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The BIG one

Not many will know, but this make is one of the world's largest manufacturers of miniature railways, it is a branch operation of Tomy, one of the world's largest toy manufacturers. Tomix carry a huge range of Japanese N-scale and a small range of Japanese HO. Tomix does not make models of non-Japanese trains, apart from a 'Thomas the Tank Engine' range, very appealing to children of all ages. Tomy makes a huge range of other toys, many use advanced electronics like the 'Barcode Battler', a handheld electronic game, equipped with a barcode reader. Barcodes from ordinary food products were used to give extra strength to the characters in the game. This little machine caused huge demands for certain products in Japanese supermarkets.

Tomix 1991 catalogue cover, depicting the then new Nozomi 300 class Shinkansen.

Tomix started their model train range under the name of 'Tomy Nine-scale' some 30 years ago. The range grew rapidly and with the birth of a dedicated railway model market it was decided to use a seperate brand name for the model trains. So the Tomy model train range became the Tomix range.

Over the years Tomix have greatly improved the quality of their products. When they started the Tomy Nine-scale range, the detailing was rather coarse, as with many European manufacturers that day. Today Tomix is one of the best available anywhere at any price, although Tomix products are very affordable.

Tomix' loco chassis are very simple: two frame halves seperated lengthwise and isolated from each other. Recesses in the frame halve hold the bogies and the motot is clamped between the frame halves. Steam locos have a similar drive, but then located in the tender. The tender is in fact the whole loco, the loco itself just a detailed 'dummy'. Multiple unit chassis follow a similar construction, but much of it is concealed by plastic detailing parts. Tomix used to have one or two steam locos in their range, but they were removed from the range after several years and now Tomix is back with a new steam loco, the 9600 class 2-8-0 freight lcomotive.

Cover of the 1994 Tomix catalogue.

One speciality of Tomix is their extensive range of Shinkansen models. Shinkansen are the well-known Japanese high-speed trains. As these trains are running for some 35 years now, development was and is continuing and resulted in an impressive range of high-performance trains. Tomix' Shinkansen are finely detailed and feature extras like close coupling and retractable couplers on the 200 and 400 class units. On the Tohoku Shinkansen these trains run coupled from Ueno (Tokyo) to Fukushima, where the train is split in two sections. The class 200 continues its journey to Morioka or Sendai, while the small-profile 400 class continues its journey to Yamagata. This Yamagata line (Ou main line) is a converted cape-gauge (1067mm or 3ft 6in) line, where the track gauge has been widened to standard gauge (1435mm or 4ft 8½in), whilst the loading gauge remained unchanged. Near Yamagata there is a short stretch of combined cape/standard gauge track to serve an oil-terminal near Zao. Another converted cape-gauge line runs from Morioka to Akita, in northern Honshu.

In the Tomix range are models of the 0, 200, 100, 200-1000, 300 (Nozomi), 400 (Yamagata line), E1 (Max) and 500 (Nozomi500), E2 and E3 classes. A 'Doctor Yellow' 993 class test train is available now.

Apart from the Shinkansen trains, Tomix also have a wide range of electric and diesel locos, passenger and freight cars, EMU's and DMU's and some departmental (maintainance-of-way) stock. Among the departmental stock there is a rail-cleaning train which is one of the most effective available. Very useful and effective is the vacuum track cleaning car, well worth the money!

The cover of the Tomix 1996 catalogue

Tomix products are available from Japan Model Railways.

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