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What if you worked for Kato/Tomix/etc.. would you design/do?


Hobby Dreamer

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Hobby Dreamer

What if you worked for Kato/Tomix/etc.. would you design/do? If you had free reign to change or introduce new products etc..

Personally, I am happy with the availability and quality of almost everything but I do like trams so I would:

 

Tomix:

-release tram track that is offset within the road bed so 2 tracks can be mated to be the same distance apart as their rail products, or put the other way so that the tram tracks would be closer with a bit of street on the edge for vehicles.

 

This:  |  || |    instead of the current  | || |

 

 

Kato:

-finally release the double turn out for their tram track, make single track available, release just the track part separately and make it possible to buy road parts separate as well so you could have smaller (not 4-lane) streets.

 

Both:

Make things a bit more universal, so they can be used to depict other countries such as right hand drive road markings. Some of the vehicles are too restrictive for other countries as well because of the decals or design.

 

Would would you design, change, remove, add etc

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Nick_Burman

Add more types of switches to Unitrack: wye, curved, #4 double crossover, single and double slips, more crossings; redesign the #6 double crossover.

 

Make more freight cars. Make all versions of the WaMu80000 boxcar in N scale.

 

Turn "Fine Track" into real fine track (code 55).

 

 

Cheers NB

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rpierce000

I think the FIRST thing to do is get DCC into the Japanese trains as a more accessible option. I think the Japanese market would lap up DCC if it was easy.

 

Secondly I would consider looking at China. They have a large number of unique trains and a good market to sell them in. A lot of makers do some or all of their manufacturing there already, it would be an easy task to add some Chinese prototypes to the line and see what happened.

 

Thirdly I would create a company supported fast and easy way to get parts, small stuff like a pantograph or a skirt, over the web for padded mailer pricing. These things are usually not stocked in stores, there is NO margin in them and if you DO get them from a store, they have to order them for you and you wait for their next shipment. Especially for a motor or a stripped gear where a unit is down, this can be extremely frustrating.

 

Last of all I would consider offering a "custom" shop. With this you would upload a color scheme for an existing model and a computerized inkjet system would paint a shell on the fly. I think these could be sold at a huge markup once the initial research to build the painting device had been done.

 

Nothing major...

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bill937ca

I think the FIRST thing to do is get DCC into the Japanese trains as a more accessible option. I think the Japanese market would lap up DCC if it was easy.

 

There is some DCC in Japan, but it really is not relevant to the way the Japanese run there trains--on the floor at home, on large loops on layouts in train stores, in rental layout stores or train cafes.  Many of the rental layouts in stores are as large or larger than the average apartment. Model trains seem to be more about entertainment than operations.

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Interesting question. Here are my suggestions:

 

 

  • Making the whole collection with both concrete and wooden ties, turnouts included.
  • Developping softwares, webapp, mobile app to design tracks layouts.
  • Being more social. Imagine that you can build your tracks layout into Tomix website (or on your iPad) and making it available for other users.
    But Japanese are strangely really late on that kind of things, you just have to watch at japanese websites (even big companies such as JR) to see how much they are late on web technologies (not even talking about web design, were back in 2001 there...). And seeing the huge market share of IE6 in Japan tells me everything...  :grin
  • Beeing a bit more open to other countries: please have your website at least in English too.

 

Not much to say about products, but more at the company itselfs...

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bill937ca

What if you worked for Kato/Tomix/etc.. would you design/do? If you had free reign to change or introduce new products etc..

 

You can dream about this all you want, but it ignores the reality that Kato is a very conservative family run business with a complex ownership structure that is not into taking risks.  Former employees, industry insiders and distributors agree that Kato only listens to the Japanese market. Even relatively simple requests for pieces of track get ignored. The more I learn about Kato, the more I suspect European projects only go forward when a partner arrives willing to foot the entire bill for a new product. Kato's market is reportedly 85% Japan, 10% US and 5% European.

 

It has been reported here before that Tomix is focused on growing at twice the rate of the Japanese model train market. That explains the development of Wide Tram Rail (even if it isn't exactly as some would wish), Wide Rail PC track, the Tomytec bus system, and Shinkansen models with close coupling and all wheel pick-up.  And Tomix has never shown any interest in markets outside Japan.

 

Kato by comparison is focused on amortizing new product development over 15-20 years and hence you get reruns of models with old technology and very long product lives. Come back in 10-15 years and you may see many of the same products still on the market in Japan.

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Either company- maintenance vehicle for tramways that would cope with 103mm radius track.

All japanese companies standardise on track spacing. 37mm Tomix, 33mm Kato is a pain in the neck if some products from one would also look good on the other. Thinking sheds and catenary.

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If I had a chance to change something, before I even introduce new products, I would try and make the documentation, manuals and website content multi-lingual and certainly have every bit of it available in English. I understand the Japanese market is the focus for both K&T. With the content readily available in English, I will be be surprised if both companies won't benefit. With their quality, I believe more sales and interest will be generated.

