Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains milwaukee
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and monitor, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings along with a working train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more prevalent from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time went 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 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 mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be 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 created by Marx from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more likely to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of course. In recent decades, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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