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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 of 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 snow

Around 1875, technological advancements in materials and manufacturing allowed tin to be stamped, cut, wrapped, and lithographed faster than previously.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German firm which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys where a constant revenue stream could be guaranteed by purchasing add-on accessories for decades after the initial purchase. In addition to boxed sets containing a train and monitor, 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 a working train.

Electric trains followed, with the first appearing in 1897, produced from the U.S. company Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more prevalent from the early 20th century, electric trains gained popularity and as time went on, these electric trains grew in sophistication, gaining light, the ability to change management, to emit a whistling sound, to smoke, to remotely couple and uncouple cars as well as load and unload freight. Toy trains by the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; afterwards trains were often made mainly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by children, while electrical trains were marketed towards teenagers, especially 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 even K-Line (who owns the rights to the Plasticville-like buildings produced by Marx in the 1950s to 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 a O scale collection.

Many modern electric toy trains contain sophisticated electronics which exude digitized sound effects and permit the operator to safely and easily run several remote control trains on one loop of track. In recent decades, many toy train operators will 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 a picture, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad)

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