The earliest toy trains were made of lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels that flipped, but these had to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains richmond va
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 firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and monitor, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were frequently made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started to catch on.
Today, 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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings created by Marx in 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 at a toy store than a O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of course. In the last few decades, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera in the front part of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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