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Some had wheels which flipped, but these needed to be pulled or pushed. A few 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 red and gold and decorated with hearts and flowers. train modeling store dallas

Around 1875, technological improvements in materials and manufacturing enabled tin to be stamped, cut, rolled, and lithographed faster than ever before.
Toy trains were revolutionized when Märklin, a German company which specialized in doll house accessories, sought to make an equivalent toy for boys in which a constant revenue stream could be ensured by selling add-on accessories for years after the first purchase. In addition to boxed sets comprising a train and track, Märklin offered additional track, rolling stock, and buildings offered separately, creating the predecessor to the modern model train layout featuring scenery and buildings in addition to a working train.

Electric trains adopted, with the first appearing in 1897, made from the U.S. firm Carlisle & Finch. As residential use of electricity became more prevalent from 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 from the first half of the 20th century were frequently made of lithographed tin; later trains were often made mostly of plastic.
Pull toys and wind-up trains were marketed by kids, while electric trains were marketed towards teens, particularly 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 produced by Marx from the 1950s to the 1970s). However, due to their high price, one is more likely to find an HO scale or N scale train set at a toy shop than a O scale set.

Many modern electrical toy trains contain sophisticated electronic equipment that exude digitized sound effects and allow the operator to safely and easily run multiple remote controller trains on a single loop of course. In the last few years, many toy rail operators will operate a train using a TV camera in the front of the engine and hooked up to a screen, such as computer monitor. This will show an image, like that of a genuine (smaller size) railroad.

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