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E5 & H5 Series Shinkansen: Tomix vs Kato


Ewan.in.gz

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Ewan.in.gz

I know that both Kato & Tomix produce E5 and H5 Series models, but I am wandering about everyone's experience with them and what are the differences other than the obvious coupling and diaphragm systems?

 

Most of my Shinkansen are currently by Kato: 100 Series Grand Hikari, E2 Asama, E2-1000 Hayate, E3-0 Komachi, E3-1000 Tsubabsa & E4 Max.  As you can tell I have concentrated on JR East Shinkansen. I have one Tomix 200 Series H unit Super Yamabiko, I am a bit partial to the late 80's shark nose sets, which is why i also have the full 16 car set of the Kato 100 Series Grand Hikari! And When I get around to expanding my fleet with an E1, it's gonna have to be the Tomix model, since the Kato model has been out of production since before I moved to China....

 

But I am not sure what to do when/if I decide to get E5 and H5 sets. I feel that the diaphragm on the Tomix models looks much better and closer to the full width diaphragms on the real trains. And I know from my experience with my Super Yamabiko that the Tomix conductive coupling system is reliable.

 

Would I be right in guessing that the Tomix TN couplers hidden in the noses are not compatible with Kato's Shibata couplers?

 

And if I ever choose to DCC my Shinkansen, how easy is it to install chips on a Tomix Shinkansen? At least the conductive coupling system should mean that the whole train can be fitted with a single multi-function decoder, right?

 

Looking forward to hearing people's experiences, and comments on performance and maintenance would be appreciated too!

 

Ewan

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Yavianice
33 minutes ago, Ewan.in.gz said:

Would I be right in guessing that the Tomix TN couplers hidden in the noses are not compatible with Kato's Shibata couplers?

You are guessing correctly. They are totally different systems and I don't see a way to replace one with the other either.

 

Having owned both the TOMIX and KATO versions of the E/H5 I can tell you that:

  • The Tomix E/H5 has a terrible banana shape in the body. This is even visible in official product pictures. I'm not sure why but the bodies are not straight by a long shot. In real life it is extremely noticeable. 
  • The Tomix E/H5 have terrible front/rear lighting systems. The white lights is just one big ball of light, while the rear lights are invisible
  • The newer revision of the Tomix E5 (which has the luggage compartments and blocked windows) have been lousily implemented and interior light shines through the blocked window. Even with the "supplemented" sticker I feel this is not enough; I used electrical tape instead.
  • The KATO E/H5 is slightly more prone to derailing because it is much lighter than the Tomix E/H5.
  • The KATO E/H5 has correct front and rear lighting; both are accurately represented, and both are clearly visible. Just like in real life, the front lighting are individual lights instead of one big ball of light.
  • The KATO E/H5 suffers from lousy pickups for lights. By manipulating/bending the copper strips that are built into the train, you can fix it. But it's annoying to do so.

 

Regarding the E6:

  • The KATO E6 is much more prone to derailment than the Tomix E6 because it is much lighter. Be sure you do straights before switches, install interior light, and be sure that your track is very smooth. The Tomix E6 is ultrareliable.
  • The KATO E6 suffers from lousy pickups for lights. By manipulating/bending the copper strips that are built into the train, you can fix it. But it's annoying to do so.
  • The Tomix E6 has much nicer looking front headlights; they obviously did their best to accurately represent it while KATO did a more "that'll do" job on them. 
  • The newer revision of the Tomix E6 (which has the luggage compartments and blocked windows) have been lousily implemented and interior light shines through the blocked window. Even with the "supplemented" sticker I feel this is not enough; I used electrical tape instead.
  • The Tomix E6 interior is BRIGHT yellow which is very distracting with interior light. KATO has a more soft yellow tint interior.

 

I personally prefer the KATO H5 and TOMIX E6. However since they cannot be joined, I eventually bought the KATO E6 and tried to fix that models issues, because I cannot stand the lousy horrible job of the TOMIX E/H5 with the front and rear lighting and the obnoxious banana shape.

 

Also since you mention you have the KATO E4 and E2 and E3, you might want to consider purchasing the KATO E/H5 and E6 so you can join that with your other trains (E6 with E4 and E2, E/H5 with E3).

