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

Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create 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. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and monitor, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to an operating train.

Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more common in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, 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 from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys.
Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has undergone resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.

Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still 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 in 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 a O scale collection.

Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on a single loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train with a TV camera in the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)

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