The earliest toy trains were made of lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains ho vs n scale
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery along with an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of electricity became more prevalent from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, 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 mainly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little differentiation between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains 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 in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high cost, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of course. In recent years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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