Some had wheels that turned, but these had to be pushed or pulled. A few of the early 19th-century push 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 wroxham
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be guaranteed by selling add-on accessories for decades 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 scenery and buildings in addition to a working train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were frequently made mainly of plastic.
Before 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 by kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s that the modern emphasis on realism in model railroading started to catch on.
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 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 produced by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, as a result of their high price, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy shop than an O scale collection.
Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment that emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of track. In recent decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train using a TV camera in the front part of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.
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