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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 rails were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains dubbo

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings along with a working train.

Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common 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 direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to 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; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s that the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started to grab on.
Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has experienced resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Now, 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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale set.

Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train using a TV camera in 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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