photos for backup), but everything worked out fine. Not sure how the Covid situation would impact shipping mind you.

 

For newer more widely available items, I will stick with plaza japan (if buying from eBay) or HobbySearch who have better pricing. But if there was something I wanted badly that I couldn't find easily, I would buy from nippontrain again with confidence.

Edited by James-SNMB
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Das Steinkopf
18 hours ago, Kamome said:

Sorry thought i’d share as it made me chuckle from a very well known rainforest based online site.

 

Koki 50000 anyone?

EB7B0C1E-921C-4B06-8C8D-D63CB2C723CA.jpeg

 
So is one playing with trains or themselves 🤔.

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Giugiaro
Posted (edited)

For Europe I was suggested on my local forum the following places:

 

ModellbahnShop-Lippe

modellbahnshop-lippe.com Manufacturer KATO/Lemke

modellbahnshop-lippe.com Manufacturer Kato

 

All American Trains

Japan N Models on Sale – All American Trains (aat-net.de)

 

Both ship to Portugal, and probably everywhere else within the EU.

I did order my M2 and CV1 sets from ModellbahnShop-Lippe, as they also allow pre-orders of out-of-stock items with 2 weeks to 2 months wait time.

The listed price is higher than buying from Plaza Japan with shipping and customs included, but pre-ordering out-of-stock items might come in handy.

 

EDIT:

I also noticed that Noch has a German website with online store dedicated specifically for KATO, at:

KATO Unitrack.de

Edited by Giugiaro
Added info on Noch special online store for Kato Unitrack
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Giugiaro

I've been eyeing some articles on Hobby Search and AmiAmi.

Considering the limitations in stock on Plaza Japan I really need to get to grips with other alternatives.

 

I've checked on Trustpilot the reviews done for both shops and they don't seem very good.

It's possible that both websites are negatively impacted because Plaza Japan encourajes its costumers to write reviews for them, while Hobby Search and AmiAmi haven't yet claimed their profiles on Trustpilot.

 

For the veterans here, especially after COVID-19, are Hobby Search and AmiAmi safe for buying in-stock items and pre-orders?

Do any offer shipping through Japan Post/CTT? I'm used to the customs process through this method, and it's just 2€ for the customs fee, unlike the 30€ charged by DHL.

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katoftw

AmiAmi is kinda only good for pre-orders. The carry very little shelf stock. They are however slightly cheaper also. Their ordering system allows in-stock and pre-orders to be combined in one monthly order.

 

Hobby search carries a huge amount of shelf stock. Very good in this aspect. Slightly more expensive than AmiAmi. The will not combine in-stock and pre-orders though.

 

I have not had much issues with either. Dunno what trustpilot is. But is it is like any other review website. It be full of Karens. They always take the time to hit the keyboard over minor things.

 

Both offer shipping using Japan Post. Currently that is dependant on the receivers country still due to covid19. But both their websites and the JP website have info on whether they currently have services to your country.

Edited by katoftw
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4 hours ago, Giugiaro said:

I've been eyeing some articles on Hobby Search and AmiAmi.

Considering the limitations in stock on Plaza Japan I really need to get to grips with other alternatives.

Guigiaro,

While I don't claim to be an expert I have found that the Hobby Search web pages are a very useful catalogue of Japanese N scale offerings.  I have bought stuff from them in the past and have never had any problems.  More recently I have been using RG-Rokko through their english language website https://rg-rokko.com for new purchases and have found them to be very reliable and cheaper than Hobby Search.  They also have a very comprehensive Japanese language site which can be viewed using Google Translate https://www-railgallery--r-com.translate.goog/02_1_003ja.html?_x_tr_sl=ja&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=nui,sc to give you an idea of what else they have in stock.  The prices listed are with Japanese tax but an email to RG-Rokko via the english language web site asking for availability and price will usually get a very helpful reply in a couple of days.

I have also bought second hand items from Yahoo Japan Auctions through an intermediary Zenmarket https://zenmarket.jp/yahoo.aspx?c=2084259591 and have found them to be very reliable also.  Japanese second hand auction items are generally very honestly described and usually in very good condition.  Zenmarket do require you to deposit funds before you bid.  These can be returned if your bid is unsuccessful although after you have made a number of purchases you can bid on credit.  The only downside of purchasing from Japan is that since the pandemic postage options have been reduced and costs have gone up.  I have found that DHL have been very quick delivering to Australia but certainly not cheap and seemingly becoming more expensive each month!  You would have to check which delivery system (post or courier) is best for your country.

Hope this helps,

Graeme    

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I would say the bad publicity that Ami Ami gets is due to their lack of customer service and their dislike for order cancellation. It is certainly a safe bet but you usually need to wait a few days after release before you get a payment request for your order. 

 

I find them cheap and i’ve never had any issue but if you read some of the negative reviews, it tends to be where they decide to close customer accounts for frequent cancelled orders.  The shop in Akihabara doesn’t carry any railway stuff apparently so they order in only for web sales. This mean stock runs through quick, sometimes the preorder allocation is used up and they close preorders. They obviously don’t want to be left with any stock so if you don’t preorder, generally you won’t be able to get it. Stock is usually well packaged, not to RG Rokko standards, but sufficient. I’m not sure how they fare for overseas sales (outside of Japan) but domestically they are very good. My only slight gripe is the domestic ¥500 postage charge which they don’t waiver even for larger orders like other sellers. I’ve also heard their physical shop in Akihabara can be a mixed bag when it comes to customer service.

 

They are cheap, as long as you preorder, don’t cancel, pay for preorders on time once the request comes through and won’t need to send something back. For railway items I’ve had issues with other retailers when it comes to faulty stock,  but as in Japan, have managed to sort out with the manufacturer. Not really an option for overseas customers unless it’s a Tomix or Kato product that you could get spares for. 

 

If you know what you want, will definitely make a purchase, they are a low cost seller but don’t expect and bells and whistles like smaller shops that offer a more personalised service. You get a few redeemable points on top of your purchase but not a very good rate due to the prices being lower than all other online retailers in Japan. 

Edited by Kamome
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Just want to add on to comments about AmiAmi. I only more recently started ordering a lot of items through them, but I've been pretty happy with with them given the price of items and their service. They definitely don't seem to have a lot of model rail stock, but I was able to find some trains I needed and things like scale figures at a decent price that weren't pre-orders but actual in-stock items. Probably my favorite thing about them is that you can place an order and then add on to it before the payment due date is up, if you decide you want some other things added to your shipment. This is nice for pre-orders of course, when you know you have an item coming up, but I've also used it when I've forgotten to add a few things to my existing orders in general. 

About AmiAmi's customer service though: I've found that they at least let you ask them to give you a shipping estimate before ordering which is (for me, at least) very accurate. So that's saved me some headaches when wondering how much certain items will cost to ship and whether I should add more items to the order to make it more worth it, for example. Aside from that, they are very robotic in their responses, so I'm afraid of what would happen if I ever had any issue with my orders. 

Just as a suggestion for other places to check, I've also found Mandarake to be great, though I've only ordered a couple of railway items from them. They have a stock alert system for any items you might be looking for, but I've found that most of the trains I've added through it don't really tend to pop up (might just be a problem with the specific trains I want being less likely to pop up on there, or something, though). I've found the stock alert works well for some other things I've wanted though, and was able to snag some things I otherwise wouldn't have known about unless I was checking every day. 

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