The earliest toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains montoursville pa
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. In addition to 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 along with an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of electricity became more common from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by kids, 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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than a O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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