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Some had wheels which turned, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made from tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains rochester

Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. In addition to 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 an operating train.

Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common 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 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; later trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys.

Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains by their own 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 from the 1950s to 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 store than an O scale set.

Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of track. In recent years, many toy rail operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.

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