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Some had wheels that flipped, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails were made from tinplate, like the big, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. train model for sale

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys in which a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. Along with boxed sets containing a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery along with an operating train.

Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As home use of power became more common in 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 noise, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were frequently made mainly of plastic.
Prior to the 1950s, there was little distinction 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, particularly teenaged boys.

Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads continue to be considered toy trains even by their 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 in the 1950s to the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more inclined to find 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 several remote control trains on a single loop of course. In recent years, many toy train operators may operate a train with a TV camera at the front part of the engine and hooked up to a display, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)

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