Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains stuff
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to 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 a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even 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 mostly 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 teenagers, particularly teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading began to grab on.
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 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 created by Marx from the 1950s to 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 a O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on one loop of course. In recent years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera in the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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