The first toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels that turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains in new york city
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising 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 adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common 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 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; later trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Prior to 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 towards kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially teenaged boys. 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.
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 K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, 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 electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on one loop of course. In recent decades, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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