Some had wheels that turned, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made from 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 guam
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings in addition to an operating train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electric 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 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 frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, 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.
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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more likely to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than a O scale collection.
Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on a single loop of course. In recent decades, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera in the front of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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