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David

MB Klein getting into Japanese prototypes?

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David

MB Klein (ModelTrainStuff) has always been a big shop in the US with lots of stock. Like a lot of bigger Kato dealers, they've had the odd Japanese set (your typical N700 and 500 series starter sets, I also bought the lone E233-1000 basic set they had a while ago). However since last week their inventory of Kato Japanese trains has started growing, and it has kept growing by the day. And it's not Unitrack starter sets, rather it's many of Kato's more established "regular" models, mostly Shinkansen. And these sets are being imported in quantity, 10 and 20 of each (this is easily 5 figures worth of Japanese inventory they've taken in).

 

http://www.modeltrainstuff.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=3

 

The prices are nothing special (you can import them yourself for cheaper), but what I find odd is that apart from the concidence of some of Kato's Shinkansen models being DCC ready, they haven't concentrated on DCC models (DCC being just a little popular in NA), with not an E531 or similar commuter train in sight (though I should point out, MB Klein now has a full stock of Kato drop in decoders at roughly the going price, get them while they're hot), with older tooling like the 787 being imported.

 

Is there a reason for this shift? Is Kato USA trying to push excess inventory from Japan (are other dealers getting them). Is this because of the recent interest in "high" speed rail in the US? (Would explain why it's almost all "fast" looking trains being put up).

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Guest ___

I can note, that living in the greater Baltimore-Washington DC area, that while the prices are somewhat higher, it is nice to be able to walk in and buy what you want the same day and not having to wait a week, or pay for the EMS shipping, then having to go to the PO to sign for it. (We have four parking spaces at my PO, it's a nightmare at any time of the day to park and get in there!)

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cteno4

MB Kleins has always had a smattering of japanese trains in stock at the store. usually was kato stuff and things kato usa would make available once and a while. i think i remember seeing some tomix sets, but mainly kato. some odder things as well. perhaps they use mokei as he has always had a pretty good odd assortment of japanese train sets he supplied to LHSs, but usually on a get his list and order through your lhs basis. kleins may have been big enough to buy a few from him to keep in the display cabinets. i think they are just getting it all on the web now that their web biz is getting bigger.

 

they use to have a great stock of greenmax, kato and tomix buildings as well, but a couple of years back before they moved the store they had a fire sale on their greenmax (a couple of jrm members cut a deal for a pile of most of the remaining pieces and was all snatched up by members) buildings and gave the impression they were not into them anymore. they have 14 greenmax kits listed but all out of stock currently on the website.

 

they have the stuff from tomix that could pass as american and of course well stocked kato structures as they are the regional distributor for kato.

 

Kleins old store was wonderful, in a grungy little building downtown near the train station with tight isles and stuff stacked on shelves to the ceilings! really well stocked shop. now they are out in the berbs in a strip mall. more space apparently, but its now kind of out of the way to get to for me so i have not made the trek to the new digs.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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KenS

They have an amazing quantity of Japanese trains, and they weren't on the site a week or so ago when I last looked in the "Kato - Japanese Prototype" category.  I'd been planning an order for some small stuff from them, but I can feel the tug on my wallet already.

 

But what's really interesting is that they have the expansions, not just the base sets (although that's been typical of the other trains I've seen there in the past, so I shouldn't be surprised).

 

I wonder if they're speculating that the interest in high-speed rail will translate into interest in fast-looking trains, as they seem to mostly be Shinkansen and a couple of streamlined Limited Express sets, although they also have the EIDAN 900.

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cteno4

just noticed the stock numbers, those look really high! the variety is mostly stuff that kato USA has made available to us dealers. kleins has had a larger variety of stuff in the past with some odder stuff as well. perhaps those are the numbers kato usa requires. they are also a regional distributor to LHSs so maybe thats their whole stock for retail and wholesale.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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to2leo

Who knows, maybe someone from the store is searching through Google and find our forum! :grin

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Bernard

I had noticed this a while ago with MB Klein when I was doing a search for Kato parts and came across their Japanese trains. My first inclination because of the stock they were carrying mostly expansion sets, that Kato offer Klein a deal on stock that wasn't as popular as others. At first I thought I was going to find a deal in pricing but it's on par with other companies but with less variety in stock, but still it's great to see them supplying Japanese trains!

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traindork

I think the easier Japanese trains are to get here in the US, the more people will buy them. Having to ship stuff from overseas is a bit putting off for a lot of people, and I haven't had much luck with Kato USA. Looking at MB Klein's website, I can see a few new trains in my future.

I hope it's the start of a new trend.

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cteno4

KatoUSA has gone back and forth bringing over japanese trains for the us market. seem to happen every couple of years. in a similar cycle then is their willingness (or kato japan's its always some finger pointing) on if they will support these models, get parts, etc or just push it all over to kato japan. This has really upset some us buyers that have had problems getting stuff serviced or even parts at times from kato.

