The first toy trains were made of lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pulled or pushed. Some 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 red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains upland ca
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and monitor, Märklin offered extra track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings along with a working train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential 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 direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were frequently made mostly of plastic.
Prior to 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 children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, 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.
Now, 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 from the 1950s to 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 store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run several remote controller trains on one loop of track. In recent decades, many toy rail operators may operate a train using a TV camera in the front part 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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