Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made of tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains maine
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered additional 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 followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made by 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 went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars as well as 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 mostly of plastic.
Before 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 children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys.
Now, 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 in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy shop than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on a single loop of course. In recent years, many toy train operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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