The first toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels which turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made of tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains g gauge
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery along with a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more prevalent from 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 direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little distinction between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially teenaged boys.
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 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, due to their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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