The earliest toy trains were made from lead and had no moving parts. Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. Some of the early 19th-century drive toy rails 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. train model scenery
Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina 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 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 scenery and buildings in addition to an operating 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 went on, these electrical trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were often made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Prior to 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 towards kids, while electrical trains were marketed towards teens, especially 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 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 into the 1970s). However, as a result of their high cost, one is more inclined to find an HO scale or N scale train set in a toy store than an O scale collection.
Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on a single loop of track. In the last few decades, many toy rail operators will operate a train using a TV camera at the front part of the motor and hooked up to a display, such as pc monitor. This will show a picture, similar to that of a real (smaller size) railroad)
Thanks for your interest in train model scenery