Japanese Toy Trains

I didn't expect this to become such a major part of this blog, but like Topsy, it just growed. Here's a directory of all the posts about this subject.

The Straco Express Series
This documents my initial searches for information about the set.

The Straco Express - The Antiques Roadshow Version
The Straco Express - A Better Story
The Straco Express - A Closer Look
The Straco Express and the Mystery Train
The Straco Express and the Mystery Train(s)
Straco, Bandai, and Cragstan - The Hookup
Straco, Cragstan, and Bandai - The Comparison
Straco Tracks - The Mystery Continues
Straco Tracks - The Mystery Clears (slightly)

The Straco Express Layout
This series of posts goes into detail about the construction of the layout, and the accessories on it.

The Straco Layout: A Worthwhile Project?
Part 1 - Outlining the Plan
Part 2 - Getting the Board
Part 3 - Cleaning the Track
Part 4 - The SilClear Solution (and Problem)
Part 5 - Bracing for Impact
Part 6 - Painting and Getting to the Point
Part 7 - Laying Down Track
Part 8 - Let's Run Some Trains!
Part 9 - Suburban Sprawl
Part 10 - Paving the Pegboard
Part 11 - Truckin'
Part 12 - Gridlock!
Part 13 - White Line Fever
Part 14 - Bandai Band-Aid
Part 15 - The Roads Must Roll!
Part 16 - Station-Aero
Part 17 - Let's Run Some Trains Again!
Part 18 - Keep On Truckin'
Part 19 - Ambulance (and Taxi) Chasing
Part 20 - A Patriotic Traffic Pattern
Part 21 - The Flat Arm of the Law
Part 22 - Tri Something New
Part 23 - Lumbering Along
Part 24 - A Lot of Changes
Part 25 - The Oldest New Addition
Part 26 - Maxing Out the Motorway
Part 27 - Local Power to the People!
Part 28 - Relaying the Rails
Part 29 - The Recycled Roadster
Part 30 - The Name is Bond. Bond Bread 
Part 31 - Where's the Fire, Chief?
Part 32 - Things Go Better with Coke
Part 33 - Signs for Change
Part 34 - Signs for Safety
Part 35 - Passenger Service!
Part 36 - Milwaukee Mystery 
Part 37 - Fade to Orange
Part 38 - Linemar Brings Good Things to Light
Part 39 - King Me
Part 40 - A New Angle
Part 41 - Indian Head Mystery
Part 42 - Express Duality
Part 43 - Tower of Strength
Part 44 - Haji Like a Tanker?
Part 45 - Topless Entertainment
Part 46 - Calling All Cars!
Part 47 - Serving District No. 7
Part 48 - Nesting Instinct
Part 49 - A Seldom Seen Limousine
Part 50 - Pump It Up

Collecting -- and Collecting Information
Part of this series talks about my efforts to find out more information about the Japanese tin toy trains I have, and others that were made during the postwar era.

Part 4 - Nomura
Part 5 - Linemar 
Part 6 - Nomura/Cragstan 
Part 7 - The Bandai Aero Station
Part 9 - Sakai
Part 10 - Sakai 
Part 11 - Bandai/Cragstan
Part 12 - Linemar Vehicle Set
Part 13 - Linemar Vehicle Set
Part 14 - Linemar Vehicle Set
Part 15 - Rosko
Part 17 - Nomura/Rosko
Part 18 - Linemar and Marx
Part 19 - Linemar Vehicle Set
Part 20 - Japanese HO tinplate signs
Part 22 - Bandai Train Set
Part 23 - Linemar Vehicle Set

Japanese Litho Train Sets
This series outlines all the information I've discovered about Japanese tin toy train sets from 1948-1965. These posts are updated as needed.

Japanese Litho Train Sets 1 - Introduction
Japanese Litho Train Sets 2 - Thinking Inside the Box
Japanese Litho Train Sets 3 - Cragstan, Distler, and Nomura
Japanese Litho Train Sets 4 - Straco, Cragstan, and Distler
Japanese Litho Train Sets 5 - Yonezawa Continental Flyer
Japanese Litho Train Sets 6 - Cragstan in Detail

Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles
Many of the Japanese toy manufacturers that made the trains also made cars and trucks as well. This series provides additional information about the vehicles I've collected for the Straco Layout and others.

Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, Part 1 - The Golden Age of Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, 1949-1963
Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, Part 2 - Bandai
Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, Part 3 - Haji and Masudaya
Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, Part 4 - Shioji
Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, Part 5 - Line Mar and Marx
Japanese Tin Toy Vehicles, Part 6 - Nomura


  1. I have the F3's, Nomura as trademarked TN on the rear door; but litho's for Milwaukee Road. No set box, but my York find included a gondola, standard shape at the ends, not raised, also Milwaukee. Plastic ties on the track. Replaced the lamp and used an O gauge diesel traction tire for the rotation mechainism, works well. Good article in the TCA quarterly by the way!

    1. Thanks! I've found the Milwaukee gondola car, but not the rest of the set. I did run across some good photographs of it, though. They're in my post "Milwaukee Mystery." Apparently the set was made as an exclusive for a mid-western department store. It's curious to me that once Nomura made the stampers for the gondola car that they didn't use it in other sets. I'll be at York, too, trolling the aisles. See you there! http://the-unmutual.blogspot.com/2014/09/the-straco-layout-part-36-milwaukee.html?_sm_au_=iVVtZHJwc50HN6Vr

  2. I'm only permitted one York per year, so I opt for October as I camp on the fairgrounds (less rain). I bought the trains as a box of what the seller thought were Marx; I actually scored two of each on the loco, Mobil boxcar with MR logo, and the MR gondola, and two circles of track with a few straights. They are all pretty good, so I picked the best of the lot and cleaned up one set for myself. As the "known reported sales" of these trains (so far!) average about twenty dollars a batch, let me know if you want the extras. Also, I did a short video on my cell phone of the loco running on the kitchen table, but I don't see any way to post it here.

    1. If your extra F3 is in MR livery, I would definitely be interested. in it, as well as the Mobile boxcar And you're right about the overall value. For this part of my train collecting, I like to stay in the $10-$20 range. I should be at York this fall, too.

      Sorry there's not an easy way to directly post a video. If you uploaded it to YouTube, you could post the link, but that's about the only way I know of with this Blogger program.

  3. www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2X1qLCpUxQ
    Not that I've ever uploaded to YouTube before! This is the set I've made functional; I use a Marx HO power pack at low speed as the 3 or 4 volts I can get out of a battery are erratic at best.

    1. The video looks great! I agree about the battery pack -- I use an MRC H0 transformer myself. If we're still talking in the $20 range, I am definitely interested.

  4. I'll fix up the second loco so the lamp & rotating reflector work, and look you up in the fall - good hunting at York next week!

  5. Thanks! And I'll definitely be at York in the fall. Dad and I are usually at the wooden toy exhibit that takes place an hour before the meet opens on Thursdays. We'll be there this time, and I'm sure we'll be there in the fall. Looking forward to meeting you.

  6. Hi Ralph, your blog about the Straco layout and japanese toy trains is always fun to read and of course a useful source. In Germany is a collector Rainer Haug with a huge website called 'http://www.spur00.de' about toy trains. And I would like to recommend my website 'http://vintagemodeltrain.tumblr.com'. For this specific type of toy trains in H0 scale made after WWII we have in Germany the term 'Kaufhausbahn' - Mail Order Trains. A 'Kaufhausbahn' isn't a scale model train - because it's cheaper and not so detailed. But in difference to pure toy trains a 'Kaufhausbahn' is compatible with scale model trains. For example Distler was affiliated with Trix. For example the motors of Distler locomotives and locos used in Trix starter packs are the same. Even the fibre board tracks of both companies are from the same source. Other german 'Kaufhausbahnen' used fibre board tracks manufactured by Fleischmann.

  7. Hi Dear,

    i Like Your Blog Very Much..I see Daily Your Blog ,is A Very Useful For me.

    Visit Now - https://www.amazon.com/Bullet-Battery-Operated-Lightning-Flashing/dp/B07488X4YW/ref=sr_1_1?m=A3KIGJ5D7AQK8I&s=merchant-items&ie=UTF8&qid=1504849204&sr=1-1&keywords=B07488X4YW

    Toy Train Bullet Train Toy 20.5" Battery Operated Bump & Go Action Large Lightning Train Toy with Flashing Lights and Music Subway Train …