Some had wheels which flipped, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains marklin
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered 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, produced from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, 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 frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mainly 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 electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys.
Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains even by their adherents and are often accessorized with semi-scale model buildings by Plasticville or K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx from 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 at a toy shop than an O scale collection.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics that emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of track. In recent years, many toy rail operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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