Some had wheels which flipped, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains atlanta ga
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, 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 followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Prior to 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 teens, 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.
Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains even by their adherents and are often accessorized with semi-scale model buildings by Plasticville or K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more inclined to locate an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on one loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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