Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains roll on incline
Around 1875, technological improvements 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 which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings along with an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mainly 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 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 produced by Marx in the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high cost, one is more likely to locate an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment that emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run several remote controller trains on a single loop of track. In recent decades, many toy train operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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