Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains pa
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 Märklina German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and track, 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 followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mainly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little differentiation between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially teenaged boys.
Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has experienced resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains 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 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 in a toy shop than an O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of track. In recent years, many toy train operators will operate a train with a TV camera in the front part of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
Thanks for your interest in model trains pa