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Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains mishawaka

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 create an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising 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 along with an operating train.

Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common from the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electric 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 often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s that the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading began to grab on.

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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, due to their high cost, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than a O scale collection.

Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on one loop of track. In recent years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera in the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)

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