The first toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains jackson tn
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys in which 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 offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, 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 mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, particularly 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 inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than a O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera at the front of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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