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Are the Super Cheap ARII Kits Any Good?


GDorsett

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I've been offered a bunch of Arii coach kits, but I'm leery on what they want for a price. Last I asked about these, I asked about a locomotive and the general consensus was "don't". Are the coaches the same way? Are they also pretty bad and hard to bring up to modern spec? My Kato 12/13 series cars are excellent and considering they'd be run behind a Kato EF510 or a Tomix EF66, I don't want to buy bricks with round edges and poor moulding.

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I believe those kits are all about 40 years old or so.  Might be fun to put together, but nowhere near the quality of recent runs by kato or tomix.  If they're a good price I'd probably get them just for the fun of building them, but not with the expectation of running them.

Edited by Kiha66
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They need Kadees and at least new wheels. They're never going to be up to the standard of RTR models. They don't look horrible but honestly, I reckon Kato RTR are a better bet in terms of time/money/quality of the results. I built an OHaNeFu, OHaNe and KaNi before Kato re-released the Hokutosei basic pack, so I never got around to fitting concentric wheels as opposed to the odd stub axle things in the boxes.

 

They are, however, cheap. Think they're still available brand new if you check Hobbysearch, that'll tell you whether the price you're being asked is realistic.

 

The locos are oddball. Two axles driven, I think you have to source the motor separately and they're designed to have AA batteries installed. They come with an oval of plastic track. At the prices they are in Japan I can see the appeal, it's a bit of cheap fun and they don't look too shabby for display with a decent paint job. They will apparently haul a decent load too, but it's very much a plastic kit which moves rather than a loco you can expect to fit in with the rest of your fleet.

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I was offered 14 of them for no less than 300 and there was no way I spending that much on those things, so turned them down.

I do see them on EBay from time to time new/unbuilt for around $15 or $20-$25 for a loco (USD). Might get the EF66 just for shiggles and gits to see what I can make of them.

And considering I already have a small fleet of Kato cars, they had some pretty good standards to keep up with and that just wan't happening from what I could see.

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I think I may have seen the same set on facebook, the fellow was asking a few hundred for some old partly built arii kits.  I got the feeling he didn't know what he had and was just trying to see if anyone would bite.

Edited by Kiha66
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I found Tamiya dark blue spray was an acceptable match for JNR/JR blue, when the time comes to paint them. Kadee #5s in their supplied draft boxes will screw onto the kit coupler mounts using the screws in the box, the height is pretty much spot on.

 

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There's a video build of one of the locos here:

 

 

 

The same uploader has also done an EF66, should pop up in related videos.

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Even with a lot of work put in, it still looks kinda sketchy. Yeah, I think I'll stick with my Kato EF65s, thank you.

 

Guy did a really good job on dressing it up, though. Far more than I'd be willing to put into something like that.

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So I get they’re not up to today’s standards, but I think they look pretty good. What makes them sketchy?

Edited by Szdfan
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Cost versus detail versus effort involved. Why would I spent $15 on a meh kit from who knows how long ago that needs a lot of work to bring up to modern operating spec when I could spend ten dollars more and get a modern Kato that will blow it out of the water and won't require any work?

 

And the kit itself isn't the sketchy thing, it's more that the guy in the video put all that effort into it and did his best and all of the edges are very rough. It's not even something that's easily remedied, it's just a side effect of old kits like that unless you're really good at kit building or scratch building.

Edited by GDorsett
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Welshbloke

I have thought about whether they could be modified for R/C "dead rail" control, given how much space there is. I suspect the cost of a R/C gear, lithium cells, charger board, etc would far outweigh the kit price, especially when you include the need for new wheels if you want it to run without wobbling.

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4 hours ago, Welshbloke said:

I have thought about whether they could be modified for R/C "dead rail" control, given how much space there is. I suspect the cost of a R/C gear, lithium cells, charger board, etc would far outweigh the kit price, especially when you include the need for new wheels if you want it to run without wobbling.

 

They're actually designed to run off of a battery. Put a switch in the roof, put in a 9v, and bam, train.

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Welshbloke

Yep, I know. Hence thinking with a rechargeable battery, receiver and electronic speed controller you could make one radio controlled and not have to catch it as it whirrs past.

 

I believe the railway kits are all 1/80, they do a few versions of the EF65/66, the Blue Train stock and there are four steam locos one of which Shigemon has built and reviewed. It didn't look encouraging. They did offer 103 Series vehicles but I've never seen them in stock. A pity, as they'd probably combine well with the Tenshodo T-Evolution motors and trailer wheelsets to build a decent running model (or tow them with your Tenshodo KuMoYa).

