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Some had wheels which flipped, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made from tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains dallas

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 create an equal toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered 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 from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more prevalent from 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 management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys.

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 in the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more likely to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than a O scale set.

Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run several remote controller trains on a single loop of track. In recent years, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera in the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)

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