Get ready to go on an amazing trip of miniature proportions with the best N scale steam locomotives that we here at Shrunk Collectibles compiled!
And sure, it’s always nice to have a bobblehead or action figure or display.
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But there’s just something undeniably timeless about model railroading with scale steam loco set pieces.
As such, we looked high and low for the best N scale steam locomotives that you could add to your collection right now.
Or, even better, pop them out of their respective boxes (as you should) and lay out those steam locomotive nickel plate road parts.
Check it Out!
Get ready to have a nice day wandering around your miniature countryside!
So, from model trains like the Union Pacific or the Berkshire steam train set, find out all the best N scale steam locomotives in this top 5 list!
Our TOP 5 N Scale Steam Locomotives
“A Luxurious Collectible Train!”
Our Rating: 4
This is the N gauge 2027 C50 steam locomotive, which was released to commemorate the company’s 50th year anniversary.
And boy, did KATO bring the festivities on with a bang.
This train set could rival any other model trains out there (or model vehicles for that matter).
This KATO model is a set that brings a whole new level of sophistication to the model railroading hobby.
Much like the Pennsylvania RRtank cars or those Bachmann Industries PRR4ks with slat pilot.
Sure, Lionel might arguably the most popular and oldest companies around when it comes to the miniature locomotive and tender game, but KATO is no pushover either.
You could just imagine cruising the Southern Pacific daylight countryside in this 2027 C50scale steam loco set!
A Modern Classic
This is one model railroading set that features Japanese craftsmanship in all its glory.
From the equipped locomotive with dcc sound value equipped steam right to the amazing sculpt and paint job done on it.
Much like the KATOs Mikado, this 2027 C50 has a 1/150 scale.
That means it’s right at home as one of the best N scale steam locomotives you could get right now.
Comes at a Price
But we’re going to say this right off the bat: this is one pricey piece.
So it is very much unlike your usual Pennsylvania Railroad or Northern Pacifictrain cars you could get at Bluford shops.
It’s somewhat justifiable, though, as this is a highly limited model released by the company.
Don’t expect to see this just hanging around other model trains on shelves.
What You Get
For its price, too, you’re actually not getting a lot of tank cars, locomotive and tender parts.
Instead, KATO will be treating you to one of the most glamorous packaging around, along with some additional items.
The items include a KATO documentary DVD, a hardcover booklet about KATO, and their invention of the N-scale locomotives.
And it’s all wrapped up in a gorgeous box with gold foil.
Quality over Quantity
A release like this proves that KATO is indeed one of the best N scale steam locomotives manufacturers.
That is no surprise considering they invented the whole subcategory in the industry (at least in Japan itself).
This model might not have any tank cars like the engines that pass through the Rio Grande or Pennsylvania Railroad.
But it more than makes up for it in supreme construction.
You see, this 2027 C50 model runs on a flywheel system for supreme pulling power.
It’s got a rolling stock; it’s been equipped with KATO’s patented N scale coupler locks; and it has working light functions as well.
And for good measure—and just a tad bit of customization— the company even added three plates you could attach to the locomotive.
Yes, this is one hell of an expensive set, but we here at Shrunk Collectibles see what the company is doing.
Meant for Display
This is the kind of model railroading piece that’s meant more to be displayed than be played with.
It is something to celebrate KATO’s heritage rather than an actual train set with your usual dcc sound value econami equipped locomotive components.
“An Almost Perfect Train Package!”
Our Rating: 4.5
Next up on our best N sale steam locomotives list is something from the same company that gave the world the Bachmann Industries PRRK4s with slat pilot.
In this case, though, we’re talking about the N scale light mountain steam locomotive they made.
And not just any model, too: this is the prototypical black version, which just gives the set a slicker and more realistic look overall.
That’s just the beginning of it.
This is one of the best N scale steam locomotives if you want model trains that pack a lot of features within such a tiny frame.
Because that’s exactly what this light mountain scale steam loco is able to give you: an overabundance of features (in a good way).
