Most Popular Model Train Brands for Railroaders

Where’s the first place you look when it’s time to add new railroading products to your model train collection?

We already know the answer is “Model Train Stuff,” but where do you go once you’re here? cheap model trains

For many railroaders, it’s straight to their favorite railroading brands.

Let’s explore what our railroaders’ favorite brands are. But first, to answer an excellent, often-asked, important question.

Can you mix model train brands?

Generally, yes, so long as you buy things of the same scale model. Most brands these days design and manufacture their products per National Model Railroad Association (NMRA) standards, so they should be interchangeable as much as you wish. That means there’s nothing to stop you from having a locomotive from one brand, a box car from a second, and a passenger car from a third.

Such is the level of adherence to the NMRA’s standards that it’s even pretty rare these days to see products outright advertised as compatible with other brands.

Are you ready to discover our most popular model train brands?

  1. Athearn and Athearn Genesis

Athearn is an authentic American-made model train brand that predominantly designs and manufactures modern era locomotives, passenger cars, and freight cars from many railroads. That’s not to say Athearn doesn’t have an eye on the rich history of railroading. They also produce products that go way back to the early and pioneer eras of American railways.

Athearn Genesis is Athearn’s premium brand, although that’s not to talk down the quality and standards of its “regular” products. Athearn Genesis models, which are again predominantly inspired by the modern era but feature many transition era products, typically feature elevated features and effects that bring realism to your layout.

Athearn predominantly manufactures HO scale products but also offers an extensive N range. The Genesis brand focuses more on HO scale and produces just a small number of N scale products.

Shop our full ranges of Athearn and Athearn Genesis.

2. Kato

If you’re an N scale model railroader, there’s a more than fair chance that Kato will be your go-to brand.

Founded in 1967, Kato is synonymous with excellent quality locomotives, carriages, and accessories. The brand’s carriage sets offer incredible value if you want to grow your collection without blowing a hole in your bank account.

Given its prominence in the N scale market, Kato also produces a wealth of accessories and layout essentials on top of its range of rolling stock. This brand also produces a smaller volume of HO scale products, with a small range of multi-scale accessories useful for model railroaders of all scales and preferences.

Shop our full range of Kato products.

3. Lionel

Perhaps the most iconic name in the history of model railroading, we hold Lionel Trains in such esteem that we simply had to feature them in a recent article.

But this isn’t about us.

Lionel is best known for its O scale products, which you’ll find in abundance here at Model Train Stuff. One of the things Lionel does brilliantly is help to take away the link between budget and model railroad scales. The brand prides itself on manufacturing model railroading products at various price points, meaning this passion is affordable for all and enabling you to build a brilliant scene and collection whether your budget is a few hundred or a few thousand dollars.

While Lionel remains most iconic for O scale products, the brand is a growing presence in the S scale market, which is also a relatively new addition to our own ranges in the past couple of years.

Whether you’re looking to start model railroading or are growing an O or S scale collection, it’s hard to go wrong with Lionel.

Shop our full Lionel range.

4. Bachmann Trains

While Lionel might be the most iconic name in model railroading, Bachmann is the longest-lived name, finding its roots in Philly way back in 1833!

Among all model railroad brands, Bachmann is one of the most diverse in terms of what it manufactures. It produces a range of locomotives, rolling stock, and accessories available across the broadest range of model railroad scales you’ll find anywhere in the world.

Here at Model Train Stuff, you’ll find most of Bachmann’s products are HO scale, but with impressive ranges in N and O scales, with products also available for the On30 and HOn30 scales.

Shop our full Bachmann Trains range.

5. Woodland Scenics

While our locomotives and trains will always be the beating heart of our model railroads, it’s often the tiny details that add realism and truly bring our layouts to life.

On this front, Woodland Scenics is an iconic name. So whether you’re looking for pre-fabricated buildings, building kits you can put together yourself, model cars, or trees to sit on the edge of your railroad, you’ll find everything you need – and everything you didn’t know you needed but definitely want – with Woodland Scenics!

Add color and character to your layout with our Woodland Scenics range.

What are your favorite model railroad brands?

Do you have just one favorite model railroad brand, or do you mix and match brands and focus more on the products that best fit your layout?

Has your favorite brand always been your favorite, or have you bought a specific brand more because of your model railroad scale?

We love hearing about fellow railroaders’ journeys through this passion and, of course, seeing your layouts! So get in touch to tell us about your favorite model railroad brands and why you love them so much, and tag us on Instagram to show us your favorite brands looking magnificent in your layout.

Happy railroading!