Some had wheels that turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains grinding noise
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing 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, produced by the U.S. company 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 electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading began to catch on. Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has undergone 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 even 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 cost, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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