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I can think of many things I'd want the companies to do, or do differently, but most of those fall into the realm of fantasy.  There's nothing wrong with fantasy, but there's no limit there either. I'd like Kato to apply their level of quality, and their pricing, to some of the more obscure urban train models, like the prototype E331 Advanced Commuter Train, or some subway trains. But I think that's pretty unlikely.

 

What's somewhat more realistic, and what I'd really like to see, is for Kato to adopt NEM sockets for DCC decoders instead of their friction-fit "DCC Friendly" approach, which is not friendly at all.  Kato already does DCC, and there does seem to be some interest in it in the Japanese market, although it's likely a niche audience (still, a "niche" there is probably larger than the whole U.S. model railroad market).  And if Kato makes a success of it, maybe the others would jump on board, and than maybe we'd have sound decoders for E231s with pre-made attachment points for speakers under the floor....  Yeah, I can dream too.

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Hobby Dreamer
Kato is a very conservative family run business with a complex ownership structure that is not into taking risks.

 

You seem really down on Kato and up on Tomix. Kato was the first to announce their tram track and its probably the nicest tram track (and related structures etc) in any scale. Their trams rule! Is there a nicer product?  Introducing their whole tram track line during a recession is a huge risk for a small company.

 

Almost every hobby store I have visited have or know Kato. N.A. is about HO or other scales but N.  Kato track is pre-ballasted in a market that loves flex track. But its everywhere! If you look at HO, Kato are among the very finest trains.

 

Maybe its a small part of the market but I see the Kato presence in Europe.

 

Tomix is focused on growing at twice the rate of the Japanese model train market

 

That does not even make sense. The "if you build it they will come" is from a movie".  Tomix made their tram track to compete with Kato and salvage some of the tram track market share. Their track is not prototypical; they just mated their tram track to their rail standard. I wish Tomix had put some thought into it. If they did the offset idea from the first post would have allowed really usable roads for other vehicles, and a look that is more prototypical. (And if you wanted the Tomix spacing that would be possible too, by inverting the track pairing). If you mate the Tomix tram and bus track you end up with a very wide track that is not at all realistic. Sort of conservative thinking...

 

I'm happy with the track available from Tomix but I see it as a rush job and hope they will continue to develop it.

 

Your final comment about re-releases is correct. All hobby companies do this. Hobbies are a luxury so people buy when they have disposable income, which is time dependent, so its good for the consumer and for the company to to this.

 

As for dreaming, the post was started to view what ideas collectors here have. The people here are bright and enthused so it would be interesting to hear their perspective. I came here maybe 2 years ago and dreamed about N scale trams beyond the N.A. junk and thought how cool it would be if they made tram track. So maybe there is nothing wrong with dreaming!

 

Rick

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Alright...if I worked for either Tomix or Kato, what would I want to design? For me that's simple....the E655 The Imperial Train!

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Keisei's new Skyliner could be a nice seller... but I guess it's going to be Micro Ace or Greemax.....

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Mudkip Orange

Ehh, I'm pretty satisfied with the doings of Kato and Tomix.

 

The question is, what would I do if I worked for Greenmax...

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Ehh, I'm pretty satisfied with the doings of Kato and Tomix.

 

The question is, what would I do if I worked for Greenmax...

 

I'll take the bait....what would you do if you worked at Greenmax?  :cheesy

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For KATO

 

:grin I will kato can re-do Shinkensen 200 Supur Express

I have E1, but I know many people want,I re-do E1 to market.

I hope all young newcomers can collect all popular trains.

Few limited edition can make more people happy.

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westfalen

Kato no.6 turnouts that matched the 33mm double track spacing of the rest of Unitrack.

 

A larger range of Unitram track.

 

A DCC compatible level crossing.

 

More Kato steam redesigned to the standards of the 9600, C62 and D51 498. I'd like a rerun of the C50.

 

As for using an NMRA/NEM six pin sockets for decoders I'd like to be in charge of U.S. manufacturers and get them using them too instead of every locomotive made needing a unique design replacement circuit board that keeps decoder manufacturers in business selling decoders that cost twice what they would need to if it was one size fits all. Fox Valley models are the only ones who seem to have gotten the hint.

 

You would think DCC would have a great advantage in Japan with temporary layouts because you just need two wires to the track, no control panels or switches for isolating tracks or operating turnouts.

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marknewton
What if you worked for Kato/Tomix/etc.. would you design/do?

 

Produce more models in HO scale. If I was with Tomix, I'd expand the range of private railway interurban/EMU cars. I'd concentrate on car types that were sold on by the larger railways to smaller operators. That would mean I could legitimately offer them in a number of different liveries and versions.

 

If I was at Kato I'd do another run of their D51 model, also in a number of different versions - early skyline casing with concealed feedwater heater, large and small smoke deflectors, standard chimney, deflecting chimney or Giesl ejector, large and small steam/sand domes, auxilliary oil-firing equipment, built-up or drumhead smokeboxes, circular or straight-top smokebox doors, and so on. There's a lot of variety within the class.

