Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains lynchburg va
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades after the first 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 along with an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more prevalent from the early 20th century, electric 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 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 mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, 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 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 in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high cost, one is more likely to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy train operators will 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 a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad.
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