Some had wheels which turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century drive toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains tucson arizona
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 Märklin, a German firm that 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 decades after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and monitor, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings offered 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. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more prevalent in the early 20th century, electric 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 and even load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were often 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 towards children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially 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.
Today, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be 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 produced by Marx in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high cost, one is more inclined to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than a O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of course. In recent years, many toy train operators will operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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