 

With either manufacturer I'd develop some models of older, smaller JNR electric locos that were later sold-on to private railways. These could also be offered in different liveries and versions.

 

All the best,

 

Mark.

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brill27mcb

Hi Rick,

 

A few corrections:

 

Kato was the first to announce their tram track and its probably the nicest tram track (and related structures etc) in any scale. Their trams rule! Is there a nicer product?  Introducing their whole tram track line during a recession is a huge risk for a small company.

 

If you look at the EasyTrolley Introduction and Photos portions of the website listed with my name below, you will see that Tomix issued their tram-radius track in August 2005, and by June 2006 Tomix had tram-radius turnouts and the plastic street "paving" kits out as well. People like Garth Hamilton and Bill in Canada (along with me and other members of my club) jumped on this new opportunity and were building tram layouts with track arrangements way beyond a basic oval, years before Kato Unitram came out in late 2009. Unitram was definitely not first, although it was the first totally pre-assembled version. The difference is simply cutting plastic pieces from their casting sprues and applying craft store glue -- hardly rocket science. I also believe the later Tomix "Wide Tram" pre-made street track was a natural outgrowth within Tomix, more than a reaction to Unitram, as you and Doug Coster have suggested. I believe that when they saw the popularity of their tight-radius track and the street kits (both went unavailable and had to be re-run a number of times), they realized that they could cost-effectively produce a pre-made street track that was easier and less expensive to produce, lower priced and more durable. It was a natural progression, and Tomix is hardly in a "catch-up" position to Kato. That said, I agree that Kato Unitram is the nicest finished product in appearance, but it comes at a cost in terms of price and layout flexibility. I think both companies are surprised at the response to these products, and it is good for us all that they are competing on this front as well as the others.

 

I'm happy with the track available from Tomix but I see it as a rush job and hope they will continue to develop it.

 

Hardly a rush job. Tomix pioneered the basic concept, using a low-cost but flexible method, and Kato responded well three years later.

 

While some people aren't happy with the Tomix 37mm track spacing, and some aren't happy with the Kato 33mm track spacing either, to change these would require these companies to go against all of their longstanding standard curve track sizes and system design parameters. They started out modeling normal Japanese narrow-gauge railways, where these dimensions made some sense. Now they're boxed in by them, and Kato is boxed in by street plates that don't match Unitram plates, and by a viaduct station that does not fit well within a Unitram track loop. You also cannot make an other-than-90 degree corner with Unitram that has street track on both approaches. Both companies have done clever things within their constraints, though. The future will probably (and hopefully) bring more clever things...

 

Rich K.

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bikkuri bahn
If I was at Kato I'd do another run of their (HO) D51 model, also in a number of different versions

 

Double yes!  Also, the C11 type would be well greeted, though I personally don't like the type.  Pure fantasy, but a D50 would be "out of sight" :cheesy

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marknewton

Well, the whole ideas's pure fantasy, but I like both your choices. I have a lovely photo of D50 61, fitted with small smoke deflectors, on an early morning passnger train. It would be a lovely scene to model.

 

Cheers,

 

Mark.

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imo they should try dcc pre installed models and non dcc install models.

 

just my opinion but in japan there is still a sizeable market for children in nscale compared to any other country. dcc pretty much excludedes children from dcc unless there parents are in on the hobby as well.

 

not only that but there are plenty of people who do not wish to pull apart there loco to install a decoder even in kato's pretty easy install setup.

 

of course this could only be acheived later on once dcc has taken up more of the japanese market. and kato/tomix have their own dcc controller.

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Nick_Burman

Ehh, I'm pretty satisfied with the doings of Kato and Tomix.

 

The question is, what would I do if I worked for Greenmax...

 

Built-up versions of their structure kits.

 

 

Cheers NB

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Ehh, I'm pretty satisfied with the doings of Kato and Tomix.

 

The question is, what would I do if I worked for Greenmax...

 

Built-up versions of their structure kits.

 

 

Cheers NB

 

I'd settle for some new structure kits. The newest building kits are the modular ones from April 2009. The next newest release date on Hobby search is 2003. The platform screen doors are at least from 2010, but geez :(

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Oh, and a small thing I forgot: turnouts for the tram tracks. I find the Tomix system not great if you use the wide tracks tram and Kato doesn't even have one...  :lipssealed:

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bikkuri bahn
I have a lovely photo of D50 61, fitted with small smoke deflectors, on an early morning passnger train. It would be a lovely scene to model.

 

Yes, indeed....The bonus of having a D51 and D50 with modular parts that can swapped would be that D61 and D60 types can be produced rather easily- just a matter of adding a two axle bogie under the firebox, as the prototype had these to reduce axle loads for use on secondary/branch lines, not to support a larger grate.

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