Some had wheels that turned, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made from tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains n gauge house kits
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and monitor, Märklin offered extra 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 adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home 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 lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even 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, 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 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 to the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of course. In recent decades, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera in the front of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad.
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