The earliest toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains blackstone va
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing 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 in addition to a working 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 in 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 noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly 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 by children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys.
Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains by their own adherents and are often accessorized with semi-scale model buildings by Plasticville or even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more inclined to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. In recent years, many toy rail operators will operate a train with a TV camera in the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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