It is that time again.   Pro and cons for Charles Ro and Nassau Hobby. ?       prices, shipping cost ,  tax.          Thanks. Art

Original Post

I use Mario's Trains for my preorders. Competitive prices, free shipping, and great customer service by email or over the phone. Also a forum sponsor.

I will just say to watch those shipping charges very carefully. They can very quickly ruin what you thought was the best price. BigRail

Much depends on where you live in relation to where you pre-order from. Shipping, local taxes and price are all things to be considered. I personally order from Charles Ro. I have several big name forum sponsors in my area, but paying state and local taxes puts their pre-order price out of range. 

I have pre-ordered from Pat's Trains and Side Track Hobbies in the past.  Just about any Forum Sponsor or LHS that deals in new product should be able to pre-order for you.  

Go to their websites. It says a lot about their business. A great website that is easy to navigate and create a shopping cart will get my order. 

romiller49 posted:

Go to their websites. It says a lot about their business. A great website that is easy to navigate and create a shopping cart will get my order. 


A well known dealer lost my business for good a few years ago after I spent way too much time simply trying to place an order on their poorly designed and frustrating website. 

Pre-ordering has its plusses and minuses.

Pre-ordering plus; You have a better chance of getting the product just in case it is a best seller and sells out. You may also receive the product quicker.***

Pre-ordering minus;  You may wind up paying less for many items after they hit the store shelves. Check out the prices at York and other large train shows and you will see what I mean. Blow outs from Charles Ro, Trainz, Nicholas Smith, etc, competing with each other.

*** Note, I have had several instances from one major dealer (no, I won't say who, so please don't ask) who accepted my early pre order and charge #, but when I called for status months later after seeing the items out in the market, I was told "sorry, sold out". In these instances these were desirable items and the current market prices (at the time) were higher than the pre-order prices were (coincidence?). Friends have had the same experience. I no longer pre-order and have not for several years now.

Last edited by Lionelski

ALL other factors considered (service, available inventory, and distance) the modes and cost of shipping are the prime determinants for a "good" deal.

I mostly use Legacy Station in the Atlanta area (it's essentially overnight shipping for me, though I'm not a speed freak about such things - but, the fewer miles, the less handling). Brian is good to deal with. I've also had a couple of eBay transactions with them.

I also like Charles Ro (contradicting myself on the "fewer miles" thing). 

These 2 are my usuals, but I don't buy much new any more.

I have had experience with all of the above.  One that is missing is a great store "Stockyard Express".  Clyde and Dianne are great people.  Diane used to work for 3rd Rail Sunset.

They have competitive pricing and are off the radar enough that they tend to still have MTH items after everyone else ran out.  Their website is weak and inventory is usually a portal using MTH inventory tools.  Pretty accurate though.  You won't find a nicer couple and they are very friendly and will take pre-orders with no deposit and a good preorder discount.  Give Clyde a call and chat.

I just got back into hobby beginning of 2019 after about 20 years. Been a lot to learn. I bought items from about 10 places according to my receipt file and a few local hobby shops  

Ive searched on many more web sites. Obviously some better than others and more importantly it’s surprising how some never reply back  

Will give a special nod to Steve at MrMuffin’sTrains as he has taken the time to explain things, find the additional passenger car or Caboose to go with the engine if not in stock or even answer a general question which I have many even when it doesn’t involve a purchase  

This was the first time being ahead of the BTO process   I looked around and some cheaper some more expensive.  Being new/returning, many of my basic questions were met with impatience at times   

Like most things once you have a good experience you will go back  

So that extra level of customer service is where my purchases went

One other fun purchase was at Granpas in Warwick   Was in area on business and stopped in and what a nice guy had to buy a few things as well looked for an item I was currently searching the country for  


Mr. Muffins for sure!  He generally offers free shipping and a very deep discount on gear.  Very fair as well.  I pre-ordered the Lionel O&W F3's from him and when they were delivered in that horrible silver color, he offered to either sell them to me at dealer cost or exchange for any other F3 set that wasn't buggered.  I am not in the market for a single item this year because space has run out BUT if I were, I would not shop anywhere else. 

I agree with others on this site about pricing though. Several times I "just had to have it" so I jumped on the pre-order train but history taught me that after I left the station with my shiny new toy, several dealers offered a better price on leftovers that nobody claimed or overstocks they were left with when the "gem" turned out to be fools gold.  


I generally wait until they are shipped. Then order from Charles Ro, TrainWorld, and occasionally others.

I always take a look at Mr Muffins website, but many times items that have been shipped (especially according to MTH), on his web site they still show as "Pre-Order". His website is slow to be updated.

For recently released items I check Charles RO, Train World (like this website because if you click/tap on the item that is marked as 'pre-order' it will show the expected due date), Mr. Muffins Trains, Pat's Trains, and to lesser extent: Model Train Stuff, All About Toy Trains, The Train Shop, Legacy Station, Train-Station, and finally

If I can't find it in any of these places or it's an item that was released a while back,  I do a Google search and see where it might be found.

For any item (recently released or released a while back) I set up a Saved Search in eBay. That way - especially with the newly released items, I generally know when it becomes available.

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