Shopping in the United Kingdom

Some enthusiasts, like myself, sell G Scale Models from home as a hobby by mail order using Ebay or their own website to promote sales. This marketing effort is often supplemented by running a sales stand at various Model Railway Shows up and down the country. It is well worth visiting these gatherings as there is usually an interesting array of stock which you can examine up close and question the seller about as to their suitability for your own layout. There are often special offers available and the lower overheads mean that prices in general can be more competitive than from a shop.  It is not uncommon for these shows to include a space set aside for "Members Sales" where you invariably find some well cared for "second-hand but well looked after" items at bargain prices.

This does not mean, of cause, that sellers with a physical shop presence are not providing a vital service and they can often supply products on promotion by having the support of the manufacturers. It is a good idea to phone retailers to ask them at which show venues they are expecting to be present at and to ensure that they bring along the items you are specifically interested in buying. This information is often included on their websites. If you plan to visit a particular shop, especially if it is located some distance from your home, is is always wise to phone ahead to make sure that will be open and have the products you are particularly interested in are actually in stock as few retailers carry large ranges these days and only buy-in from a distributor when they are assured of a firm order.

Several Clubs have a web presence (including the G Scale Society itself) which often have a Market Section advertising member sales and special offers and these  specialised sources are well worth monitoring for the odd bargain.


How did we manage before Ebay? This well know auction site is a very popular way of selling G Scale Trains and at any one time can be listing thousands of individual items (far more than can be found at even the largest retail shop) either at a fixed price or inviting bids with the lot going to the highest bidder. Several major retailers including Rails of Sheffield (no connection except as a satisfied customer) and Trainz in the USA regularly list their wares on Ebay as well as staging regular auctions for Large Scale Railways (although Trainz have recently outsourced their own auctions to the DASH website which I personally feel to be a retrograde step due to the massive shipping charges levied on your purchases).

In the UK G Scale is to be found under “Collectibles” at but elsewhere e.g. Ebay USA , the "G Scale Model Railroad" category may often be located under "Toys & Hobbies". Don't ask me why - simply an idiosyncrasy on Ebay's part.

If you do happen to make a 'wrong' purchase selling it on Ebay is often the best way of recovering your outlay although you can also use professional auction sites such as Vectis who specialise in sales of model traina and railway ephemera.

Mail Order Purchasing in the UK


Many USA Sellers will also list their items on the UK site if they are prepared to ship worldwide (although beware of the shipping costs which can be prohibitive for single items not to mention the UK Import Taxes and Shippers Handling commissions.) It is also worthwhile occasionally looking on European Ebay sites, especially in the Netherlands, France and Germany where fluctuations in the £ : Euro exchange rate can sometimes throw up some bargains. Most are willing to ship to the UK and the cost is often less than charged by UK firms to ship in the opposite direction - usually no more than Euros 20 for smaller items.

One benefit of intra-EU trading is that there is no tax or import duty to pay but beware the "hidden charges" such as an premium for paying by Paypal that would not be permitted on the UK Ebay site (on the continent it is far more common to pay by direct bank transfers which are usually free or at a nominal rate) or credit card.


It is very important not to get carried away when bidding. It is not unusual to see certain items Suggested Retail Price, especially when the cost of postage, packing and insurance is taken into account. Always check out the prices of other G Scale retailers before committing to buy (including my own dedicated website at where I often sell brand new items, such as Passenger Coaches, cheaper than second-hand ones on auction sites).

You can find a list of reputable suppliers on the official   G  Scale Society website.

Unless you are fortunate to have a retailer close to where you live or work the chances are that you will be reliant on buying my mail order (Ebay is really a variant of this). The main draw-back is that you cannot physically see or handle the product and due to the large size and heavy weight of most G Scale items the postage charges incurred can be a major deterrent.

However, if you are left with no other choice but to adopt this approach, it has been made far less risky thanks to the protection afforded by the Consumer Protection (Distance Selling) Regulations 2000.

In essence this legislation allows the buyer up to 7 days ( recently extended to 14 days on Ebay) to examine any goods obtained by mail order and return them to the seller (undamaged of course) for a full refund for any reason whatsoever.

