The earliest toy trains were made of lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels that turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made of 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 san diego
Around 1875, technological advancements 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 equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets containing 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 followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity 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 management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s that the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading began to grab on.
Today, 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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high cost, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than an O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run several remote controller trains on a single loop of track. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera in the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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