Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made of 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 philadelphia area
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 that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and track, 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 adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more common in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely 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; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly 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 kids, 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.
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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy shop than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of track. In recent years, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera in the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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