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I'd probably say a nice range of kits to get back into the hobby, but certainly not for those who want relatively accurate scale models, horses for courses. 

I've not been inclined to ever consider these and certainly with Kato at the Japanese HO entry price point, you get a lot for relatively little money.

 

If you wanted to convert a scale model to running ability, I'd suggest saving your money but consider the Plum 205 instead as the model looks very well designed. I know RM had an article some months ago on converting it to running. They produce some awesome looking commuters too.  Yes a bit more pricey in the long run, but every penny would count for something with such an exquisite model.

 

 

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Welshbloke

The Plum 205s do strike me as a missed opportunity. It wouldn't have harmed them to include provision for fitting Tenshodo motor bogies and trailer axles to build a working model, like the T-Evolution range does. I appreciate they were aiming at the static plastic kit market, but still! A set of alternative bogie bolsters with the mounting tabs for the pickup wipers and bogie sideframes with axleboxes sized to match the brass bearings would have done it, and wouldn't make any difference to people building it as a fully detailed static model. After that you just need a pivot hole in the floor which is the right size for the mounting boss on top of the SPUDs (doesn't even need to be opened up - a dimple underneath to mark where to drill would be fine).

 

They look like excellent kits, but a bit expensive for something I'd have to undertake risky adaptation work on to get a working model.

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Need for High Speed
On 6/28/2021 at 10:35 PM, Kiha66 said:

I think I may have seen the same set on facebook, the fellow was asking a few hundred for some old partly built arii kits.  I got the feeling he didn't know what he had and was just trying to see if anyone would bite.

I saw the same set too. Is it the one with 13 coaches? the dude keeps asking to tell my friends to buy it from him. He originally spent 35 a piece on them from eBay which seems to be quite a bit for them.  I guess he thought they were worth more because he put Kaydees and metal wheels on them but that alone doesn't always increase value by much. I had no idea what ARII was until I asked him about his 500 series and he mentioned them. 

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19 hours ago, Need for High Speed said:

I saw the same set too. Is it the one with 13 coaches? the dude keeps asking to tell my friends to buy it from him. He originally spent 35 a piece on them from eBay which seems to be quite a bit for them.  I guess he thought they were worth more because he put Kaydees and metal wheels on them but that alone doesn't always increase value by much. I had no idea what ARII was until I asked him about his 500 series and he mentioned them. 

 

that's the one I was talking about.

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Oh dear, sounds like he realises his error and thought he could off-load them on to another unsuspecting collector to recoup some of his losses.

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After my previous post about the Plum kits...

 

They've only gone and done it! There are two flavours of conversion kit on the way to take Tenshodo wheels and/or motor bogies, depending on whether you've already built the kit as a static model or if you're building it now and want to run it. The former includes replacements for all the parts you'll have glued into place (simply unclip the static chassis and clip the new ones in after building them), the latter is cheaper as you only need new floors and bolsters for the bogies/trucks to use with the kit parts.

 

Very, very tempted but the price for even a four car set is pushing that of a RTR HO EMU, by the time you add up twin motors, three packs of trailer axles, couplers and pantographs on top of the basic Plum kits and the conversion parts.

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The kits themselves are quite pricy but do look smart. My issue would be how well they’d run once converted. Sometimes plastic kits have a distinct wobble as they don’t have the weight that ready to run usually have. My Tomix 50系 in HO suffer with the same issue despite being RTR.

 

Nice to have the option. There was an article in RM Models some months ago where someone converted the Chuo line version with a different motor unit and working end lights. Just can’t get that excited about commuter trains in HO though but I’m sure with the interiors and lights, plus the Plum commuter figures look very good, I could be swayed eventually.

Edited by Kamome
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Yep, part of the problem is the need to build a decent length train for it to look right. A four car 201 Series is going to look a bit odd. A pair of MoHas or a SaHa between two Tenshodo KuMoYas would work, but again you'd be blowing £150ish (after adding the 3rd party wheels/pantograph/couplers and P&P) on two coaches.

 

I have been building loads of 1890s-1900s GWR coaches in OO of late, using the ancient Ratio kits now marketed by Peco. Price per vehicle is probably around £20‐£25 all in, although that's hard to calculate as a lot of components come in multipacks (50 brass pinpoint bearings, ten metal wheelsets, seating strip pack which will kit out two and a bit coaches, etc). The original drawings have been scanned and uploaded and the real things were built from standard sized parts, so you can take a razor saw to the sides and splice them back together to make types which aren't in the kit range. It's cheap, fun, and produces some decent looking results if you don't go insane painting the finer details...

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