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

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, 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 in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling 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 in addition to a working train.

Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made 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 moved on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, 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 frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s that the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started to grab on.

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, due to 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 set.

Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of course. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train using a TV camera at the front of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)

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