Some had wheels which turned, but these needed to be pushed or pulled. Some of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made of tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains worth
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equal 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 comprising 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 along with a working train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of electricity became more prevalent from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Prior to the 1950s, there was little differentiation between toy trains and model railroads–model railroads were toys by definition. Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started 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 are still considered toy trains by their own 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 likely to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy store than an O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronics which emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on a single loop of track. In the last few years, many toy rail operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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