 

Also also the KATO E1 is a very old, and fictional model. Don't buy it if you like realistic prototypes.

 

 

Edited by Yavianice
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JR 500系

I'm a sucker for the Tomix electric coupler and pick up system, so in order to be all compatible, i have all my E series in Tomix versions... Actually, almost ALL my shinkansens are Tomix, Except maybe the Toreyu as that is only made by Kato... That and the Dr. Yellow as the Kato one is really super with their overhead inspection iights and all.... Oh yes and i forget the MA Easi-i inspection train... 

 

I love the way Kato made the E4 though, Tomix just did a lazy job of fixing the double decker shell on a usual motor chassis while the Kato did a terrific job of hiding the motor nicely...

 

What i didnt like about the Kato front coupling systems of the E-series (E2, E3, E4, E5 and E6) is the realistic-ness of it... The twin opening doors are perfectly replicated like the real ones, and that made it rather flimpsy... I recall losing one part of the nose coupler several times when i had the Kato E4... Tomix solved this issue but using the lazy yet rather effective approach, whereby one plucks out the entire nose section to expose the coupler inside, and pulling out the coupler for coupling with other trains automatically switches off the light function so you dont have lights shining at each other's noses. You just need to place those nose sections carefully away cause you dont want to end up with the nose section on the front/ rear end of your train! 🙂

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gavino200

Interesting what Ya says about the Kato E5/E6 having derailment problems. I had that experience too but I just assumed it was my inexperience with perfect track laying. They do derail with anything less than perfect track conditions though. I use them as my test trains. 

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gavino200
2 hours ago, chadbag said:

Would adding a little weight in the KATO models help?

 

That seems like a good idea. 

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gavino200
On 2/26/2021 at 7:02 AM, Yavianice said:

You are guessing correctly. They are totally different systems and I don't see a way to replace one with the other either.

 

Having owned both the TOMIX and KATO versions of the E/H5 I can tell you that:

  • The Tomix E/H5 has a terrible banana shape in the body. This is even visible in official product pictures. I'm not sure why but the bodies are not straight by a long shot. In real life it is extremely noticeable. 
  • The Tomix E/H5 have terrible front/rear lighting systems. The white lights is just one big ball of light, while the rear lights are invisible
  • The newer revision of the Tomix E5 (which has the luggage compartments and blocked windows) have been lousily implemented and interior light shines through the blocked window. Even with the "supplemented" sticker I feel this is not enough; I used electrical tape instead.
  • The KATO E/H5 is slightly more prone to derailing because it is much lighter than the Tomix E/H5.
  • The KATO E/H5 has correct front and rear lighting; both are accurately represented, and both are clearly visible. Just like in real life, the front lighting are individual lights instead of one big ball of light.
  • The KATO E/H5 suffers from lousy pickups for lights. By manipulating/bending the copper strips that are built into the train, you can fix it. But it's annoying to do so.

 

Regarding the E6:

  • The KATO E6 is much more prone to derailment than the Tomix E6 because it is much lighter. Be sure you do straights before switches, install interior light, and be sure that your track is very smooth. The Tomix E6 is ultrareliable.
  • The KATO E6 suffers from lousy pickups for lights. By manipulating/bending the copper strips that are built into the train, you can fix it. But it's annoying to do so.
  • The Tomix E6 has much nicer looking front headlights; they obviously did their best to accurately represent it while KATO did a more "that'll do" job on them. 
  • The newer revision of the Tomix E6 (which has the luggage compartments and blocked windows) have been lousily implemented and interior light shines through the blocked window. Even with the "supplemented" sticker I feel this is not enough; I used electrical tape instead.
  • The Tomix E6 interior is BRIGHT yellow which is very distracting with interior light. KATO has a more soft yellow tint interior.

 

I personally prefer the KATO H5 and TOMIX E6. However since they cannot be joined, I eventually bought the KATO E6 and tried to fix that models issues, because I cannot stand the lousy horrible job of the TOMIX E/H5 with the front and rear lighting and the obnoxious banana shape.