This comes in the usual Bachmann box, which if we’re being honest, is probably one of our favorite packaging styles when it comes to model railroading toys.
That’s because unlike companies like KATO or Lionel, Bachmann uses a window box that allows you to see the exact items you’re getting.
Sure, it looks rather juvenile and definitely less “premium”, but this is the kind of packaging that prioritizes convenience over form.
Plus, this type of package is something that mint in box and mint on card collectors would definitely be able to appreciate.
But we’re not here to just ogle at these wonderful train cars all day.
So let’s head on over to what you’re in for once you get that baby out of the box.
Bachmann truly didn’t hold anything back when designing this thing: it’s nicely sculpted and impeccably painted.
It has a dcc sound value econami equipped locomotive decoder and a nice precision engine and motor for maximum pulling power.
It also has other small parts like the bells and whistles of the thing are separately sculpted and not just molded as one piece.
And speaking of pulling power, this is one of those model trains that have nice couplers.
So you could customize which tank cars or parts you want to attach.
Another amazing thing about this model is that it’s got working headlights, a detailed gear drive, and a very nicely concealed drive train for its engine.
This is really one of the most realistic model trains you’re going to see right now.
And it is absolutely one of the best N scale steam locomotives you could buy right now.
One of the main reasons that this thing looks so realistic is due to the fact that Bachmann Industries opted to use die-cast metal on this set.
It not only gives it some nice heft, but at the same time provides a more premium look to the whole package.
Additionally, the tracks have rubberized traction on them to keep them steady on whatever steam locomotive nickel plate road you put it on.
And aside from the chassis itself, this light mountain scale steam loco has other metal components as well.
We’re talking about the couplers themselves, the axle bearings, and even the hand rails and valves.
All in all, this is one wonderfully constructed model railroading toy that has very minor flaws.
“Great Value and Price!”
Our Rating: 4
We have yet another entry from Japanese manufacturer KATO in our best N scale steam locomotives list, and we’re frankly not surprised.
This is the Sanyo Shape Kure line train set.
It’s no doubt one of the most iconic models to have ever come out of Japan both in the model railroading industry and in real life.
It could even be said that this particular train model—we mean, in the real world—has become synonymous with Japan’s enduring spirit after World War II.
So, you’re not just getting a nice N scale model in this case; you’re also going with a piece of locomotive history as well.
But enough of the history lesson, let’s head on over to look at this amazing train set!
When it comes to the best N scale steam locomotives, an aspect that’s mostly overlooked is that companies usually sell the tank cars and train cars separately.
That’s understandable—as expensive as that might be— considering that the model railroading hobby places heavy emphasis on customization.
Well, KATO did us fans and collectors one better here, by including a separate car that you could attach to your Sanyo Kure Line model via its couplers.
That alone is a cause for celebration, as it’s like you’re getting a couple of pieces in one package.
This particular set is significantly more affordable compared to other N scale trains out there, so you definitely have a great deal in your hands.
At around 7 ½ inches x 1.69 inches x 1.1 inches, this particular model stays true to KATO’s Japanese N scale, which is at about 1:150.
Keep in mind that although customizable, N scales differ per country (the UK uses a 1:160 scale as their “N” scale for example).
So keep that in mind when you’re out shopping for train cars for your little engine.
When it comes to the actual features on this thing, you’re not going to be disappointed.
It has everything you’d want in an N scale model, not to mention one that’s produced by KATO.
As such, you have working lights, equipped locomotive with dcc sound value equipped steam components, and the like.
And apart from its already attractive price tag, we’re so happy to tell you that this set won’t require you to scour Bluford shops or online marketplaces.
It’s a general release.
Supreme Detail Work
We’re not surprised that KATO did an amazing job with the sculpt on this thing.
It’s one of the main reasons the company is one of the premier players in the model train game.
For the Sanyo Kure Line, they went with a nice, clean monotonous hue of black paint apps.
