Some had wheels which turned, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy rails were made from tinplate, like the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. train model picture
Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were altered when Märklina German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equivalent toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for years after the initial purchase. Along with boxed sets comprising a train and monitor, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings sold separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring buildings and scenery in addition to an operating train.
Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, produced by the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As home use of electricity became more common in the early 20th century, electrical trains gained popularity and as time moved on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electric trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially teenaged boys. It was during the 1950s 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.
Now, S gauge and O gauge railroads are still considered toy trains 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 created by Marx in the 1950s into the 1970s). However, due to their high cost, one is more inclined to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale set.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on one loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators may operate a train using a TV camera in the front of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, similar to that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)
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