Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made of tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains topeka ks
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered 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 home use of electricity became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical 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 freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later 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 by kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, particularly teenaged boys. Consumer interest in trains as toys waned in the late 1950s, but has undergone resurgence since the late 1990s due in large part to the popularity of Thomas the Tank Engine.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains 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 created by Marx in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more inclined to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of course. In the last few decades, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera at the front of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad.
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