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Some had wheels which flipped, but these had to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains wholesale

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and track, 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 adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm 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 electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading began to catch on.

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 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 store than an O scale collection.

Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment which exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of course. In recent years, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera in the front 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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