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Some had wheels which turned, but these had to be pulled or pushed. A few of the early 19th-century push toy trains were made from tinplate, such as the large, durable, stylized locomotive toys from the U.S., which were painted red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. train model sidewalk

Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be scraped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklina German company that specialized in doll house accessories, sought to create an equal toy for boys where a continuous revenue stream could be ensured by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and monitor, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered 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 residential use of electricity became more prevalent 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 direction, to emit a whistling noise, to smoke, to couple and uncouple cars and even load and unload cargo. Toy trains from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mostly 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 children, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, especially teenaged boys.

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 even 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 price, one is more inclined to locate an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than an O scale collection.

Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronics that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to securely and easily run multiple remote control trains on one loop of track. In the last few years, many toy train operators may operate a train using a TV camera at the front part of the motor and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show a picture, like that of a real (smaller size) railroad)

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