 

Also since you mention you have the KATO E4 and E2 and E3, you might want to consider purchasing the KATO E/H5 and E6 so you can join that with your other trains (E6 with E4 and E2, E/H5 with E3).

 

Also also the KATO E1 is a very old, and fictional model. Don't buy it if you like realistic prototypes.

 

 

 

I've been thinking a lot about this over the last couple of days. I've always favored Kato over Tomix. Really, I have very few Tomix models. I only buy them when they have a model that Kato doesn't offer. My main reason is DCC conversion. Even the non friendly Kato models are a good bit easier to convert. And In general I like the look of the Kato models better. 

 

But function is massive for me. I really want reliable models. Couplers that uncouple and derailments are my two pet peeves. I've always figured that derailments were just a matter of track perfection. I figured I could make them a never event almost my perfecting my track. It really never occurred to me that the trains themselves could have a tendency to derail, other than freak manufacturing defects. I really like my Kato E5 and E6 but derailment has been an issue with them. 

 

If Tomix Shinkensens in general had less tendency to derail, that alone would tempt me to favor them over Kato. It would easily worth extra trouble installing decoders. I have a lot to think about! 🤔

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Yavianice

Still probably easier to put some weights and interior lights in the KATO ones, there is at least room for it in the E6.

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disturbman

@gavino200maybe try your hand on another Tomix Shinkansen, see how you like it. I find the banana-shaped body issues reported by@Yavianicefor the E/H5 relatively concerning and not something I would like to have.

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gavino200
4 hours ago, disturbman said:

@gavino200maybe try your hand on another Tomix Shinkansen, see how you like it.

 

 

Yes, I think I may. 

 

4 hours ago, disturbman said:

I find the banana-shaped body issues reported by@Yavianicefor the E/H5 relatively concerning and not something I would like to have.

 

 

I'm not sure I understand the banana-shaped body issue. @Yavianice do you have a picture of what that looks like? 

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gavino200
6 hours ago, Yavianice said:

Still probably easier to put some weights and interior lights in the KATO ones, there is at least room for it in the E6.

 

I'll give it a try when I get them running again. I'll post results. 

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disturbman

The body deforms downwards on both sides, like a banana, because it's not well supported by the chassis.

I Have seen the same issue being reported about the Tomix GSE, there was pictures documenting it.

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chadbag

Tomix Shinkansen DCC convsersions are not that bad.  I did the Kitty-chan 500, Hikari Railstar 700, and the JW West N700-8000...   The hardest thing is that the pickup rails in the cabcars are some sort of steel that is hard to solder to.   The non EM13 ready KATO are similar in terms of difficulty in installing a wire-in decoder, based on my lone 800 example I did.  I generally prefer the KATO as most of them are drop-in, but if Tomix has a Shinkansen that KATO doesn't have then I have no qualms about getting it and converting it.

 

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gavino200
6 hours ago, disturbman said:

The body deforms downwards on both sides, like a banana, because it's not well supported by the chassis.

I Have seen the same issue being reported about the Tomix GSE, there was pictures documenting it.


So it happens overtime? The cars look normal on purchase, but deform under their own weight as time pases?

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gavino200
4 hours ago, chadbag said:

Tomix Shinkansen DCC convsersions are not that bad.  I did the Kitty-chan 500, Hikari Railstar 700, and the JW West N700-8000...   The hardest thing is that the pickup rails in the cabcars are some sort of steel that is hard to solder to.   The non EM13 ready KATO are similar in terms of difficulty in installing a wire-in decoder, based on my lone 800 example I did.  I generally prefer the KATO as most of them are drop-in, but if Tomix has a Shinkansen that KATO doesn't have then I have no qualms about getting it and converting it.

 


Yeah those steel kitty rails were doozies. I remember we struggled with those a bit. I’ve found over time that Kato sometimes leaves little nooks and indents that are very useful if not perfect for decoder install. This is mainly on their steam locos. I haven’t noticed it on any Shinkansens yet. Certainly not their 500. There’s not much easy about that one.

 

I don’t think I have any mechanical complaints about any Tomix products. I think my preference is mainly aesthetic. But I might be wrong. It may just be an irrational preference for what’s already familiar to me.

