Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains ponchatoula la
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, 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 constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings in addition to a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more prevalent from 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 couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Before the 1950s, there was little distinction between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started 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 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 created by Marx in 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 store than an O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of track. In the last few years, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera at the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad.
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