The purpose of the legislation is to give consumers more confidence when buying goods and services by mail order where there is no face to face contact with the seller, and ensure that all traders selling at a distance in the normal course of their business meet certain basic requirements. This right is in addition to your right to return faulty or damaged goods or those which do not conform with the description given and/or fail to prove of satisfactory quality. 

In essence this provides a unique 7 day "cooling off period" (which is not available if you buy over the counter in the high street) for the buyer to change their mind about a purchase. You are therefore, theoretically better protected when you buy something online or by telephone than if you had bought the identical items in a shop on the high street.

All retailers are required to abide by these Regulations (in theory within the European Union) and you will generally find (though not always as some retailers appear to be ignorant of their obligations a bit like those who insist that faulty goods will have to be returned to the manufacturer when  the sales contract is invariably with the retailer who is obliged to sort out the problem) that their websites or listings draw attention to your statutory rights.

Sourcing from Abroad

Some people are naturally wary about purchasing from abroad but it is generally a lot safer than you might imagine. Just remember that if an offer looks "too good to be true" then it probably is and should be treated with extreme care. I must say that having completed several hundred purchases abroad, notably from the USA, France, Germany and the Netherlands and I have only once run into trouble when the goods I ordered and paid for did not arrive.  Neither Ebay or I were able to contact the seller who had pocketed my US$130 but I suspect that he may possibly have died in the intervening period. 

If you buy via Ebay there are certain protection methods in place where payments via Paypal can be refunded in the event that goods do not arrive or are not as described. In fact in my experience they always side with the Buyer in any dispute so you can purchase on the auction site with some assurance. Fortunately the criminal community do not appear to have moved into the faking of LGB locomotives yet!

This does not absolve you from taking all reasonable precautions such as paying for purchases over £100 with a credit card where you also have a measure of legal protection whereby you can claim from the credit card company if things go wrong.

The main reason for personally importing goods from abroad is the price. We are not known as "Rip-off Britain" without good reason and in my view have become far too complacent about accepting high prices. In my experience if an item costs £100 in the UK it can usually be obtained from parts of Europe for Euro 100 and only US$100 from across the pond. There are good reasons why goods are cheaper in the United States (large population, huge market, greater competition, lower taxes, etc.) but they also incur much higher delivery costs due to sheer size of the country which should offset some of these factors. Until UK customers insist on better value for their hard-earned money things are unlikely to improve.

Whatever the reason there is no law that says you cannot benefit from the more advantageous prices to be obtained  from overseas. Yes, there can be warranty complications ( a limited 3 month warranty period is the norm in North America) but unless the item you are purchasing involves highly complex technology the saving is often worth the risk.

The second reason for buying from abroad is the wider choice of brands and models available from a particular supplier. For example Bachmann Europe (Bachmann's authorised distributor in the UK) do not always carry the full range of G Scale products and often run out of stocks of the products they do carry. This is not generally the case in the USA where some larger retailers tend to hold over 4,500 individual stock items across the various scales.

You have probably heard of LGB, Bachmann, Aristo-craft, USA Trains and PIKO but if you are looking for G Scale products from such firms as  Delton, Hartland, Kiss, Accucraft, Theil, Llagas Creek, Sunset Valley Railroad, Kadee, Train-Li-USA or Split-Jaw you might find that you are faced with limited sourcing options in the UK.

For sources of supply is a good idea to subscribe to the Garden Railways  bi-monthly magazine published by Kalmbach Publishing Co. in the USA and mentioned elsewhere on this site. This informative publication has been the world's largest circulation magazine about the hobby of running large-scale trains outdoors since 1984. Each issue features a wealth of hobby news, product reviews, how-to articles, featured railroads, scale drawings, etc. together with a lot of specialist advertising that can point you in the right direction. They also publish a series of informative guides on all aspects of Large Scale Railway Modelling which you can download. They are usually on "Special Offer" at least once a year (sometimes at half-price).

Also look out for professionally produced videos on YouTube from Bachman, Garden Trains and Large Scale Online which cover US layouts and new product releases in considerable depth.

