Some had wheels which turned, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted gold and red and decorated with hearts and flowers. train model for sale image
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings along with an operating train.
Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common from the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining lighting, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload freight. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were frequently made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed towards kids, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, 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 continue to be 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 from the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high cost, one is more likely to locate 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 exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote controller 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 part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
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