Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made of tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains iowa
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and monitor, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to an operating train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electric 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 freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, 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.
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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx in the 1950s to the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment that emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. In the last few decades, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera in the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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