A first class hobby you can get on board with: Micro Ace Japanese model trains

Taking a train in Japan – a local, a rapid express, a super limited express, the subway, or the shinkansen – can be fun. Watching the scenery change rapidly as you stare out the window… enjoying how weirdly quiet train carriages are in Japan, even at rush hour… it’s always an adventure.

Just try not to get in the way of a Japanese trainspotter. They’re as wild about their fandom as anime otaku. Think we’re kidding? Check out this video (with headphones, just in case):

Yeah, we did warn you.

Another way to enjoy Japan’s enviably efficient, clean, and quiet transport system is with Japanese model trains. In your own home, it’s unlikely some pushy train lover with an expensive camera’s gonna ruin your fun.

Micro Ace is one of the big mainstream names – reading their catalogue list could take you all day. Some of it was released over 15 years ago, and they’re still regularly putting out new train models.

The brand makes a bunch of miniatures, like Owners Club classic cars from the 50s and 60s. And normal-sized replicas of other things… like a Glock pistol, and a grenade. We can’t sell you those, sorry.

Recreate Japan’s many train systems in miniature

The huge mix of classic and modern trains caters to everyone. They’ve even got steam and diesel locomotive models. When did you last spot one of those, in real life or otherwise? Micro Ace N-scale models span almost every Japanese train company, from the national network to private local railways.

Here’s a sample:

  • Japan Rail (JR)
  • Keihan
  • Keisei
  • Seibu
  • Tobu
  • Odakyu
  • Kintetsu
  • Kitakyu
  • Meitetsu
  • Nankai
  • Sobu
  • Keio
  • Hankyu
  • Hanshin

That’s a lot of trains. Because they’re a Japanese brand, Micro Ace produces some train models that rivals don’t offer. An advantage to the dedicated collectors, for sure.

Every type of train is replicated in mini sizes with impressive accuracy. They typically come in sets, with the same number of carriages as the real-world version. Smaller sets of many models act as replacement cars or extend an existing train.

If you wanted to, you could make a crazy long train with them. We can’t promise you it’ll corner well on a hobby train track, but you can try. Hey, maybe let us know how that works out.

The finer details on each carriage are perfectly done, down to the windscreen wipers. Micro Ace is known for adding smaller details in metal, where other brands use plastic. It’s interesting to see how the shape and design of Japanese trains has changed over time, too.

The interiors are clearer with some LEDs in there. You can make out all the seats/benches and little details in the carriages. Lighting is classed as an accessory, which Micro Ace also sells along with couplers and cases.

And, to show that the company has a sense of humour, here’s their special JR Hokkaido ‘Sayonara Doraemon’ model train.

It sure looks like a toy, but that one’s based on a real train as well. It ran from Hakodate to Yoshioka Seaside in Sapporo prefecture, via the Seikan tunnel, between 2003 and 2006.

Marvel at the efficiency of Japanese train lines

Some days, there’s seriously nothing more satisfying than watching a train run on time. Like… when you’re running late. Luckily, real Japanese trains are famously efficient. The timetable rarely lies. And if there’s a delay, for any reason, the train station staff are famously apologetic.

A Micro Ace train set runs however you make it run. Keeping it in the smart presentation box is tempting, but they’re made for the tracks.

They’ll glide gracefully through mini worlds and cityscapes of your own making. The noise level increases a little at higher speeds, the same as with all model trains. It actually adds to the experience – and is nowhere near as loud as a real train horn or whistle.

Look for Micro Ace miniature Japanese train sets on DEJAPAN

Micro Ace produces each model in limited batches. Their website’s only in Japanese, so come to us and we’ll help you order. DEJAPAN also has listings from Amazon Japan and Rakuten, as well as Yahoo! Auctions Japan.

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