Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made from tinplate, such as the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys in the U.S., that were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains wikipedia
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings along with an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mostly of plastic.
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 that 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 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 created 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 in a toy store than a O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics that emit digitized sound effects and permit the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on a single loop of course. In recent decades, many toy train operators will operate a train using a TV camera at the front of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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