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Some had wheels that turned, but these had to be pushed or pulled. 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 in cincinnati ohio

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for decades 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, produced from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of electricity became more common from the early 20th century, electric 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 noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially 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 by their 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 locate an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy shop than a O scale set.

Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of course. In the last few years, many toy rail operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor 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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