June 19, 2014

KATO Sales Meeting - June 17, 2014

Here is the summary from the recently attended KATO sales meeting.

Forgot to mention on last time about detail of the event.

The meeting consists with 3 parts.

Part 1 - update from KATO (includes Mr. Kato), business update, upcoming events, etc.

Part 2 - New product roadshow by Kato rep. and also from Hobby Center Kato (item released from Kato Roundhouse brand)


Part 3 - Feedback from retailers (it is kind of Dragon's den for Mr. Kato and his team... normally "roasted" by full of complaints from retailers...)

This meeting normally last for quite long time.  Starting from 11:00 and ends around 15:00.  Then we take photos on prototypes afterwards.


Anyway, here was the summary.

1. Business update

- KATO's FY13 ended as of end of May and reported YoY sales growth was almost flat.

- High School Model Railroad contest to be held on Aug. 9 and 10 at Tokyo Big Site.  KATO is primary supporter of the event and they will sell special item (like the special carriage on last year).  But the detail was not shared yet.  It will be announced on Model Railroad Show at Ginza Matsuya.

2. Market update

- Quite silent on June after release rush on end of May.  E7 release may stimulate the market.

- Planning to re-run for turntable on Aug-Sept. timeframe.  Kato realizes needs for improvement on shipping accessories for turntable.  This is because some of accessories parts are sold out and it causing slow sales of turntable.


3. New Products

- E7 Shinkansen

To be released on end of June.  Consists of 3 separate sets below

10-1221 - 3 car basic set

10-1222 - 3 car add-on set A

10-1223 - 4 car add-on set B

10-1223 is already sold out at Kato.  If you are planning to make full 12 car formation, please check us for availability.

- Series 181-1000 Asama (10-1149)

8 car complete set.

Visible nose coupler for coupling with EF63 to simulate Usui pass.

SARO180 (green car) having temporary cab

- Electric Locomotive EF63 (first type - 3057-3)

Dual type coupler equipped.

Different expression from second type.

- Electric Locomotive EF57-1 (3069-1)

Having very unique pantograph position (aligned to center of body)

- Express Coach "HAKKODA" (10-1235/1236)

Consists with mixed formation with coach, sleeper, and freight car.

Includes newly designed WASAFU covered wagon.

- Series 485 Initial Type "HIBARI"

Includes newly designed KURO481-100

SAHA481 initial type will also be released as single item (part number 4556) to help to make full 12/13 car formation.

Additional add-on sets available as 10-1129/1130

- Electric Locomotive ED75-1000 (first type)

Completely new item from previous ED75

- Electric Locomotive EF510-500 (JRF livery)

Ex-JR East locomotive now JRF.  New painting (removed shooting star).

As this is now for freight, not coming with quick headmark feature.


New Item release from Hobby Center Kato


As using existing KIHA110 body, there may be a slight different from actual cars.


Other Update, Request, Complaints, Suggestions from retailers

- Sales on May was declined on many of retailers as there was no new product release until very end of May.

- Recently released C57 is getting good feedback from end users.

- Many retailers requested to keep more inventory of the products as there are so many item unable to get now.

- Turntable is not selling well as attachment track and other accessories are in short.


Request for new product, re-run...

- Series 201 Chuo line

- Series 115-0

- EF62 (2nd type)

- Twilight Express

- Series 185 (with "Express 185" livery)

- Steam locomotives (to play with turntable)

Couldn't get clear comments but I also raised request and feedback as below.

- Too many shortage on Assy parts and asked to keep more.  Especially pointed that assy no longer available while new product is still available.

- Requested to update DCC decoder compatibility matrix as there are limited information and sometimes had a case KATO rep on phone told me different decoder parts number.

- Raised request for release/re-run of following

E209/E231 Sobu line

Series 221

Locomotive to play with Orient Express


Product Showcase

1. 1st prototype for Eidan 6000 Chiyoda Line was displayed.

For me personally, I have a special feeling on this train.  I spent my childhood at Ayase, which is along with Chiyoda line and seeing this train all the time.  And still running...

Previously MicroAce already released this but I see KATO one is very detailed and looks very nice.  The interior will be dark red.  Some car having ivory color but that is just using other parts temporarily.


2. Roundhouse

Now roundhouse for turntable is became final prototype.  One roundhouse is for 3 locomotive.  So you might need add few to make a big yard.


3. E7 Shinkansen final prototype.

Color was fixed and package was also ready.



Extra -  treat from Mr. Kato

Lunch provided by KATO.  Same menu for every time I attend....

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