Edited by gavino200
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chadbag

Once I got the HNFlux.com Superior #30 (liquid or maybe the gel version) the steel rails to solder to were not much of a problem.  All other fluxes didn't help.

 

I have a KATO 500 but have not done an install but the 800 was not that big of a deal.  I uploaded photos of me doing it IIRC long ago (was my first one).  The good thing about some Shinkansen is there is often a short section without windows when you can hide a small hard wired decoder.  (Like where a door is -- which may have a small window in it but smaller than the normal windows and a much larger "frame").

 

I have some Tomix E3 that need to be done -- have not looked at them.

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gavino200
1 hour ago, chadbag said:

I have some Tomix E3 that need to be done -- have not looked at them.

 

I've been without a DCC layout for so long I have a whole pile of trains to convert. I'm not looking forward to tackling the backlog. 😱

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chadbag
1 hour ago, gavino200 said:

 

I've been without a DCC layout for so long I have a whole pile of trains to convert. I'm not looking forward to tackling the backlog. 😱

 

I know the feeling.

 

While a lot of my trains are converted -- especially the drop-ins -- I have a whole ton of older Euro, Greenmax, some MA, and Tomix and some non-drop-in KATO to do.  Some year I'll get it done...

 

I do keep a small test track of DC set up to run things in, test them, etc.

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Ewan.in.gz

Hi everyone!

 

Wow, thanks for all the responses! So it's looking like Kato E5/H5 might be the more reliable offering, judging from people's experience.

 

@Yavianice I know that TOMIX has a bit of a reputation for not necessarily offering the most accurate or best build quality with it's models, but drooping body shells and the whole car "glowing" with interior lighting does sound pretty horrible! I have a couple of old Bachmann USA lighted Amfleet cars (from my pre Japanese modeling days) that do EXACTLY the same thing when running! All my (current) interior lighted Japanese trains are from Kato, so I'd hoped to be able to get away from that with the change to Japanese models!

 

I had not even considered E6 yet....

 

As I said, the Kato E1 has been out of production for so long, that I doubt it would be worth it to even bother trying to find it, so I didn't mention the fact that it isn't an accurate model. I'll just take the TOMIX model, when I get around to it!

 

@JR 500系 I think the conductive coupling system is a great concept, but I wish that TOMIX took more consideration for DCC, even though I do know it is kinda a specialist niche in Japan.... And TOMIX doesn't have the same general global presence that Kato does, due to concentrating on Japanese prototypes. My problem with the general TOMIX Shinkansen coupling system is very much an aesthetic one. To my mind, TOMIX's big diaphragm blocks between cars look right on N700s and E5/H5, which replicate the style of the full-size streamlined diaphragms, but look totally wrong on other Shinkansen which don't have that kind of fully streamlined gap. And I prefer Kato's body-mounted close coupling system, where couplings pivot at the end of cars rather than at the bogie centre, where the gap on curves is kept much smaller. However, I'm not planning on running any Shinkansen through tight S-curves, and I'll be using Kato Unitrack slab-track viaducts with super-elevation (banked curves), so I'm probably going to out-design my visual problem anyway! 🤣 

 

Having said that though, when I get a 200 Series Renewal, 400 Series & E1 Max, it's gonna have to be TOMIX, since they are the only ones available. The same reason why I have the TOMIX 200 Series H Unit Super Yamabiko!

 

I too have noticed that TOMIX didn't do a particularly brilliant job with the motor cars on it's E1 & E4s.... They just kinda plonked a great big chassis into the model and thus filled in the lower deck.... It is even obvious in the catalogue photos! Kato's solution of stacking it all in the end of the car which actually houses the motors in the real train was excellent! I do understand your frustration with the realistic-ness of the Kato open-nose coupling system, but I personally think that it is another better detail on the Kato models.... And you son't have to worry about losing the nose caps if you forget to put them into the train case! Just be careful when dis-assembling the cab cars!

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Ewan.in.gz

@gavino200 @chadbag

 

So, I know that most newer Kato models are DCC Friendly, with drop-in provision using EM13, FL12 & FR11 decoders, but just how difficult are modern TOMIX models to convert? Is it simply a case of finding space to fit the decoders and soldering contacts? Or do you need to do things like isolating the motors and trying to squeeze in wring looms like you do with pre-DCC era models?

