The first toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. 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, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., that were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. model trains youtube
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were altered 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 ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets containing 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 in addition to a working train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of power became more common in the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to 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 often made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, particularly 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 are still considered toy trains even 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 created 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 at a toy store than a O scale set.
Many modern electric toy trains comprise sophisticated electronic equipment which emit digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of course. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train using a TV camera in the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as pc monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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