Costs of Importing

Don't forget that when you purchase goods from abroad (other than from the EU) you will not only incur shipping costs (which can be incredibly high - sometime as much as the item itself) but you will also be liable for Import Duty, VAT and Customs Duties, Handling or Processing  Charges levied by shipping agents.  Import Duty is sometimes levied at around 4.5% whilst VAT is now 20% just like many other "luxuries". You also need to be aware that VAT is due on the total value of the consignment i.e. the value of the item(s); any local taxes; the postage and packing, insurance and the applicable duty (not just the initial purchase cost).

Model train imports from European Union (EU) or ECC countries should not be liable to any additional duty or VAT if you import them for personal use.

Whoever is handling the import in the UK (Post Office, UPS, FedEx, etc.) usually settles the Duty and VAT on your behalf for a fee which can currently  range from £8 Parcelforce, £11 FedEx and £18 UPS and possibly more. 

Some, like Parcelforce levy their charges on each parcel whilst other (notably UPS and FedEx) only do so on the entire consignment which can prove a valuable saving where a large number of parcels are involved. This fee will be added when they collect these amounts from you on or before delivery (although FedEx often send an invoice after the event). Be warned if you are expecting a shipment from the United States from DHL as they insist on cash on delivery and will not accept cheques or credit cards. I recently had to scrabble around to find £136 and the driver did not even have a float to provide change. It seems that some companies still have a long way to go to reach the 20th Century never mind the 21st !


Having decided upon the type of railroad you intend to model you will need to identify the manufacturer(s) that specialise in and support that kind of railway modelling. You will probably find yourself sticking to your chosen supplier for much of your requirements but it is possible to 'mix and match' stock from other firms. There are relatively few suppliers and most of the popular makes are covered under "G SCALE SUPPLIERS" which can be accessed via the header to this page. 

Ones to watch out for are Alpine Railworks (high-quality hand-made and/or hand-painted model railroad accessories, diorama accessories and miniatures in G Scale (1/2" Scale, 1/24 Scale, 1/22.5 Scale)(*Aristo-craft (1:29 Scale Scale)Aster Hobbies (1:32 - Gauge 1) Accucraft/AMS (1:20.3; 1:32, 1:24 and 1:29);  Accucraft UK Limited   (1:32, 1:20.3 and 1:19);  AML (American Mainline) Division of Accucraft (1:29 Scale)Bachmann (1:20.3, 1:22.5); Brandbright ( 16mm : ft, G scale & Gauge 3) ; Bridgemasters (Bridges, Trestles, Figures, etc.);  Delton - also Aristo Classics - (1:24); Eagle Wings iron Craft (durable garden railroad bridges, accessories, and custom steel fabrications); G Gauge Wild West,  Hartford Products Inc. (Range of kits and cast parts in 1:24 scale), (Hartland Locomotive Works (1:20.3 Locos & Wagons) ; Just Plain Folk (Figures & Wagons); K.I.S.S. (1:32); Larry G Scale (vast range of scenic miniatures and dioramas); LGB (1:22.5);Light Rail Products (Streetcar & Trolley Kits); LLagas Creek Railways (Code 215 and 250 Track products); Mainline Bridges (Custom Bridges, Piers, etc.); Märklin Maxi (1:32);  MDC Roundhouse (1:32); Mr Rails (realistic horns and whistle sounds); MTH Railking (1:32);  Northern Fine Scale (1:30);  Ozark Minatures; PIKO (1:27?);  Prehm Miniatures (1:22 - 1:24 scale metal and plastic figures, models); Preiser (1:22.5; 1:24) ; Remote Control Systems America Roundhouse Engineering ('G' Scale, SM45 & SM32); ) S&D Models (Kits & Model Figures in various Scales); G Scale Detail Parts, 1:24 Figures, etc);) Sunset Valley Railroad (Complete Code 250 track system) USA Trains (1:22.5 and 1:29); and Wrightway Rolling Stock (1:30 and 1:32).

* Regrettably Aristo-craft finally closed their doors on 31st December 2013. During the preceding months the company sold off a large part of their residual stocks in a massive Closing Down Sale at up to 50% off. However, a new company has arisen, phoenix like from the flames, called PolksGeneratioNext and as its name suggests is run by a member of the Polks family.  They appear to have revived many of the old favourites from the Aristo-craft brand including their excellent track range and this may be expanded further over time.

** Hartford were acquired by Ozark Miniatures in November 2014.