Kato "5th Avenue" Building Modifications

Finally completed is my efforts to kit-bash three of the new Kato buildings released last year!  I completed the "Broadcast Building" last Spring and the "Office Building" just last month (December), and now the final building in this trilogy, the "5th Avenue" building has been converted into a fashionable department store!  The original building is below.
While at first glance this isn't a particularly extensive change (thus I call it a 'modification' and not a kit-bash!) the work was actually quite complex and required a lot of effort to complete.  This is mostly due to the high number of SMD LED's used in this building (about 20) which each need to not only be wired, but the path for all the wires to get to the bottom of the structure needs to be set so that power can get to them!

A department store seemed like a good idea (they don't need a lot of windows like an office building), and that corner just BEGS for a sign!  This is the same idea already done by others, most notably by the "great Scaper's" conversion of this building to a movie theater.

In addition to the lights, signs, and minor interior details, I also painted the building a light brown/tan color, and gave it a bit of a dark brown wash to help make the building 'pop' a bit more (and of course, the take aware as much of the original plastic 'patina' as possible, although these buildings are provided already painted by Kato!).  The crane on the roof and other details got some paint as well!

Below you can see one of the LED's being inserted through the shell for one of the building's signs.  The l.e.d.'s are from LED Baron.  I glued thin sheets of black styrene as the 'back boards" for the signs.  The signs themselves are water-slide decals printed on a color laser printer. 
I attempted to run most of the wires to the floors and stairwells through the central cavity, however its just not possible to do this with the wires used on the building exterior, so they actually exit the building on the back side and reenter on the ground floor (not pictured).  I covered this external wiring run with some styrene and painted it to match the building.
Fortunately there is little need for a lot of interior details so only a few floors got some basic application of wall-paper and figures.  I did glue together all of the floors (except for the ground floor, which was built from scratch to allow it to sit flush on the layout) to add in the reassembly and re-insertion into the exterior shell.
And after completion, the building can now join the rest of the city...and the slow march to bringing light to every building of Quinntopia continues!
Another view of the city, this time showing the previously mentioned "Office building" and the 'flatiron scratchbuild' on the same block as the new "Printemps" department store.
And finally, the last of the Kato buildings is done!  All in all these buildings are fun to work with, but all of the interior floor pieces also make them difficult and cumbersome!  Also, having to working the shells all assembled adds a little to the difficulty!    However, I do think I may need to add another building logo at the top...it just appears a bit too plain right now.  Some jobs never get finished!
So why "Printemps" for the building?  My formula is to basically find interesting stores, buildings or brands that reflect the same countries that the trains represent - and where possible generate good memories of my visits!  So while Printemps is a distinctively Parisian store, it works with the Dutch Blokker, the English HSBC tower, the Japanese Uni-Glo store, Canon building and Sony scratch-build, (also a Japanese Mos Burger which shares a building with a Norwegian Elprice)  and the German (basically!) Faller and  Kibri building.


  1. As always, I am speechless of your lighting skills. I've always liked this structure, but more so now with your improvements. Well done! It gives me inspiration to attempt it on my structures.

  2. Great conversion, but I only see one person in the stairwell. I was expecting more for a busy department store.

    The use of external signs with flood lights is a good approach for lighting up a building with so few windows. And it looks convincing for a city building.

    Although my own modeling attempts to give the flavor of a specfic city, I really like your "everywhere and nowhere" approach to urban modeling.

  3. Nice Job!

    You know that this was supposed to model a department store right?


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  5. The illuminated night scenes are excellent!

  6. Funny enough, the building as it came from the packaging is modeled after the Marui department store, popular in large cities in Japan. Most department stores in Japan have no external windows at all, they're just big slabs.
    Good image of the Shinjuku store, which is the likely prototype for the model:

  7. Also: Damn, but those photos are dead-ringers for real cities. Very impressive

  8. Hi Jerry,

    I also have that KATO building, it's wonderful! (http://rintiland.blogspot.com/2011/06/llegan-los-primeros-edificios-rintiland.html).

    I'm going to paint them trying to leave its plastic aspect, and i will study your post about lighting. Congratulations, it's wonderful!!!

    Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!


  9. I have to echo many of the comments here - the lighting and work you've put into this building really makes it. I have to get my lighting going. It changes things SO drastically.
    I love the lights you've used to illuminate the outside signage, too. And, of course, seeing it there with other lit buildings...whew.


  10. As alwais, I LOVE your urban landscape, it's amazing to see your scratchbuilding and modding works, and in the case of this, the modifications add a new "face" to this kit. Very well done.