 

back in like 2003 a hobby store owner in the chicago area got with someone at kato (not sure if it was usa or japan) and they brought over a container load of unitrak and japanese trains. they set up a very large layout at the Chicago gift show (large trade gift show) of all places and sold a ton of track and trains to all sorts of odd shops. seemed really odd. kato let the guy have all the display trains and track and he sold them off over a couple of months on ebay. some of my first trains and track were from those sales.

 

actually shipping from japan is as good or better than w/in the us for me! i know its hard for folks to take the plunge but when you do you you realize its no worries. SAL for me has been flawless with a couple of hundred shipments over the years. sal is about the same price as most places charge for a train set here via priority mail, just takes 2 weeks instead of 3-4 days...

 

what puts you off ordering and shipping from japan?

 

Kleins is selling at list which is better than a few shops that bring stuff over from japan do! but now with the 20% off list at HW and HS standard you can save a lot of money ordering from japan and get a huge selection to boot! I wouldnt limit yourself to us suppliers for your trains or you wont get much of a selection and probably little or no tomix and no microace (maybe a few on ebay or if you want to spend 2x the price at newhall).

 

i doubt we will get a lot of shops selling japanese trains here in the us unless kato were to really keep the stream steady and give good, consistent support to the japanese trains. its always going to be the chicken and the egg thing with this.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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ShinCanadaSen

I remember the notices on the Kato USA web page about 18 Months (Or more) ago stating that there would be some Japanese Stock available on a preorder basis. This lasted several months and my local Kato Dealer must have thought I was Crazy with the amount of stuff I ordered. Anyway I kept following up with them every couple of weeks or so and kept getting told that the orders had been place and confirmed by Kato USA. After about 2 months when the first of the products should have been released suddenly my local Kato Dealer stated that they could not get any infromation on the orders and that they were having trouble getting that specific department of Kato USA to call them back with any information. Really pissed me off and put me off the hobby for a while but my love of the "Sexy" trains has lured me back :)

 

I know that they have to be imported and all but some of the prices here are insane. A small hobby store near my office, has an old 0 Series 8 Car Shinkansen set (10-453 I beleive) displayed on "Special" for $349.00 CAD, but the real insult is it has been on display so long it is sunfaded on one side ! Glad to hear that there is a large retailer in North America that is carriyng at least some Japanese Trains, I can only hope it open the eyes of other hobby retailers.

 

I will probably be ordering a train or two from PlazaJapan and/ or Hobbysearch in the near future as a test. I don't think I'll be disapointed, I'm just worried that when I figure out how easy it is, that it may be too easy !

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to2leo

 

I will probably be ordering a train or two from PlazaJapan and/ or Hobbysearch in the near future as a test. I don't think I'll be disapointed, I'm just worried that when I figure out how easy it is, that it may be too easy !

 

From one Cdn to another, go with HW Japan and Hobby Search, you won't be disappointed!  Plaza Japan is now my last option of highly recommended seller.

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westfalen
Kleins is selling at list which is better than a few shops that bring stuff over from japan do! but now with the 20% off list at HW and HS standard you can save a lot of money ordering from japan and get a huge selection to boot! I wouldnt limit yourself to us suppliers for your trains or you wont get much of a selection and probably little or no tomix and no microace (maybe a few on ebay or if you want to spend 2x the price at newhall).

 

cheers

 

jeff

MB Klein's posted prices by my calculations are about 20% less than list, eg; 4 car 500 series list $159.50 Klein's price $127.59. I notice they are listing discount prices for the Japanese trains although Kato won't allow it for their U.S. products.

 

I get most of my Unitrack from MB Klein, their prices are reasonable, even compared to from Japan, and they always have plenty in stock.

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cteno4

list for the 4 car 500 is 11200Y (11,760Y at kato but i think that includes tax which you dont pay overseas) at HS or about $129.54, just about what klein is charging. hs price at 20% off is 8960Y or $103.69.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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angusmclean

 

 

actually shipping from japan is as good or better than w/in the us for me! i know its hard for folks to take the plunge but when you do you you realize its no worries. SAL for me has been flawless with a couple of hundred shipments over the years. sal is about the same price as most places charge for a train set here via priority mail, just takes 2 weeks instead of 3-4 days...

 

I received a set From Rainbow Ten this week in four days by SAL, and that was to a small country town at the bottom of New Zealand.  Discount is usualy 10% from this supplier, but I have found after dealing with them, as well as the two Jeff mentioned, for many years, that their service is impeccable.

