The first toy trains were made of lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels that turned, but these had to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made of tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains site
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the initial 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 along with a working train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by 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 went on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently 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 by kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys. Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has experienced resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains even 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 produced by Marx from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. 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, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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