It is just accentuated by a bit of gold detailing on the sides.
As a result, you get one of the most visually appealing model trains out there.
And the additional accessories make this one of the best value-for-money deals out there, too, as it contains a generous amount of them.
Specifically, you’re getting 16—that’s right, SIXTEEN— plates; three couplers; and a small sign accessory.
“A Great Piece of Americana!”
Our Rating: 4.5
This Bachmann Prairie scale steam loco model is one of the best N scale steam locomotives you could get if you want a more streamlined model railroading experience.
Your rolling stock won’t have a problem.
Thanks especially to how the company has set up their products, from the scale track to their dcc sound value econami equipped locomotive decoders.
Components Sold Separately
But know this: all those other components are sold separately, so you’re going to have to customize this little baby piece by piece.
It’s all worth it, though, considering that Bachmann also has some of the finest examples of N scale trains that you could get.
You could think of them as masters of this type of model train set pieces.
However, you should also know that they use a 1:160 scale for their models within the “N” subcategory.
So don’t expect to be able to pair this up perfectly with Japanese (1:150) or other 1:144 scale pieces.
Bachmann Knows Stuff
You’re going to absolutely love how Bachmann constructed this locomotive and tender set, as it’s made almost purely of die-cast metal parts.
That means you’re going to have a hefty and durable chassis along with premium detail work for the handrails and such.
Pulling Power Issue
The only problem when it comes to metal parts is that it could affect the pulling power of your model.
However, Bachmann is able to counter that by providing you with tires that have traction.
So putting additional tank cars or train cars here won’t affect its mobility too much.
It also uses a bronze-bearing wound motor and engine as well as an electric pickup for its tender.
And lastly, Bachmann, as always, uses their EZ mate system for their couplers for extra convenience.
On the Road Again
Fans of old school trains will love this Prairie locomotive, especially if they’re particularly fond of the Pennsylvania Railroad.
Seriously, we could imagine ourselves just chugging along the Pennsylvania RR in the Southern Pacific daylight just by looking at this pretty little thing.
The die-cast material makes it look as close to a real train as possible, and that’s always a plus on our book.
And the addition of impeccable paint applications of mostly black hues makes this look really clean.
Then, the company added just spots of red and gold paint to provide nice contrast between the primarily dark colors of this locomotive model.
“Affordable, Beautiful, and Functional!”
Our Rating: 4
We’re at the final entry for your best N scale steam locomotives, and here we have yet another Bachmann Industries classic.
This equipped locomotive with dcc sound value equipped steam model just screams classic Americana, what with its Union Pacific roots shown in full detail.
And we’re also happy to tell you guys that this is perhaps one of the most affordable N scale train set pieces you could get.
And that’s saying something!
Just because you’re paying less for a model like this does not mean that you’re getting fewer features and a lower quality.
Come on, boys and girls: Bachmann knows their stuff, and they’re all on display here.
This wonderful rolling stock train model has all those Union Pacific vibes (some Northern Pacific flavor, too, if you ask us).
It’s got that classic, old school matte black paint job that always looks good on trains.
That is then contrasted by hits of white, bronze, gold, and silver that gives it a proper industrial revolution-era look to it.
Much like other Bachmann releases, this is made of diecast metal parts that both look good and are far more durable than simple plastic.
It uses the company’s patented EZ system for its rails (sold separately) and the included couplers, too.
It even has traction tires for better pulling power; a motor with bronze bearings; a concealed engine; and an electrical tender pickup.
All in all, you’re getting features here that are usually found in more expensive pieces, so it’s an undeniably great deal you’re getting.
The Best N Scale Steam Locomotives Verdict
It’s a great understatement to say that N scales are just further miniaturized versions of ho trains and H0e scale models.
The N scale subcategory in model railroading is probably one of the most impressive feats in micro engineering.
Considering the size of the things and all their great features.
The best N scale steam locomotives here prove just that, so hop on and start rolling down the railroad, guys and gals!