 

Angus

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cteno4

Wow 4 days i think that ties my record of around 4 or so days, but i live in dc w/pretty fast postal hub delivery usually. i find sal really fluctuates in its time from 1 week to 2.5 weeks. couple of parcels were out to almost 3.5weeks but pretty standard at about 10-15 days usually. odd thing i do find is that 2 or 3 boxes shipped over a few days or as much as a week will usually end up ganged up when delivered. expect they wait for space on a plane so they end up catching up with each other.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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cteno4

another us source of some japanese trains over the years has been brooklyn locomotive works. he is a great store and been around a long time. he sort of runs hot and cold on the japanese stuff, but he does get some tomix stuff now and then which i assume he gets from mokei. as far as i know tomix has no overseas distributors set up at all. for someone to get stuff overseas from them they have to have a connection with a japanese distributor. mokei apparently has this at some intermediate distributor he buys from and his price is near list once stuff gets over here (he just orders a container of stuff now and then).

 

blw has offered pre-orders on some Kato japanese trains that Kato USA has offered up. i ordered my full 16car n700 kato from them and it was like $10-20 more shipped than if i were to have preordered it and shipped it ems from japan (but that was in the days of only 7-9% hs discounts and better deal on the yen). ordered from him to reward him for bringing japanese stuff to the us. he is out of stock on most things he has listed for japanese trains for the last year or so.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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Bernard

Really good points in this discussion. I remember the 1st time I ordered from Japan and after I did it I admit I had a lot of fear. Turned out to be an excellent seller, but you never know.

 

TrainLand and TrainWorld in NY sometimes carries some Japanese prototypes but it's getting rarer and rarer. It all comes down to supply and demand and there are too many older modeler as Jeff stated "would rather die with a N. American steam engine clutched in their hands." I recall one of their salespeople said to me, "Oh you run those spaceships on your layout?"

 

MBK did increase their stock on the Japanese trains and I'm wondering if it had anything to do with the popularity of the Portram?

 

The other thing that keeps coming to mind is that a lot of modelers like to re-create earlier eras on their layouts, like steam engine logging camps and tend to shy away from anything modern.

 

On another part of the topic....Jeff, every time I look up anything on Brooklyn Locomotive Works pertaining to Japanese trains, they're always sold out. Have you been able to order anything from them? 

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cteno4

Bernard,

 

the last time they had anything really was maybe 2 or so years ago. they seemed to loose interest about them and stock went kaput. I actually use to check them in the early days as ever month or so they actually would have an interesting japanese train in their whats new section. i only peek back there every few months, but no change with basically no stock for the last couple of years. but about 2 years back was the last time kato usa had a bunch of kato japan stuff like the n700 release. then kato usually goes sort of cold for a while. year or so back there were complaints by a number of us modelers that had bought some japanese stuff thru dealers in the us who got them through kato usa and they pretty much were not helping with repairs, returns, or parts at all. really pissed some folks off big time.

 

ive bought other stuff from blw and they are a quality operation. sort of a one man show from all i have heard and a little slow in communications at times but good service and reputation out there.

 

cheers

 

jeff

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chadbag

I know this is an old necro thread but I couldn't find an MB Klein specific thread.


Another railroad forum I am on had a post that the owner of MB Klein (modeltrainstuff.com) has passed on.  This is from their FB page: 

https://www.facebook.com/pg/MBKModelTrainStuff/posts/

 

 

  • Sad 3

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cteno4

Very sorry to hear that. Kleins is and was a very well run business. I never have had a hitch dealing with them for 38 years. The old store downtown was wonderful, right near the tracks and the station. It had those long narrow aisle ways between Shelves that went up to the ceiling. You could not bend over except facing down the aisle then look sideways at stuff on the shelf! Cases stuffed full of trains! You could find old greenmax train and building kits tucked in all over the place.

 

At one point they decided to get rid of the remaining greenmax stuff after Mokei Imports closed and a few of our club members were over at the shop and they sold a while pile of them really cheap to the club and threw in a few strays for free. I think our cost was less than half regular price in the end. One of their employees really liked japanese trains and they were always at the Timonium shows (until the moved a mile away from the event and found it easier for folks to just drop by the store) we had had the club layouts at umpteen times and he would make sure that any odd little japanese things made it over to the show and alerted us to what was there! Really nice of him, miss seeing him after all the shows over the years. He even donated a goji to the club. 
 

My first visit was on a trip East in 1982. The place never had an attitude. 
 

things were not as homy in the new suburban shop and they had loads of room so lost that packed in charm, but Still always a solid place to get stuff, well stocked and even japanese trains now and then! 
 

hope they live on well as a web only shop here with the same attitude they had in the old store.

 

jeff

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cteno4

Same as fb obituary post. But looking at the about us was interesting, I never knew kleins started as a general hardware store in 1916 by his father and he slowly changed it to a model train store In the 70s. Remixes me of the very

 

jeff

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Yavianice

Sad. It's a great store!

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Kiha66

Yep!  Get them while they last tho, they seem to be selling out fast.  Seems they've only stocked a few if each set.  I got my kato 8620 from them.

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