The first toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels that turned, but these had to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains eau claire wi
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys in which a continuous 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 additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered 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 electricity became more common from the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, 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 frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s that the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started to grab on.
Today, 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 from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high cost, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics which exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of course. In recent decades, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera in the front of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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