Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains akron ohio
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and monitor, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery along with an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more prevalent from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little differentiation between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially teenaged boys.
Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has undergone resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains even by their own adherents and are often accessorized with semi-scale model buildings by Plasticville or K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx in the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than an O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on one loop of track. In recent decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad.
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