 

I am probably going to go down the DCC rabbit-hole eventually, at least with my non-Shinkansen models, so I'm kinda curious about how much work is involved in converting TOMIX and MicroAce models.

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disturbman
26 minutes ago, Ewan.in.gz said:

I know that TOMIX has a bit of a reputation for not necessarily offering the most accurate or best build quality with it's models


That's a first. Could we maybe stop generalizing model-specific issues to whole brands? Some Tomix models have issues, as you noted, Kato's do too. Modeling is a question of finding the correct compromises as somethings canot be properly scaled down. Between Kato, Tomix, MA, and Greenmax, differences are pretty much down to small, personal preferences and prejudices.

Edited by disturbman
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Ewan.in.gz
7 minutes ago, disturbman said:


That's a first. Could we maybe stop generalizing model-specific issues to whole brands? Some Tomix models have issues, as you noted, Kato's do too. Modeling is a question of finding the correct compromises as somethings canot be properly scaled down. Between Kato, Tomix, MA, and Greenmax, differences are pretty much down to small, personal preferences and prejudices.

 

I have heard that comment in person from people in Japan and Hong Kong, but you are right, I believe it is more down to issues of specific models' design and construction, and of course it can also be subjective to people's personal tastes.

 

I have to say, I have so far been happy with my TOMIX and MicroAce models, and have found ways to overcome what i see as being issues: such as replacing rapido couplers or not running my 200 Series through 150mm curves!

 

RE my original question regarding E5/H5, I might just try one from each and see how I feel, or just go with which one looks best in the flesh next time I'm train shopping in Tokyo. I was just curious to see what people's opinions were of the two, since in the various reviews I've read in the Japanese modeling press, it looked like there were pros and cons to both the TOMIX and Kato offerings.

 

My apologies if anyone thought I was trying to make out that TOMIX was a bad company.

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Martijn Meerts

All of the brands have the occasional model that leaves a lot to be desired really. I have a good selection of all the brands, and overall they're just good quality, but for all the brands I've had models that had issues.

 

I have a good selection of shinkansen, and I have to say the best looking model is probably the MicroAce Dr. Yellow, while the best runner would be the Tomix 0 series first run version. I also have the Kato E5/E6 combo, and I can't say I've had any issues with it. My only issue was when I combined the 2 sets without matching the speed profile of the motor cars. The E6 was slightly faster which caused some derailments. (temporarily) Removing the E6 motor car solved the issue.

 

I never base my decision on brand on DCC friendly or not, considering I don't use Kato's decoders anyway, but again, it's usually a per-model thing. Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're not 🙂

 

 

 

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Ewan.in.gz
10 minutes ago, Martijn Meerts said:

All of the brands have the occasional model that leaves a lot to be desired really. I have a good selection of all the brands, and overall they're just good quality, but for all the brands I've had models that had issues.

 

I have a good selection of shinkansen, and I have to say the best looking model is probably the MicroAce Dr. Yellow, while the best runner would be the Tomix 0 series first run version. I also have the Kato E5/E6 combo, and I can't say I've had any issues with it. My only issue was when I combined the 2 sets without matching the speed profile of the motor cars. The E6 was slightly faster which caused some derailments. (temporarily) Removing the E6 motor car solved the issue.

 

I never base my decision on brand on DCC friendly or not, considering I don't use Kato's decoders anyway, but again, it's usually a per-model thing. Sometimes they're easy, sometimes they're not 🙂

 

 

 

 

I've never had any insurmountable problems with Japanese models so far, and having the choice between 2 or more amazing manufacturers with so many trains allows us to pick features that attract us.

 

I haven't really based my purchase choices on factory DCC capabilities either, since that is kinda off in the future for me now. What I do like about the Kato DCC Friendly models is that it is very much a plug and play system, if you choose to follow their DCC recommendation. I am rather basing my choices on which is the best model to my eyes. Most of my Shinkansen so far are Kato, because I like the body mount coupling system. But I love my TOMIX Super Yamabiko, because it is a Super Yamabiko!

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