Some had wheels that flipped, but these had to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains made in usa
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. Along with 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 a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common in 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 remotely 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 often made mostly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little distinction 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, particularly teenaged boys.
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 in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high cost, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than a O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on a single loop of track. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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