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

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets containing 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 in addition to an operating train.



Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. company 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 electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Prior to 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 electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading began to grab on. 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.

Now, 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 even 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 cost, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy shop than a O scale set.

Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of track. In recent decades, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.

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