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Custom orders from Loco1Hobby


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I had done most of my previous shopping at Plaza Japan, mostly because they only list items that they actually have in stock.


I know many like Hobby Search, but I have several issues with them.  First, I think their site design is horrible, and second they list way too many items that are actually not available.  Their prices may be a fraction lower than Plaza Japan, but I've generally found it unlikely that they will actually have what I'm looking for.


I've recently been communicating with David at Loco1Hobby.  They appear to have the best discount on pretty much everything, and he's willing to order items that they don't stock.  In particular, they have few structures, but he is getting in a bunch that I requested.  He doesn't carry Trams as a separate "category", but multiple people asking about them might have an effect.


One other resource - I've used Amazon Japanese sellers with free shipping.  Obviously the item price will be higher that directly from Japan, but the free shipping sometimes makes it lower than it would be with separate shipping from Japan.  I've found this useful when I only wanted a single item.

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Spaceman Spiff

I have used LocoHobby numerous times. David is top notch and gets everything I need quickly with excellent pricing.




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Vendors like loco1hobbies have their own threads here in the suppliers section and they keep us updated on what the are getting in, etc. Dave is very active on the forum here since way before he started the biz. Dave has done a great job of trying to keep prices down as far as he can and order what you want if he can get it. Had great transactions with him!


Hobbysearch changed their site content structure for trains a couple of years back and it is not as useful to those who know what they are looking for. They said they restructured for newbies more. It follows their Japanese site so the English site is at the whim of what the Japanese site feels is necessary for their marketing. They keep all items that they have once stocked and that makes it the best quick reference for stuff made in the last 15 years out there. You can just do a search and click don't show sold out items if you don't want to see anything not available. Hs is generally 10-15% off list. While they might not always have what you want they do have a very wide stock of items to be fair. Their discount has shrunk as they lost their major competitors for export a couple of years back.


I would be interesting to know the Japanese train items you have found on amazon us that were a better price than getting from Japan with sal shipping included. It always has come out with crazy prices usually when I have looked. Small item shipping sal is usually $4-5 so a small item or two shipped sal from Japan is usually cheaper than priority mail in the us, but it does take 2 weeks... Of course ems shipping may change this.


Plazajapan has been a steady source for a long time now at like 5% or so off list, but he has ebay/PayPal overhead. Shipping can be a bit high and not always the best packaging anymore, but great for the folks that wanted something like ebay for a portal for export.


We lost two great exporters a few years back with hobbyworld and rainbow ten shutting their export businesses down (keeping English staff and two business got too much for them). The us also lost mokei imports (in St. Louis) a couple of years back. He would bring over containers full of green max and tomix buildings and Japanese train catalogs for over 40 years (i found a mimeographed price list from him in the early 70s when i was a kid!) and be able to wholesale them thru most local hobby shops in the us at Japanese street price! He did not bring over many trains and those were above Japanese street price. He retired a few years ago and the passed away. We also had bt trains for a while in Seattle importing more and more Japanese train stuff and pretty much doing a bit better price than Japanese street price with ems but with priority mail that usually get to you in two days. Very sad that he passed away suddenly a couple years back.


You will find other options as well for export here on the forum as well, down to some very specific and unique.





Edited by cteno4
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David san from loco1 is fantastic at handling personal orders. I have tried their services since day one and I really can't complain much. David tries his best to get the items you need, just drop him a message. Best is, his prices are primarily around 20% off for train sets, about 15% off for structures and around 10% off other items. There's even 25% off for pre-orders!


Of course, there are other very good suppliers around too which you can find in their individual threads here, like HS, Model Train Plus by Nartak san (which is in my opinion very good service too), F&Mokei or FModels by Motoko Ahn san (order via email), popondetta (still around, but losing a lot of overseas sales), Bigman Izu san (often through Rakuten service etc.)


We really can't say which is the best, as each have their strengths and weaknesses... Well we all do don't we?  :)


Have fun shopping!

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We are lucky right now to have a good choice of capable and trustworthy sellers. I know it varies by where on the globe you live and the rules of your country and fees of your mail service, but I believe this will be remembered as a golden period for affordable availability of these products.


Rich K.

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I would be interesting to know the Japanese train items you have found on amazon us that were a better price than getting from Japan with sal shipping included. It always has come out with crazy prices usually when I have looked. Small item shipping sal is usually $4-5 so a small item or two shipped sal from Japan is usually cheaper than priority mail in the us, but it does take 2 weeks... Of course ems shipping may change this.


Jeff - it was a structure kit that I wanted to bash.  The PJ price was lower, but became higher when adding the shipping price they were showing on eBay - which was likely EMS. 


I'm not interested in anything other than trams at the moment, and generally not fussy about what I run, so pre-orders aren't relevant - but that could change as I get more familiar with the prototypes.


I find the HS site design so ugly that I just ignore it when they come up in a search.  I can appreciate the history function it serves - for those who might care.


I've largely ordered structures, and PJ seems to have all of them in stock.  Other sites show only a very limited selection.


However, I'm likely to order by request through David unless it's something that I want fast.


I was about to try an order with MTP, but got a message that the weight was outside SAL range, and I should contact them for options. 

However, it seemed like by that time I would have already paid for the items, so that wouldn't really leave me any options.


Too bad I wasn't into Japanese trains during the Mokei days ;-)



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At around 1.5kg the sal prices approach the ems prices as it leaves the small packet zone and enters air freight like ems. Like 2-6kg ems is actually cheaper. So usually in the long run not doing huge heavy orders and going sal can give you the best rates overall (including packaging). Always good to have your list of little would be nice to have and when you order something larger throw them in and they ship for almost free. Hobbylink.com has a cool system where you have a virtual bin you can buy stuff over a couple of months then pack them up yourself in what ever bundles and shipping methods you want for later shipping. Very nice, but unfortunately their trains have been on the decline this year. I suspect good completion from Dave and Nariichi-San! They use to have a decent selection at 20% off.


Never sure what shipping amazon sellers overseas will use most of the time unfortunately. Lots of times they list days but not method. I've had a whole range of experiences with them from very fast and cheap to medium priced and slow for shipping. I've had things ship cheap that were listed 3-5 days so I figured airmail, but instead came sal in two weeks. It's become a last resort for me and why I was curious if I was missing something in my searches.


Nariichi ar MTP is careful with the shipping with all the options there. Just email him, he's like Dave, very easy to deal with and get you squared away with shipping or a special order, or personal shopping or auctions.


Shipping is a beast to calculate with an automated system, I've set up a number. Seems simple but so many rules it can make it nasty even with the best checkout system and all the data in hand (item weight and volume and all you packaging weights and volumes and all the shipping tables! The if its Tuesday rules are all over the place. Good human looks at the pile and with a little experience figures out the most economical way to ship stuff. So what you get is a system that goes for a decent average at best or a cover their butt at worst usually.



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Despite having a ¥1m annual model railroad budget, I find I'm now purchasing most of my items from Mr Dave at Loco1Hobby.  I think the main reason is because of the personalised service.  Before Loco1Hobby, my shopping was done at BigMan in Gifu.  I use mail order.  BigMan store is 2km from nearest train station ... :(

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Just wanted to chime in here with the fantastic personalised service that Dave provides, and like Ochanomizu, most of my purchases are at Loco1Hobby.

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